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  #1  
Old December 30th, 2008, 12:45 AM
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Question Best Computer for Amateur Photographer?

My HP computer is trying very hard to die.....giving me "the blue screen of death" frequently. Despite numerous attempts to fix the problem I do believe that the time has come for a new computer. One problem that I have is when I work on a program such as Picaboo for making my Photobooks and picture fixing programs is that the computer keeps locking up. I have to reboot it constantly while woring on a project. I am sure I need more memory, but my knowlege about computers is very limited. I just want to turn it on and have it work!

Could anyone advise me on what kind of computer and features I should look for? I have always had PC's, but I understand that MACs may be better for me? How much memory should I be looking for? Help!!!
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Old December 30th, 2008, 01:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny AZ Girl View Post
My HP computer is trying very hard to die.....giving me "the blue screen of death" frequently. Despite numerous attempts to fix the problem I do believe that the time has come for a new computer. One problem that I have is when I work on a program such as Picaboo for making my Photobooks and picture fixing programs is that the computer keeps locking up. I have to reboot it constantly while woring on a project. I am sure I need more memory, but my knowlege about computers is very limited. I just want to turn it on and have it work!

Could anyone advise me on what kind of computer and features I should look for? I have always had PC's, but I understand that MACs may be better for me? How much memory should I be looking for? Help!!!
I have used PCs all my computing life (late '80s) and after using/teaching all versions of MS Windows, I'd suggest sticking with Windows. My daughter was given a Mac by her school and she was baffled by the clunky interface. I was no help because of my Win-centric experience. If you ask a Mac user to switch, they will have the same issue with Windows alien-ness.

Macs used to own graphics processing but nowadays, unless you get into $6k- $8k dedicated workstations, the two platforms are pretty much equal with PCs being somewhat less expensive for equivalent power.

Windows or Mac...stick with what you know and concentrate on PHOTOGRAPHY!

What to look for:
Excellent personal and corporate experience with Dell.

4GB of RAM
Dual or Quad-core CPU
Biggest hard drive you can afford (RAID 1 mirroring for data security is common on home computers these days).
256MB graphics card (minimum)
Built-in memory card reader is a nice option.
Don't fear Vista...I've been using it since it was released and have had nothing but good luck with it.

Feel free to post questions about specifics.

Dave
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Last edited by pierces; December 30th, 2008 at 01:15 AM.
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  #3  
Old December 30th, 2008, 01:11 AM
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The MAC fanatics may flame me but you can do as much with your photos with a PC as a MAC. To really give you a good answer, you need to supply more information. Do you want to just use your PC to back up your camera cards or do you want to manipulate them? Do you manipulate at the level of Piccasa, Elements, or full blown Photoshop?

One thing for sure, assuming that you have a decent sized hard drive, the limiting factor on how well the computer works for you will be more affected by the amount of memory you have than the size of your hard drive.

Get back to us with more information and you will get a better answer.

DON
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Old December 30th, 2008, 09:53 AM
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I wouldn't bother with a Mac. I have a dell laptop, and couldn't be happier with it. To get something even close to what I got in my dell would have been another $800.

I wouldn't bother with more than 3GB of ram. Unless you are running a 64bit version of Vista, as it won't recognize it. Besides that photoshop won't address more than 2gb of mem anyway. The extra 1gb will be used by any other apps you are running.

I would think that Raid would be overkill, but if it isn't that much more, I would go for it. I would put the money into a graphics card rather that integrated, as you will see better performance out of that.
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Old December 30th, 2008, 10:43 AM
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I am so computer illiterate that most of the computer terms are Greek to me! OK, I do manipulate photos, I have used Photoshop, but mostly Picture It! I currently have to go out of Picture It! after manipulating about 4 or 5 photos and go back in or it slows my computer down too much. I also have to reboot my computer after a couple pages of working on a Photobook in Picaboo, especially with complicated backgrounds (like using one of my own photos for backgrounds). It takes the fun out of it.

I am glad to hear your responses on the Mac as I was hoping not to learn a new system.

I don't understand what RAID is, what I should be looking for hard drive wise?

Please explain the difference between the graphics card vs integrated to me. As I said, my computer knowlege is limited and I feel I would be better off learning some basics before going in to talk to a sales person.

