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What new computer and software to get

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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 19:13   #1
BobM
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What new computer and software to get

I have a lot of photos that need post-processing and I have a 6 year old computer (a Compaq Presario) that was entry level when I got it in 1999. Needless to say it is not up to the job of running PS, PS Pro, or even Elements. I'm posting this request for advice about what to get here, because it arises out my other questions about what software to get.

Having read about photo editing software for the last couple of days, it appears to me that while the aforementioned programs have all the functions I would be looking for or need, there are plugins that handle the most important tasks -- which I take to be sharpening, exposure adjustment, and color adjustment better (perhaps considerably so) than the do-it-all editors into which they can be plugged. The sharpening plugins I'm considering are FocalBlade, Intellisharpen II, and Focus Fixer. I have the trial version of Focus Magic, which I've found disappointing. I should note here that my main interests are large mammals, which often have to be shot from > 250 yds. My digiscoping kit currently consists of a CP4500 and a Kowa TSN- 823M, with the 20-60x zoom eyepiece and Kowa TSN-DA1 adapter. I can get shots at greater than 250 yds. that are not too bad, but which definitely could do with some sharpening.

My first question is whether those of you who use Photoshop, Elements, and Paint Shop Pro think they are sufficient, without the need for plugins.

Second, should I get a Mac or PC? It appears to me that if the availability of plugins is important, a PC may be the better choice, since there seem to be a number of plugins which run under Elements 3.0 for the PC, but not for the Mac. Thus, if I get a Mac and want to use plugins, I may have to get the full version of Photoshop, which would be much more expensive.

Last, how much memory should I get? A related question is whether it would be ok to get a PC with shared video RAM, or whether I really need to get one with a video processor with its own memory. I don't have a sense of how fast (or slow) the software runs when one is working on files that are less than 2MB. Once you've gotten a photo adjusted the way you want it, how long does it typically take for, say, unsharp mask or Focus Fixer to run?

Thanks for your suggestions.
Bob
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 22:46   #2
Hanno
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Well, I am certainly no Computer expert, but a few points are worth considering:

1. PC or Mac? Difficult one, I personally have a preference for PC's, as I am also a Gamer, and more games are available for that platform.
2. Memory: You can never have enough!!!! I would think that 512 MB are the minimum, especially if running XP. After all, memory has become very cheap in recent years.
3. Graphic Card: forget on-board graphic chips, go for a dedicated card with at least 64 MB on board.
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Old Friday 6th May 2005, 01:26   #3
Andrew Rowlands
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Hi Bob,

I do a bit of computer building but I won't go there yet .

When shooting at 200+yards, atmospherics (heat haze, etc.) are going to be your biggest problem. Add this to images of 'only' 2MB and you are really pushing the envelope with any post processing filters - you are likely to be disappointed.

Better results will be had by closing the distance or using larger image sizes in camera.

Hardwarewise for your new computer for 2MB file sizes - check the recommended specs for the software you are considering - that should be a good basis (a HT P4 2.8Ghz with 512MB of RAM and a decent 64/128MB graphics card should be fine).

If the machine is to be general purpose, a Mac may be safer to use on the 'net than Windows. Some fine free software is available for both!

Cheers,

Andy.
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Old Friday 6th May 2005, 19:18   #4
RAH
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plugins

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobM

My first question is whether those of you who use Photoshop, Elements, and Paint Shop Pro think they are sufficient, without the need for plugins.

Bob
Bob, I use PaintShopPro version 9. I think that the sharpening tools are sufficient. One plugin I did buy is Digital SHO - the $50 version - ( http://www.asf.com/ ), which is quite a bit better than version 9's fill-flash tool. I find that I use it all the time.

