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Author Topic: New PC advise for Medium Format  (Read 6970 times)
Dave Gurtcheff
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« on: March 26, 2011, 02:21:22 PM »
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Hello all:
First, I am not a Pro. I am a retired 74 year old engineer. I am very fortunate in that I found a nice niche printing, mounting, matting, framing and selling my seascape prints. I make big prints (13"x19", 16"x24" 24"x30" and 24"x32". I have been using a 1DS III, and Alpha 900 full frame cameras, and up until now, my PC with 4 gb ram was able to struggle along. In December I added a Pentax 645D. The files are much bigger, and my PC is choking. Quite often in Photoshop I get an OUT OF RAM error message. I am on a budget. I went to HP's site and "confgured" a PC, but my expertise in state of the art PCs is limited. My criteria is:
1. I need a firewire to run my Polaroid 120 Sprintscan medium format/35mm film scanner
2. I figured I should get 16 gb ram
3. I presently have two hard drives, one for programs, one for files...I would like to retain that configuration
4. I do not need a monitor, keyboard, or mouse (I use a Wacom Tablet). I do not need speakers.

I configured an HPE560z as follows:
1. Windows 7 Home 64 bit
2. AMD Phenom II x6 1075 six-core processor (3.0 GHZ, 3MB L2+6MB L3 shared, up to 4000 Mhz)
3. 16 GB DDR-3-1333 Mhz SDRAM (4 DIMMS)
4. Primary drive: 1TB 7200 RPM 3gb/s SATA Hard Drive
5. Secondary drive: Same as above
6. Graphics Card: 1 GB DDR3 AMD Radeon HD 6450 (DVI, HDMI, VGA adapter) (NOTE: The PC will not be used for games, etc)
7. Primary Optical Drive: LightScribe 16x max DVD+/-R/RW (NOTE: I have a modern external USB Blu-Ray burner).
8. "Productivity Port" (on front of PC): 15-in 1 memory card reader, 1 USB, and one 1394, and audio)
Can anyone comment? BTW the price as configured is $1,308.
Thanks in advance  Lips sealed
Dave Gurtcheff
Beach Haven, NJ
www.modernpictorials.com
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darr
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2011, 02:24:07 PM »
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I would get 24 GB of RAM.

I just upgraded my DELL T7500 to 24 GB RAM from crucial.com.  I run Lightroom and CS5 together bouncing back and forth with P45 and FF Nikon files and found it made a noticeable difference form the previous 12 GB I had previously. I think RAM (and processor speed) can make all the difference when working with MF files.

There are a few computer geeks on this forum that can tell you better than me. Smiley
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 02:32:05 PM by darr » Logged

Dave Gurtcheff
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2011, 02:37:02 PM »
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Thank you Darr. The HP I was looking at had a max of 16 gb RAM. I will check the Dell site and see if I can find the T7500.
Dave
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darr
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 02:41:28 PM »
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Dave,
I would seriously look at a Puget Systems Genesis system.  When I need to replace my DELL, it will be with a Puget Genesis. 

Darr
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Dave Gurtcheff
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 03:18:55 PM »
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Dave,
I would seriously look at a Puget Systems Genesis system.  When I need to replace my DELL, it will be with a Puget Genesis. 

Darr
Thanks for the link. I went to the site and saw some nice configurations, and sent them a note regarding my needs and budget.
Dave
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BFoto
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2011, 05:22:57 PM »
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Hello all:
 ...1DS III,.... and Alpha 900....  I added a Pentax 645D. .....

I am on a budget.

mmmm, something doesn't add up here mate.

The computer is 1/3 of the work flow...!

Just sayin.
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Craig Lamson
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2011, 07:28:30 PM »
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Have you considered building your own windows computer?  You can get a whole lot of machine for surprisingly little money.  Assembly is mostly plug and play and with an engineering background I think you should be able to get the job done with a bit of internet help.
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Steve Weldon
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2011, 11:44:41 PM »
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Dave -

+1 for Craig's post.  You can easily build your own to much higher specs for less money (usually).  Most towns, even small ones, will have a PC builder who will put one together to your specs for not much as well.

The hard part is in knowing what parts and why you're buying them.  I tried to cover the basics in this article which you may find helpful.  It talks about a build and why each part was selected.

Good luck.
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feppe
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2011, 06:12:13 AM »
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As someone who's been building his own computers for 15+ years, I agree that building your own workstation for heavy lifting is indeed cheaper, but it's not something I would recommend to someone who hasn't done it before. There are a lot of things one has to keep in mind and to know for best performance, such as right socket in mobo/CPU, how many rails should be in the PSU, memory timings, which SATA/RAID card is best, how to ensure proper cooling, etc.

