Digital photo/video set-up
March 22, 2010 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I do a fair amount of photo/video editing and would like to step things up with some new equipment. I'm going to replace my overheating, broken screen hinge laptop with a desktop and monitor, but I know nothing about gigs and ram and video cards. Any other suggestions regarding photo storage, organization, and editing software are welcome.

My camera is an EOS 7D, and I usually shoot in raw so I need something that can process big images quickly. I'll need a monitor to see what I'm doing, and probably some external storage to store everything on. Also, I use an older version of Photoshop that I'm reasonably comfortable using, but is it worth upgrading to the newer version? We have a bunch of home videos but they are just "home videos". I edit them with the software that came with the camera, but should I be using something else? What about uploading everything to some sort of external server? (Are those the right words?)

As for budget, I'd love a bargain, but would be willing to pay $3000 (or a bit more) for the computer and monitor.
posted by defreckled to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Holy shit. You can get a lot of machine for that...Besides a lot of RAM, you're gogn to want scratch space. Get a four-port RAID card and some cheap drives, RAID 0 them (and don't put anything you wouldn't mind losing on them, even temporarily) and put the Photoshop scratch disk on there.

(I work with ten-shot stitches from a 5d, with multiple layers, and a configuration like this SCREAMS.)
posted by notsnot at 11:52 AM on March 22, 2010

I think the killer app for casual video editing is Imovie '09, version 8. I would get a mac that can run it.
posted by JohnR at 11:52 AM on March 22, 2010

Try not to worry too much about the video card, unless you are doing 3D it really won't matter. Your biggest concerns should be RAM, decent processor speed, and a good monitor.

I'd suggest an i5 or i7 core-based Intel processor, paired up with 6GB or more of RAM, and a good photo-grade monitor (I like Eizo ColourEdge or FlexScan monitors). Really, that's it. You can get more specific and fiddly, but your shouldn't bother too much. you can go brand name or get a local builder to make one for your price point easily.

Photoshop is fine, but for photographers, you can pare down your time investment and improve your workflow by using Lightroom instead of or in addition to Photoshop. Look into it, it's become a staple for many, many photographers.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:56 AM on March 22, 2010

Oh and as notsnot suggested, fast drives, and lots of them. RAID is up to you, it can improve speed and/or reliability depending on how you configure them. Alternately, you can just run a couple of drives (one for boot and applications, one for scratch, one for storage) and then keep a backup externally. Consider an SSD for your boot and/or scratch drives, they are quick, quick, quick.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:58 AM on March 22, 2010

Ah. I have a 7D as well. I have a Dell 690 w/dual Quad Xeon processors for a total of 8 cores. I have 4GB RAM. I have very high-performance 15K SAS disk drives in a RAID 1+0 configuration. I am running 32-bit WinXP as I didn't want to switch to Vista. I have Adobe CS4 and Lightroom 2 and Canon's Digital Photo Pro (that ships w/the camera). I have two 24" Dell monitors and a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet.

You know what? It ain't enough. I need a 64bit OS (Win 7) and waaaay more RAM for handling the 7D's monster files in Photoshop where a 7D RAW with a few layers can explode to several GBs in memory.

But $3K should cover you well especially if you go with less than top-line monitors such as the HP LP2465 or its successor.
posted by bz at 12:29 PM on March 22, 2010

I have a Dell 690 w/dual Quad Xeon processors for a total of 8 cores. I have 4GB RAM.
That is a really, really small amount of RAM to have in a system like that.

For any AV stuff, you should max out your system's RAM, or max out your credit card on the RAM, whichever comes first.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:07 PM on March 22, 2010

That is a really, really small amount of RAM to have in a system like that.

Um... yeah. Did you note the 32-bit WinXP part?
posted by bz at 10:14 PM on March 22, 2010

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