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Author Topic: Advice for Computer for digtial photography  (Read 9538 times)
Khurram
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« on: March 15, 2006, 09:19:34 PM »
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after switching to digital, i'm finding my processor too slow and find that when running scanning software or photoshop things really run slow.

looking for advice for a computer that is moderately priced, but will be sufficeint for:
-working with CSII or possibly Aperture (once the windows version is released).
-scanner for high res scans of slides
-canon digitial photo pro or possibly another raw converter
-fast DVD burner for archiving
-i'm looking at also purchasing a printer like the Epson 2200 or equivalent during the next year

I'm not sure how fast of a processor i should be looking for or how much hard drive space

Again, i'm not looking at a top of the line system, but one that will be sufficient for at least 2-3 years.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2006, 11:02:55 PM »
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Before anyone can give you any decent advice, we need to know your shooting habits.

1. What camera do you use.
2. Do you plan on possibly upgrading your camera within the next 18 months?
3. Do you shoot Raw or Jpeg?
4. What volume do you typically shoot?
5. 24-bit or 48-bit editing?
6. How quickly do you need to have things done?
7. Do you typically have multiple programs running (besides the needed firewall, virus/spyware scanners, etc) and if so, how many and of what type?

There are three things that are given regardless IMHO. 1) The computer you buy should have two cores (via either two chips or a dual-core CPU). 2) You should buy as much RAM as possible. Since you are PC, that would be 3GB. 3) Due to #2, you will need XP Pro to use more than 2GB of Ram.

*Oh, and your in for a long wait for Aperture on the PC. It will never, ever happen.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2006, 11:03:42 PM by 61Dynamic » Logged
francois
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2006, 03:17:51 AM »
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...*Oh, and your in for a long wait for Aperture on the PC. It will never, ever happen.
...
I guess Khurram was thinking of Adobe Lightroom  
« Last Edit: March 16, 2006, 03:18:05 AM by francois » Logged

Francois
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2006, 06:08:36 AM »
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If you must have a PC then that is fine BUT there are some good reasons many of us who work with graphics use Apple.

1  Virtually no maintanence.  Are there any users here willing to admit they've never virus checked their Mac?  I'm not suggesting beligerence but the first OSX worms and viruses have only just been discovered....(hence, can anyone recommend some AV software that won't destroy my sysem resources?)
2  They last for ever.  This one is 6 years old.  It's a middle line G4 Power Mac.  I use CS rather than CSII because the latter is V slow on this and of marginal benefit.  
3  The displays (though now you can use them with PCs too!)
4  They very rarely crash.  Touch wood, I've never lost any PS work.  MS Word goes from time to time (!)
5   You never have compatibility issues, either hardware or software (providing you don't try sticking PC bits in....the memory and hard discs are fine but DVD Writers need drivers that aren't necessarily written for macs.  Ditto PCI cards.)  Everything you will need is built in though.
6   They are prettier

They don't take long to get used to once you understand the basic difference in philosophy between OSX and Windows.  OSX hides everything from you that you don't NEED access to.  You don't fiddle with these things.  No registery to clean, no disk defragging, no reintalling OS every 6 weeks.

A PC engineer I know has just bought one for home after borrowing an oldschool iMac for a while, "It's great, I tell it what to do and it does it without fuss, if we got these at work I'd be paid to drink coffee!"

With the Intel chips, it's only a matter of time before people are dual booting Macs with Windows as well.  With the changeover, many are saying "hold off" until universal binaries of CSII and Apple ProApps are released.....the Apple ones should have been done long ago but will only be a month or 2 off now.  Lightroom is or is about to be released as a UB and CSIII will be compatible when it's released (Feb??)   I'm meant to be trying CSII on a MacBookPro next week but have heard that the chips are so much faster than the G4s that it's faster even running though emulation than a G4 Powerbook.

I'm not sure on the speed argument v's PC - processors certainly run at slower clock speeds but how many Hollywood films have been produced exclusively on these things?  They can't be too shabby!
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Khurram
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2006, 07:30:48 AM »
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Before anyone can give you any decent advice, we need to know your shooting habits.

