Building a Digital Photo Lab

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by javabear90, Nov 10, 2007.

  1. javabear90 macrumors 6502a

    javabear90

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #1
    I have been asked to put together plans for equipment for a digital photography lab at my school that would be installed next summer. It will be used by yearbook, newspaper, and a digital photo class. I was told we have a very large budget, although I'm not sure what that means exactly. It would be 21 computers; the administration prefers PCs but could be convinced to go for macs. We need a server (~ 2 - 4 TB), 21 boxes, software, 21 monitors, printers, and tablets.
    I was thinking Mac Pros with 23" ACDs, but that would be around $4000, which is a bit steep as their used to $1500 PCs.
    However, that is not the main issue, software. We would have CS3, but I cannot find any decent software for a networked photography environment. I want software that can have central server that photographers can all upload their photos to and that everyone can see ratings, keywords, search, maybe edit. etc... Currently in yearbook we are using Adobe Bridge, but it has had mixed results at best. Ideally we would use Lightroom, but that has no network support whatsoever. Any idea what real magazines or newspapers use for their software?
    I'm also not sure about printers. We would probably have one large format printer (36" or so) and a normal photo printer. Any ideas?
    Thanks,
    -Ted
     
  2. squeeks macrumors 68040

    squeeks

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    #2
    macpro = overkill for what you are doing, if you're talking editing digital video, then sure, but for photos? 24" imac

    cant help you with software though
     
  3. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #3
    To answer that last question: no, I do not.

    Having said that, you might want to look at Extensis Portfolio Server. It appears to offer media asset management functionality for workgroups and larger groups. Their materials indicate CS3 integration is supported. I don't know who their competitors are. It would be up to you to devise and enforce a workflow for your group, and if they have product forums, then their customers are probably discussing that problem. They have a 30 day trial available for download and it looks like academic pricing is available. You should probably review their materials, devise a candidate workflow, assemble the products you'll be using to realize that workflow, and conduct your trial. FWIW, speaking as a software developer (with a couple of decades in the business), I would agree that you have correctly identified your greatest challenge as being software to support image asset and workflow management.

    As far as hardware goes, acquire whatever the university can readily support - it'll make your life easier. WRT workstations, my C2D MBP has no problems processing a 10-20GB sized batch of raw files arising from a single shooting session. I'm not sure what value Xeon-based workstations will bring to your effort if broadly deployed.
     
  4. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #4
    The software used by a number of newspapers and magazines (for the three friends I have that do design for one or the other) is InDesign. Another one is QuarkXPress, but that's Mac-specific.

    Printer-wise, my question would be what kind of prints are you going to be making? If it's for photography only (including the pictures for the yearbook), Then I would look at an Epson R1800 as a good (and not too-expensive) photo printer, and an Epson 9880 as the wide-format printer. I would also suggest that you spend about $200 for a monochrome IP-based laser printer, for the times that someone decides to print their essay in the lab (it would be a bummer to have them use the ultra-premium luster paper with the Gloss-optimizer on the R1800 to full blast).

    Hardware-wise, I would really suggest that you don't get your own bias get in the way. I know that everyone on these forums feels that Macs are the way forward, but in a school environment, people just don't understand that. Get half macs and half pcs.
    Also- the imacs are fine- you don't need to get anyone a MP.
     
  5. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #5
    Correction: QuarkXpress has been available for Windows since 1992 with v3.1. ;)
     
  6. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #6
    And that's what happens when you talk from you sigmoid colon, like I did earlier. :eek:
     
  7. javabear90 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    javabear90

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #7
    Thanks for the help everyone,
    This lab probably needs to be all mac or PC, just for ease of setup and administration. iMacs wouldn't be too bad, but I don't like the glossy screens. I'll have to take a look Extensis Portfolio. The yearbook is already using InDesign, but I'm wondering what the pros use for picking and managing specifically their photos.
    Thanks,
    -Ted
     
  8. RevToTheRedline macrumors 6502a

    RevToTheRedline

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    #8
    RevToTheRedline jumps in the thread, grabs javabear90's Nikkor 70-200mm VR and runs away.
     
