I'm beginning to take this photography lark seriously.


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 09:41
OK - 2 years ago, I got myself a new K-X and a couple of kit lenses. Christmas just past, Santa brought me a new K-5 and 18-135 WR zoom. I find my limiting factor now is this old PC of mine (hang on 'til I shovel some more coal into it) and the old software I'm using to post-process (an old version of Paint Shop Pro). When I run Gimp or Silkypix, it takes an age to do anything. Time to get some new hardware...

The guy in 'the shop' yesterday told me I'd need an overclocked i5 processor, 8Gb RAM, some sort of 'all singing all dancing graphics card and Windows 7 - (64 bit version), all necessary to run Photoshop and Lightroom. Seems a bit OTT to me.

Any advice will be copiously rewarded with some fine malt whisky next time you're round my house.

"He's not the Messiah, ..."


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 10:08
Graphics cards are only used by 3d applications and the very expensive Photoshop CS5. No other image editing requires any type of graphic card other than the bog standard ones with a monitor in interface. They card would be a waste of money unless you do CAD or PC gaming.

An i3 would be powerful enough for photo work. The biggest thing is getting a good Solid State Drive (SSD) for Windows and your main editing programs. This brings boot times down below 30 seconds and load times to 1-3s depending on the program.

A RAID0 array for photos you are working on. This puts 2 disks together as one and one takes odd bits the other takes the even bits and theoretically doubles read/write speeds in real terms you are looking at 70-95% speed boost depending on workload. I would also suggest a RAID1 array for backups. This essentially has two identical disks which get written to simultaneously. If one fails you just replace it and the array will automatically refill it and keep the images backed up.

So all in all any decent quad core processor with 8GB of RAM will do fine. I'd also invest in an eIPS monitor from LG for colour accuracy.

1 SSD for Boot, Windows, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.
2x Smaller high performance HDD for RAID 0 for working files, documents, cache, etc.
2x Large low power HDD for RAID 1 backups

My setup is now 2 years old but very fast for K-5 files:

Phenom II X4 3.2GHz
4GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM
1x 64GB SSD
2x 100GB 7200rpm in RAID0
2x 100GB 7200rpm in RAID1
1x 320GB external backup drive

Last Edited by Tyr on 26/02/2012 - 10:11


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 10:09
Excellent, next time I'm on my way to Skye I'll drop by. Here's the advice to pay for it!

A fast modern computer should run Photoshop just fine. I'm using a fairly basic machine with Windows 7 and 3GB of RAM. Photoshop 5 runs smoothly and without problems. I have a 1TB hard drive, plus 500GB and 350GB additional drives to back up to and/or use as scratch disks.

I do use the 64 bit version of CS5 and I find it works quicker than CS2.

I think you could buy something "off the shelf" from any computer supplier that would do just fine. A separate video card, rather than one integral to the mother board, would be a better option. That should be simple enough, just check the spec of the machine you buy.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 10:20
I agree with John about the separate video card and I would add some on board memory to it. I used a Pentium 4 machine with built in Video, which struggled to cope with CS3. Now I have a dual core with separate Video and it fly's.
Too Old To Die Young



Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 10:20
I bought my new computer from Dell. I chose the Inspiron 620 with an i5 processor simply because it gives me plenty of "growing" space. I didn't go for a fast or fancy graphics card - I don't play computer games that need such a thing.
Straight off the shelf, delivered to my door. Extremely happy with it.

I already had couple of Samsung hard drives for back-up, one 2TB and one 1.5TB.


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 10:29
There is a word for the "advice" you were given by the guy in the shop - and it is a rude word.
OK, so I don't run PS or Lightroom, but I do run Win 7 64-bit Pro on a machine that only has 4Gb of ram and a dual-core processor - and it is not overclocked. Software? PS Elements 10 and PSPro X4 are my main tools, and if this combination could carry out an operation a couple of milliseconds faster I would never notice. I spend more time thinking about what I am going to do with an image than I take to do it.
If you have an "old version of PS", that is what is slowing you down - on my setup, PS6 absolutely crawls compared to Elements 10. I have my K20 set to produce RAW + jpg, and the RAW is DNG. I can look at the .jpg, see what I have got, and then open the RAW to do anything that I need to do with it.
PM me if you want to, but please don't spend good money on kit that only has the benefit of a salesman's recommendation.

Water can wear away a stone - but it can't cook lunch
Lenses Digital: 50-200, 18-55 KAF: 28-80.
Lenses KA & K: SMC-KA f2.0, SMC-K f1.4, SMC-K f1.7 Tokina KA 28-70 , SMC Pentax 70-210 F4, Sigma KA 75-300 , Hanimex 500mm Mirror, and the Tamron Adaptall-2 stuff.
and then there's all the M42 kit, and the accessories ...