1. What camera do you use.
2. Do you plan on possibly upgrading your camera within the next 18 months?
3. Do you shoot Raw or Jpeg?
4. What volume do you typically shoot?
5. 24-bit or 48-bit editing?
6. How quickly do you need to have things done?
7. Do you typically have multiple programs running (besides the needed firewall, virus/spyware scanners, etc) and if so, how many and of what type?

There are three things that are given regardless IMHO. 1) The computer you buy should have two cores (via either two chips or a dual-core CPU). 2) You should buy as much RAM as possible. Since you are PC, that would be 3GB. 3) Due to #2, you will need XP Pro to use more than 2GB of Ram.

*Oh, and your in for a long wait for Aperture on the PC. It will never, ever happen.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=60399\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Never realy considered Apple.  haven't used one since my old junior high days with an Apple IIE  

what are the options - i did notice that apples seem to be a lot more expensive,

answers as follows:
1. 1dIIN
2. May possibly get a 5D by the end of this year, or whatever the IDSII replacement is - only IF there is a HUGE price drop (i won;t hold my breath on that  )
3. Right now shooting  both - down the line may only shoot RAW.  Right now I'm trying to minimize my time in front of th computer, concentrating on getting familiar with the camera settings, so I'm mainly working mainly with the JPEG files, and archiving the RAW until I establish a decent workflow and get a LOT more familiar with photoshop
4. hard to say in digital terms, but until i switched 4 months ago, I typically shot around 300 rolls of film a year
5.  Again unsure right now - don't really know the difference in practice, ideally i'd like to go with 48 bit
6. that's the million dollar question - would like to finish ASAP, but not at the expense of having to shell out for the latest, greatest hardware..
7. at most may have  a mail program or internet running.  as i've got a laptop from work for work related applications.

surprised to hear about aperture.  when i was at a camera store shopping for CS2, the sales person was saying that it would be released for windows later this year.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2006, 07:35:28 AM by Khurram » Logged

Khurram
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2006, 07:40:44 AM »
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I guess Khurram was thinking of Adobe Lightroom 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=60406\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

actually never heard of lightroom.  when i was shopping for CSII, and told the sales person that i probably woudn't be getting it for a few months - as i would like to get the hardware first.  he said i may want to wait until after summer, coz Aperture was supposed to be available for windows. and that it is more geared toward photographers then graphic designers.
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situgrrl
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2006, 11:19:34 AM »
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Never realy considered Apple.  haven't used one since my old junior high days with an Apple IIE  

what are the options - i did notice that apples seem to be a lot more expensive,

[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Have a look!

[a href=\"http://www.apple.com/powermac/]http://www.apple.com/powermac/[/url]
http://www.apple.com/imac/
http://www.apple.com/macmini/

The 20" Intel iMac is reported to be comparible with the G5 quad - no idea if this is true or marketing hype - but it would make it very cheap! apparently the screen is identical to the 20" cinema display, which you can also hook up to run dual screens.  


Same thing about RAM applies though
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2006, 11:55:12 AM »
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1  Virtually no maintanence.  Are there any users here willing to admit they've never virus checked their Mac?  I'm not suggesting beligerence but the first OSX worms and viruses have only just been discovered....(hence, can anyone recommend some AV software that won't destroy my sysem resources?)
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
A quick correction: There have been no trojans, worms, or viruses found on the Mac despite what the media has incorrectly hyped. The two "Trojans" that were circulating the news were proofs of concept and were completely benign. They were created to prove that there was a security hole that could be exploited if the user followed certain steps and they did absolutely no harm. One week after the proofs of concept were released, Apple published a security update patching the holes.

Since there are no viruses or spyware on the Mac, there is no way to verify if any of the AV products out there for Mac (McAffe, ClamAV, etc) actually work. They are nothing more than snake-oil.

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what are the options - i did notice that apples seem to be a lot more expensive,
Macs aren't any more expensive than a comparable PC. In fact, in the high-end they are cheaper. When I got my Mac, they were a good $1,000 less expensive than a comparable PC. Now that dual-core chips are out, I'm sure the difference is much less ($400-500 mabye).