Thank you all for your responses and patience!

Pierces - I looked at your picture gallery. Beautiful! I am off to find more photography classes.....(after I get a new computer!)
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Old December 30th, 2008, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny AZ Girl View Post

I don't understand what RAID is, what I should be looking for hard drive wise?
RAID - Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks
This is a data security methodology that was once limited to big servers but is now becoming common on home computers. There are several configurations and I won't bore you with all of them. The one you need to look for is RAID level 1, also called mirroring. Say you have a 500 GB drive in your computer. If the drive fails and you haven't backed up your files...you're screwed. What mirroring does is to add another 500 GB disk and tells the computer to write the exact same information to both disks simultaneously, just as if it were one disk (the two disks are called a RAID array). If one disk fails, the other one continues to function until you replace the bad one. After the new disk is installed, the system "rebuilds" the RAID array without ever losing a single bit of data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny AZ Girl View Post
Please explain the difference between the graphics card vs integrated to me. As I said, my computer knowlege is limited and I feel I would be better off learning some basics before going in to talk to a sales person.
Integrated graphics means that the graphics processor is built into (integrated) the motherboard. The motherboard is the main processing framework for a computer. The actual processor (CPU) plugs into it, as do the memory, hard disks, floppy drive and all other parts of a computer. Motherboards also have slots where accessory cards (used to be called daughtercards...get it, motherboard? ) can be added to support additional computer functions like a TV tuner, etc. It used to be that the computer had to have a separate graphics card for the monitor, one for the network, sound, hard drive connector and almost everything else. As technology got cheaper and manufacturing more advanced. The chips and connectors in these cards got moved to the motherboard. Many of today's computers have motherboards that require no additional cards to be fully functional. Because of cost and complexity, the built-in components are usually more than sufficient for everyday use, but if you need additional performance like super graphics for gaming, publishing-level graphics or a sound card to drive a home theater, you need to plug a card into the accessory slots to upgrade the basic function.

Bottom line: Integrated graphics have become very powerful and will handle most home usage. If you add a graphics card to the computer, it will render photos faster. Not night and day faster, but significant. Unless you are into heavy-duty gaming, don't spend more than $100 or so on the graphics upgrade. You can add a lot of power for cheap these days.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny AZ Girl View Post
Thank you all for your responses and patience!

Pierces - I looked at your picture gallery. Beautiful! I am off to find more photography classes.....(after I get a new computer!)

Thank you. I've been doing photography a lot longer than computers and it's always nice to hear that other people don't think I've wasted my time!

Good luck shopping. Post more questions if you need to.

Dave
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Old December 30th, 2008, 01:51 PM
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Pierces - Thank you! Your Computer 101 class was very helpful. I will be writing down all of your advice (and the others) and go shopping. My employer has a Dell computer that is available to employees. I hear it's not a bargain price-wise, but is payroll deduction over 12 months, interest and tax free. I might check it out first. When I find out what it has, if it fits in the guidelines you have all posted for me I will let you know and get your opinion.
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Old December 30th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Sunny AZ Girl View Post
Pierces - Thank you! Your Computer 101 class was very helpful. I will be writing down all of your advice (and the others) and go shopping. My employer has a Dell computer that is available to employees. I hear it's not a bargain price-wise, but is payroll deduction over 12 months, interest and tax free. I might check it out first. When I find out what it has, if it fits in the guidelines you have all posted for me I will let you know and get your opinion.
Actually, Dell is a pretty good deal considering that they use quality components and have excellent warranties and service.

They should have all of the options I mentioned available.

Dave
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Old December 30th, 2008, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by donaldsc View Post
The MAC fanatics may flame me but you can do as much with your photos with a PC as a MAC.
Why would cosmetics fanatics flame you? MAC is a brand of cosmetics.

Get the computer you are familiar with, whether it is a Mac or a PeeCee.

