What you will need for professional Digital Photography.
When you move up in quality to high-end digital equipment you are entering a new world. Why stumble and make the same mistakes as other beginners? We have already made the mistakes for you, at our expense. If you wish to be cost effective, it is a shame to order the wrong equipment. We have plenty of experience here. The goal of this Web site is to provide public education on entering the digital era. Whether you are a student, a longtime professional photographer, a weekend hobby photographer, a pre-press shop, or just curious, we do our best to help you with tips and hints.
- Memory (extra RAM, for your Apple PowerBook , more for desktop Mac, we have most of our 15 computers maxed out in RAM)
- Hard Disk Storage within Computer/ Hard Disk Storage within Dicomed unit; Better Light now uses Quantum disks
- Hard Disk storage within the desktop imaging work station (Seagate Cheetah)
- Cables (Black Box Corporation, Cables-to-Go)
- Constant voltage regulator to keep lights from causing banding (Sola).
- Uninterruptible Power Supply (American Power Conversion)
- Monitor (ViewSonic 21" PT815)
- Graphics cards
- Batteries (for PowerBook 3400c,VST or 1 800-batteries, among others)
- Carrying case (see Camera-Scanners Web site)
- Sending your files anywhere (Zip, Jaz) But nowadays its easier with CD-R.
- Storing your files/ backup storage (Pinnacle Micro Apex 4.6 GB ; DAT; DLT)
- Storage in CD-ROM technology (CD-R burner), DVD-RAM. We review CD-R shortly.
- On line storage while working active files (Seagate Cheetah)
- On line storage while working active files, RAID solution (FWB, DPT)
- Virage if you have a photo archive of thousands of images. Canto Cumulus is a popular international data management software.
- Superbase, superbase.com
- Digital Imaging Software (Adobe PhotoShop)
- Desktop publishing software (Adobe PageMaker, InDesign, QuarkXpress)
- Additional useful items (Extensis Fetch, Extensis Page Tools, Extensis MaskPro)
- 3D software (3D Studio MAX, Autocad, Caligari TrueSpace3)
- future reviews (scanner software for high-end scanners)
Printing your final results
- Dye sublimation (Alps, Fargo, Kodak Digital Science 8650 Color Printer)
- Wide format tri-color laser printers (Durst Lamda, Cymbolic Sciences, Lightjet 5000 )
- desktop Color Ink Jet
- Black and white laser, large format (Lexmark, QMS, Xante, GCC, NewGen, HP)
- Color ink-jet, poster size (ENCAD, various models)
- Color laser (Lexmark, QMS)
- Film recorder (AGFA Forte)
- wide format printers
Cameras and Camera Accessories
- See separate Web site on cameras-scanners FLAAR. Cameras flatbed scanners and drum scanners
- for carrying cases such as backpacks for cameras, shoulder bags, fanny packs, we recommend Tenba bags.
The Dicomed Field Pro requires a Macintosh. The only portable which is powerful enough is the Mac G3. We started with the Apple PowerBook 3400 /240 MHz model but now use G3 PowerBooks. The new Mac G4 PowerBook is even better if you want high-end equipment.
If you come from the IBM PC Windows environment you can learn to use the Apple PowerBooks relatively easily (I had never used an Apple computer full time before; this entire Web site was written on the Apple PowerBook since then). But if you still need a Wintel machine, we recommend the ruggedized portable PC from Fieldworks Inc, Tel (612) 947-0856, fax (612) 947-0859, Eden Prairie, MN. Dolch also makes a remarkable portable for heavy duty field work.
But if you have electricity or have a means of bringing along a portable generator, you can use a more powerful desktop model. You can carry this in a Hardigg case. The advantages of having a desktop sized computer is that you have more RAM and hence can handle the huge digital files more easily.
Computer carrying cases, especially for laptop, we recommend Tenba.
Hard Disk Storage
The Dicomed Field Pro came with a 1 GB drive. This means you have to exchange this for the maximum, namely two 4 GB drives, specifically from IBM. Better Light will explain the system since the camera sends data so fast that only the certain drives can keep going without blinking an electronic eye, so to speak. The current model Better Light no longer uses IBM because drives from other manufacturers were round to be superior.
The Apple PowerBooks comes with large hard drive; however this can be upgraded, which we heartily recommend.
Downloading your files requires massive storage
In a single day you can generate multiple gigabytes of digital data. I have experimented with a wide variety of storage forms. Briefly (to summarize several years and mucho dinero in buying equipment), 230 MB MO drives are too small. We then tried 650 MB 'Toray' drives. These were a nightmare in Windows 3.1 but worked okay in Windows 95 and Windows NT. But the PD (PhaseWriter) technology belongs to 1995-1996. For 1998 and the next century the bare minimum will be 2.6 GB.
We tried the Nikon Beluga, it was fast and wonderful to use, but two of the media were defective and the unit itself read through to reveal icons of side 2 when working on side 1. We abandoned the whole technology though would be willing to test it again, since it was fast.
Maybe we just had bad luck. Regular 2.6 MB MO may be more dependable (the Nikon was more advanced, with direct overwrite). An even more impressive storage technology is the 4.6 GB Apex, by Pinnacle Micro. You need something this large to hold your panorama files, which can be 1 GB each.
Nowadays no one uses the Pinnacle Micro Apex system anymore since DVD-RAM is better and half the cost of the overpriced Pinnacle Micro Apex system.
Poorly wired buildings will definitely profit from having a Sola constant voltage transformer since normal UPS units do not condition line power for your lighting.
Sending your files to service bureaus
A Zip drive can transfer a single image (non-rollout) or of course you can lower any image down to 100 MB for a sample, even a panorama. But a Zip drive is the worst way to store your images (see below)
Jaz drives have become the international standard for sending files up to 1 GB in size. A Jaz drive will hold an entire panorama photograph (presuming you set the file size to just under 1 GB).
Plenty of other drives are available, with new ones being added every year. But the only ones that you can be sure will be available where you are sending your files are Zip, and probably, Jaz as well. Do NOT make the mistake of using either Zip or Jaz drives for long range backup of large digital files. They are overpriced and underpowered. Use CD-R for most cost effective or DVD-RAM for the up-and-coming standard. Zip and Jaz are simply too small--and unnecessarily expensive. Besides, everyone can read your CD but what if you send your data to someone who has no Zip and no Jaz drive.
If you move your equipment around a lot, the cables will eventually wear out. Be sure to have extra cables if you are working in a foreign country that might not carry some obscure SCSI cable that your Macintosh requires.
PowerBook 3400c. You want the HDI SCSI adapter series, in various sizes to fit most peripherals and accessories. Telephone (412) 746-5500 and ask for their free catalog. Cables-to-Go has cables for every need.
More to come. We are reviewing additional equipment every season. We visit the manufacturers, we scour the literature, and in general do your homework for you in advance.
How to select what is the best paper to use for laser printer, Epson/Canon/HP/Lexmark ink jet printer, or Encad wide format printers.
updated Aug. 5, 2001.
Links added Jan 23, 2000; updated March 24, 1999; Design updated 9/4/2001.