Apple in in the middle of a transition from PPC to Intel chips. If you buy a Mac, you will need to get a PPC system otherwise PS will have to be emulated and thus it will perform slowly. At this time, that means your only choice is the PowerMac or a used/refurbished iMac.

It would be impossible for Aperture to be released for Windows as it utilizes many of Apples technologies which are specific to OS X. Even if they could port it over, they wouldn't as it is a selling point for their hardware. Lightroom is Adobe's competing product (currently Beta). Again, it's Mac only but a PC version of LR will be available soon. You can read about both programs here as Michael has written articles on each.

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The 20" Intel iMac is reported to be comparible with the G5 quad - no idea if this is true or marketing hype
Hype. Ars did some [a href=\"http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/imac-coreduo.ars/5]benchmarks[/url]. There are more benchmarks in their other two intel-mac reviews too (mini and MacBook Pro).

Based of what you said...
Windows
I really can't recommend any OEM company in particular or PCs as I think they all currently are crap one way or another. I'd recommend AlienWare but they seem to have been bought up by Dell which means your customer support experience will be hell. However, these are some things to look out for when shopping:

CPU: I'll let someone else recommend a processor for Win-PC hardware as I am a bit rusty on what's currently out (I've been focused on the upcoming Core chips from Intel since those will be in Macs by the end of the year).

RAM: 3GB - As much as you can get. RAM is cheap these days and Photoshop sucks it all up.

Video Card: Pretty much any 128MB card will do. The card will have no performance benefit for PS. If you run a CRT, Maxtox makes the best analog cards out there. If you run a LCD or plan to, it doesn't really matter what you get, As long as the card can run at the resolution of your display(s) and has at least one DVI port for a digital signal.

Optical Drives: A drive that can burn both DVDs and CDs. There is no need to buy two separate drives for each task as all-in-ones are fairly inexpensive (~$50).

Case size: It may be tempting to buy a very small form-factor case or an ultra-thin case from an OEM, but there are sacrifices to be made. Mainly in what they can hold. Many can only hold a single HDD and are very limited in expansion slots. They also tend to be a bit more pricey.

Apple
This is simpler. Yo have three choices of PowerMac.
1. Dual 2GHz
2. Dual 2.3Ghz (what I have)
3. Quad 2.5GHz

I have the 2.3 G5 and I know it certainly will be able to handle what you plan to do with it and it has enough umph to allow you to upgrade your camera equipment. It chews through Raw files and handles 48-bit files quite well. If you want to save a few bucks and by the sounds of it, you aren't working as a professional photog. I'd say you will be more than happy with the Dual 2GHz model.

Each of those Macs can have up to 16GB of RAM (!). I put in 3.5GB, you could get by with at least 2GB (Macs are much more efficient with RAM than PCs) but once you get that 5D, you should consider going to about 3GB or more.

Either Way
Hard Drive: A second HDD should be gotten for storing Photos only. Don't store them on the main HDD along with the OS since they both consume allot of space. A 250GB should last you for some time based on what you said and is cost effective (about $80).

Backup: To start, buy an external HDD the same size as the drive you store your images on. A FireWire drive is recommended as they perform faster than USB 2.0. Depending on the PC, you may need to buy a FireWire expansion card though ($20-30).

Monitor: If you go the LCD rout, you are going to be spending at least $700. It is very difficult to find a LCD display which can be calibrated properly for our kind of work. The problem these days is mostly that a majority of displays are just too dang bright. NEC, Apple, (some) Samsung, Lacie, and Eizo are the companies to look at for LCDs.