I'll stick with my Mac.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 09:42 AM
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Your best bet is to go to the store and play around with some computers, both PC's and Macs. Go to the Apple Store and try a Mac. You will be surprised how easy they are to use and honestly, they are VERY easy to learn. I was a Dell person for years and switched to a Mac and will never go back.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 11:50 AM
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Most problems are software related. Over years of using the computer and installing and removing programs things can get rather messy and the computer slows, locks-up or fails to boot. If you wish to save some money back up all your documents and pictures off your hard drive onto a removeable hard drive (faster) or burn them to DVDs (slow but cheaper). Then format the hard drive and reinstall windows and your programs. If you are patient and have the systems disks that came with your computer you can give Windows tech support a call and for $59 they will stay on the phone and talk you completely through everything. You can also take your computer & disks to a computer service company like Geek Squad (Best Buy) or Nerd Herd (Circuit City) and have them do it.
---
I have could probably rival Dave (Pierces) with old computer stories (ever use punch cards or reel to reel tape drives? ) and have worked with both Mac and PC, though more recently with PCs. Macs are great but they do tend to be more expensive but they are cutting edge in styling (they are modern jewelry). In addition to being more expensive they are sometimes limited to software. Pretty much all programs are available on PC while some are not available for MAC. Most graphics art and photo editing programs are available for both platforms. PCs and parts for them are available everywhere so service and support may be easier and cheaper. That said most people who have a MAC love them.

Just have to sneak this MAC photo in. I don't think Dell or Gateway ever built a glass box in NY.

Last edited by pilotdane; December 31st, 2008 at 11:52 AM.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny AZ Girl View Post
My HP computer is trying very hard to die.....giving me "the blue screen of death" frequently. Despite numerous attempts to fix the problem I do believe that the time has come for a new computer. One problem that I have is when I work on a program such as Picaboo for making my Photobooks and picture fixing programs is that the computer keeps locking up. I have to reboot it constantly while woring on a project. I am sure I need more memory, but my knowlege about computers is very limited. I just want to turn it on and have it work!

Could anyone advise me on what kind of computer and features I should look for? I have always had PC's, but I understand that MACs may be better for me? How much memory should I be looking for? Help!!!

Keep it simple!!

If you are a longtime Windows user I would suggest staying with a Vista/XP machine. Apples cost more have fewer choices and the software selection is far more limited.

If your computer is more then 2 years old any 500 dollar PC or 850 dollar laptop will far exceed the performance of your current setup. If you got a little more $$$ and want all the convenience of portability a grand should get you a very reasonable laptop that should more then carry you over for what you are wanting to do for the next couple years or more. Sure you can always go to a quad-core, 4GB, add on graphics card, RAID, etc. etc. that is a LOT of complexity probably not worthy doing unless there is a inner GEEK calling in you

Any HP, Dell, Toshiba, Acer, SONY will do you fine, but it should be powered by INTEL of course
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Old December 31st, 2008, 01:50 PM
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All good advice but the thing I would do MOST is to get an external hard drive that will work with your computer and a program that will automatically back up your data, including your pictures. If you are getting the dreaded blue screen of death, you are in danger of losing your photos if they are not backed up somewhere and your hard disk crashes. The need for backup is the same whether PC or Mac. I happen to be a Mac user and love the Time Machine feature because it seemlessly backs up without my intervention. I am sure PCs have similar software available, if not included with a new PC.

I also bought a second hard drive (they are cheap now) and about every 3 months back up my critical files, including pictures, and take it to my mother's nearby house. If my house burns a backup drive sitting next to the computer won't be a big help.

Otherwise, I say buy a Dell or HP or similar (as you are used to PCs), and don't worry about the processor speed, given what you are doing on the computer. Just make sure you get a big enough drive. And spend what you would have spent otherwise on a decent backup harddrive.

Good luck!
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Old December 31st, 2008, 02:03 PM
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...

I also bought a second hard drive (they are cheap now) and about every 3 months back up my critical files, including pictures, and take it to my mother's nearby house. If my house burns a backup drive sitting next to the computer won't be a big help.

....
Great advice!

I'd add that beside every 3 months I'd do it before traveling with Laptop as that is always very hard on the computers. Backup right after a trip when you dump lots of valuable pictures from your cards to the HDD is also a wise thing.

And if you got 10' and are really paranoid a monthly backup is the prudent thing too
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Old December 31st, 2008, 02:11 PM
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Just have to sneak this MAC photo in. I don't think Dell or Gateway ever built a glass box in NY.
True...but building that thing added $19 to every Mac sold this year!

