Digital Darkroom for $4000

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by NuclearBiscuit, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. NuclearBiscuit macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    #1
    Hi,

    So, this is one of those obnoxious, spoiled posts about how to spend 4 grand. But your help would appreciated because I'm overwhelmed with the options. Here's what I need to be able to do:

    Use Photoshop to work with MF Images
    Scan 35mm and MF Negs
    Word Process
    Print Word Documents
    Travel with the Computer

    I will need to purchase everything and my budget is 4,000 for the computer, software, scanner, etc. I'd like the computer to be mobile, but I'd also like a big screen. What would you buy? Thanks!
     
  2. alexbates macrumors 65816

    alexbates

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    Nov 24, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #2
    17-in Unibody MacBook Pro- $2,799
    Photoshop- $699 or I would go with Photoshop Elements for $60
    iWork '09- $49 if preinstalled

    And this is just the basics... If you want a blazing fast 17-in MacBook Pro, you should get the 2.93GHz processor and 8GB of DDR3 Memory. If you want the memory cheap, I would get it from OWC just like where I get my memory upgrades from.
     
  3. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #3
    That item is going to chew up most of your budget unless you opt for a flatbed scanner with some sort of film holder (scanning quality probably won't be all that hot), or use a service bureau.
     
  4. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #4
    So you need to buy a
    - MacBook or MacBook Pro
    - Scanner
    - Printer

    Define travel, same bag? Same car? Different bag?
     
  5. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #5
    a) good scanning service for those MF negs

    b) 15" MBP w/ the screen replaced with a matte screen (3rd party)
    addt'l RAM from OWC, max it out

    c) ext harddrive

    d) 30" ACD or Dell Ultrasharp

    e) photoshop CS4 and Office ~$1000

    ideally you'd have a Mac Pro... but Mac Pros are most definitely not mobile. At all.
     
  6. rroback macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    #6
    I'd recommend a scanning service for the mf, unless you'll be scanning constantly new photos. You really want high res, and if you can't afford a quality scanner, it's not even worth scanning with lower res scanner.
     
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #7
    He never stated this though. :confused:


    I'd check out the Lenovo W700 series laptops. With quad-core 2.53 GHz processor, an NVIDIA Quadro FX 2700M 48-core CUDA parallel computing processor 512MB, and a 17" WUXGA+ screen, it's kind of what he wants. It's big, but if he's scans from MF film, he'll need it to process rather large files. The 17" MBP is nice, but in terms of processing speed and such, is completely obliterated by this machine.

    I guess the only problem is that he can't afford the scanner AND buy the computer he needs. This laptop would cost over $3500.


    If he really needs both, then the Lenovo W500 series with its 15" screen:

    - 1920 x 1200 res display (15" MBP has a 1440 x 900 res screen)
    - up to 8 GB of RAM (MacBook Pros can't recognise that much RAM, even in the future when RAM prices drop and you install more.)
    - ATI Mobility FireGL V5700 with 512MB VRAM (MacBook Pros only have 256 MB of RAM on its base price)
    - a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo processor
    - starting price of around $1874 for the machine I customized. Add RAM as necessary.

    You can even enter a coupon code (USPW500FEB09) and get it cheaper than that. This is a FAR better deal than a base MacBook Pro. It's form or function. For your needs, you need to pick function.
     
  8. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #8
    Here's the deal... if you get a scanner it probably should be this one, since anything else medium format will cost a lot more, and this is a pretty good unit.

    Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED - $1999

    This limits your choices for the laptop, software, etc. You could go wintel for a bit less, but you could also get a refurb MacBook Pro 15.4" unibody:

    MacBook Pro (late 2008 unibody version) 15.4" 2.4ghz, 2gb memory, 250gb hd - $1699

    This leaves you $300. Get a copy of Photoshop Elements for $79, which will do much of what Photoshop will do without the $700 pricetag. Also, take a look at GIMP, open-source photo editing software with many Photoshop capabilities. It's free. For your Word processing, writing/printing Word .docs... don't waste your money on MS Office, but download a free copy of OpenOffice for Mac. Or take a look at OpenOSX: Office 2.0. Great software for a small download price (compared to commercial prices.) A great version of GIMP2 is available too. Anyway, lots of alternatives out there to avoid paying more than you have to...

    You still have $220, next get one of these:
    LaCie Little Disk - 500GB usb - $106 shipped

    That leaves $114 for a nice sleeve and backpack of your choice.