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 10:30
Hi Bobby

You gotta love PC salesmen - bless there little cotton socks.

Thankfully you have done the sensible thing - not immediately reached for your wallet!

Some good advice above.

It really depends how important blistering fast boot times and processing speeds are to you - and of course how much you want to spend. There is a world of difference between 'perfectly acceptable' and state of the art in terms of price - but not always a world of difference in every day performance/ use IMHO

If spend is important - i.e. kept to a minimum whilst doing what is needed -

For my photo editing - I am currently using an Asus PC that has 2gb Ram, uses an AMD Phenon 9550 Quad core processor and windows Vista premium operating system. A quick look at PC World show me that it now has 4gb RAM and Windows 7 and the price does not appear to have moved!

I run photoshop, lightroom3 and elements with absolutely no issues - simultaneously!

Best of all - it cost me less than 350 allowing me to spend more an a good quality monitor - which many seem to forget the importance of for photo editing

No matter how many lenses I have owned - I have always needed just one more


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 10:35
If you really want a new computer, then +1 for SSD.

I have Windows 7, Photoshop, Visual Studio and Office installed on mine - these are my most frequently used large applications, and it makes an enormous difference to boot and load times. But although I wouldn't go back, it's more a nice-to-have than an essential.

With the price of hard disks as they are, and will be for a while, RAID0 and RAID1 means four drives, and potentially a substantial cost, unless they're very small in which case there's no point.

I've had RAID before (0 and 1), but I don't bother any more except on my company's servers. IMO, for home use it's a cost with little benefit, unless perhaps you're spending all day every day working with huge panoramas.

However, external, and preferably off-site as well, backup is very important, much more so than RAID. Everyone I know lets this slide, loses data, and then tightens up on it.

You definitely do not need an expensive (and noisy!) graphics card. Here's an article from the Adobe knowledge base. Mine is about 4 years old - I didn't bother replacing it when I built my latest computer (which is, incidentally, an overclocked i7 with 16 GB RAM - but that's not because of image editing!)

OpenGL support has been around for years and years, and I bet that the newer AMD processors that include a GPU will work just fine.

+1 for Dr Jeff's comments, too.
Pentax K-3, DA18-135, DA35 F2.4, DA17-70, DA55-300, FA28-200, A50 F1.7, A100 F4 Macro, A400 F5.6, Sigma 10-20 EXDC, 50-500 F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS Samsung flash SEF-54PZF(x2)


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 11:49
My 2p:

a) It is true that computer technology from 3/4 years ago is fine for Photoshop, but the price difference between that and modern technology is relatively minor, so why go out of your way to buy something outdated - it makes no sense.

b) Buy a computer with 2 equal sized hard disks in a so called Raid 1 configuration where the pair mirror each other creating a realtime backup. Get something no smaller than 1.5tb in which case the extra disk will add maybe just over 100 to the price, but will be money well spent in covering typical non-catastrophic risks to your computer. However, it is always a good idea to have a second backup located with friends or family.

c) Intel are bringing out their next generation of microprocessors codenamed Ivy Bridge at the start of April. This allegedly features much better on-board graphics performance, but more importantly has significantly improved power consumption, apparently at least a third better than the current generation. If your computer tends to be switched on all the time I would wait for that, otherwise I would still wait and look for discounting of existing models closer to launch.

FWIW, I expect to replace my now +4 year old desktop with a new Ivy Bridge based model as soon as possible. My current machine has more than sufficient resources to run a heavy load, but consumes around 300W just in the box itself (no screens, speakers, etc). By moving to Ivy Bridge I expect to cut that to around 125W resulting in considerable savings on my electricity bill.


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 12:15
Shaky wrote:
By moving to Ivy Bridge I expect to cut that to around 125W resulting in considerable savings on my electricity bill.

Even SandyBridge, with its dynamic underclocking can realise substantial savings.

My i7 2600K idles at a mere 1.6 GHz, consuming about 8W (according to CoreTemp) when I'm not using it.

Plus about 4x10W for the disks, and about 30W for the 8800GT, plus the inefficiency in the PSU, can't be much more than 100W at idle.

I keep meaning to get one of those power meters that you plug between the appliance and the socket, that measure actual power.

Shaky, how did you measure or calculate your 300W?
Pentax K-3, DA18-135, DA35 F2.4, DA17-70, DA55-300, FA28-200, A50 F1.7, A100 F4 Macro, A400 F5.6, Sigma 10-20 EXDC, 50-500 F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS Samsung flash SEF-54PZF(x2)


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 12:21
When it comes to pc building I usually just set a limit to how much I want to spend then work to that. I've not upgraded my pc in awhile now but I'm running an i5 2500k on an MSI P67A-GD55 motherboard, 6 or 8gb 1600mhz ram (cant remember which haha), a single samsung sata II and a single ATI XFX 5870.

