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twebster
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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 11:25 am    Post subject: LCD flat panel display... Reply with quote

Hi y'all, Very Happy

My digital imaging workstation just took a dive on me. Sad I won't be posting any new images until I get the computer replaced sometime next month. I can't complain, my system was 9 years old.

I'm looking to upgrade to a 20" LCD flat panel display. Any suggestions on a good LCD display for digital imaging? I've been thinking of this display from Dell, http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=320-4687. I can get it bundled with the computer for $330.00. What do you think? Is this sufficient for a digital imaging workstation or should I be looking for a monitor with a 1000:1 contrast range. Would I even be able to see the difference?

Questions, questions, questions... Very Happy
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rjlittlefield



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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom, I'm sorry to hear of your monitor dive, but you're right, this is a great opportunity to upgrade!

I have no hands-on experience with the exact model number that you quote. However...

At work I have a dual-display system with two of Dell's predecessor units, also 20" at 1600x1200. They look great. My company's hardware evaluation group lists your 2700FP as one of three monitors that they recommend. That's the same group that recommended the two displays that I currently have.

My guess is that you'll be completely satisfied with the 2700FP, and $330 is really an excellent price.

Ignore the contrast ratio -- you'll never see the difference. The only way they get numbers that high is to put the monitor in a very dark room. Under normal conditions, ambient reflection off the matte screen completely swamps the tiny bit of light that seeps through "black" pixels.

Right now I'm looking at my home monitor, which is a one-year-old Samsung Syncmaster 173P monitor that I vaguely remember was rated at 700:1. (That's what the manufacturer is quoting right now, at any rate.) But at this instant, with normal room lighting, I measure 150:1 using my camera's light meter. By pulling the nearby window drapes and turning off the overhead lights, I can push it to 300:1, but then the room is so dark that I wouldn't like to read print on paper. By cutting off all external light to the screen, I measure 450:1.

I presume that you'll be driving the thing DVI. It'll be a bit more crisp that way than analog.

--Rik
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twebster
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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi ya' Rik, Very Happy

Quote:
Tom, I'm sorry to hear of your monitor dive...


Oh how I wish it was just the monitor Exclamation Very Happy I think the CPU or motherboard is having issues. It's time to get a new computer anyhow. My 17" Viewsonic still works great but I want to upgrade my monitor since I have to buy a new computer. Very Happy

Best regards as always, my friend. Very Happy
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rjlittlefield



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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom,

Oops, bad typo. I did understand that it was somehow your whole machine that's on the fritz. I hope the disks are still readable and you're well backed up anyway?

--Rik
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MikeBinOKlahoma



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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I think you were planninga camera upgrade. I hope this doesn't put that on hold!
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twebster
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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi y'all, Very Happy

Rik...

Quote:
I hope the disks are still readable and you're well backed up anyway?


Luckily, I was able to back up everything on DVD before the computer became unbootable. Now I just hope the DVDs last long enough to reload the files after I get my new system. I haven't had good luck in the past archiving to CDs. Many CDs have become unreadable after just a few months. Rolling Eyes

Mike...

Quote:
And I think you were planning a camera upgrade. I hope this doesn't put that on hold!


Unfortunately, this changes my plans entirely. Next month I was going to buy a Canon EOS 30D, a Canon 300mm EF f. 2.8L IS lens, both Canon teleconverters, and a Gitzo tripod so that I could do some avian photography.

What I am going to do instead is buy a Canon EOS 20D, the Canon 180mm EF f. 3.5L macro lens, both Canon teleconverters, the Canon MT-24ex flash and just continue on shooting macro images. Hey, stuff happens and I can adapt Exclamation Very Happy

BTW, has anyone used the Windows XP partitoning software? Can you partition a hard drive without having to wipe it clean first? Expiring minds want to know Exclamation Very Happy

Best regards to all as always, Very Happy
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MikeBinOKlahoma



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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom, what a bummer! Sad I own a Canon 300/2.8 IS, and I can tell you it is a wonderful lens.

Have you considered getting a Sigma or third-party 300/2.8 instead? Or the non-IS Canon version? I had one of the non-IS Canons for about a year, and it was a great lens, admittedly not as nice as the 300/2.8.