It's hard to find good CRT monitors too since the push anymore is for LCDs. Viewsonic's G series has a good rep and NEC makes some good CRTs. Beyond that, I'm not up to date with them.
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Khurram
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2006, 12:24:26 PM »
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Daniel,
Thank you for the very detailed reply - I got a lot more informatino then I expected  

By the sounds of it Mac sounds like the way to go.  THe only thing i'm going to have to look at is what software comes with the computer.  As I have invested quite a bit on windows software.  So depending on the cost involved, that may factor into my decsion.  Main concern is whether my Photoshop 7 for windows can be upgraded to CS2 for Mac.
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Vihta
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2006, 05:31:26 PM »
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Daniel,
Thank you for the very detailed reply - I got a lot more informatino then I expected  

By the sounds of it Mac sounds like the way to go.  THe only thing i'm going to have to look at is what software comes with the computer.  As I have invested quite a bit on windows software.  So depending on the cost involved, that may factor into my decsion.  Main concern is whether my Photoshop 7 for windows can be upgraded to CS2 for Mac.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=60446\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'd advice you to seek comments from others than mac fanatics, too.

I, for example, switched from macs to PCs and boy am I glad I did so. I know this comment alone will make quite a few people mad, but I must add that I have now pretty much zero problems and a silent computer whereas the mac users I know keep on sending their machines to service on a regular basis.
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ricwis
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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2006, 05:53:06 PM »
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Just because someone recommends a Mac does not mean they are a fanatic.  Quite presumptious on your part.  I've had a Mac 2.5 years now.  Switched from Windows and am glad I did. Others in the family and friends have Macs and no one has had to send in theirs for anything.  This can be very misleading to make statements like that when someone is looking for the best solution for their work.  Painting with a broad brush with statements that have no facts to back them up does not help.  There have been a multitude of total cost of ownership studies and it shows Macs are not more expensive.  Talk about quiet.  Have you heard the iMacs or the G5's?  Probably not because they are so quiet.

If there is an Apple store near you, stop in and see what choices you have.  The people in the store will be glad to show your options.  There will be some that have Photoshop installed and some have Aperture and you can see how they work and how they look.  Then you can compare with a PC and decide what will work best for you.  BTW, I have three professional photographer friends who have just gotten Mac's.  Two got the G5, one got an iMac.  They compared and got what would work best for them.

If you subscribe to the Video Journal, you will notice that many of the tutorials are done on a Mac Powerbook.
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Rich Wisler
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2006, 06:40:46 PM »
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Computers are tools and just like tools, one should buy what will work for them best. I personally think Macs are the better tool in many regards-particulary in our field-and there is plenty of hard evidence and testimony to back that up. However, some peoples needs or even preferences call for Windows and that's hunky-dory with me. I use both and have (tried) to run *nix systems too (I attempted BeOS even).

Khurram,
You should be able to upgrade. I don't think a Mac upgrade will accept a Win version (could be wrong) but Adobe will let you swap the Win version out for a Mac license for free. I'm not sure exactly how it would work going from 7 to CS2 so you should call Adobe's customer service to see exactly how to go about it.
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Vihta
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2006, 03:12:56 AM »
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Just because someone recommends a Mac does not mean they are a fanatic.  Quite presumptious on your part. 

Yes it is presumptious, but usually conversations like this are full of fanatics.

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I've had a Mac 2.5 years now.  Switched from Windows and am glad I did. Others in the family and friends have Macs and no one has had to send in theirs for anything.  This can be very misleading to make statements like that when someone is looking for the best solution for their work.  Painting with a broad brush with statements that have no facts to back them up does not help. 

My brush wasn't any wider than others here. "All pc oems are crap", "Macs are cheaper", "macs never break" and so on. I haven't seen any facts here backing up that all pc oems are crap or that macs are indeed cheaper or that macs do not break down. The best solution isn't always a mac, either.

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Talk about quiet.  Have you heard the iMacs or the G5's?  Probably not because they are so quiet.

Yes I have heard them and in my opinion they are very loud. Yes, very loud. This is subjective, of course. To me a computer that makes a sound that can be heard a meter away from the machine when under 100% load is too loud already.

I had a dual G5 (2GHz) and it was like a jet engine when stressed. My current self built pc is inaudible unless I put my ear against the case, it's way faster than the G5 and it was about 500 cheaper, too. But hey, I can not prove this in any way here.

