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Build Advice New Build advice for Photographer

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Bigjohn, 1 Dec 2008.

  1. Bigjohn

    Bigjohn What's a Dremel?

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    Hi folks, Im looking to build a computer but Im totally new to computer building.Im a full time Professional photographer so would be working alot with image editing software like pshop.
    I would have a budget of about £1500.
    Am I better trying to go the extra for a Mac or can a really good PC be custom built?

    Thanks

    John
     
  2. Pookeyhead

    Pookeyhead It's big, and it's clever.

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    As for Mac vs PC... you will get other photographers say ing "Get a Mac" etc "Because it's the industry standard". Well.. rubbish.. Photoshop is the industry standard, and that runs on both platforms and is identical on both platforms. Once youve loaded PS it makes no difference what platform you are on. I would suggest PC though because they're cheaper, more upgradable, and are not a one trick pony.

    Does the £1500 include Photoshop itself? If so, then that's not leaving much for a PC!!!

    If not, then £1500 is plenty.

    If it's only going to be a Photoshop workstation and nothing else, then forget all singing/dancing 3D cards because you wont need it. Just get any video card with at least 128Mb or memory and you'll be fine. If you want gaming powah then just look at the other video card threads to tell you where to put your money.

    RAM RAM RAM :) That's all I can say. Don't let anyone tell you that you don't need lots of RAM with PS, because they're lying. I do this for a living and I promise you there;'s no such thing as too much RAM. Try for 8Gb but check the motherboard can actually work at decent speed/timings before you buy. Some only work at decent speeds with 4Gb. My advice is.. 4Gb is the absolute Minimum you want, especially if using Vista. I recommend 8Gb as the sweet spot.

    A dual core processor of course, and the fastest you can afford. If you can't stretch your budget to a core i7 yet, then at least a 45nm type chip such as a E8xxx series Intel chip. DDR3 may see benefits also. Photoshop needs a fast processor and memory (lots of it), and good amounts of hard drive space. anything else is secondary.

    Loads of hard drive space is also a must. Go for a couple of 500Gb drives at least.

    Monitor: Skimping at this stage is mental... at least a 24 wide screen IMO. Dell 2408 springs to mind as a very decent screen. 2 screens is also very desireable, but the second screen doesn't have to be as big. The idea is, all your tools/pallettes are on one screen, and the work is on another, so a 24 wide or larger as the main screen, and a 19 4:3 screen for your tools etc. That would be a nice touch. If you can only afford one screen, just get the biggest/best you can. Speed of the display is not important as you're working with still images, so you need to look for max brightness, and more importantly, contrast ratios... higher the better!

    Calibration!

    Colorvision's Spyder2 Pro is essential... if you're serious, you need a calibrated screen.

    [Edit] It's now at version 3

    As for anything else... all personal prefs to be honest. Loads of RAM, no need for a fast 3D card.. loads of HD space, and a big, decent, well calibrated screen... pretty much all you need for a PS workstation.

    Think about connectivity though... card readers etc. This is where the Dell monitor scores points.

    Also... a decent graphics tablet. Don't under-estimate the importance of this. If you're serious, then you need one. Don't bother with anything other than a Wacom tablet. Visit their website to see latest models, but cheap ones can be found on Ebay.

    A decent RAW editing program perhaps... but Adobe Lightroom does a decent job these days. Pixmantec Rawshooter was my default choice, but Pixmantect have been aquired by adobe, and most of the engine for Rawshooter has found it's way into Bridge now.


    Lastly... a copy of Photoshop CS3 for Photographers by Martin Evening.
     
    Last edited: 4 Dec 2008
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  3. Pookeyhead

    Pookeyhead It's big, and it's clever.

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    As for sound, all motherboards will have on-board sound so dont worry about that.

    Same with the web, any PC will be more than adequate for web browsing, and certainly any PC that is a capable PS workstation.

    I'd get a fairly roomy case to make building it easier, and upgrading it easier. Because you have a limited budget, don't go mad with the case.. just something with adequate room and well designed mounting hardware.