    (Of course, I'd really recommend a refurb hi-definition 17" MBP matte screen model, but it's $300 more to start with) ... so, with the 15.4 inch MBP you should think about stashing a little extra cash away for an eventual purchase of an external monitor like this nice 20-incher from Apple, if you can't swing the 17"MBP from the start...

    Apple Cinema Display (refurbished) 20" - $499


    So, now that you've used up all your $4000, you could go for the better display with a refurb 17" MBP (high-definition matte screen) for an extra $300 now, or wait and spend $499 for an Apple Cinema Display a bit later.

    Now, if you only had $5000 to spend...;)
     
  9. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #9
    I agree, in terms of hardware, you will get more bang for your buck with the Lenovo.
     
  10. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    Oregon coast
    #10
    It's really a matter of opinion, because you'd end up with a Lenovo. They're nice, functional machines, but I'd take a bit less horsepower for a ton more elegance and simplicity, free of the MS view of the world...;) To me (note the qualifier here...) there's not a price you can put on avoiding Microsoft for important, daily functions. Am I biased? What do you think? It comes from experience.

    But, yes... he could get a Lenovo and do what he has to do, no doubt, as I mentioned above...

     
  11. mknawabi macrumors 6502

    mknawabi

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    Irvine, CA
    #11
    You're not going to have fun with OSX and Nikon scanners.
     
  12. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #12
    Alright... I'm listening. What are the issues, and are there any reasonable solutions?
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #13
    $4k for a computer and a copy of Photoshop is easy to do. Actually Photoshop Elements might be all you need.

    However a portable scanner for MF negs does not exist.

    What scanner to buy depends on your image quality requirements. Can you quantify your requirements? Dependiign on what you need the price of a scanner could range from about $275 to well past 4 times your total budget.

    Flatbed scanners are really not all that bad. If you buy third party software the scanners can make multiple passes using different exposures on each pass and assemble a good scan using techniques not un-like "HDR". You can get very good dynamic range. For a bit more you can buy a lab-quality tast calibration target and calibrate your scanner ad get very good color from a flatbed scanner. But multi-scanning is slow. My Epson flatbed takes about 2 hours to fully process a load of 35mm slides and then it takes my at least 5 or 6 minutes per image (20 images per load = about 2 hours) to hand corect each image. This means I can do about 20 slides per evening. I use a scanning service for the bulk of my work simply because I value my time at more than $4 per hour.

    Also what is your definition of "portable"? Hand carry or a shipping case with wheels. Any of ths larger scanners will require a wheeled case.

    If you have simple requirements then a Macbook, "Elements" and an Epson scanner and $1000 left in your pocket.

    One More Thing......

    Why not simply send the negative out to be scanned. Have you considered your time? figure on at least 5 to 6 minutes per negative at a bare minimum. Some could require an hour if there are dust or scratches. You can get this done for you for abut $1 each, give or take. Later as you shoot more film have the lab that procees it scan it for you.

    Also please do save some budget for three external disk drives to be used in rotation for backups.
     
  14. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #14
    Being in the situation I am, I'd sadly take a hit on elegance and simplicity at the moment if it means I have a machine which encompasses more of the practical things in life as a photographer.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the new 17" MBP, but with all the bells and whistles included in the Lenovo, I could sacrifice OSX for it.
     
  15. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    Dec 23, 2006
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    In my imagination
    #15
    Bu!!$h!t.

    Don't worry, read the comment above.

    Use one from time to time at the paper, and used it quite heavily when my fiancee shoots with film on her EM. Works perfectly with OSX Tiger. The paper hasn't upgraded to Leopard and may never do so, so Tiger works fine.

    Don't know where he/she got that from. :confused:

    As for the OP. LISTEN CAREFULLY, since you don't have the budget to do all of that yourself.

    You can pay someone to scan the negatives for you. The best scanner you can get will be the Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED. Plain and simple. Look for it used, but good luck, it's a KICK@$$ machine to just give away. $2000 best price for it, may be a bit less.

    If you need to get a Mac, get the 17" MBP, whichever version you want to save cash, doesn't have to be the latest and greatest.

    BUT, if you can go PC, then you can get yourself a 17" hi res book for around $2000 and skimp on the cute stuff like Bluetooth and glass trackpads.

    Get the student version of Photoshop or the Creative Suite for $250.

    Get OpenOffice for documents and such.

    SO, in the end, you will either be skimping on the machine, or on the scanner/method of scanning. Pick on or the other, or skip scanning MF for now and just scan 35mm into a $1000 Nikon scanner.
     
