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#131098 - 10/29/02 09:56 AM photo editing
Trainwire Offline

Registered: 03/15/02
Posts: 364
Loc: Strasburg,PA,USA
I have a photographer friend of mine that is just getting into digital photography. He is a very accomplished film photographer, and now he want the image manipulation that comes with digital.
Now the question. He has come to me with the complaint that his computer is "excruciantingly slow". If you were going to build a computer for digital photo's, what would it have in it.
I am leaning towards the standards, lots of fast RAM, and the whizziest video card that will fit , and a fast LARGE hard drive. Anything I am missing?

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#131099 - 11/01/02 08:37 AM Re: photo editing
electech Offline

Registered: 02/18/02
Posts: 113
Loc: Northern Il
I would get one of the new special edition Wetern Digital 7200 rpm IDE hard drives with 8 meg cache (vs the typical 2 meg). If cost is no issue then go for a 10,000 rpm or faster SCSI hard drive and appropriate controller, but be prepared to pay six times the price (for equal capacity) for the drive(s) and over $200 for just the controller (probably not worth it unless everything else he is buying is absolute top-end).

The top end video cards for 3-D gaming (like Geforce4 ti 4600) don't always have the best image quality, which will be critical. Something like a Matrox G550 (under $100 online) would suite this application better than a $300 3D card. If you want to get crazy, you could spend up to a grand on the video card alone.

Keeping it relatively cheap, this is what I would build:

Case and 350Watt power supply (bought locally) $100 (could spend as little as $50 on a cheapie)

WD WD800JB 80 gig 7200rpm 8meg cache drive $116 shipped (avoid the temptation to buy a HUGE drive today that you wont fill for two years - save the cash and add a faster one when the original fills up)

Shuttle AK35GT2 motherboard $78 shipped
Athlon DDR memory motherboard with decent built-in sound (can be disabled to add a different sound card later)

Corsair DDR memory CMX256A-2700C2PT CAS2 256Meg - $110 shipped (consider getting two of these unless can find a single 512 Meg DDR module with CAS2 timing)

CD rewriter - buy locally for $40 - $80

Samsung floppy drive - $13 shipped

Logitech optical scroll mouse - $17 shipped

Generic 56K modem (if needed) - $20 shiped or get US robotics hardware-based modem for $72 shipped (if into gaming online)

Athlon XP 2000+ processor retail with fan - $105 shipped

Matrox G550 video - $95 shipped
or ATI RADEON 9000 PRO 128MB DDR DVI/TV-out AGP 275/550MHz RETAIL - $133 shipped or ATI FIRE GL 8800 128MB DDR RETAIL - $275 shipped

Keyboard $10 - $20 local

Monitor - buy local? can find 19" Mag monitors for $150 after rebate on occasion, but your friend may want a premium quality professional monitor.

Linkskey LKF-5100+ 10/100 network card - $12 shipped, get one for this PC and one for the old and use it for data backup

25 Ft. CROSSOVER Cable, Cat. 5e $11 shipped buy this if only newtworking 2 PCs (don't need a hub if only using two computers and are not sharing other ethernet devices like cable or ADSL modems)

Microsoft XP pro - OEM - $142 shipped (or use old copy of win98, ME, etc)

This system would probably appear to be equal in price to what you could get from Best Buy (Dell, Gateway, etc), but all these parts are standard. Plus almost all your big name PCs have a certain number of junk parts hidden in them...slower RAM, slower hard drives, lower clocked video cards, proprietary cases and motherboards.

I buy most of my stuff from but have liked using too. These prices are all from newegg.

#131100 - 11/01/02 06:55 PM Re: photo editing
Trainwire Offline

Registered: 03/15/02
Posts: 364
Loc: Strasburg,PA,USA
Welcome, and thank you.

I appreciate the listing. I have built computers before, the one that I am using now is a patchwork from a pile of dead ones. I just appreciate some input on what to look for.

He is using a HP 1G right at the moment, prop MB, 100mhz SDram. bleah.

The monitor is pretty nice. He'll probly keep that.

Don't be bashful throw your two cents in.


#131101 - 11/05/02 09:18 AM Re: photo editing
Scott35 Offline

Broom Pusher and

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 2724
Loc: Anaheim, CA. USA
Electech has given a great list of items for consideration. Here are a few more to compliment the list, to add with the list, or just simply to ponder:

I have found a lot more people using a Mac Enviroment for Graphics type work - and I haven't got a clue to what Mac Hardware and Software is considered to be The Bomb!
These users are [from what I have seen] high end users / power users / professional work based, and never dabble in any other apps than Graphics-Based stuff [such as image editting and manipulation, Desktop publishing or cartoon making].
This gives me no advantage, since the most Image-Based stuff I will be involved with is considered to be "Below Basic" in comparison to their aspects of hacketry.

