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  1. #591
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Monmouthshire, UK
    Posts
    2,152
    An act of God Don, apparently that's what you get for two As and a B.
    An Elephant farts in the Congo and trees are felled in Des Plaines. Go figure.

    Congratulations BTW.

  2. #592
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560
    The streets around the city are lined with the wretched refuse of our teeming trees.

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    Kind of makes you ill, considering how much effort people in the suburbs put forth to keep their respective properties looking good and snappy. Oh sure, there are a few scallywags, out there, but for the most part... the place looks nice. Then, out of the blue... it gets, literally, blown away. It's enough to leave you apoplectic!

    This is the RULE, not the exception

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    I am half tempted to put up a concrete shell and run my own nuke plant for power. rolleyes: Then wait for a Lake Michigan sache to turn it all upside down. I swear, nothing is safe these days. Fire, Flood, Wind, Earthquake ... let's hear it for change on a grand scale, eh?

    BTW: Thanks
    Last edited by DonSchap; 06-25-2011 at 03:08 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  3. #593
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560

    Lightbulb When is fast enough... well, fast enough?

    If school has shown me anything, the "back end" of photography or image development is just as important as the "front end" or the image-taking. The demands of today's larger image sizes require substantial computational speed when working with the current crop of SONY's Full Frame and the upcoming SONY SLT-a77 image files. Please understand, you are going to have to give this some serious consideration both in storage requirements and computational firepower, otherwise you are going to be parked in front of the "one-eyed monster for a lot longer than you need to be and finding yourself hard-pressed for backup and conventional storage space.

    Consider that the SLT-a77 files sizes could be, easily, DOUBLE those of your previous DSLR. That's a 50% cut in potential storage, without even taking another shot!

    I, currently, offer this PC layout "idea" as an experienced computer builder... as well as someone who just abhors waiting for anything. One of the things I have been doing for the past 25+ years is building my own PCs. Other than the laptops, I have never personally owned a "manufacturers" PC and I often ask myself, these days... WHY? (Well, not really, I always knew why. It was other people who asked me this, usually.)

    So, let me say, in the beginning (1987), it boiled down to sheer cost or economics. The average advanced PC (486/20MHz) cost nearly $5000 (no kidding, huh? That was back when we used "real" money, too). Be that as it may, I could honestly replicate and upgrade a mainstream manufacturer's PC with third party parts for about half the cost, mainly because most people just couldn't or wouldn't. Most folks bought "off-the-shelf" and paid the premium or had someone put it together. It usually came down to finding a local corporation computer part supplier and simply shopping their parts inventory and then building a compliant PC from there.

    Today, costs are certainly a lot different, due to the sheer scale of manufacturing and PCs are incredibly lower than they ever were, all those years ago. Again, anyone that usually builds their own PC is not doing it to build a "run-of-the-mill" design. They want something special, unique... cutting-edge fast, not something a couple years behind, made of old parts! In the past, cast-off machines were given to schools and charities. Now, even they don't want them.

    Today's standard, top-of-line machines are based on the AMD Phenom II and Intel i7 processors. As always, things continually update and change and you cannot have the fastest processor from one day to the next. The industry stands still for no one. The "gaming" industry competitor's demand the absolute fastest machine you can throw together. Any tidbit of game control that can be achieved, within a reasonable cost (sometimes not), will be attempted to be "wrung out" of the machine. Motherboard lifespan = 2 months, maybe, then a new chip set.

    Okay... okay and yeah, yeah, how does this play into photography?

    One of the dramatic shortfalls I have experienced is compiling landscape panoramas and HDR images, with the standard Photoshop CS5 software. Yes, Don knows that there are other software solutions available that might be quicker about this type of image file manipulation, but I am a hardware aficionado, born from the age of the 440-Six Pack engine. Smoke and flames, my friends. Brute-force solutions. Muscle cars.

    So, I wanted to build the current speediest design, without getting too involved. There are pieces that simply are overly pricey. They are the kind of designs that are more elegant and exotic... and for the realization for my applications... not all that important. I mean, three seconds just isn't a "return on the buck." A continual gamer may appreciate it... the photographer, not so much. In fact, I'll be honest and say that even this construct may be a gamble, as I have no idea if the software will run any faster on MY NEW BUILD, yet. It is a germ of an idea, going into action, and just for your consideration and some chat material, I thought I would share it.

