Art and Photography

PC specs for beginner photo editing

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  • Dec 12th, 2014 6:19 pm
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Deal Addict
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Jun 17, 2012
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In another world
If you're using Adobe products, maybe checking the Adobe website in terms of computer requirements will help, like:
Optimize performance | Photoshop: http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/opt ... 4-cs5.html

While Photoshop can get an advantage while using a dedicated video card (https://forums.adobe.com/thread/979969)

Lightroom doesn't need one. "Built-in, default cards that ship with most desktop or laptop systems typically suffice for Lightroom." (http://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/opt ... hics_cards)
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Jul 13, 2009
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I'm still using my old 2009 iMac, i5 2.3ghz quad with 16 gig ram.

Dumping several thousand photos at a time does't hiccup.

However I tend to use a macbook air for sorting and culling, SSD makes a huge difference. Macbook air only has 4 gig ram, i3....

Don't worry too much about specs, have a decent monitor instead!
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May 6, 2007
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Ottawa, On
thericyip wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 1:45 am
I made two builds earlier this year to see what I can get away with as a minimum and the other is what I ended up with. Of course, note for sales and upgrade as you wish. You may already have some parts too.

Minimum: https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/b/y7Q7YJ
My current build: https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/b/njbj4D
Quick question in your builds you have multiple HDDs why is that? My guess is you're running raid, but wouldn't you be better off with one big HDD then backing up to an external HDD/NAS/other computer?
Jr. Member
Sep 3, 2007
159 posts
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AzureD wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 9:30 am
I think LR is quite poor with multi core usage where faster core is better.
I recently moved from a dual core e4400 to a quad q6600 and my export times in lightroom 3 were cut nearly in half and the develop module felt much more responsive. Similar result when I tried disabling 2 of the q6600's cores. It makes use of multi cores.
Newbie
Dec 11, 2007
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Uncle Chester wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 12:05 pm
I recently moved from a dual core e4400 to a quad q6600 and my export times in lightroom 3 were cut nearly in half and the develop module felt much more responsive. Similar result when I tried disabling 2 of the q6600's cores. It makes use of multi cores.
Agreed, LR makes great use of multi-cores. I use LR5 on a computer with an AMD FX8350 (8 cores @ 4.0Ghz) and it will pin all 8 cores at 100% on an export. On an import, my system floats around 50% cpu usage across all 8 cores. I've also seen it chew up almost 4 GB of ram. As others have suggested, you don't need a hot rod computer to run it but it will likely be far less frustrating if you can put some power behind it. Set a budget and buy the best you can find within it. You don't need a great video card. I would suggest a decent proc, 8gb ram and some fast disks. There will be lots of good deals to be had in a few weeks once the boxing week sales start.
Newbie
Dec 11, 2007
25 posts
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da_guy2 wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 10:29 am
Quick question in your builds you have multiple HDDs why is that? My guess is you're running raid, but wouldn't you be better off with one big HDD then backing up to an external HDD/NAS/other computer?
I'd bet they are running raid but if you are using Lightroom and can have your catalog on one disk and picture files on another disk, it is supposed to perform better...maybe not if you have 4 WD Blacks in a raid 0 though. I've never done any testing to confirm this but I did read it in a few places when I built my photo editing pc.
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May 6, 2007
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jkearley wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 12:33 pm
I'd bet they are running raid but if you are using Lightroom and can have your catalog on one disk and picture files on another disk, it is supposed to perform better...maybe not if you have 4 WD Blacks in a raid 0 though. I've never done any testing to confirm this but I did read it in a few places when I built my photo editing pc.
4 drives in raid 0?!? you'd spend more time backing up and restoring your HDD than you would editing photos.

Best suggestion I've heard is to get a relatively large SSD, for your OS, Lightroom, and your LR Catalog. Also, when you import import the photos to the SSD. When you're done editing transfer the photos to you're much larger HDD.
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Jul 13, 2008
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Uncle Chester wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 12:05 pm
I recently moved from a dual core e4400 to a quad q6600 and my export times in lightroom 3 were cut nearly in half and the develop module felt much more responsive. Similar result when I tried disabling 2 of the q6600's cores. It makes use of multi cores.
http://www.slrlounge.com/lightroom-lr5- ... st-review/

Not saying multiple cores will not speed up LR, but you will gain more with faster clock speed vs extra core
Jr. Member
Sep 3, 2007
159 posts
33 upvotes
AzureD wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 12:53 pm
http://www.slrlounge.com/lightroom-lr5- ... st-review/

Not saying multiple cores will not speed up LR, but you will gain more with faster clock speed vs extra core
I dunno how relevant that test is, they're comparing a single 6 core CPU 4.2 GHz cpu and a machine with 2x 8 core 2Ghz CPU's. This is a huge pile of cores, likely well beyond the OP's (or most peoples) budgets. There's also the added complication of a second cpu in the comparison, which is relevant to almost nobody if it's a factor (I would have liked to see how the 'hulk' performed with one cpu disabled).

