Computer Equipment PC or

Discussions of whether PCs or Macs are "better" for use with a digital photo workflow are basically a waste of time. We (the authors) currently use Mac desktops and PC notebooks. Fortunately, the current version of Photoshop is, apart from a couple of keystrokes and menu item names, identical for both systems. This means that everything we mention concerning Photoshop

> We usually describe the appropriate Windows and Mac keystrokes. When in doubt, please use the keystrokes listed on page xiii.

> Even if you are a Mac user, you should purchase a two-button scroll mouse. Many important operations in Photoshop (and other programs) are controlled by using a right-click, making a good multi-buttonmouse a real time-saver.

> Mac USB 2.o interfaces are notoriously slow. FireWire or eSATA (the fastest currently available) connections are much better for Mac users.

NAS means "Network Attached Storage", which is storage space attached to a computer via a network.

An office printer is a four-color (CMYK) laser or inkjet printer used mostly for printing text or presentations. This type of printer is only moderately useful for printing digital images. High-end printers use between eight and 12 different colored inks and are well suited to photographic applications. Printing documents using a high-end printer is very expensive.

is valid for both systems. Some of the Photoshop plug-ins we discuss are only available for Windows PCs, but there are usually equivalent tools available for Mac.

Processing large and/or high-resolution images makes serious demands on a computer, so we recommend that your system fulfills the following baseline criteria:

► 2 GB of memory is the absolute minimum. More is always better. If your machine and your budget allow it, we recommend that you use 4 GB or more. Professionals use 8-32 GB on 64-bit systems.

► A high-quality monitor with a minimum 1280 x 1024 resolution. Here too, larger monitors and higher resolutions are an advantage. We both use two monitors each: a 24" EIZO with 1920 x 1200 resolution for image processing and an additional 21" monitor for displaying program menus and preview images.

► USB 2.0, FireWire, or eSATA connections are an advantage but are not strictly necessary. They are a great help for attaching high-speed card readers or external disk or DVD drives to your system.

► A fast CPU. The faster the better. Some Photoshop functions are capable of using multiple processors and multi-processor systems are also an advantage if you are importing large amounts of data.

► Hard disk space. We recommend at least:

- 200 GB for the operating system and programs

- 100-200 GB for your working environment and temporary memory usage

- 1-4 Terabytes (TB) for your image archive and working library. This can be an external USB, FireWire, eSATA drive, or a NAS system.

► An external card reader for CompactFlash or SD/XD memory cards. If you are thinking of purchasing a new reader, make sure it is at least USB 2.0 compatible (the even faster USB 3.0 standard is currently being introduced) or FireWire-based. USB 1.x is much too slow.

► Monitor calibration equipment (more on this subject later)

► An office printer and (optionally) a separate high-end printer

More and faster are generally better. With better gear, you can work more quickly and complex operations function more smoothly. This makes the entire process more fun. Treat yourself to the best equipment you can afford.

Be especially careful when choosing your monitor if you plan to spend a lot of time processing images. A high-quality monitor will usually outlive a computer, and earlier reservations about questionable color rendition in LCD monitors are nowadays no longer an issue. If you plan to purchase a new monitor, we recommend that you go for one with a diagonal of at least 19". The larger your monitor, the better it is for your eyes and your general fatigue levels. A large monitor also helps you to retain an overview of your work. We no longer recommend the use of CRT monitors.

64-bit platforms: 64-bit systems are currently not mature enough to be genuinely reliable. The 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 still have problems with the availability and stability of appropriate drivers, and the first 64-bit Mac version of Photoshop (CS5) has only just been released. In spite of these considerations, 64-bit systems will be the better option in the long term.

Although 32-bit Macs have been able to address 4 GB of memory for a while now, Windows can only address no more than 3.2 GB of memory in its 32-bit version. The increasing size of image files and the increasing complexity of the processing steps we apply makes the availability of large amounts of memory essential to the workflow. If you are planning to purchase a new computer, we recommend that you look at a model with a 64-bit processor and the advanced memory capacity described above. Windows is available in separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions, but all newer Mac computers are 64-bit compatible.

Multi-core systems: Lightroom, Photoshop, and, increasingly, other programs mentioned here are capable of addressing multi-core processors and thus accelerating some imaging processes. Again, if you are planning a purchase, a multi-core machine is the way to go.

> As of version 2, Lightroom is delivered with 32-bit and 64-bit Windows and Mac versions on a single CD or DVD. Windows Photoshop versions have been delivered in 32-bit and 64-bit versions since the release of CS4, and for Mac since the release of CS5. The 64-bit versions are faster when processing large images files if used on a computer with appropriately configured memory.

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