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Old 09-03-2008, 02:09 PM   #1
Franca
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Default New laptop for digital photographer

I have a friend who is working hard on her digital photography and has realized (as we all do, eventually) that her current computer (Sony Vaio - I have no other details) is just not up to the task of managing and editing hundreds of digital images. I have offered to help her in her search for a more appropriate laptop.

She is taking classes in digital photography and her instructors have been pushing her to switch from PC to Mac. I would like to hear recommendations for robust laptops on both platforms, as well as advice on compatible external storage devices. I am woefully ignorant of laptops in general and Macs in particular, so all advice and suggestions will be gratefully received! Information on what specs and features are not advisable, or not worth the extra cost would also valuable. She is on a tight budget so although she doesn't want to scrimp where it really matters she also doesn't want to pay for what she doesn't need.

   
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Old 09-03-2008, 03:21 PM   #2
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franca: She is taking classes in digital photography and her instructors have been pushing her to switch from PC to Mac.
Oh PUH-LEEZZZZEEE!!

There is absolutely no need for her to switch to a mac unless she really wants to...

The biggest problem with trying to do imaging work on a laptop is the screen and trying to get a laptop screen calibrated properly for the best color.

I'm guessing that she wants to stick with a laptop rather than going with a desktop system? If so, then I'd suggest a Dell laptop and I'd also suggest configuring it on the OFFICE side because she'll be able to get WinXP rather than Vista. I like Dell laptops because they are pretty flexible when it comes to configuring them for what you want. I know Ann has an IBM (I think) and I think she's been happy with it so that might be worth checking out--actually I guess they are Lenovo now...

If it's a matter of space, then she might consider the rather intriguing new Dell Studio Hybrid line of desktop systems except that you can only get them with Vista

If she's going to stick with a laptop, is there a possibility that she might consider getting a separate (decent) LCD monitor?

Get as big a harddrive as possible.

Get at least 2gb, possibly 3gb RAM--2gb is perfectly fine.

External harddrives are fairly easy to come by and not all that pricey so look for one with that's a good size and reasonably priced--I got a 250gb Western Digital for under $100 at the end of last year and I'll bet she can find one larger for about the same price now...

She needs to invest in a monitor calibration package. I have the ColorVision Spyder3 Pro ($160-ish) and there is Spyder2 Express ($80-ish).

Hope that helps...

Terrie

PS...If she'd like to email me, I'd be happy to help...

Last edited by terrie; 01-08-2009 at 09:17 AM. Reason: Update "OFFICE side" link based on email from Dell
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Old 09-03-2008, 05:25 PM   #3
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What Terri said re Puhleeez. Although if she intends to work with mostly Mac colleagues/customers it might be easier to go with the flow. They're not that insanely expensive and they're well-made.

I've been very happy with the Thinkpads Herself and I use. It's www.Lenovo.com nowadays, not IBM any more. Most of them are available with VISTA or XP still; some can be had with VISTA plus an XP downgrade CD so you can try VISTA out and later ditch it if you like.

   
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Old 09-03-2008, 08:01 PM   #4
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I keep an eye on the Sunday inserts from Best Buy and the big office supply chains, and it looks like it's easy to get 3GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive in a Windows laptop that's under $1,000 -- sometimes well under. What's not included in the ads is any information about screen resolution.

Years ago, when I got my laptop for on-the-road photo chores, it took a fair bit of looking to find one with decent resolution (1400 x 900). The manufacturer sites probably have that info. Mine's a white-box job, so I can't offer any experience with any of the brand names.

Sweet as it might be to have a Mac Book Pro (oops, you said she's on a budget ...), it would mean paying a second time for a lot of application software. So that's another argument for sticking with Windows if that's what she has now.

   
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Old 09-04-2008, 12:04 AM   #5
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I second Steve on the ThinkPads. I've had two now since 2001 and they've both been good, solid workhorses with few if any problems. At work I manage four HP laptops and hate them, although some of the problems could be network and SOE issues.

My personal preference? Love my MacBook Pro. In 22 years of using Macs, I've had so few problems with them that I never even bother with Applecare any more.

But realistically, there's no reason to choose one over the other on purely functional matters. If your friend is happy using Windows, then it's probably best for her to spend her money buying the software she needs to do the work she wants to do. It's just that Macs soar...

   
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Old 09-04-2008, 02:43 AM   #6
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I think the Windows vs Mac issue a bit of a red herring (or prejudice like politics, religion etc!) these days.

The most important thing for photography editing is the screen: some laptop LCDs have a very limited angle of view so you can easily process an image to be much too dark or light if you don't have the screen angle right (as well as colour management as already mentioned). I think it is essential to go to a store and look at the screen before you commit yourself. Here in the UK, I've recently helped both kids and my Mum buy new laptops, and we started off at PC World, which has a reasonable range to look at in store, and you can then buy online if you want. (We ended up with a Toshiba, an HP/Compaq and a Dell, two from the store and one bought direct.)

I still swear by CRTS myself - but it's getting to the point where my stock of used ones is all going "phut" (one yesterday!) so I guess I'll have to bite the LCD bullet eventually - more space on the desk at least!
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Old 09-04-2008, 05:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terrie View Post
Oh PUH-LEEZZZZEEE!!
This lady's photo instructors may have been thinking of the relatively new professional photo workflow management applications when they were pushing Macs. Apple's "Aperture" and Adobe's "Lightroom" are running pretty much neck-and-neck with pro photographers, AFAIK. Thing is, Aperture only runs on OSX, so if she had a Mac, she'd have a choice of either of these two applications, whereas with Windows she'd be out of luck with Aperture.

Though I'm personally biased in favour of Mac, I agree with the people who say it isn't worth switching just for one or two applications, or a different interface, if you've already got lots of $$$ invested in software.

Of course, these days the question is pretty much moot, because with the new Intel Macs, she could run OSX or Windows or both--another point to consider.

   
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Old 09-04-2008, 11:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoisWakeman View Post
I still swear by CRTS myself - but it's getting to the point where my stock of used ones is all going "phut" (one yesterday!) so I guess I'll have to bite the LCD bullet eventually - more space on the desk at least!
My last two - both about 14 years old - went out onto the footpath a couple of weeks ago for the council cleanup. I now have two laptops and a 20 inch LCD in the space they took up.

   
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Old 09-04-2008, 12:39 PM   #9
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lois: I still swear by CRTS myself - but it's getting to the point where my stock of used ones is all going "phut" (one yesterday!) so I guess I'll have to bite the LCD bullet eventually - more space on the desk at least!
I know what you mean...my old 19" went to that great monitor recycling place in the sky last December when I had my new system custom built and ordered a 20" NEC LCD...

On one level I was happy to get rid of the behemoth (a friend's husband kindly carried it to my truck) but the transition to the LCD was not as smooth as I expected with the primary problem being that I couldn't read the LCD screen--moving from a res of 768x1152-ish on the 19" CRT to 1600x1200 on the 20" LCD was an experience...'-}}

But once I got that all sorted out, I'm happy with my LCD...

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