That above runs anything I want from computer games to Adobe After Effects, given that those parts are quite dated now, you could pick up a similar setup for very cheap.

SSDs are nice too, but I could never justify buying one .


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 12:32
I am using an old (5 yrs-ish) Pentium D Dual Core 3Ghz with 3Gb RAM running Windows XP and with an old-ish Nvidia 8600GT graphics card with 256mb of graphics RAM. Disks are 2x 2TB Network Storage Devices which are automatically sychronized using a freeware program called Allway Sync (which is very good BTW).

Everything flies on this setup except for the boot-up time (PC needs cleaning up a bit) and the file save/load because this is being done over a network. There's no need for anything more powerful as others have stated here unless you are working with 3D applications. Best advice would be get a decent mid-range processor, bang in as much fast RAM as the machine will take and fit the fastest disks you can (RAID array is good). It's the memory and disks that are most critical.


Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs
Last Edited by davidstorm on 26/02/2012 - 12:33


Link Posted 26/02/2012 - 12:40
ChrisA wrote:
Shaky, how did you measure or calculate your 300W?

I measured it with one of those power meters bought off Amazon for around 20; cheap and cheerful but does the job and is really quite useful.

Actually the 300W consumption is something of an average. When I got the meter I was shocked to find that my box was drawing around 320W, so I replaced my aging Nvidia Quadro graphics card with a newer model and cut my consumption by just under 50W net.

My CPU is an old but fairly high-end Xenon that was - and in fact still is - quite energy efficient with a TDW of 80W. Unfortunately it is equipped with 16Gb of fully buffered server ram, which produces negligible memory faults but is a real energy hog and just kills overall energy efficiency.

I have a few bits and pieces lying around including pair of Samsung 1.5tb disks, nice case, etc, and if my back of the envelope calculations are correct a new quad core Ivy Bridge with HT, motherboard, 16gb of DDR3 ram, and a couple of hard disks should pay for themselves in around 2 years at current electricity prices. It just shows how insanely high they have gone.


Link Posted 27/02/2012 - 00:36
You don't need SSD. You don't need RAID. Save money.

Just make sure you have two fast hard drives so your data can be on one and the apps on another. 8GB RAM. i5 is cheap enough. Go wild!

Two years ago I wrote four articles on my computer build. It's helped others. You don't need to go so crazy with some parts, as I was aiming for low noise

Listen to my albums free on BandCamp. Or visit my main website for links to photography, etc.


Link Posted 27/02/2012 - 09:58

I have just taken my 7 year old PC and thrown it in a skip (minus the hard drive!) and built a shiny new one. My advice is if you are going with Photoshop, then a good graphics card is essential as I believe that Photoshop is able to use the power of the GPU, making it out perform most other packages. That said I have Painshop Pro XIV and I love it! I have been a Paint Shop Pro user from version 6 (about 8 years now) and for me it does everything I need right down to processing Pentax RAW files.

For my PC, what was essential:
1) 64 Bit OS (I have 12GM RAM!)
2) 128 GB SSD (for OS and program files only)
3) DDR3 1600 RAM or better
4) Mother board with SATA III and USB 3 support

For my PC, what was not essential:
1) Any form of raided hard drives
2) An Intel Processor (yes the current i5 and i7 are the fastest performing CPUs but I buy Pentax for a reason so I bought AMD!)
3) Over clocking (great for gamers, I think a waste of time for anything else)

From experiance 2 RAID 0 raptor hard drives will perform exceptionally well, RAIDing hard drives does improve performance but my SSD (SATA III) allows my Windoes 7 PC to fully boot, be logged into and run several programs i.e. Paint Shop Pro in under 60 seconds.

If you are buying off the shelf I would go for Windows 7 Pro 64bit, Intel i7 and 4GB RAM (RAM is cheap and easy to upgrade later), lets face it, you don't want to be looking again in 2 years time when you have the 21MP Pentax K3
Bodies: K5IIs, K7, MZ5n, LX, MV
Lenses: DA*16-50, DA18-55WR, DA18-135, DAL35, M50 F2, A50 f1.4, FA50 f1.4, DA*50-135, DA55-300, Tamron 70-300, DFA 100 WR Macro, M135 f3.5, Sigma 120-400 APO DG HSM, Tokina 500 f8.0
Flash: Metz 58, Metz 48
Accessories: BG4, Pentax right angle finder, Pentax mirror adaptor lens, O-ME53 Viewfinder Loupe
Auto 110 System: Auto 110, Winder, 18mm, 24mm, 50mm, 70mm, 20-40mm, AF100P, 1.7x telecon
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