Not sure if the push towards Mac Machines in Graphics related areas is due to stability of Enviroment or if it's simply an anti IBM / Microsoft based attitude biasing.

Having said that, need to ask a very simple - but maybe not so apparent question:
What type of interface is being used for the downloading of images from the Digital Camera to the PC???

    [*]If using Serial Port "COM1,COM2", this would result in Eons passing while downloading (Toooooooooo sloooooowwwwww). A mixmatch of port settings on either end will further add tar to the already slow snail used to transport Bits, plus toss in other wonderful errors.

    [*]If using USB type Ports (USB, IEEE1394 "Firewire"), this would have fast transfers O' Bits, and may suggest the Tortise Speed problem(s) are more rooted in the Hardware areas.

    [*]If the images are downloading just fine, or are scanned but are extremely taxing on the Operating System while in a Graphics Enviroment (wait days to zoom or open file), look at the Core components of the Board and what redundant drivers are running around behind the scenes.

    [*]If there are Scanner issues, try some driver upgrades and patches, along with verification of proper image transfers.

Suggestions for a nice Intel-Based Graphics tool PC would be similar to machines used for CAD, Database and Spreadsheet work, but would be somewhat different than what makes a Bitchen Gaming PC.

Use a CPU with L2 Cache ability - such as the Intel Pentium II thru IV processors and equivalents. Stay away from the Celerons, since they have little or no access to L2 Cache.

Motherboard from any good aftermarket company - such as Asus - which accepts the CPU desired. Intel boards are such a major pain in the boot,,, err,,, butt most of the time, so keep clear of those.

DRAM size of 128 MB would be nice, 256 MB if the application could benefit, but going too large may lead to latency.
Since the CPU / Chipset will be PII or better, memory would begin at SDRAM PC100 type and move upwards from there.
Don't forget to verify proper CMOS BIOS Flash version / stability, along with external Cache size and if more should be added.

If the Disk file transfers will only be for writing as downloaded or edits, and reads only for opening files, the more simpler and least expensive interfacing option of IDE based stuff would work just fine.
Be sure the drive data cables can handle the output of the drive [i.e. Don't use drive cables from an old 540 MB IDE drive on a 80 GB UDMA 100 drive unless you want to choke the data and you are really fond of error dialog boxes or losing data transferes!].

Drive quality [or quantity if you take the RAID approach] should be key issues.

Get a dependable and known reliable CD-R or CD-RW with stable software / drivers, or try your luck fighting with Tape drives and / or floppies!

Display Adapter [AKA: Video Card] doesn't need the 3D and similar tweeks of a Gaming PC's Video Adapter, so get a down-to-earth model with a stable and reliable background.
Drive it from AGP unless you absolutely must go thru PCI bus.
Also there is really no need to watch TV and do Graphics work at the same time on the same display monitor, so consider adapters without the A/V inputs and outputs unless planning on diving into Video dumps to a VCR.

If there will be any more machines to share files with [or printers];
* For LANs: Use Nics of at least 100 Base TX / T4 on PCI bus for networking local machines,
*CAT 5 / 5e for cable standards @ 100 MBPS,
*Internet work can be done using ADSL equipment and structure [simplified to public as "DSL"] via the Ethernet LAN, through a Bridge Router.
* If Analog work is needed to be transcieved - such as Faxes and remote file transfers, use V90 Internal types on either PCI or ISA bus [some V90's work a little better on the ISA bus] which include proper Fax protocols and possibly voice MODEM stuff [not even missed if Voice MODEM is never used].
*If a printer is shared and it's used a lot, consider some type of print server to drive it. Server could be dedicated PC or terminal type with lots of buffer space.
*Same goes for sharing Disks and Files - if the sharing drags machine performance to Tortise speeds, dedicate a File Server. Not sure if your friend would have this problem, but it may pop up when other machines browse.

Put all the Hardware into a sturdy and well made case and try not to let in "Angry AC Power"
[Protect from TVSS and noise].

User Input / Output and Display [SVGA Monitor] items should be comfortable for the user, plus ergonomically set up.
Size the display no less than 800x600. Look at 16 Bit Pixel Depth for simple yet low resource taxing color settings.
Tweek the Color Temp on the Monitor [directly from it's controls] to a comfortable level which works with the surrounding ambient task lighting. Verify the other Monitor tweek settings by showing the user how to adjust the monitor's on-board settings.

Point guns at ANY user who attemps in any way, or has admitted to in any way, adjusted and/or played around with the Display's settings within the O/S!!!
If there is any mention to "How easy it is to right-click the desktop and bring up the properties box", begin loading the Gun!!!
If the user has thrown the machine into "Blue Screen Death" or "Black Screen / VGA 16 Color Mode", consider pulling trigger!