My own test was exporting 73 photos. With 4 cores running on a q6600, it took 102sec. With 2 cores running, it took 187sec. Not quite double, but not far off either.
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Jun 29, 2008
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North York
da_guy2 wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 10:29 am
Quick question in your builds you have multiple HDDs why is that? My guess is you're running raid, but wouldn't you be better off with one big HDD then backing up to an external HDD/NAS/other computer?
I just need them as basic HDD space. The blacks are fast and very reliable. I do lots of video editing and they take up a lot of space and I need them in a pinch. Hence I use the WD Blacks instead of a NAS. For basic back up, I do agree on a NAS. I personally have WD 2TB Passport Ultras that I back up to. Once they're filled, they get locked up in a secure location.

On a standard sports shoot, I can take at least 4000 images in a 3 hour span. Raw Canon 1Dx files. That's around 100GB.
A standard 2 hour video shoot, I have a minimum of 50GB worth of Raw video files.

But really, not everyone needs so much. I recommend the two 1TB WD Blue HDD on a budget. Or if you can, two 2TB WD Black HDD. They're pretty awesome and reliable. 5 years warranty too.
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May 6, 2007
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thericyip wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 1:43 pm
I just need them as basic HDD space. The blacks are fast and very reliable. I do lots of video editing and they take up a lot of space and I need them in a pinch. Hence I use the WD Blacks instead of a NAS. For basic back up, I do agree on a NAS. I personally have WD 2TB Passport Ultras that I back up to. Once they're filled, they get locked up in a secure location.

On a standard sports shoot, I can take at least 4000 images in a 3 hour span. Raw Canon 1Dx files. That's around 100GB.
A standard 2 hour video shoot, I have a minimum of 50GB worth of Raw video files.

But really, not everyone needs so much. I recommend the two 1TB WD Blue HDD on a budget. Or if you can, two 2TB WD Black HDD. They're pretty awesome and reliable. 5 years warranty too.
OK so if it's for straight data storage I'd actually recommend 3tb drives. At the moment 3tb seems to be the sweet sport in $/GB plus the larger the drive the faster it runs (due to increased platter density).

Also with your back up, don't just lock up the drive and assume they're ok. Every year or two I'd get the drives out and test them. Drives that don't get used will still degrade. Also it's not enough to just plug the drive in. The drive actually needs to access sectors in order for it to determine if they're good or not.
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Jun 29, 2008
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North York
da_guy2 wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 2:00 pm
OK so if it's for straight data storage I'd actually recommend 3tb drives. At the moment 3tb seems to be the sweet sport in $/GB plus the larger the drive the faster it runs (due to increased platter density).

Also with your back up, don't just lock up the drive and assume they're ok. Every year or two I'd get the drives out and test them. Drives that don't get used will still degrade. Also it's not enough to just plug the drive in. The drive actually needs to access sectors in order for it to determine if they're good or not.
Don't 3TB drives have a higher fail rate than 2TB drives?
Deal Addict
May 6, 2007
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Ottawa, On
thericyip wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 4:42 pm
Don't 3TB drives have a higher fail rate than 2TB drives?
If I'm not mistaken brand is more important than size. Worst is Seagate, best is Hitachi.
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Jan 7, 2007
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NewsyL wrote:
Dec 11th, 2014 12:50 am
7 year old desktop with an E6750 and 4G RAM on Win Vista. Struggles with 24G RAW files but I just have to be patient and work on them one at a time and maybe play a game of solitaire on the laptop while waiting. So almost anything newer will do much better.

I am about to build or buy an i7 4790K with 16 G RAM and 256G SSD OS drive + multiple storage drives. Trying to get it as quiet as I can due that the white noise from the fans of my current system puts me to sleep.
Depending on if you plan on installing much more than photo editing software, you might be happier with a 500 GB SSD if they come on sale again. My 240 (250?) GB one has about 80 GB left on it - but I have a bunch of Steam games installed, so, those obviously take up good chunks of space.

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