What kind of laptop computer?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by iluvphotography, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. iluvphotography

    iluvphotography TPF Noob!

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    So I am looking in to buying a new laptop and I want to use it for mostly my photos, photoshop, editing etc. Does anyone know what do I have to look for? Like is 80GB hard drive too small? should I get a computer with Media centre? What brand? etc.
    I really don't trust the sales people at the big electronic stores so I need advice from some of you computer experts..

    Thanks
     
  2. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    how experienced are you with computers? do you like a system that's similar to what you're used to or would you mind trying something new? if you want to try something new, look into macs. the macbook pros are quite good for the type of work. You can easily get a windows based system that performed as well, but sometimes it's obnoxious trying to find a brand that won't jack you up (which is why custom building is USUALLY the best way to go). The hard thing about laptops is you really can't custom build them, which forces you to use the parts that major companies put in their systems.
     
  3. LilmaK

    LilmaK TPF Noob!

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    Hey you should get a Macbook with the professional photo editting application "Aperture" pre-installed. This will perform nicely.
     
  4. Claff

    Claff TPF Noob!

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    I think you have to try really really hard to find a laptop available today that won't run Photoshop adequately - even the cheap ones.

    But for performance stuff, 512 MB of RAM is a minimum - 1 gig is a lot more useful. Hard drive size is dependent on how much of your stuff you want to keep handy before moving it to CD or DVD backups.

    One thing I learned the hard way is to pay attention to the format of DVD burner you get. I have a pair of Toshibas here that have DVD-RAM drives, and from what I can tell, they won't burn on regular DVD+/-R media, but rather the pricier DVD-RAM media. If I knew this when I was shopping I probably wouldn't have gotten them, although I'm very happy with them otherwise.
     
  5. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ... whatever you buy, go for more memory (very useful for photographic applications like photoshop), and go for a good display (good does not mean large!).

    If you want to go sure, before you buy best compare the display with a more or less calibrated (colourimetric) display ... for this comparison use either a colour chart or just some images you have.
     
  6. iluvphotography

    iluvphotography TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for the useful responses... Well, I am trying to avoid Mac because everytime I use them I am lost and I don't really have the time to practice until I get used to them.... But I know for graphic and picture applications they are much better and that's what proffessionals use.. but I am not a pro.
    Also thanks for the comment regarding DVD-RAM I will watch for that..

    So Alex when you say go for more memory, what is more? like is 100GB enough or should I go with more?

    What about Media Centre? is there an advantage to have a media centre computer?
     
  7. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think today it is not only MAC .. a lot of good pro software is available for windows these days and slowly also for linux (however with linux we are still a long way from having all we want in terms of photographic tools).

    However, MACs have a certain charm and they are user friendly and less cryptic than Windows ... AFTER you got used to the differences. ;)

    Regarding the memory, that did refer to "chip" memory on your board 500MByte is the absolute minimum if you do image manipulation ... 1 GByte is nice, 1.5 or 2GByte are close to the optimum. But again it depends on what you do, I also have image data where 1 file is 130 MByte ;) ... then even my 1.5GByte are a pain ;)

    You probably though of HardDisk space. Well, there it depends on what you do again. My laptop has 80 GBytes of memory, which is sufficient for me. I shoot mainly with a 13MPixel camera and there is space on my laptop for several extended shoots. And I shoot RAW, not JPEG. If you mainly save your images as JPEG you can even store more on the same disk space.

    Of course I use external Hard drives to archive my photos and to transfer them to my PC. External hard drives are also good for backup of data! My advice, never store your images only on one hard drive, but always have a mirror disk of different manufacturer and/or different production date. That way you prevent the two drives failing exactly at the same time ;)
    Also, if you love your images or need them professionally, store the backup and the originals in different places, maybe even in different cities ... no kidding!

    CDs or DVDs for storage are no good in my eyes. first of all you would have to burn lots of them (in particular if you shoot RAW), secondly they do not live forever either.

    HardDrives however get larger and larger, and cheaper and cheaper. I just recently assembled three external HDs with 300GByte each. That did not really cost a fortune and will get cheaper even towards end of this year.