It will take hours and hours of research to get up to speed on what's required, needed and desirable - of course for a non-professional this might not be an issue at all. Nevertheless, a first build is prone to mistakes and perhaps best outsourced to a professional or a PC manufacturer.
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Steve Weldon
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2011, 06:39:58 AM »
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It will take hours and hours of research to get up to speed on what's required, needed and desirable - of course for a non-professional this might not be an issue at all. Nevertheless, a first build is prone to mistakes and perhaps best outsourced to a professional or a PC manufacturer.
All true, expect I think you meant PC Builder?

The problem I've noticed is there's not much information out there which focuses on imaging workstations.  "Generally" what works well for gaming also works well imaging, but there are important differences.  When researching find material which focuses on imaging workstations and is as current as possible, and then find a builder who's actually built imaging workstations.

If you buy a pre-built from HP or someplace similar you'll often end up replacing  the entire PC each time.  They put in 'just enough' power supply and other components to market the thing, which really doesn't serve the long term user well.  If, you spec out a top case and power supply, top drives, you'll often find you can make significant upgrades for less money by just replacing the CPU/RAM/MB and maybe a video card..  A top case can be good forever.. a top power supply for maybe 3-4 builds.. and drives until they reach the end of their recommended life. 

It's worth getting up to speed on these things and hunting down a builder you can trust.  The mechanics of assembling a system isn't difficult at all, but choosing the right components can be a challenge.
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Dave Gurtcheff
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2011, 11:01:32 AM »
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Thank you all. I found the replies from Pugent Systems to be quick, and found their recommendations for a system to be helpful. If you configure a work station on line, and state what your end use is, they will critique it and offer improvements. I am waiting for a response and price from them for my most recent request. I think they have the "build your own" advantages, but they do it all the time. I have absolutly no connection with the company; in fact I never heard of them until this forum.
Dave
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keithrsmith
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2011, 02:35:26 AM »
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Make sure that your scanner has driver support for Windows 7 64 bit. 

Keith
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BobShram
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« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2011, 07:08:26 AM »
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Dave
You may think of having your Hard drive with the OS and programs a SAS drive and the one for files a SATA drive. I would think you would only need a 250gb for the SAS drive, 1tb seems high for this. The SAS would help speed up the process. You would have to make sure the MB is compatable though.

I agree with BFoto though you may wish to spend a bit more on the computer.

 Best of luck, Bob.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 07:17:16 AM by BobShram » Logged
Dave Gurtcheff
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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2011, 07:25:27 AM »
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Keith: You are exactly correct. My Polaroid 120 Sprintscan is an orphan. The disk that came with it will not even support XP. I had to go on line, and a gentleman here, a few years back, sent me the driver compatible with XP. I originally down loaded it from Polaroid's site, then my PC crashed, and their site was gone! I do have a copy of the driver, but I am sure it may not work on Windows 7, unless it has an "XP" mode?
Thanks all for the suggestions and help.
Dave

Make sure that your scanner has driver support for Windows 7 64 bit. 

Keith
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Steve Weldon
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2011, 08:00:25 AM »
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Keith: You are exactly correct. My Polaroid 120 Sprintscan is an orphan. The disk that came with it will not even support XP. I had to go on line, and a gentleman here, a few years back, sent me the driver compatible with XP. I originally down loaded it from Polaroid's site, then my PC crashed, and their site was gone! I do have a copy of the driver, but I am sure it may not work on Windows 7, unless it has an "XP" mode?
Thanks all for the suggestions and help.
Dave


You just happen to be in luck.. Windows Pro, Ultimate and Enterprise are compatible with a Microsoft supplied downloadable XP mode.  You can read more about it in this excellent article.  Basically you end up running a 'virtual' XP machine.  In my experience this works great for legacy 98/ME/2000/XP software, but is often problematic where drivers are concerned.  You'll probably need to play with it a bit..

And.. where it can also become a problem is with a x64 machine.. not sure a x64 machine can virtualize a x32 environment?  Anyone know how this works when it comes to drivers?  Software it can do, drivers not so sure..

Many people keep an old laptop or some old machine around just for software applications such as these..
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2011, 08:23:10 AM »
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I do have a copy of the driver, but I am sure it may not work on Windows 7, unless it has an "XP" mode?

Hi Dave,

Windows 7 does have an XP-mode (it runs as a virtual machine), but I'm not sure whether you need the Win7 Premium version to allow enabling XP-mode. However, there is no need to, because VueScan most likely can drive the scanner (it's on the supported scanners list). I know it drives my scanners, and one or two of them are also not supported anymore by the manufacturer, but VueScan has no problem with them so I never bothered to try installing the outdated drivers after upgrading to Win 7.

Cheers,
Bart
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Dave Gurtcheff
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« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2011, 08:25:57 AM »
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You just happen to be in luck.. Windows Pro, Ultimate and Enterprise are compatible with a Microsoft supplied downloadable XP mode.  You can read more about it in this excellent article.  Basically you end up running a 'virtual' XP machine.  In my experience this works great for legacy 98/ME/2000/XP software, but is often problematic where drivers are concerned.  You'll probably need to play with it a bit..