    This is a worthy case. Roomy, decent tool-less mounting, and big, slow fans for quietness. Decent price too. I've just built a system for someone using this case, and I was impressed by it.

    this is a decent board. Pricey, but uses DDR3 for max bandwidth, and also has great connectivity: 6 internal SATAII headers, and also a rear panel SATA slot for external drives. Plenty of USB ports and also one external and one internal firewire port. It also has a lot of stuff you dont need, but it's a well designed board. This is not a socket 1366 board though, so you can't use the new i7 chips... but to be honest, there arent that many 1366 boards around yet, so best wait a while if you want to go down that road. A decent dual or quad core chip for socket 775 will be more than enough tho.


    This is a decent dual core chip to use with that board. I woudl argue that a quad core chip is unnecessary unless you plan on doing loads of other stuff while you work.

    As for memory, the fastest route is a triple channel motherboard with fast DDR3, but most boards I know of don't let you use 4 or more slots in triple channel mode, and as you want 8Gb, you're in a bit of a tight spot. To be honest tho, the gains with triple channel are minimal. As you're not interested in gaming or overclocking there's no need to go mental with RAM, plus, 8 GB will be expensive enough without buying "uber" RAM anyway. I would argue that the gains you'll see by buying the fastest ram that board can support will also not be worth the extra cost... not for Photoshop anyway.


    In fact.... when it comes to memory, I'll throw this open to the forums because I'm not fully up to speed as to what's best after a 2 year absence from the whole modding/building scene. So I hope you don't mind if I mirror this to the forum so you can get more feedback.

    The general advice I'm giving you is sound, but I'd be happier if someone more up to speed with specific memory/motherboard combos could double check my advice.


    EDIT: That case doesnt come with a power supply, so make sure you get a decent one! Cheap PSUs are a waste of money. You'll want at least 500W and the build will be way easier if you get a modular type so you only plug in the cables you need. Anything by Tagan or Enermax will be fine. I've always used PSUs by these two and always been impressed by the quality of the output.

    EDIT AGAIN: You neglected to mention if you were building your own system or buying a pre-built system as well. This would be helpful to know.
     
    Last edited: 3 Dec 2008
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  4. Bigjohn

    Bigjohn What's a Dremel?

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    Yes Im planning on building my own this time round,I normally creat montages for motorsport which can be 300mb plus with all the layers.I normally play music or listen to online radio while editing and I use lightroom for finding and browsing for images my email / outlook is normally running too.

    John
     
  5. Pookeyhead

    Pookeyhead It's big, and it's clever.

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    All easily handled by a dual core chip, so if you wish to save money, go for a dual core chip rather than a quad core. The one I linked to gives the best bang for the buck.
     
  6. Guest-23315

    Guest-23315 Guest

    Pookey- is it really worth going for DDR3? Surely an e8400/Q9450 or so with 4-8Gb of DDR2 would work just aswell?
     
  7. Pookeyhead

    Pookeyhead It's big, and it's clever.

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    I just found that memory bandwidth/speed had a great effect on PS work. When I upgraded from a single channel system to a dual channel system a few years back (both chips a similar speed) the dual channel system had significant benefits. While a DDR2 system would be more than up to the job, I can foresee benefits with DDR3. The increase in price isn't massive either, so you may as well.

    If budget gets tight tho, choosing a DDR2 motherboard and RAM would be the place to compromise rather than the chip... agreed.
     
  8. Thatguy119

    Thatguy119 Minimodder

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    This is somthing i litrally stuck together in 5 mins, not perfect, but contains all the right components

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Pookeyhead

    Pookeyhead It's big, and it's clever.

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    Looks good. The triple channel will help eek out the last drop of performance.

    What sort of connectivity does that board have tho? The original poster needs loads of storage and as many external drive possibilities as he can. He didnt mention what external drives he has.. whether they're firewire, USB, or eSATA however, which is why I specced a board that can do all three.