PSP's noise reduction tools are also pretty good, although I did purchase Noise Ninja ( http://www.picturecode.com/index.htm ), because it's easier to use and somewhat better.
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 18:26   #5
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My two cents...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobM
I have a lot of photos that need post-processing and I have a 6 year old computer (a Compaq Presario) that was entry level when I got it in 1999. Needless to say it is not up to the job of running PS, PS Pro, or even Elements. I'm posting this request for advice about what to get here, because it arises out my other questions about what software to get.

Thanks for your suggestions.
Bob
--------------

Hi Bob!

Just my two cents worth about the computer end. No matter what you do, shorting yourself with not enough RAM is problematic. I use a PC that was custom built for me with 1 gb of RAM, and I would advise never trying to get by with less than 512 mb. Most of the newer off the shelf systems have 512, but be certain before you find your software freezing up and you needing to reboot. I also have 128mb extra on my video card.

I am told by Apple lovers that they are soooo easy to use, but it really depends on what you learned on more than the brand nowadays as the software has improved dramatically for PC's over the years. (For me, using an Apple is like trying to write with my good hand tied behind my back!) Apple became the industry standard for artists and publishing because it was about the only game in town during the infancy of computer use in the business. That is what most of them learned on, so they think they are better and easier. They are no longer the only game! Most Apple lovers freak when they attempt working on a PC, and the same is true for the PC users on a Apple. If you are comfortable with a PC, then by all means stay with it. Photos edited with an Apple are no better than those from a PC! If you are just learning photo editing, then base your decision on other programs (Financial software, Word, Outlook, etc.) you will run on the same unit and already are comfortable with.

As for editing software, I use Photoshop Elements 3.0 for my work. I haven't found the need for the extra features that Photoshop offers. I know how to use the full version, and have access to the program where I work teaching should the need arise, but I have never needed it. I use Noise Ninja (http://www.picturecode.com/) as a plug in for noise reduction which I have been very happy with. You do not say what you do for a living, but if you are involved in education or still a student, Picturecode software is available at a reduced price, as are Photoshop and Elements.

Good luck!
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 20:08   #6
stevo
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Hi Bob

My advice is buy as much RAM as you can afford, digital photos when you`re working on them require quite a lot or you will find your computer slowing down considerably as it works on them.Buy a decent sized hard drive as digital files will quickly eat up space(not quite so bad if you can burn large quantities to a cd)

Just my opinion.

Cheers Steve.
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Old Friday 20th May 2005, 06:44   #7
Geoff Brown
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I know next to nothing about building computers or sorting them out when things go wrong. But a very fine photo editing and photo organising FREE downloadable programme is Picasa. It's made by Google and for a free programme is excellent. Just put "Picasa" in your Google search engine and you will find the site to download from. To my mind it give Photoshop Album and Elements a good run for their money. Since downloading it I find that I very seldom use Photoshop Album but Picasa instead.
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Old Friday 20th May 2005, 18:18   #8
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Greetings Bob,

My advice is to decide on your maximum budget, then find a computer with the fastest processor in your range (avoid Celeron...the regular Intel and Athlon are both good), add as much memory as possible...absolute minimum is 512, and a video card with an absolute minimum of 64 mb on board memory. Processing of photos takes lots of resources! Having enough really speeds things up and prevents crashes. Personally, I would avoid the shared video RAM units.

I have only used PCs, but think that Macs are very good. Whichever offers the best system for the money is the most important factor.

No one has mentioned ACDSee in the software department. I have used this for years and find it the most comprehensive and useful photo management software ever. Check it out. Not too pricey, either. For editing, I usually go to the ACDSee editor unless I feel the need for Photoshop (I have the full version). Either is accessible from the ACDSee menu. Most Photoshop plugins can be used in ACDSee, and many others are available for it.

Yours in envy (I want a new computer!!!)

Judie
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Old Sunday 22nd May 2005, 04:16   #9
alarson2
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Once you go Mac, you'll never go back.