And.. where it can also become a problem is with a x64 machine.. not sure a x64 machine can virtualize a x32 environment?  Anyone know how this works when it comes to drivers?  Software it can do, drivers not so sure..

Many people keep an old laptop or some old machine around just for software applications such as these..

Steve: That's a good thought. My present PC is still running....I could take it and my scanner to my workshop, and use it strictly for legacy stuff.
Thanks for the idea.
Dave
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Dave Gurtcheff
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« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2011, 08:33:33 AM »
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Hi Dave,

Windows 7 does have an XP-mode (it runs as a virtual machine), but I'm not sure whether you need the Win7 Premium version to allow enabling XP-mode. However, there is no need to, because VueScan most likely can drive the scanner (it's on the supported scanners list). I know it drives my scanners, and one or two of them are also not supported anymore by the manufacturer, but VueScan has no problem with them so I never bothered to try installing the outdated drivers after upgrading to Win 7.

Cheers,
Bart

Hi Bart: That's FANTASTIC that VueScan can support my Orphaned Polaroid. I really like the scanner...it was one of the earliest to support 120 medium format film. All my earlier work was done scanning color and B&W negative film. Some of my best and best selling work was done with Pentax 67 and 645 scanned negatives. Scanned at 4000 dpi, they are capable of really BIG prints!
Thanks again all.
Dave
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Dave Gurtcheff
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« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2011, 02:24:59 PM »
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Thanks all here for the help and advice. Several people pointed out I should not be pinching pennies here, as the PC is 1/3 the work flow. I went over my budget a bit, but the folks at Puget Systems have been very prompt and helpful configuring a system for me knowing my end use. What they suggest (copied and pasted from their site, I hope they don't mind) is as follows (comments welcome):

System Core
Motherboard  Asus P8H67-M EVO REV 3.0     
CPU  Intel Core i5 2500K QUAD CORE 3.3GHz 95W   
Ram  Kingston 16GB DDR3-1333 (4x4GB) 
Video Card  XFX Radeon HD 5670 512MB   
 
Storage
Hard Drive  Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB

  Comments: Secondary drive.
 
 
 Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB SATA 6 Gb/s

  Comments: Primary drive.
 
   
CD / DVD  Asus 24x DVD-RW Lightscribe SATA (black)   
 
Case / Cooling
Case  Antec Mini P180 (Black)   
Power Supply  Antec TruePower 650W Power Supply   
CPU Cooling  Scythe Katana 3 CPU Cooler   
 
Software
OS  Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM SP1   
Software: Security  Microsoft Security Essentials [NO SUPPORT]   
 
Accessories
Services  Warranty: Lifetime Labor, 1 Year Parts

Thanks again for your help
Dave

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feppe
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« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2011, 02:35:38 PM »
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Thanks all here for the help and advice. Several people pointed out I should not be pinching pennies here, as the PC is 1/3 the work flow. I went over my budget a bit, but the folks at Puget Systems have been very prompt and helpful configuring a system for me knowing my end use. What they suggest (copied and pasted from their site, I hope they don't mind) is as follows (comments welcome):

System Core
Motherboard  Asus P8H67-M EVO REV 3.0     
CPU  Intel Core i5 2500K QUAD CORE 3.3GHz 95W   
Ram  Kingston 16GB DDR3-1333 (4x4GB) 
Video Card  XFX Radeon HD 5670 512MB   
 
Storage
Hard Drive  Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB

  Comments: Secondary drive.
 
 
 Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB SATA 6 Gb/s

  Comments: Primary drive.
 
   
CD / DVD  Asus 24x DVD-RW Lightscribe SATA (black)   
 
Case / Cooling
Case  Antec Mini P180 (Black)   
Power Supply  Antec TruePower 650W Power Supply   
CPU Cooling  Scythe Katana 3 CPU Cooler   
 
Software
OS  Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM SP1   
Software: Security  Microsoft Security Essentials [NO SUPPORT]   
 
Accessories
Services  Warranty: Lifetime Labor, 1 Year Parts

Thanks again for your help
Dave



Not sure why they have listed 1.5TB drive - you get much better bang for euro with 2TB drives at least in Netherlands. Don't know what WD's current warranty policy is (not buying them anymore after their "premium" Raptor failed on me and the painful RMA took over a month), but it's probably longer than the quoted 1 year. Samsung, for example, has 3 years.

Also, a "green" (5400 rpm) drive will be slower than 7200rpm or 10k+ drives. This might or might not matter to you, but reading a .psd file in the hundreds of megs can take a while on slower drives. OS drive probably doesn't matter due to Superfetch and programs need to only be started once, but you'll be reading and writing those heavy image files over and over again, so a faster data drive might make sense.

For a computer used for heavy lifting a striped RAID array or SSD might make sense for cache/scrap, although you shouldn't need that with 16 gigs of memory, so ROI might not be high enough for the considerable expense.
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