    I am starting with a standard high-end ASUS M4N75TD Motherboard w/ AMD Phenom II 1055T Processor (6-core) ($290). This combo is "rocket", it is affordable, and it comes with the most up-to-date connections you could appreciate. There are 3Gbps SATA "headers" on this card, but let's just say, "screw that," we want most current speed, today, 6Gbps SATA headers and push the limit. With the simple addition of the StarTech PEXSAT32 PCIe SATA Controller Card - 2 Port, SATA-6G card to the upper X1 slot on the MotherBoard, we get this improved "on-board" throughput for a mere $40 additional money.

    Add an ATi Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Video Card with HDMI Output and capable of supporting not one, not two, but three displays (isn't that fun?).

    Hey, need some sound support, right? We have all that wonderful video coming in from the SONY SLT-a77. Add the very capable Sound Blaster Audigy2-replacement -> the Creative Labs SB X-FI Titanium Fatal1ty Champ PCIe ($179). This card and its auxiliary drive slot connections with offer front panel audio (I/O) to almost anything out there. It also uses an X1 slot, instead of the coveted PCIe slot, so it gets plugged into the bottom most location of the motherboard, saving us that very valuable PCIe slot.

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    Push the memory to max 16 GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 RAM for about $190 and live the good "work space" life, under the Windows 7 64-bit operating system.

    So, there you have the base machine.

    Now, this is where you kick in the afterburners with flaming main storage response from your storage choice, the Cosair CSSD-F120GB3-BK Force Series 3 Solid State Drive - 120GB, 2.5", SATA III, 6Gbps ($224). This 2.5" SSD drive is connected quite simply with a SATA III cable to that X1 6GBPS board we added for $40. Maximized working throughput for both the Windows 7 (64-bit) Operating System that will be stored here, plus your implementation of Adobe CS5! Other than a virtual drive, this is the way with sequential read speeds of up to 550 MB/s & sequential write speeds of up to 510 MB/s. This is 2x the standard 128 GB SSD. Reason alone says it is going to kick the nonsense out of the standard hard drive system that most of you are currently using and really make a noticeable difference with a standard 64 GB SSD implementation.

    You should have at least a 750W Power Supply and a very well-circulated computer case to hold this beast. I am using a Chaser MKI built by Thermaltake. This thing has nearly every kind of connection in use, today. You can even socket a SATA Hard Drive into the very top of it, so you will have access to your old drive data without having to build it into the new machine. Let's face it, old cases tend to lack the newer connections and the necessary fan circulation to keep this baby pumping and jumping. Heat is the enemy... vent it.

    Finally, storing the overall data (image) results. Consider that if you are reading this, you probably are taking skads of images. An investment in a RAID type of storage device (1 or 2TB) will probably have you covered until the next cycle of technology. A RAID is simply two hard drives, usually of equal size (in this case, 1TB each), that (through a RAID controller card) are maintained as mirror copies of one another (RAID-1). That way, if one drive does fail, you do not lose the images you have worked so hard to make. Even so, this RAID array should be your "working" storage area, for convenience, and you should make backups, weekly, on either a removable media back system or invest in a Blu-Ray disk drive and make up to 50GB backup disks of your work. The idea is simply to keep what you worked so hard to make safe.

    The MotherBoard that I have chosen allows you to build a simple RAID array inside the computer, with these two 1TB hard drives attached. Those drives would only be used for working image storage and then copied to the backup and out of the machine, itself. Backing your reference work up should go into something quickly recoverable, redundant and of enough capacity you should not have to think about it for quite a while. Do you recall that PCIe port I saved on the motherboard, by removing the older Audigy soundboard and replacing it with the X1 ported version? Well, in its place goes a 12Gbps PCIe RAID Adapter, connected to the G-Technology 8TB G-SPEED eS PRO 4-Bay RAID Array Kit w/ 4x 2TB Drives. This is the storage bucket. If you go with an "online" backup solution... such as "Carbonite," the system should be everything you could want or need.

