Anything special I should look for in a laptop?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by galaxy, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. galaxy

    galaxy TPF Noob!

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    My computer died so I will be purchasing a new laptop. With my new interest in photography I am wanting to make sure I get something that will work well for transferring, storing, editing, etc. I am a beginner and do not have aspirations of going pro so I just need enough for personal use. What features (if any) do I need to make sure I get? I am a computer moron:blushing:.
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Laptops are notoriously poor platforms for editing images.

    Because of the monitor, you have top be very careful it isn't open to far or not enough and that you are not looking at it from one side or the other.

    Laptop monitors are also difficult to calibrate reliably.

    A better editing solution is to connect a standalone, calibratable IPS monitor to the laptop for editing.
     
  3. BuS_RiDeR

    BuS_RiDeR No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You'll want to get something with a Dual Core or Quad Core processor for any serious photo editing. And at least 2 gigabytes of RAM (4+ is better). I suggest sticking with at least 150 gigabyte hard drive (again, more is better... 250+ for photo editing).

    IDE hard drives are ok... But SATA or SATA 2 are faster.

    Most any of the systems out there today (new) will have large hard drives and generally fast bus speeds (transfer rates).

    And don't forget to make regular backups of your photos to cd/DVD or tape. Its VERY important. :)
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I second the advice on using a better external monitor for image editing over the laptop monitor. Cheap LCD screens are just no good for image editing since a tiny change in viewing angle gives you some big changes in contrast and colors.

    I would also say that as well as a good fast computer you want to have at least 500GB of harddisk space availble - images will eat that up fast - especailly if you start/are shooting in RAW (and many people do shoot in RAW for the advantages it gives).
    RAM - idealy 2GB standard in the machine and you can always add a few more GB easily to a laptop (its about the only thing you can upgrade easily on a laptop).

    Just a point but a good laptop will (for the same spec) be more expensive than a desktop computer - so make sure that the mobilty that the laptop is giving you is what you really do need.
     
  5. wgp1987

    wgp1987 TPF Noob!

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    Look at what software you will or want be using and see what system requirements they have. Desktop with a calibrated screen is ideal. Dont buy a mac unless you absolutely need it. You can get a much better value with PC and will have many 3rd party applications available. Hope this helps.
     
  6. keith foster

    keith foster TPF Noob!

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    Keith is right about calibration and the laptop monitor.

    I use my laptop to download, sort and make some basic adjustments in Lightroom. I usually stick with adjustments that have a histogram. When I am getting ready to prepare photos I use my desktop and a calibrated monitor. Prints from my laptop NEVER look on paper like they did on my laptop. It sometimes drives me crazy.

    Get an external hard drive to download your photos to. They are a lot cheaper than upgrading your laptop's storage.
     
  7. galaxy

    galaxy TPF Noob!

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    I ended up choosing a Dell with intel core i3-330M processor and I am going to also get a separate monitor :).
    Thanks for the input!
     
  8. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I only have one computer and it is my Dell Latitude 830 laptop. I use it with an external IPS monitor (Dell 2209WA) and it works great. The laptop itself has an excellent monitor (the WUXGA+), but it still doesn't do a great job for picture editing. I use the built-in monitor to run my dialogue screens in a 2 monitor setup. I run CS4 and LR2 and do fine with my dual core (Windows XP Pro) and 2MB RAM. The HD is 120 GB which is plenty for me, but I have several outboard Hard Disk drives and don't leave images on the laptop for very long.
     
  9. Mystwalker

    Mystwalker TPF Noob!