Though since you are talking getting a Canon 180 instead of a Sigma or Tamron 180, sounds like you may be a stickler for original-manufacturer lenses only (I have some sympathies that way myself, so can't squawk too much).

An alternate would be a Canon 300/4 IS (with teleconverters and/or the 500D diopter, it is excellent for closeups of dragonflies, yet still gives you a respectable amount of reach for wildlife shooting).

You probably don't need well-intentioned advice, but I hate to see you walk away entirely from something that you clearly wanted to do! The other option of course would be to spend what you have to to replace the computer now, and hold onto the remaining money till you can afford something similar to what you originally wanted.

As for tripods, my "advertisement" for Feisol tripods I posted about a month ago still stands. I'm very happy with mine.
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twebster
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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi ya' Mike, Very Happy

Not to worry about the 300 f. 2.8. There will be other opportunities. Very Happy I did consider the 300 f. 4L IS. It is a great lens but doesn't fare well with the 2x teleconverter. The 300 f. 2.8 still produces sparkling images with the 2x teleconverter and will still autofocus with the 20D/30D. Also, that 300 f. 2.8L is just one of the sharpest Canon lenses made Exclamation Shocked I considered other manufacturers but I wanted IS. For avian photography it is a godsend. Very Happy

I'm not one who has to have the OEM lenses. I just want lenses that perform. I shoot a Tamron 90mm macro lens because it is sharper than the 100mm Canon macro lens in the aperture range that I use. I had the opportunity to test a Sigma 180mm macro and the Sigma 150mm macro. The 150mm is the better performing of the two lenses but the Canon 180mm macro is a standout best of the bunch. The Sigma 180mm had under-corrected chromatic aberrations and the Sigma 150mm lens wasn't quite as sharp as the Canon 180mm in the aperture range I use. So I'll get the Canon 180mm macro. Very Happy

For the first time in a very long time I can afford some good glass and I am going to take advantage of this opportunity Exclamation Very Happy

Best regards as always, my friend Exclamation Very Happy
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MikeBinOKlahoma



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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

twebster wrote:

BTW, has anyone used the Windows XP partitoning software? Can you partition a hard drive without having to wipe it clean first? Expiring minds want to know Exclamation Very Happy


I asked my computer guru about this (back in DOS days I tried to learn everything about computers myself, then said "never again!" when we shifted to Windows and everything became obsolete overnight--So now I just ask a smart friend about computers). His response, slightly summarized, was:

"Windows XP doesn't do well with partitioned hard drives, and I'd recommend that he not partition his hard drive. Internal hard drives are cheap enough these days that my advice is that he (that's you, Tom) put his operating system on one physical hard drive, and get a second physical hard drive for his programs and data. Most software/firmware disk problems just crater the hard drive with the operating system on it, so it IS a good idea to have the operating system on a different drive."

He did say that if you insisted on going forward, you might look at this:

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=313348

My friend, who supports and rebuilds computers for a living, said that even he had never partitioned a drive on XP, and he just didn't feel it was worth it anymore (though he did it regularly on older operating systems.
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MikeBinOKlahoma



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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My friend was so emphatic about not partitioning the hard drive that he didn't get into your original question, but please note this from the document I linked to:

How to partition and format your hard disk by using the Windows XP Setup program
Important If you follow these steps on a hard disk that is not empty, all the data on that hard disk is permanently deleted. We recommend that you back up your hard disk before you follow these steps.

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rjlittlefield



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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom,

Let me reinforce the comment about cheap disks. They are, and it's good.

My home machine has a 10,000 RPM 73 GB system disk, and a 7200 RPM 160 GB data disk. It also has a 7200 RPM 300 GB backup drive. I run Acronis True Image backup software, and I have it configured to write an incremental backup of my system and data drives every morning. Every few weeks, I swap the 300 GB drive with its twin that lives in a different house a couple of blocks away, and start the backup sequence again. If either of my main drives fails, I'm good up to the last day. (And yep, I've done several bare metal restores onto new drives, so I'm pretty sure the backups are good.) If my house burns down or I get tagged by a particularly nasty computer virus, I'm good up to the last swap.