    "Media Centre":
    Well, the media centre can probably read many different types of cards. But your camera probably supports only one type. If it does not cost much extra, go for it for convenience. if not, just by an external one. they are the size of a mouse and cost about 15 USD, 11 EUR or 7 GBP I think ;)
     
  8. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    One issue to consider, laptop monitors aren't very accurate when it comes to color, contrast, brightness, etc... I calibrate monitors every 2 weeks, and compared to my desktop monitors (which are just typical desktop monitors), my laptop is almost unusable for serious photo editing. Files just never look the same on my laptop as they do elsewhere: my other computers, the lab's computers, and prints.

    Keep your old laptop for running around, and invest in a new desktop system for your photo editing. You can get more memory for the same money too.
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    That's an anecdote that I just don't think is true these days. For photo editing what you need is lots of RAM, lots of hard drive space, and decent photo editing software. You can get those things in a Mac or a PC.
     
  10. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree if you set your standards high, laptop monitors are never as good as proper desktop displays. And they are almost un-calibratable (lol, does that word exist? ;) ).

    However, you might find the ocasional gem even among laptop screens. I have a pretty poor display on my samsung X10plus, not very bright, and you have to keep in the right viewing angle. However, if I do that, I produce results similar to my desktop .. although sometimes with a bit too much contrast, so I have to remind myselft to be careful there when adjusting things on the laptop.

    Of course for proper on-screen proofing laptops are more or less useless. But there also most desktop screens sold in standard stores are useless ...
     
  11. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mac or windows will perform the job nicely. The question to ask is if a laptop is absolutely necessary. You'll get a whole lot more for your money with a desktop system of some sort. Posters already mentioned three good points; Memory, Storage, and display. All of which have better offerings for desktops than in a laptop. Laptops make compromises on all three for the sake of portability and at a higher price.

    Memory: IMO, max it out on whatever system you decide on. Photoediting is memory intensive. I've seen desktops support between 4-8gb. Laptops generally start at 512k and max out in between 1-2gb

    Storage: Make sure the internal primary disk is fast. Between sheer size and speed... choose speed. This is typically where swap, workspace/temp, and applications live. RAID if possible. Your options are limited in this area for laptops. For hard disk based archival, external disks are fine. I use two firewire disks and mirror them redundancy. Between USB 2.0 and Firewire 400 choose Firewire. If you've got the cash get a card and external disk that supports Firewire 800.

    For archival storage, I spend a bit more cash and use archival quality CD-Rs. I know some who use archival DVD-Rs but they still have a shorter lifespan than CD-Rs. Make sure you write the "burn date" on the CD-Rs you burn and make a point to reburn them after a few years. If by that time, new technologies are available consider migration to those new archival technologies.

    Display: This is also a place to put your money. Do your research and get something that is known for accuracy and high resolution. Some LCD monitors boast about their very fast times 8ms and less. Be sure to study the specs as many of these monitors are geared towards gaming and sacrifice color accuracy and viewing angle. Once upon a time, CRTs were far better than LCD flat panels. This is not necessarily true now a days. I have a Apple Cinema display and liek it very much.. albeit a bit expensive. Dell has offerings that a tad cheaper and use the same Phillips panel as the Apple Cinema displays (different backlight). My secondary monitor is from Samsung... also known for good monitors. As for laptops, you always have the option of getting an external monitor at an additional cost. In general, the laptop displays aren't really that good. Also don't forget to budget in some sort of device to calibrate the monitor.

    Another thing to consider is whether or not your shoot mostly landscape or portraits. If you shoot a lot of portraits, it might be worth your while to getting a display setup that supports rotation. No matter how big and nice your widescreen monitor a portrait picture displayed on it seems small.

    Good luck..
     
  12. iluvphotography

    iluvphotography TPF Noob!

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    Wow! Thanks for all the info. Well, the reason that I wanna buy a laptop is that I have a very small apartment and I really don't have any room for a desk So that's why I am getting rid of my desktop to free up some space!!! But I never knew that the laptop screens are not good... there is nothing wrose than editing your pictures with the laptop and get something totally different when you print them or look at them on someone else's monitor. Well I guess I can buy a monitor but again I need a desk for that....Hmmmm more Space in the apt or better pictures??? It's a tough decision.... I have been looking at this HP Pavilion DV8301... 17" monitor have you guys had experience with HP? If I wanna buy a desktop what brand of monitor do you recommend??
     

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