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Old 01-07-2009, 11:48 PM
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Default Digital Darkroom help

OK guys, now that I have a camera that will shoot RAW files, I need advise on setting up a digital darkroom.

What RAM, hard drive, processor and video card specs should I be shopping for in order to both store and process my photos?

I notice most pros use Apple computers, they seem more expensive than pcs, is there an advantage to using macs?

What software is going to give me the most bang for the buck - Aperature, Capture NX, Lightroom or should I buy Photoshop?

It's going to be a while before I have enough $$ to buy this stuff, but I like to get your opinions so I can narrow down my options and decide what to buy.

Thanks, Tom.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:56 PM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

Unless you're going to make this your profession in the near future, I wouldn't go overboard on the computer stuff. I'm a mac user, but I think that PCs would work fine for anything you'd want to do. If you're just archiving your photos and doing small manipulations of them (cropping, converting to different formats, adjusting levels, removing red eye, etc.), there's probably freeware that'll do it for you. I use Graphic Converter for almost everything on my mac. You'd only want Photoshop if you're doing serious manipulations - cutting figures out of the photo and putting it in another photo, etc. The advantage of macs is that they're pretty much virus free. And you can go months without rebooting. Try that on a PC!

I'd suggest you get a 500 Gb external hard drive to archive your photos. You can never have too much disk space. Get lots of RAM, and the fastest processor you can afford.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:59 PM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

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... And you can go months without rebooting. Try that on a PC!

I haven't rebooted had my Intel quad-core PC in YEARS.
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:04 AM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

Is it turned on?
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:16 AM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

Tom, I've been using Photoshop for fifteen years, at first for producing graphic art related to a business I was in, and later for digital photogtraphs. It is a very powerful and useful tool, but there is quite a learning curve. And it's probably more than you need.

I've just started working with Lightroom and I think that's a great program for the hobbyist photographer. It does an excellent job of organizing your photos and it is also fairly powerful in managing and adjusting RAW files. And I find it quick and easy to use.

Photoshop is far more powerful, and I would never consider Lightroom a replacement, but Lightroom is probably all most will ever need.

My brother took a class on Lightroom and he's become pretty good with it. There's far more there than first meets the eye. The teacher of this class wrote a book and my brother recommended it, so I bought it. I now think it's a must read for learning this program:

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow...Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow...
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:23 AM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

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Is it turned on?

Peter, I thought you'd pick up on the fact that quad-cores haven't been out for years.

Actually, I rarely do shut down my PC, and I've had only one virus attack, years ago (knocking wood).

And talking about Macs, my son-in-law just spent a few weeks at my house and I've heard enough about their virtues to last a lifetime.

However, I did pick up a lot of tricks on how to improve my network, and I'm grateful for that. He's smarter than I thought, especially for an Apple guy.
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:29 AM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

Ah, John. You're assuming I know (or care) anything about PCs. I don't. I'm strictly a unix/mac kind of guy. Like your son in law. But probably shorter. And better looking...

Congrats on getting your network set up. We mac guys can be sneaky all right!
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:52 AM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

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Congrats on getting your network set up.

I've had a network set up for years, but when I went up to my SIL's house at Thanksgiving I was impressed with his Apple TV setup.

He runs a network with a huge collection of music and movies from a server in the back room. They can view the movies anywhere in the house. The Apple setup is pretty trick, but I found better stuff (Hi Def) that runs on a PC. However, the data flow was taxing my routers, so he helped me upgrade.

I already had a Sonos sytem, which runs on it's own proprietary wireless system, but now I have a 4 terrabyte NAS storing the music, and the movies, and it runs over a gigbyte network. The movies run to network media players, both wireless and wired. Ain't this new technology great!

My challenge now is to make it all easy enough for my wife to run. She has a short temper when I install new toys and she can't work them.
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Old 01-08-2009, 01:34 AM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

Tom--

Although slightly more expensive, you won't go wrong with a Mac. They are still, in 2009, easier to use and all around smoother.

Windows XP machines are OK, and a little cheaper than Macs. There isn't as much of a gap with Macs as there once was.

If you're feeling slightly more adventurous, and definitely penny-pinching, Ubuntu Linux (about $40 for the book with DVD, or free download if you've got the patience) gives you a complete operating system (no need for Windows) and tons of good software at no extra charge--including the Gimp program, the Linux equivalent to Photoshop. You'll need to shell out about $35 for Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional, Second Edition. It just came out in the last day or so, and so you'd get info about the current version of the software.

For image software: You don't say how far you want to go with image processing, but for ordinary crop-it, adjust-the-color-a-bit, get-it-ready-for-the-web, Photoshop Elements on Windows (less than $75) will do fine.
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Old 01-08-2009, 02:55 AM
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Default Re: Digital Darkroom help

I use Lightroom most of the time to the majority of my photo editing of Raw files. Fir me it is the easiest software to learn. I also use Photoshop Elements to fill the void that Lightroom does not do.
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