Some of my static stuff is also backed up to CD/DVD. I don't really trust the dang things either, but at least they're not vulnerable to getting corrupted if somebody writes the mother of all viruses that mutates data files so slowly nobody figures it out until it's too late.

Cheap disks + good backup software == restful sleep.

--Rik

"Sure, I'm paranoid. The question is, am I paranoid enough?"
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twebster
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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi guys, Very Happy

I'll admit to being Windows XP ignorant. Very Happy I run Windows 2000, personally, and have never had a problem with drive partitions. I see I have much to learn. Confused

Here was my original plan...

The Dell computer I will be purchasing will come with an 80 GB internal hard drive. I will only have 2 internal drive bays and I had planned to install a 250 GB data drive with two partitions. I was going to set aside a 50 GB partition for a Photoshop scratch disk and fill the other 200 GB with data files. In addition to these two drives I was going to install an external USB, 200 GB hard drive to back up the final image files. I figured once the external USB hard drive was full I would replace it with another external hard drive.

I was going to wipe the main hard drive and create two 40 GB partitions. I was going to install Windows XP on one partition and install the other programs on the second 40 GB partition.

So, I take it this is not a good idea Question Idea

Here are the system specifications...

Dell Dimension E510 Series Pentium® D Processor 820 with Dual Core Technology (2.80GHz, 800FSB)

Operating System Genuine Windows® XP Professional

Memory 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz (2x1GB)

Keyboard Dell Wireless Keyboard and Optical Mouse

Monitor 20 inch Ultrasharp 2007FP Digital Flat Panel

Video Card 256MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon X600 SE HyperMemory

Hard Drive 80GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/ 8MB cache

Floppy Drive and Media Reader 13 in 1 Media Card Reader and External USB 1.44MB Floppy Drive

Network Card Integrated Intel® PRO 10/100 Ethernet

CD or DVD Drive Dual Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + 16x DVD+/-RW w/dbl layer write capability

Sound Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio


They don't give these things away, do they Question Shocked

Any suggestions, gentlemen, will be listened to and appreciated. Very Happy
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MikeBinOKlahoma



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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fair warning--I'm NOT a computer guru, as mentioned, I have a longtime friend I keep in that role, and who I pay back by buying dinner and such from time to time. But he mostly does it because he's been one of my best friends for over 30 years!

As I understand it, to get optimum performance in Photoshop, and to meet the goal of having operating system and programs/data on different drives, you really need three hard drives. One (which can be fairly small, but should be decently fast) as your C: drive for the operating system, one for your programs (and possibly for your primary copy of your data), and one as a swap disk for Photoshop. It really helps if your swap disk is NOT the same physical disk as either the one running Windows, or the one running Photoshop. Partitioning doesn't really help in this (the machine can only get stuff in and out of the PHYSICAL hard disk so fast, and creating a separate non-physical disk by partitioning just means reading and writing to/from the both disks has to go tyhrough the same interface.

Couple of other random observations:

My computer guru friend is always emphatic that unless you really don't care about the speed of your system (and if you want to run Photoshop, you really need to think about it some, even if you don't pay a ton to get the latest and greatest) the pre-made packages from Dell, Gateway, etc., are not good choices. Among other things, they put in bare minimum power supplies that struggle to run more than one or two hard disks. His recommendation is that anyone buying a computer should get a local "garage shop" (his term, and it's apparently not a term of derision in the field) that builds PCs on site to build one for him. He insists this doesn't cost much more than getting a system from Dell, though I haven't tested his theory. In practice, what I do is buy Bob a really nice meal or two and have him build one for me whenever I re-enegineer my computer! If you know a computer geek, this is a good time to call in a favor.

For what it's worth, what I did for hard drives on my system (which was custom-built for me by Bob, and has a huge integrated power supply that makes the lights dim in the neighborhood whenever I switch the computer on) is:

Operating system on C: drive, which is on a 40 gig "raptor" drive (go to Tigerdirect.com and do a search on raptor drive and you'll find it--For some mysterious reason I can't cut and paste the URL now). This is a very fast serial ATA drive--Apparently only available in 74 gig now, but it was out in 40 gig when I built my computer. The 10000 RPM disk that RJlittlefield mentioned would probably be just as good. Note that the hard drive controller needs to be able to handle serial ATA drives to use these--Whoever builds your computer will know what to do about that (and I don't believe it made a difference in the cost of the controller).