  9. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #9
    Thought I'd throw this out there, see what y'all think...

    What do you think of a half Mac Pro lab (10 seats) with the rest Mac Minis (10 seats)?

    The Mac Pros would have a full suite of digital video/photo/audio editing software for advanced classes/purposes while the minis would only run Aperture.

    Problem is... I have no clue how painful Aperture is on a mini (esp. with such weak graphics)... if it runs fine, this seems like an easy way to cut costs in half.
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #10
    You need to understand or find someone who does understand UNIX networking. In general program do not need to know much about networking.

    What you really want is for the user's log in to "follow him". This means that that student comes into the lab and sits down at any random computer, types in is username and password and then his desktop appears with all his files.

    Of course all the files and the usernames and the passwords are stored on a server. This also means backup can be centralized.

    The big selling point of Macs is that you can do this thig where the desktop follows the log in pretty easy by automounting the users home directory off the central disk array.
     
  11. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #11
    Ok, further musings,

    For a 20-seat lab which would end up handling newspaper and yearbook photographers/editors, digital applications (read: video creation to publishing) classes, and potentially an advanced math course (probably not though):

    20x Gateway FPD2485W 24" ($500/ea; I'm ignorant on monitors, but feel that we should stay reasonably inexpensive)

    1x some random display for the server

    1x Mac Pro (~$6300)
    2x 2.66 Dual core
    2x 512mb Apple RAM
    2x 2gb OWC RAM (total: 5gb) (@$52/1gb)
    7300 GT
    RAID card
    4x 1TB drives ($380/ea)
    Mac OS X Server (unlim.)
    Other software (?)

    10x Mac Pro (~3000)
    2x 2.66 Dual Core
    2x 512mb Apple RAM
    2x 2gb OWC RAM (total: 5gb) (@$52/1gb)
    X1900
    1x stock 250gb​

    10x Mac Mini (~1000 weak, weak, weak–but what are my alternatives? iMac won't work b/c of screen, and Mac Pro is overkill)
    The superdrive one... with the integrated graphics
    but with 3gb from OWC (88 after trade in)

    1 site license Aperture ($1000)
    1 site license Final Cut Studio ($5000)
    +media ($100)
    We already have licenses for CS3... switching them over to Mac might be tricky though

    And then of course whatever our workgroup software ends up being...

    Total: ~$62,400... w/o educational or bulk discounts

    Pros: it gets what we need
    Cons: that's a big bill... not to mention only 4tb of server space (and we'll probably want some redundancy too)

    PS Forgot to mention, I'm the acting rep for the school newspaper on this one–Javabear is with the Yearbook.
     
  12. squeeks macrumors 68040

    squeeks

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    #12
    back in 2000 when i was in high school, we did school newspaper, yearbook and all that on 8 Macintosh Performa 5200s, we had ONE G3 imac that was the webserver / teacher computer...print is still print...get 24" imacs
     
  13. javabear90 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    javabear90

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #13
    Hmm... that is a very interesting piece of software. Would it handle editing and uploading photos though? It seems more oriented towards everything media (which is not necessarily bad) and not photography which is the main concern. It might be very helpful to the whole process though. Anyone have any good experience with it?
    Thanks
    -Ted
     
  14. bocomo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    New York
    #14
    contact a newspaper about the software. there is one they use just for your purposes but i can't remember the name of it. we did a tour and they showed us all the images uploaded by the associate press on a topic. it was pretty cool and probably something the students will have to learn anyway for journalism jobs.

    i second the epson r1800 recommendation-great printer at a good price point

    also, the imacs would be great, i would be hesitant to go with the mini

    one mac pro or two for video editing would be fine if that is something you guys are going to use
     

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