    Your choice is cheaper however. :)
     
  10. Thatguy119

    Thatguy119 Minimodder

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    He could get the p6t, but i think this has about the same connectors, definatly SATA and USB. Its designed to have lots of storage, and future proof power. If he wants, he could drop the HDD's get a SAS cards and get a couple of seagate cheeta's. They are IMMENSE, one of my friends has 4. They installed a 6 gig file in under 2 mins
     
  11. Bigjohn

    Bigjohn What's a Dremel?

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    Thanks folks for taking the time to rely and post advise, I have a number of harddrives most of which are USB with two 500s Ive just bought been firewire all are externals
    At the minute I have 6 external hardrives 2 250s and 4, 500s
    A really good multicard reader is a must and I have 3 printers, an Epson R2400, Fujifilm ASK1500 dyesub and a kodak 1400 dyesub

    John
     
  12. Zargon

    Zargon Master of the Universe

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    John, if you're a pro photog then I guess you're eyeing up the new cameras from canon and nikon which are >20Mpix monsters (if you don't already have one). If you bought a D3x each RAW picture would be 50mb, so you're going to need masses of storage. If I were you I'd be tempted to buy some large HDs and raid them to give you space and redudancy (this can be done internally or externally). Scan has 640Gb samsung F1's for £44 a pop ... happy days.

    Apart from that I'd go for 8gb ram min, and you might want to think about a quad core cpu as (I think I'm right in saying, you should check) that lightroom and (some) photoshop functions can use all four cores now, which might speed things up for you.

    HTH.
     
  13. Bigjohn

    Bigjohn What's a Dremel?

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    Yes at the minute I use the Canon 1DSmk2 which has 50mb tiff files when saved and I'll be upgrading to the 1dsmk3 soon.

    John
     
  14. AJB2K3

    AJB2K3 What's a Dremel?

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    IMHO buy a cheep laptop, put a linux distro on it and keep the rest for you camera.
    Linux is full of software and doesn't cost anything.
     
  15. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    DO NOT go for the Lian Armoursuit, it's generally badly built and badly fitting of hardware from experience. The one LianLi that was really truly pants - three of us attempted to build a working PC in it and failed in the end.

    For £140 there's a bevvy of other, better cases we've reviewed since.
     
  16. mushi_999

    mushi_999 Minimodder

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    The link for the processor doesnt work.
     
  17. cpemma

    cpemma Ecky thump

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    That's a must for any professional - safeguarding your data. RAID is a first step, but think carefully about your backup system.
     
  18. Pookeyhead

    Pookeyhead It's big, and it's clever.

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    While RAID gives redundancy... so does a robust back up strategy :) I've never used RAID but always have a strict backup policy. I back up using Ghost to an external drive, then create a copy of that backup to a second external drive which is always kept off site. The chances of your main drive failing, then your back up drive, and then your second back up drive are incredibly remote.

    With large files storage is always a problem, and while hard drives are so cheap, take advantage and upgrade to terrabyte HDs wherever possible. With prices like these you'd be crazy not to just go mental and have as many Tbs as possible.

    I'm still using D2Xs and struggle with space sometimes. Hell.. even when I use my little 350D for personal stuff it can be a problem :) There's no such thing as too much hard drive space if you're a photographer.



    So it doesn't. It was just a link to a E8400 anyway... which appears to be a great balance between performance and price from what I can see. Fixed it anyway.
     
  19. Zargon

    Zargon Master of the Universe

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    The thing about protecting data is that everyone has their own preference. Using Ghost etc to automatically schedule regular backups is a worthwhile route to choose, but I prefer the really lazy way ...... aka raid. My main data disc is actually two terrabyte drives in raid 1, and everytime I download my photos they are instantly copied across two HDs without me having to think about it. Most decent motherboards can control the raid array, so it's cheap and easy to setup and I always get an instant backup.

    Note: you would then need to further backup offsite, but it's not quite so urget as you already have multiple copies.

    Each to their own though.
     
  20. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    It's not a backup though, because if you get a power spike or the RAID controller messes up (I've had this) and corrupts both disks, you're buggered.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 3 Dec 2008

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