    Now, you are ready to do some image capture.

    On thing to bear in mind: All things break... and it's not a question of "IF", but "WHEN."

    I know a lot of this may sound like hieroglyphics to many of you, but fear not, it is the wave of the future, so get caught up or get ate up! I just wanted to show you ... if it looks like cutting edge, you better be there bleeding or be left behind with grandma and grandpa.

    "Eh, what was that, sonny? CS6?"

    Computer power and digital imaging... like Hansel and Gretel, we're not out of the woods, yet. Look this stuff up... and if you play "WOW" or other gaming... make them drool!
    Last edited by DonSchap; 06-30-2011 at 09:14 AM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  4. #594
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560

    Thumbs up Updating the build...

    Got only the additional 8GB DDR3 RAM Memory (for a total of 16GB RAM) in the computer (my workspace is now as big as it gets) and it popped the huge panorama spread of the Des Plaines "Traffic Circle" out in less than 45 seconds, versus the 3 minutes it used to take with only 8GB of RAM. This is a marvelous find. The other parts are due, later this weekend. Movin' on...

    BTW: If you want to look at what I "passed" on, because I felt I would never appreciate its true speed, check this out.

    OCZ OCZSSDPX-1RVDX0220 RevoDrive X2 PCI-Express Solid State Drive - 220GB, 4x SATA, 4x PCI-Express, RAID 0

    Made to order for the real "geek squad."

    EDIT: (5:30p) The rest of the parts arrived, today. Gosh, don't you just love it when the parts get together? Thank goodness for a four-day holiday. The laptop is going to have to carry the load, during this break. It is going to be kind of weird saying goodbye to the old case. I have had it for four years.

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    Last edited by DonSchap; 06-30-2011 at 06:05 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  5. #595
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560

    Thumbs down Internship...

    Well, the current economy has ruined a lot of the businesses around the area. Only 28% of the high school kids have gotten employed with summer jobs ... for that means 72% (3 out of 4) of these kids are home, playing video games or up to some kind of skull-duggery. My pursuit of an internship has even been affected, but admittedly, trying to find a position in the summer was... ambitious, to say the least. So, I have put it off until next winter, after Jan 1, and elected to use my Gen Ed requirement as the fill in, this quarter.

    The end game to graduation is quite a twist from what I believed it would be.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  6. #596
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    God's Country - Australia
    Posts
    10,424
    Ssd's rock. Its immeausrabley faster and you wont know yourself once you get the rig going. My ocz hasnt batted an eyelid since i put it in.
    D800e l V3 l AW1 l 16-35 l 35 l 50 l 85 l 105 l EM1 l 7.5 l 12-40 l 14 l 17 l 25 l 45 l 60 l 75
    flickr

  7. #597
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
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    Thumbs up Up and running!

    Well, I tore down the original build from a couple months ago and put the new machine together, last night. I considered firing it up, at 4am, but I just could not pull the trigger, figuring that if I had made a mistake, I did not want to be up until sunrise trying to figure it out and I also did not want to be installing all the new software being that tired, either. So, after some shut eye, I dug out the power cord, video monitor connection and keyboard/mouse and pulled the trigger. The machine whirred to life, got past the POST test and BIOS (whew!)... and got prompted for a "boot device," because the new 120 GB SSD was ready, but quite empty.

    I opened one of the SATA DVD drives and popped in the Windows 7 DVD, rebooted and... off we went with the install.

    The machine set up in record time and after everything (CS5 & Microsoft OFFICE, among other things) was in, it had gone w/o error. How cool?

    There are still a couple small things left to do, before I shut the tower up, but it appears very good to go. The new sound board went in on the lower X1-port without error and the SSD woke up running at 6GBs (announced on the BIOS detail), through the motherboard's upper X1-Port.

    In BIOS, I set the SATA drive slot in the top of the case for "hot-swappable," to eliminate failure to detect. I put a 500GB drive in the slot and in seconds, it was ready to read from it.