Let's see - what else to list??? Oh, I believe all this stuff above was intended to do more than occupy an enclosure with stuff piped to an ATX form factor board, so maybe a little machine language is needed to turn on and off the digital switches!

Need a stable full version of an Operating System. Windows 9x works for me, have been called to remedy more machines using Windows Me than any other O/S version - including Win 98 first release!!!
Have no idea how stable Windows XP's version types are except that XP does not like to have a Self-Extracting 32 bit zip file made with PKZip version 2.60.xx anywhere near it!
[problems at extraction process].
Windows 9x, Me, NT4 and 2000 have no quarrels with said files.

Graphic editting software is very expensive if professional work will be expected. Adobe Photoshop 5.0 cost around $500.00 for a one seat license. The better ones start at $1K!

Graphic inporting by either scanner or camera is another Software and Hardware issue. Look for the ones with the least amount of added "Things to go terribly wrong" and focus on simple to use and stable as solid concrete peripherial devices.

I'll add some specifics later on if you throw some information about the user's expectations of generated quality plus what you are able to piece together for building the "Frankenstein's Monster" [AKA PC built of misc. and random parts from or intended to be used for many, many, MANY other machines].

Scott s.e.t.
Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!

#131102 - 11/05/02 09:52 AM Re: photo editing
Trainwire Offline

Registered: 03/15/02
Posts: 364
Loc: Strasburg,PA,USA
Thanks Scott.

At this point, I think the main problem is that any manipulation of the file, in photoshop, takes a dreadfully long time. He is using a hp with shared video, and only 128M of ram, I think he is running out of ram.
The first fix,on the current machine, is to put in a 64M video card, and two sticks of 256.

I think the "monster" comes later.


My preferred method of dealing with the "video manipulators" is to
Box their ears,
tweak their nose,
and pull their underwear up over their ears.

[This message has been edited by Trainwire (edited 11-05-2002).]

#131103 - 12/15/02 08:03 PM Re: photo editing
ThinkGood Offline

Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 1084
Loc: Milwaukee, WI

Ditto to Scott35's comments on the Mac environment. I was "downsized" from a job where all of the creative types would only use a Macintosh. I know somebody who edits video on his Mac (that is the sole use of that particular computer).

Adobe Photoshop seems to slow down a PC when it is making use of the "scratch disk." Plenty of RAM should help to reduce this. Additionally, it pays to have a 2nd hard drive (a physically separate drive, not just another drive letter on the single hard drive) which can be used for file storage and as scratch space.

By the way, Photoshop is up to version 7 now. Illustrator is up to version 10, I'm pretty sure.

Hope my 2cents helped some.

#131104 - 12/26/02 04:57 AM Re: photo editing
Trainwire Offline

Registered: 03/15/02
Posts: 364
Loc: Strasburg,PA,USA

I have upgraded his computer with a new 64M video card, and 512 M of ram.(which was a pain in the tookus to find what would work). He also emptied the temp files and defragged, so things happen much faster. He is happier now.

He is using the usb port to download from a smart card reader.

He has one of the coolpix camera bodies that uses his pentax lenses. He uses the resolution that is two steps below max, and can blow up a picture to several yards wide, and can see someones nose hairs with no pixelation. Has a brand new Epson photo printer that spits out prints that are almost impossible to tell from film prints. The only way I can tell the difference is that the digital prints are "too perfect".

I'll keep you updated on this


#131105 - 12/31/02 05:42 AM Re: photo editing
JCooper Offline

Registered: 12/30/02
Posts: 229
Loc: Kendall Park, NJ USA
On the issue of Mac vs PC.... I think this is going to be like the Ford vs Chevy on the other forum. The reason Macs are used is graphics work is due to their hardware, the hardware platform and the way the CPU handles its instructions are far superior to that of a PC. Unfortunatly Mac has no idea how to write the operating system to have it function to its peak. From what I have heard MacOS 10 is running on a UNIX based platform now, UNIX was designed to run on the RISC processor and can make use of its true multitasking properties, RISC processors can run a few threads at the same time whereas the CISC processor (AMD or Intel) can only handle one at a time, Windows is what handles the multitasking. If you install lets say Linux on a PC and a Mac the Mac would blow the PC out of the water every time. How this applies to the thread is that Photoshop can have several calculations running at the same time on a Mac whereas on the PC it has to have Windows, and a bit of extra RAM, to buffer the data on its merry trip to the CPU. One other option for graphics work is a Sun desktop, they are not anywhere near cheap, their base, no options desktop starts at $1k, going all the way up to about $5 mil for the top of the line server, which ANY computer guru would be pleased to own. You can go to the Sun web site, they have an online store to price things out. BTW, all those animated Disney movies that have come out over the last three or so years have all been rendered on Sun boxes.



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