Question about a photographer's workstation.

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by skidknee, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. skidknee macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2005
    Hey guys,

    Apologies if this is in the wrong section, but I'm directing this at all the photographers and graphic designers. I am curious about what would be considered an ideal workstation to use Photoshop CS2 (the rest of the suite for that matter), possibly Aperture, Colorburst, and all the things you use for image editing, organizing, publishing, and processing.

    Obviously the top of the line Quad G5 would work the best, but let me add some background about what I am looking for.

    I'm a Sophomore in college, majoring in Photography, and am interested in getting a dedicated workstation to start a photo workflow that can handle large volumes of images (in quantity and size). By no means am I a professional, but I am aspiring and learning. I consider myself tech saavy and nerdy enough to care about the hardware and softare I am running, but I do not have a full grasp on every technical aspect of that topic.

    I am definitely talking about the PowerMac. I was looking into saving money for one, but the question of upgrading the graphics card, and perhaps a question of how much RAM becomes redundant for the workload of a photographer.

    How much of a photographer's needs are based on the quality of the graphics card? For some reason, I don't think it matters that much unless it's rendering, etc.

    Secondly, I'm looking to add 2-3 GB of RAM to start and a secondary internal hard drive.

    Sorry for making this post long, but after daydreaming about a PowerMac for so long, I wanted to hear your opinions on what's essential in a workstation for a photographer or another occupation of similar neccessity, or better yet, your current workstation and how it meets your needs, down to the sepcs and types of storage, RAM, programs, etc.

    Thanks guys.:p
  2. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    I'd look for a dual 2.5 or dual 2.7 system (still avilable new).

    If you can afford a quad system, great...

    Graphics card doesn'r really mean too much unless you plan on using Aperture which uses Core Image and has specific video card requirements.

    How much batch processing versus individual image processing are you doing?
  3. skidknee thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2005
    I forgot to mention that I'm currently using a Rev. D 15" 1.5 powerook as my everything computer, as I am out-of-state for college.

    As for batch processing, I do a lot of web design for personal portofolios and do a lot of resizing and retouching and thumbnails from original RAW files. I don't know if that is considered "batch" persay, but I definitely want to look into being able to do high volume shooting for practicing studio work or for street photography without a hitch.

    I'm assuming you're asking to figure out if I would need the new dual-core G5's or the old dual-processor G5's.

    I would say right now I am doing a lot of individual images for class assignments and for personal publishing, but for organizing and for the future I would do highe volume projects if my workstation was capable (which my powerbook is not).
  4. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    Well, whatever you can afford, then, and keep the Core Image requirements of Aperture in mind.

    I individually open (not necessarily correct every one) about 600-800 images a day that are 12mp each. The dual 2.7 and a separate 250GB Seagate HDD handle this fine. I see no reason for a high-RPM scratch disc.

    I use Photoshop CS2 and the clunky-ass Bridge, but hope to move a lot of my workflow to Aperture soon.

    Buy as much RAM as you can afford, but keep in mind that PS CS2 can only allocate 3GB at a time.

    Having gone the two 20-inch monitor route, get the biggest single display you can afford. You'll want to be able to view individual images at the largest resolution you can afford. Buy a 23 before you buy two 20's, in my opinion.

    Have fun!
  5. BrandonSi macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2005
    Chicago, IL

    Since photoshop is really a 2d app, a super-duper 3d video card is not required. I do all of what you are doing on my 20" iMac G5 2.0ghz with 1.5gb ram.

    Basically my workflow consists of the following..

    -Connect camera, import shots into iPhoto.
    -Review in iPhoto, import selected photos (usually one at a time) into Photoshop.
    -Make adjustments in raw, open.
    -Curves and levels adjustment as needed
    -Contrast as needed
    -Unsharp Mask as needed
    -Touch-ups (clone, noise removal, etc..)
    -Save as .TIFF with no compression
    -Resize to web, and save for web as .jpg

    As for batch resizing, I use custom actions in photoshop and then use the batch features of photoshop.

    You certainly don't need a PowerMac to do all of this, I get by fine with my iMac, but it wouldn't hurt at all.
  6. skidknee thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2005
    I agree. Although the one thing that I find merits upgrading to a "pro" workstation is printing, and using multiple heavy programs.

    For example. I do all the things you've listed, and post images as .jpegs, but for class and for prints, I need the uncompressed tiffs and I handle .psd files before coverting them as well, so the files range anywhere from 24MB to 150MB, or higher if they are hi-res scans of negatives. I use colorburst as a RIP on the fly printing, so already I need something that can adequately handle both Photoshop CS2, Colorburst, and whatever else needed to organize and view the RAW images at full capacity.

    I get along fine right now with the powerbook, but as a workstation, it can handle everything without a hitch. I've read and seen on reviews, forums, and benchmarks that there is a significant benefit in the specs.

    But yeah, I agree because I've been getting by with non-pro hardware, which is why I am asking where the line is from getting by to being efficient.


    Plus it'd be really sweet to have a workstation like the ones in my digital lab at school.
  7. skidknee thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2005
    Awesome. Ideally my setup would be like yours--a PowerMac, a secondary drive, etc.

    So in terms of the RAM, how much RAM would be effective to do the whole shabang? 3 GB for Photoshop, and another X amount for other programs, the operating system, etc.

    So it is looking in the range of 4+ GB of RAM for sure, eh?

    Also, the difference in the dual-core and dual-processor shows that certain tasks the dual-proc PowerMac's do better. I know since the new G5's are so new, it's not conclusive whether or not one is better than the other...but would it be very noticeable? I'm assuming it's not going to make that big of a deal at the end of the day because it's still 2.0-2.5 GHz with multiple cores.
  8. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    With the exact same budget, I might tend go with maybe 2gb of RAM in order to free up some cash for reliable, substantial backup storage.

    If money was no object, then what the hell... I'd still try to get a big quality drive — external or internal — to do nightly backups to, possibly even purchasing software that allows incremental backups with rollbacks.

    You can easily add more RAM later.

    Yours sincerely
    BackupFanatic :)

    p.s. once bitten, twice shy
  9. skidknee thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2005
    Agreed. If I had another $450 to spare I'd more than happily fork it over for 4GB of RAM, but I'm sure 2GB can be enough for now, especially since just getting a workstation is already expensive enough.

    I was on Newegg, and they had the Hitachi 250GB drives that Apple uses, for only $103, and they offer $3.95 for 3-day shipping. That's a lot cheaper than the 500GB drive which is $380. If anything, I can keep backing up with a bunch of 250GB drives that I can make external with a case...or so I've read (I've never actually done that before).
  10. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    Get a Seagate drive. 5 year warranty and QUIET!

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