Most programs on D: drive, which is a fairly standard big internal hard drive I believe it is 7200 RPM, but might even be an old 5400 rpm. If I've got a batch of recent photos I'm still playing with extensively, I'll leave them here. This drive can be "regular speed" without too much penalty.

Photoshop Scratch drive is a 74 gig "raptor" drive like the one I mentioned as C:, except larger. I also sometimes put software that I won't use when running Photoshop, but where high speed is really helpful on here. But you don't want to have anything that would be used while Photoshop is on on this disk.

Long-term storage is on duplicate big external USB hard drives that I keep disconnected from the computer when not in use.

My costs for the above weren't outlandish, though I can't quote them from memory (I did this iteration of my computer over a year ago, so they'd be obsolete anyway). You could do the same thing with regular hard drives in place of the Raptor drives and come out almost as well, though I do believe they make a difference (Never done any controlled tests, and no real way or desire to reconfigure mysystem to do one).

Only other observation I'd have is that make sure you have LOTS of USB 2.0 ports. I always seem to need more for one gadget or another. And as mentioned, you need a big power supply to run them. Only negative of a big power supply is that it generates a bit more heat, so be sure your system is cooled inside (by fans, nothing fancy).

Note that I haven't said what I think YOU should do, as I don't feel qualified to tell you! Smile

One other thing--There is a pretty detailed document on optimizing a computer to run on Photoshop out there, I believe written by Adobe. Might be worth reading, some of the stuff didn't involve spending money, just things like how your scratch drive was set up and such. If you can't find it by googling, let me know and I'll see if I can find a link.
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Carl_Constantine



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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:


Luckily, I was able to back up everything on DVD before the computer became unbootable. Now I just hope the DVDs last long enough to reload the files after I get my new system. I haven't had good luck in the past archiving to CDs. Many CDs have become unreadable after just a few months. Rolling Eyes


Well that's good news. As someone who is in the tech industry (I own my own Computer Troubleshooters franchise) backups are very important. But I can often get files back from a dead drive if you know what you're doing Smile


Quote:

Unfortunately, this changes my plans entirely. Next month I was going to buy a Canon EOS 30D, a Canon 300mm EF f. 2.8L IS lens, both Canon teleconverters, and a Gitzo tripod so that I could do some avian photography.

What I am going to do instead is buy a Canon EOS 20D, the Canon 180mm EF f. 3.5L macro lens, both Canon teleconverters, the Canon MT-24ex flash and just continue on shooting macro images. Hey, stuff happens and I can adapt Exclamation Very Happy


must be nice. I went to the store to look into some extension tubes yesterday. $200 for a set of 3 Kenko tubes. $150 for a Visible Dust CMOS cleaner. I didn't purchase either of them Sad waiting patiently.

Quote:

BTW, has anyone used the Windows XP partitoning software? Can you partition a hard drive without having to wipe it clean first? Expiring minds want to know Exclamation Very Happy


Yes, use a tool like Partition Magic. It can do what you want. Otherwise, you have to wipe, partition, reinstall.
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Carl_Constantine



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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeBinOKlahoma wrote:


As I understand it, to get optimum performance in Photoshop, and to meet the goal of having operating system and programs/data on different drives, you really need three hard drives. One (which can be fairly small, but should be decently fast) as your C: drive for the operating system, one for your programs (and possibly for your primary copy of your data), and one as a swap disk for Photoshop. It really helps if your swap disk is NOT the same physical disk as either the one running Windows, or the one running Photoshop. Partitioning doesn't really help in this (the machine can only get stuff in and out of the PHYSICAL hard disk so fast, and creating a separate non-physical disk by partitioning just means reading and writing to/from the both disks has to go tyhrough the same interface.


Incorrect. 2 drives will suffice for photoshop. One for the program and the OS and the other for a scratch disk. It doesn't even have to be that large, but it should be pretty quick. Most modern drives work fine here and SATA if you can do it.

Storing your data on a third drive isn't a bad idea however. Applications can always be reinstalled, data is irreplacable so make sure it's backed up to an external drive and/or DVD media once your project is complete.
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