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Old May 4, 2008, 12:56 AM   #1
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How important is it to have a fast video card for "typical" photo editing? And maybe light CS3 work. Would photographers benefit from getting the fastest card out there? Or would it be overkill? Recommendtions? Comments?
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Old May 4, 2008, 3:39 AM   #2
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Fast video cards are for quickly displaying quickly changing images (i.e.: video, games, etc.)

While some of what you can do in Photoshop and its pluginswill benefit from a fast video card, for "typical" photo editting, the speed of the CPU, RAM and hard disk drive are much more important.
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Old May 4, 2008, 10:07 AM   #3
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TCav wrote:
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Fast video cards are for quickly displaying quickly changing images (i.e.: video, games, etc.)

While some of what you can do in Photoshop and its pluginswill benefit from a fast video card, for "typical" photo editting, the speed of the CPU, RAM and hard disk drive are much more important.

That's what I read recently in an issue of Outdoor Photographer. Just wondered if they didn't neglect to talk about video cards. Guess they wouldn't.

So, I guess we would be fine with any new 256k or 512k card sold with any new desktop these days. I'll later be picking up an Apple Mac Pro to be used as my "main" computer. And will probably do the bulk of my photo editiing there (along with other tasks of course). So I'll opt for either their 256k card of 512k single card option.

Though, having said that, I will be doing some video editing as well. Taken from a HD camcorder. So while having the "fastest" card on the market might not bea priorityfor photo editing I supposegettingone of the faster cardswould be beneficial.

Thanks.

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Old May 4, 2008, 11:02 AM   #4
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DarkDTSHD wrote:
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That's what I read recently in an issue of Outdoor Photographer. Just wondered if they didn't neglect to talk about video cards. Guess they wouldn't.

So, I guess we would be fine with any new 256k or 512k card sold with any new desktop these days. I'll later be picking up an Apple Mac Pro to be used as my "main" computer. And will probably do the bulk of my photo editiing there (along with other tasks of course). So I'll opt for either their 256k card of 512k single card option.

Though, having said that, I will be doing some video editing as well. Taken from a HD camcorder. So while having the "fastest" card on the market might not bea priorityfor photo editing I supposegettingone of the faster cardswould be beneficial.
Your original question was about "fast". While "fast" isn't much of a issue when talking about photo editing, newer, faster, more powerful video cards also have more powerful options for color correction that the base card might not have. And the newer cards are more likely to be better supported with ICC profiles and such.

So, just because you don't need a fast card doesn't mean you should just get a cheap card.
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Old May 4, 2008, 4:18 PM   #5
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Hey TCav,

Won't be doing that. As I said. I will most likely be choosing from the list of cards on the Apple website when custom ordering my Mac Pro. And none of the cards are considered "cheap". They even have a $2890.00 nVidia Quadro 1.5GB card. I'm sure Apple took everything into mind when choosing which options to offer. As the Mac Pro was designed to be sold to "pros" (or so I was told). So, I don't think I could go wrong choosing any card from Apple's custom config list.

Will I still swap the card out for something more full featured and powerful? Like nVidia's 9000 series cards? Will have to see when the time comes. Home is in escrow. Have yet to buy new home. So when I'll be ordering a Mac Pro is any one's guess at this point.

Just wondered about the role of a good video card for photo editing (and HD video editing).

On to other things....
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Old May 4, 2008, 10:18 PM   #6
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Hi Dark, As everyone has pointed out, for photo editing the video card is the least of your concerns, primarly because you are changing the image on the screen fairly infrequently. For video editing, that is another story, since your updating the screen at the rate of at least several frames per second usually. So for that you need a good CPU (and a lot of memory) that will be applying the changes to usually a fairly large set of frames, which will then be displayed in either fast or slow motion. Thus the video card will be working hard to update the screen at the desired frame rate. I would stick with a card with either an nVidia or ATI graphics processor, and a reasonable amount of memory 256K or 512K. This should not cost all that much - but then again your buying an Apple.

However, I do believe there is a change in the works coming down the pipeline. Up to now the graphic chips have been pretty different with their own internal properity designs. All they had to do is to accept the standard video interfaces and put them up on the display. Internally, they rival the fastest processors available anywhere, with multiple cores and highly pipelined architectures. This has finally drawn some interest. The graphic chips with their blazing speed in comparision to the very pokey CPUs, are drawing interest with their ability to offload CPU calculations - in particular, photo editing. The problem is that all the chips are very different, with no internal standard available that general purpose software could really take advantage of. Both Intel and AMD are starting to now couple CPUs and GPU together, with GPUs now starting to have a more standard "computing" interface, so that the photo editing software can load up an image and have the GPU apply the change - which is at least 100 times faster that the CPU can apply the mod (even with multiple cores).

That is why you are starting to see a number of computer centers (even the military) buying 8 Sony PlayStation 3 at a time, hooking them together in a network and you have an instant supercomputer for less than $5K (running Linux) rather than buying several hundred or thousand intel or AMD PC boxes and networking them. Heck one guy did it with 8 Playstations for computational astrophysics. This will trickle down to the photoediting in a couple of years and then the video card will matter much more.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=220&tag=nl.e622
http://itrain.org/itinfo/2003/it030528.html

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Old May 5, 2008, 9:25 AM   #7
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Besides CPU and memory - the other thing to look at is the speed of the hard drive. Speed can be more important than space (you can and should archive anyway). When I got my latest laptop I got a smaller hard drive because it was faster. So, CPU, memory and drive speed are probably the most critical non-display attributes for photo manipulation.
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Old May 5, 2008, 9:30 AM   #8
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I agree with the above, and would add that dual monitors are really nice to have for photo editing. That allows you to put the pallets on one monitor and the image on the other in full size. You don't need a high quality monitor for the pallets - a second hand 20 inch can be found cheap or free if you have the space for a big old CRT.
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