I'd still recommend the original poster to consider other options than macs. Maybe ask from some other forum, too. Maybe some local geek would be willing to build you a machine or do it yourself.
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Pelao
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2006, 09:40:53 AM »
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Hi Khurram

First thing I suggest is take your time. You want to get, say, 3 years out of your purchase so consider carefully.

One thing to ponder is your level of interest and skill in managing your computer. If you are a person who wants to purchase a machine that is simple to set up and just runs, and have little interest in tinkering and don't want to be bothered managing the operating system, then purchase carefully.

I have extensive experience of Mac and Win platforms, in both corporate and personal use. That experience has proven to me over and over that if you want a machine that just works, that allows you to focus on the job at hand, then the Mac is a superior choice.

It's amusing that if you are pro-Mac you can be labelled a fanatic. To some extent though, it may be fair. The reason is that many who have spent years working in a Win environment, and then use a Mac, simply cannot understand why they did not choose Macs earlier. The entire experience is simpler for most users.

Of course many Win users experience few problems, but there is a cost. They have to know how to manage the operating system. They have to posess problem solving skills. They must invest in anti-virus and ant-spyware software. My colleagues in IT who use Win machines all know how to manage them, but happily agree that a Mac machine is more productive.

When it comes to pricing, check the complete bottom line of any purchase, rather then the headline offering. You will find macs very competitive - and the operating costs are lower.

As far as details go, 61Dynamic and others have covered everything I would offer.

One post mentioned a lack of evidence regarding the benefits of the Mac operating system. One of the tasks my company undertakes is technology review, in which we assess all aspects of a clients hardware, software, training, growth path etc. If you want specific independent reports and research just Google around or PM me. We need to use this stuff all the time.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2006, 11:25:43 AM »
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It's amusing that if you are pro-Mac you can be labelled a fanatic. To some extent though, it may be fair. The reason is that many who have spent years working in a Win environment, and then use a Mac, simply cannot understand why they did not choose Macs earlier. The entire experience is simpler for most users.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=60510\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Exactly right. Many of the people who berate macs and mac users typically have never even used a mac.

I used PCs for 12 years and was a hard-core mac hater until just a couple years ago Macs started to perk my interest with OS X. Like Pelao said, I wish I had switched sooner. Not just because they are generally easier to use but because I'm considerably more productive with a Mac. It's an OS that doesn't get in your way like WinXP constantly does.

I'll elaborate as to why I think EOMs aren't very good. Vihta took what I said wrong and assumed I am bashing WinPCs but I'm not. I'm bashing OEM companies specifically. The biggest issue with OEMs is that they build to a low price. Dell eliminated the middle-man and that prompted others to do similar. A price-war began and all was good for a while. Then it got to a point where margins became razor-thin and corners needed to get cut. Most OEM systems are built with cheap-arse parts and customer service is weak at best. Having your call transfered to India in order to follow a pre-scripted 3-hour song and dance to get a replacement part is crap, but it's all to common with OEMs.

With Macs, all customer service as of now is in California (there is news that calls will start to be sent to India soon though). Or, you can walk into an Apple store and get industry-leading customer service from a G.E.N.I.U.S. ProCare lets you get your system fixed next-day.

The next item about OEMs is that of advertisements. Many OEMs strike deals with companies like AOL (*shudder*) and your brand-new computer becomes an advertising billboard chalk-full of crappy software which does nothing but load up your computer with useless crap an send you to places where you can buy useless crap. These programs can and often do degrades a systems stability. HP in particular is notoriously bad for this. With Dell you can just wipe the system clean and re-install with the OS Disc. With HP (and some others), you don't even get a OS disc since they'd rather save that >$1 it would cost to make the disc for themselves.