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    Biggest issues I found with using laptop for photography ...
    1. screen size, screen color accuracy, most everythign is screen related :(
    2. CPU performance for the $$ is horrible
    3. storage size for the $$ is blah, but have been getting better

    Only reason for me to use laptop is portability which pretty much nix idea of lugging around a monitor. So I live with 15" screen size - you probably want to pay a bit extra to get screen with higher resolution and brighter. I think it's called SXVGA+ or something (reso of 1600x1050 I think)

    Laptop performance for the $$ spent is nowhere close to that of desktop - I read desktops were more expensive, but no idea what laptops they were using. If you want to process RAW in LR, convert some video in Premiere Elements, and watch a DVD, all at same time - I could not do it on my Lenovo P8700 laptop (2.5ghz I think). Maybe the faster T9 serie CPUs will fare better. You will be paying ~$200+ to upgrade to these newer CPUs. Processing RAW by itself is pretty decent speed, but for the price (~$900) of laptop, nowhere near that of desktop of slightly lower price.

    Unless you want to spend $$ to get HUGE internal HD, I recommend looking for an external USB drive. Very slow, but it's for storage. I convert to internal HD, copy to external Seagate, delete from internal HD. I have to carry around the Seagate drive, but it's not too heavy.

    When I'm at home, it's desktop for me.
     
  10. Vicelord John

    Vicelord John TPF Noob!

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    Maybe a mac book pro. I wouldn't buy a windowz machine if it cost three drawings of a stick.
     
  11. Natalie

    Natalie No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Macbooks have pretty crappy resolution for editing photos, slow processors (the adequately fast ones cost an arm and a leg), small 5400 RPM hard drives, and the newer unibody models are prone to overheating if you try and do anything useful with them because Steve Jobs has a fetish for no ventilation and silent (and therefore useless) fans. They look pretty, but there's little substance to justify their outrageous cost.

    When I was buying a new laptop last year, I was shopping for one that was specifically designed for multimedia use like photo/video editing. After months of researching, I finally settled on the Dell Studio XPS 1640, and could not be more happy with the purchase. Here are just a few of the features that are directly related to photo editing:

    2.8 Ghz Intel processor
    500 GB 7200 RPM hard drive
    1 GB ATI Radeon 4670 GPU
    4 GB RAM
    widescreen 16" 1920x1080 RGBLED display
    2 year full warranty

    All that (plus tons of other stuff for other uses) for about $1600... No Mac laptop has anything to compare to that, and if they did the price would be astronomical. This computer is a beast; it's specifically made to do photo editing. The screen is phenomenal - the colors are crisp and vivid (this test only took me a few minutes on this computer and I got a perfect score), and the high resolution allows you to look at larger photos without any problems. This display will truely allow you to make the most of your photos. And because of the fast processor and good graphics card, I can edit basically as many RAW images as I want simultaneously. I got this computer last year, and I'm still very impressed with it, but they have added some useful options since then, like the Intel Core i7 Quad Core CPU, basically the best processor you can get in a laptop.

    Despite what some of you may be thinking, I'm not some kind of a Dell fanatic - in fact, before I got this computer I had a pretty negative opinion of the company because their lower-end laptops are, put frankly, pretty crappy. The XPS is their premium/professional line, though, and the built quality and reliability are excellent. I'm not a brand whore, I just think that this is the best piece of portable machinery you can get for editing photos.

    Dell Studio XPS 16 Laptop Details | Dell
     
  12. AliasPros

    AliasPros TPF Noob!

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    I do about 40% of my graphic design work on a beast of a laptop that never leaves my side. I have an I7 machine with 12gb of Ram at work and 7200 RPM drives with a second drive as a photoshop scratch disc for my desk top setup and wanted to have a mobile set up as well. At the time I got my laptop I got the beefiest dual core out, 8gb of DDR3 ram and 1gb dedicated ATI video card. My 17" laptop had an extra bay for a second drive so I loaded up a matching 500gb 7200 RPM drive to use as a PS scratch disk. To say the least this Laptop screams. Also picked up a nice and clean 19" secondary monitor I plug in for true review instead of the LCD laptop screen. I keep my art board on the secondary monitor and all my pallets web-pages messengers on the laptop screen. I agree with the laptop screen changing brightness with the position its in, not good for editing, also laptop are infamous for using 5400 rpm drives, stay away from those and go with 7200RPM if possible! This setup rocks!

    ALIAS
     

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