    As a quick test for the Adobe CS5 and Windows 7 running on the SSD, I reran the 7-image panorama, again, checked the time and got it down to 35 seconds... versus the 45 seconds with just the memory upgrade and using the RAID 1 1GB SATA drives. Overall, it would seem to be a very successful piece of work. No warnings or alerts. Compared to past installations of software (Windows 95, 98, N4, early XP), this one was a dream. Man, you kids have it made.

    Again, this one is sweet and snappy. Boot time is easily half, but then again, it is fresh.

    It is nice to see the one PCIe slot waiting for the 8TB RAID array controller. That will be part of the business investment, but the machine is ready.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 07-01-2011 at 11:42 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  8. #598
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560
    Final Modifications...

    One of the poorer decisions I made, this weekend, was to head back into the computer parts store... for some additional cables. I ran into one of the more common issues builders face when going to a non-traditional, bigger case: the spacing between various hard drives and CD/DVD units in the stack can vary and be a larger gap than the power supply cables were designed to bridge. I was finding myself a little short of power connections for the new SATA drives. The P/S only provides four (2 x 2), so I had to get something that would give me more connections and hence "Y" connectors, your two-for-one solution. The only problem is, the store did not have anything that would add length or split the SATA specific power connections, but they did have MOLEX (the older-style four-pin white connectors) to SATA power connector. Over the past year, I have removed most of the MOLEX devices, so all three of the MOLEX connectors from the power supply are available and problem solved... for now.

    You think I would leave enough alone, right? As if...

    As I was browsing, I came across an internal Plextor SATA PX-B940SA 12x Blu-ray Disc Writer. My current 4x Blu-ray is USB and external. Obviously, with all the consideration I put forth to have my speed optimized... yeah, it's in there! Again, woe be unto those who wander the aisles of the computer store. I had two DVD Writers in the machine, one an older EIDE DVD writer and a SATA version. The EIDE with its wide cable came out and and in this one went.

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    I also picked up a couple of 2 TB SATA 3gbs hard drives to act as a "Mirrored" RAID1 backup dump site (X: Drive), until I get my data server up and running.

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    Server, Don? It seems with all the spare parts (MB/PS/Case/Cd-DVD Writer/ External Blu-ray/2GB of RAM,SB, etc.) I have been casting off... I have everything needed to rebuild the Windows XP-based machine, again, at nearly no-cost. I mean, it is not a rush job, but a continuing project in order to safely store data files (in another physical location) without having to worry about making time for my elite main workstation, to do so.

    It is a true work in progress and the back end of my photography.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 07-02-2011 at 11:12 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  9. #599
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Monmouthshire, UK
    Posts
    2,152
    Don, what you are putting together sounds quite nice but I do question some of your choices.

    When your main power application is Photoshop you need an Intel processor rather than AMD; core i7 walks all over Phenom cpus and for that matter, so does Core i5. Photoshop runs faster on a multiprocessor system, although some features take greater advantage than others but there is a law of diminishing returns and the more processors you use, the less you get from each additional one. Therefore, Photoshop isn't four times as fast if you have four microprocessors and going to six cores doesn't bring much more to the party especially when it's a Phenom rather than intel. Don't get me wrong though, in general I do like AMD and their energy efficient cpus are in my servers and media PC but that doesn't alter the fact that to get the best from Photoshop you need Intel technology.

    Photoshop is fastest when it can process all or most image information in RAM so, if possible, allocate enough RAM to Photoshop to accommodate your largest image file. So, whilst I applaud you for splurging on as much RAM as your board will take, I don't like the choice of board simply because it's AMD based.

    My system is getting a bit long in the tooth now but FWIW
    Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R Mainboard
    Watercooled Intel Core i7 920 clocked at 3.3GHz
    Corsair Vengeance 12GB (3x4GB) DDR3 1600Mhz
    Radeon HD 4870x2
    OCZ SSD 60GB Vertex 2 boot drive
    2x VelociRaptor in Raid O configuration

    At some point I'd like to replace the board with a Gigabyte GA-X58A-OC which supports 24GB memory. There's no substitite for RAM when it comes to Photoshop.

  10. #600
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    God's Country - Australia
    Posts
    10,424
    what do you do for a living Don ?
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    flickr

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