If a person wants to buy a Window PC then they should buy from a smaller company (such as Alienware if they don't get bought up) or build their own. This offers the person the best system they can get, flexibility and the greatest level of upgradability. Of course building comes at a price as if you or the person building doesn't know what they are doing, you can end up with a very unstable or problematic system due to in-compatable parts (a situation I've seen numerous times). Then there is the lack of a warranty of the likes you get from OEMs.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2006, 11:28:51 AM by 61Dynamic » Logged
Khurram
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2006, 08:57:08 PM »
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i've been looking at the pricing for macs.  the only ones that are in the price range i'm looking at (actually both are over what i wanted to spend), are the iMacs.  the 17" monitor iMac is closer to the price range i was looking for ($1499), but the 512 RAM is only expandable to 2gb (for another $200) - is this enough.

the 20" iMac has the same limit, but has a 250gb drive versus 160gb - sells for $1999 CDN (and another $200 to expand to 2gb RAM).

I know I can get a PC for around $1000 that has 200gb drive and 2gb of RAM, although i will have to buy a lcd monitor.

With the iMac, I will also have to spend another $200 to get microsoft office.

aside from the cost decision i need to make, i wanted to know whether the iMac expanded to 2gb will be ok for my needs.  Most previous suggestions were for at least 3gb of RAM - which is not an available option with the iMacs.  The other option - the G5's are well outside the price range i set ($2500+)
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2006, 09:16:30 PM »
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2GB RAM should be fine for your needs. The only issue about the iMac is that of the processor. All of the new iMacs use Intel chips. This makes them faster than the previous G5s but Photoshop does not support Intel-based macs and has to be imulated. This will make PS quite sluggish for a wile as PS will not support Intel-macs untill PS CS3 is released in early 2007.

So basically you have two choices going with the iMac.
  • Put up with some sluggishness untill PS CS3 is released.
  • Buy a refurbished G5 iMac.
The second would be a better option really. It's typically best to wait for the first gen (rev.A) hardware to be updated with Rev.B stuff to avoid any unpleasant bugs/quirks in new hardware designs. Look for a red tag on the side of the Apple online store for refurbished stuff.

LightRoom is universal binary so it'll run just fine on iether G5 or Intell hardware.
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macgyver
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« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2006, 10:18:24 PM »
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2GB RAM should be fine for your needs. The only issue about the iMac is that of the processor. All of the new iMacs use Intel chips. This makes them faster than the previous G5s but Photoshop does not support Intel-based macs and has to be imulated. This will make PS quite sluggish for a wile as PS will not support Intel-macs untill PS CS3 is released in early 2007.

So basically you have two choices going with the iMac.
  • Put up with some sluggishness untill PS CS3 is released.
  • Buy a refurbished G5 iMac.
The second would be a better option really. It's typically best to wait for the first gen (rev.A) hardware to be updated with Rev.B stuff to avoid any unpleasant bugs/quirks in new hardware designs. Look for a red tag on the side of the Apple online store for refurbished stuff.

LightRoom is universal binary so it'll run just fine on iether G5 or Intell hardware.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=60848\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I disagree, wait for then Intel Mac if you can.  I agree with the part about avoiding Rev A hardware, but I'm willing to bet that Apple will have updated those imacs by the time PS CS3 rolls around.  Buy the machine that will last you the longest.
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Khurram
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2006, 12:08:53 PM »
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thanks for the advice. I didn't realize there was an issue using CS2 with the intel iMac's.
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Khurram
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« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2006, 07:21:59 PM »
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decided to stick with PC.  the only Mac i can afford is the 17" iMac.  and if there are going to be performance issues with CS2,  that will mean i'll have to upgrade to CS3, i don't want to take another hit there.  I think CS2 will be sufficient for my needs. (i'm already going to have to upgrade/or purchase CS2 - depending on whether my second hand version of PS7 is upgradeble to CS2 or not).

anyway, i picked out a my computer system from memory express, which i'll be ordering shortly.  wanted to get some advice on a monitor.  The salesperson at memory express recommended I get a CRT instead of a LCD.  he also said they don't have any monitors that are good for photo applications, and recommended I pick up the monitor from somewhere else.  

I would appreciate some advice on  a monitor - note, i'm not looking for a high end model, looking for something servicable but for someone on a budget, as the switch to digital has been a very expensive 4 months.
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