I use a PC at work because I have to, and Macs at home for all the fun stuff. Movies, photos, scanning, printing, editing, writing, CD and DVD burning -everything you will want to do is going to easier on a Mac than your average PC- partly because Apple makes the hardware and the software and when they put it all together, something magic happens. Pheww!! I can't tell you how much I love my Macs.

And then there is the internet. Don't we love it? Have you heard about the Sober worm that will be striking on Monday? It could affect as many as 125,000 PCs and zero, zed, zilch Macs. Hmmm. That could get you thinking. Don't ask why- it doesn't matter! but on Monday, if you do not have your security patches in place, your PC could be one of them. To me, that's madness- that you should have to worry about that! That is why I switched to Mac in the first place- the Klez worm. It struck the internet in 2000 and I was a novice- I had no clue that the thing was coming my way, but it did and now that PC is in the closet and I am typing this reply on a Mac. And the Mac that I bought back in 2000 to replace my viral PC is still working and on the internet every day. Go figure- how many viruses, worms and trojan horrses has it missed in 4 years? And what about the ADWARE and SPYWARE? There is none of that with the Mac. You want to get on the internet and stay on? Trouble Free?

PhotoShop Elements 3 has my vote for the photo editing software- It has as many plug-ins and filters you could possibly use in a lifetime. I too have the full version but I prefer the light version. It does the same things and takes up less room. Everytime you go to the store you don't have to take the pick-up truck; sometimes you can take the bike. To my understanding, the full version is really set up for professional printshops and magazines who have to do some serious color management way beyond what you will want to do to you bird pictures. Make it easy on yourself. And, they make Elements3 for Mac. They make Microsoft Office for Mac and a lot of other stuff too. We are all very compatable these days. And there is Tech Support for the Mac that will knock your socks off. TechSupport for your average PC can be a little "iffy." You get a year free with a new system and you can buy a three year warranty if you want one.

Now is a good time to buy a new Mac because they have just come out with new models so they are selling off their old ones for "hundreds off." I just helped my sister buy a 17" iMac with a Super drive, a gig of ram, 1.8GHz G5 processor, 64bit, OSXPanther, for $1100. after rebates. Two weeks ago that machine was $1499. That's the computer and the screen, keyboard and mouse, with a free printer. MAN!! that's a deal. RUN to the Apple Store near you. If that sounds like too much money, they are now making a Mac for just under $500. No screen included and you have to buy a mouse and keyboard. They call it the Mac Mini. And is it CUTE!- tiny! smaller than a cigar box- smaller than a biscuit tin.

I'm sorry. Did I get carried away? Good luck.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2005, 18:53   #10
BobM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alarson2
Once you go Mac, you'll never go back.

Now is a good time to buy a new Mac because they have just come out with new models so they are selling off their old ones for "hundreds off." I just helped my sister buy a 17" iMac with a Super drive, a gig of ram, 1.8GHz G5 processor, 64bit, OSXPanther, for $1100. after rebates. Two weeks ago that machine was $1499. That's the computer and the screen, keyboard and mouse, with a free printer. MAN!! that's a deal. RUN to the Apple Store near you.
Thanks for responding to my query. I checked the Apple web site and didn't see anything about rebates or sales on iMacs, so I called the store here in Chicago, but the fellow who answered said he didn't know of any. He mentioned the possibility that a site like Mac Mall might be having a sale. I checked there and they have a 17", but with only 256 meg of ram and apparently no upgrade to a bigger hard drive from the 80 gig base, for $1094. Are you sure you got your sister's computer at the Apple store?

Thanks for your help.
Bob
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Old Monday 23rd May 2005, 19:41   #11
alarson2
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Bob,

I'm sorry- Yes, it was MacMall. I really did not think that you would follow up for some reason. It was MacMall and they offer free shipping and a free printer after the rebates. You pay 100.00 for the printer and 40.00 for the shipping and afterward you get that money back as a rebate. Here is the link to the MacMall page: http://tinyurl.com/bqbdb

PM me for more info if you like.
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