Requirements for PC and Printer for digital photography

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Michael Harris, Jul 9, 2004.

  1. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Screenwriter

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    Let me apologize from the outset since this sound more like a PC question than a photography question but I figured that digital photo folks would best be able to answer.

    First what do you think are the optimal requirements for processing, editing, manipulating, etc digital pictures on a Windows PC. Please just don't tell me to throw it out and buy a Mac. Can't afford it yet so I must do with what I have. Currently I have a 1Ghz PIII with 512meg of memory. Hard drive is only 40Gig but that will increase.

    For printing photos I am looking at the followng Epsons since I like the fact that they have seperate ink cartridges for the colors: R200, R300M, and the R800.

    I am also looking to buy a dedicated negative scanner. Any suggestions under $400? There is one by Minolta that caught my eye but I can't remember the model number.

    Lastly what about photo editing software? Certainly don't need the full power of Adobe photoshop. Mostly need something that can correct mistakes like under/over exposure, cropping, correcting colors, etc.

    FYI, my new digital camera is a Nikon D-70 and I love it.
     
  2. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    1 GHz and 512 MB of RAM are more than enough for basic photo editing. 40 GB of HD space (total, including applications and OS) is plenty for editing one batch of photos, but way too small if you want to archive scans of many years worth of negatives on your PC.

    Epson photo printers print real nice looking output -- when they are working. The biggest drawback to Epsons is print head cleaning. The print heads are permanently attached to the printer, and the only way of cleaning them if they get fouled (which they do!) is through software. Sometimes it may take many cleaning cycles before you get clean output.

    For inexpensive photo editing, Adobe PhotoShop Elements version 2.0 is only $100 and has many of the features of Adobe PhotoShop. Adobe left out a few things the print publishing industry cannot live without (e.g., CYMK support) and a few nice features (e.g., 48-bit color and the "Healing Brush"). I got v1 for free with my negative scanner, and bought v2 for the ability to run natively in Mac OS X.
     
  3. Ari

    Ari Stunt Coordinator

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    The first thing you should do is head on over to DPReview and go to their forums. Lots of information on exactly what you are asking.

    In terms of your computer, what you currently have is adequate but I bet you'll soon find yourself wishing for more. People have built dual Opteron rigs, RAID, 2GB of RAM, etc. just for photo editing. Most people end up with something like a relatively recent P4 (~2.5 Ghz), 1 GB of RAM and 160GB of HD space (2x80GB).

    There is also a lot more software that you'll probably want besides Photoshop. I personally use the following:
    1. Pixort - culling junk images from shoots
    2. Capture One - conversion of RAW (or in your case NEF) files to JPG or TIF; exposure and white balance correction
    3. Photoshop CS
    4. Downloader Pro - automatically saves and renames downloaded images
    5. Breezebrowser - image viewer
    6. Neat Image - clean up high ISO images

    It's probably going overboard to get all of these when just starting. Most of them are available as free demos (pixort is totally free) so you can try them out that way.
     
  4. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    If you've acquired a D-70, then you are serious enough to consider Photoshop CS - if not now, then down the road. If you are a student, or know a student or staff / faculty, you might look into the educational discounts... you can get the real deal for less than half price.

    For now, Photoshop LE ought to hold you.

    I highly recommend Epson printers, and have rarely had issues with clogged heads. On the rare occasion it happens, running the cleaning utility solves the problem. You might want to look at the Epson 1280. It's consistently rated the best in its price class.

    Sounds like you've got enough PC to get you started, but you'll want to upgrade or add HD space soon. The 512MB of RAM should do okay for you, but if things start to bog down, that will be your bottleneck before processor speed.

    As for the negative / slide scanner - new scanners in the price range you specify will do you no better than a flatbed with transparency adaptor at roughly the same price (the real advantage to dedicated film scanners is a greater dynamic range... the cheapers ones don't have that benefit). Do yourself a favor and either pick up such a flatbed (more versatile), look in the used market for a Kodak RFS 3600 (you should be able to find them used at under $500), or save your pennies for a modern, high end dedicated film scanner - the decent ones will run you $1000.

    -Scott
     
  5. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    Other accessories:

    1. Flash card reader (CompactFlash or multi-format) -- preferably one that is built-in, or that has a FireWire or USB 2.0 interface (for speed).

    2. CD or DVD burner (to backup/archive photos).

    3. (Optional) 3" mini-CD-Rs. (Large enough to hold copies of many photos & small enough to mail inside greeting cards you send to family or friends.)
     
  6. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    I don't have much to add to what's already been said. I would say though that Photoshop 5.0 LE may be too crippled to use on a PC due to the hardcoded, incorrect gamma setting in the software. The internal gamma setting is correct for a Mac, but not for Windows-based system. PS Elements 2 would be a fine start, but anyone who wants to use RAW for greater postprocessing latitude should look elsewhere since you need more than 8-bit/channel editing to do that, which PSE2 does not offer. You could probably go w/ PSE2 + Nikon Capture or some other RAW converter that allows 16-bit/channel postprocessing and only use PSE2 for stuff that doesn't need the latitude. PSE2 is very cheap nowadays w/ their rebate offer -- maybe ~$50 after rebate.

    Yeah, a much better equipped PC would be good, especially if you want to do 16-bit editing. If you stay in 8-bit mode, then it's not as important and what you have would be ok.

    For RAW conversion, you might consider other alternatives over Nikon Capture. Seems that Nikon Capture is not as good at recovering highlight details as some other software out there. It also may not be as good at handling moire/aliasing artifacts than some others -- the D70 is more prone to moire/aliasing than most other
     
  7. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    I must be blessed because my 1.8Ghz P4 with 256MB of PC2100
    handles 8 bit and 16 bit editing with no problems at all.

    I run PS 7.0 and Sigma Photo Pro along with Helicon Noise
    Filter and some other bits and pieces and it all works
    great for me. My biggest drawback is ram and I will fix
    that soon enough when I slap in a pair of dual channel 512
    MB PC2100 sticks.

    It doesn't take a Mac and it doesn't have to be a super
    computer to do image editing and batch processing.
     
  8. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Screenwriter

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    Thanks for all you input. Greatly appreciated.



    The scanner I had in mind was the Minolta DiMAGE Dual IV film scanner which goes for about $300 and seems to fit my needs exactly.

    Some of the vocabulary used above was definately over my head so I still have some "learning" to do.
     

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