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They say photography is an extension of the photographer. I'm surprised that more of my photos aren't darker with a lack of focus...



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Last edited by pierces; December 31st, 2008 at 02:23 PM.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 04:42 PM
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True...but building that thing added $19 to every Mac sold this year!

Dave
And incredible revenue to the Landlord who had the vision to create an area out of completely dead space. The story is Real Estate legend.

Even though my Mac is not behaving right now, , it has been the most reliable and nimble of any computer I have ever owned or worked with, and I won't ever go back to anything else.
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Old December 31st, 2008, 08:59 PM
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We've always bought Dell's ourselves. They have some great deals. I just got hubby one of the Dell mini's for college and I just got me an inspiron 1525 for myself to travel with. It doesn't have alot on it but it's much faster then my old Sony VAIO and much smaller/lighter.

Check out Dell's website and research alittle bit online.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 09:44 AM
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QVC has an HP mini today as a Today's Special Value for about $500.00. Its also on easy pay if anyone wants to look at something like that.

I have had HP, Dell, Acer Compaq and Mac.

As a note on the Mac...I upgraded the OS to their latest version and also elected to take the MobileMe option.

With one touch while my photos upload, they are automatically saved to a Mac site. I do not have to move them there, I do not have to upload from my hard drive to a photo site. They are there, and the site can be set up like any other with view rights and so on. I can also locate all my important documents on a portion of the site for safety, and they can all be located from any PC anywhere with a sign on and a password. I still also keep critical details backed-up on a portable hard drive.

If anyone is interested in a Mac, if you go to the Apple web site you can take an in-depth guided tour through a product and determine at your leisure if it is something that you find worthwhile to consider.

In addition if warranty or extended service is needed you make an appointment on line and walk it right into the store where they are fully staffed in tech support and they have triage units to determine what's what. No boxing up and shipping somewhere. One on one discussion about what happened that lead up to the concern or event.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 11:51 AM
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I have an HP laptop which I love. It is over a year old now so the new ones outclass mine. I use Photoshop Elements 6 and have no problems with speed, locking up, etc. The laptop is nice because I can take it with me when I travel and my DH and I can put our photos on the computer each day. I also carry a small external harddrive for a 2nd backup. If you opt for a laptop I would recommend a docking station and a larger monitor (19" or better) and a mouse and standard keyboard. It makes working with the laptop much easier. If you have a big monitor with your old computer you can use that (that is what I did). If portability is not important to you then go with a desktop. It is considerably cheaper. As mentioned earlier, unless you get the 64-bit Vista OS you can't use more than 3 GB of RAM. And if you have the 64-bit OS most software still uses the 32-bit so can't use the extra RAM.

If your computer is more than a couple of years old I would recommend getting a new one rather than reformatting the old harddrive and reinstalling Windows. I think you will be much happier. The newer computers offer so much more for the money than older ones did. Photo editing programs are resource hogs and will work better with more RAM and a faster processor.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 12:22 PM
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Thank yaw all once again for your input. My computer is more than a couple of years old, so I think a new one is what I need! I guess I will go shopping next week.
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Happy Memories...
Big Red Boat 06/93 (Bahamas)~ Explorer of the Seas 06/05 (Western Caribbean) ~ Jewel of the Seas 04/06 (Eastern Caribbean) ~ Monarch of the Seas 12/06 (Baja Mexico) ~ Monarch of the Seas 04/07 (Baja Mexico) ~ Golden Princess 01/08 (Mexican Riviera) ~ Explorer of the Seas 04/08 (Eastern Caribbean) ~ Caribbean Princess 05/09 (Southern Caribbean) ~ Radiance of the Seas 09/09 (Cabo San Lucas) ~ Mariner of the Seas 05/10 (Mexican Riviera) ~ Carnival Spirit 07/10 (Alaska) ~ NCL Pride of America 05/11 (Hawaii)~ Allure of the Seas 04/13 (Eastern Caribbean) ~ Jewel of the Seas B2B 05/14 (Southern Caribbean)

Jewel of the Seas Southern Caribbean B2B 2014 Pictorial Review
Allure of the Seas Pictorial Review!

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