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #16
    One more thing to concider: What is your time worth? Really. Put a dollar value on it. Once you do that that you can decide if spending an extra 15 minutes per image is worth saving $200 or not. Will you work for $4 an hour, $10, or $50?

    You may also have some hard "through put" and/or "latency" requirements. For example, maybe you typically shoot 250 images and need them scanned the same day. Or you have a back catalog of 10,000 images and would like to have them scanned over a one year period.

    Depending on answers to the above I'd recommend very different solutions. You might need a bigger budget or you might have $1K left over.
     
  17. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    #17
    I use my MacBook Pro with Lightroom 2.2. The setup cost about $2500, and it doubles duty as a school powerhorse for engineering/science work. :)
     
  18. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    Oregon coast
    #18
    If you need all the things the high-end Lenovo laptop offers in a fairly heavy package, I can see it working for you. Heck, it would work for me, too, since I have a history with IBM Thinkpads... but yours and my choices would just be different today. Fair enough.

    But, for the OP, what I said still might have some merit. Not everyone has the same needs, clearly. For what he mentioned he could actually get by a nice combo iMac for the desk/MBAir for the portable use and contract out the scanning as needed. And still buy a full-blown copy of Photoshop... there are a number of ways he could go. No real advantage to the Lenovo from my perspective...

     
  19. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    #19
    Based on what the OP wants to do with it, a MacBook Pro would serve better. These things are also getting very thin and light, something which Dell and Lenovo can rarely claim, unless you go to their very high end models - at which point the price may surpass a mac solution. ;)
     
  20. mknawabi macrumors 6502

    mknawabi

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    #20
    Oh, I'm sorry, you must be a Nikon Scan expert to the extreme...

    The application is a PowerPC binary. You're going to have to run it through Rosetta, which makes it a bit slower than it should be. I often have issues with the scanner hanging up on me and making it appear as if its still scanning, but I have to take out the negatives from the strip, insert them back in, and try rescanning. Scanning a medium format negative at 4000dpi takes a little while, so if you are serious about scanning your negatives...well, I hope you have some patience.

    It'll work, but it's not exactly the best.. However, if you want to scan MF, your options are limited anyway.

    Make sure that you install PowerPC compatibility (if its even there), when Snow Leopard comes out.

    Also, digital skunk, I know you're a Nikon fanboy and would love to get on your knees for them, but unless you know what you're talking about, shut up.
     
  21. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #21
    Nope, just your run of the mill user that hasn't a problem with it for years.

    ;)

    (edited to remove idiot response)

    The thinness and lightness is more of a curse. Now we are plagued with very limited choices in Intel chips and limited hardware inside of the body.

    While most 17" PC laptops have gotten quad core options, dual HDD options, and "some other niche feature geared toward the market, i.e. jog/shuttle wheels or internal calibration" the 17" Macbook Pro has only gotten a longer battery life for simple tasks and sacrifices an internal battery.

    1.1" machines aren't that heavy, and I know Apple could do a lot with that extra tenth of an inch.
     
  22. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 12, 2005
    #22
    AMEN!!! *I* would gladly sacrifice a bit of weight and vanity for some POWER.
     
  23. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    #23
    While I would generally agree that this is the case when using the Nikon software that comes with the scanners, I've never had issues once I went out and spent some cash for VueScan.
     
  24. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    #24
    This is probably very subjective, but for me, POWER is being able to get my work done very quickly with the least amount of stress. And after 15 years of Windows, I feel that my comparatively new experience with OSX (4 years) has allowed me to produce much more work than said 15 years.

    Get whatever makes you comfortable. But if you're buying a PC notebook, stick to higher Dells or Thinkpads. :)
     
  25. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #25
    This is very true brother. Power IS being able to get work done VERY QUICKLY with the least amount of STRESS.

    Not being sarcastic, just pointing out those point to emphasize them down below.

    Quad core would allow me to render HD video a lot quicker. Not only that, it would allow me to batch process images quicker, as well as (in regards to Nikon Coolscan) process application functions quicker, or allow certain apps to run on two cores and other to run on the others.

    In regards to video editing, I recently learned that Premier Pro isn't 64 bit for Mac OSX, but Adobe made it up out of smaller 32 bit executables that each could run on a core and that core's RAM.

    Dual HDDs would allow me to have either space for storage, scratch for video, or scratch for still images. OR, it would allow me to RAID my drive for speed or instant backup. Having an external is never a problem until the cable falls out when you're rendering or batching.

    Lastly, everyone wants more ports. I could due for less USBs and added eSATA to be honest.
     

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