Laptop and Photoshop? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Can a laptop that is reasonably outfitted-600-950 MHZ with decent RAM 192-256, be used for manipulating images through photoshop for out put to either an Epson 2000P and/or an Epson fitted with the B/W inks and special drivers made available by Cone Editons and others?

I have used a laptop for developing web and internal presentations of student work, so I know a laptop will work for some things. But te unit I will be using will not be tasked exclusively to my photogaphic endeavors. It will be loaded with MS office,etc. It's the laptop monitor I question. Will it be sufficient for careful manipulations? I will be supplied with some sort of Gateway laptop if I opt for it. If a desktop is offered it will be a Gateway with Gateway brand monitor. I know that an Apple G4 with an Apple or a La Cie monitor is the better alternative, but the computer gurus at my school are wedded to the cow boxes. Thanks in advance. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (, November 11, 2000


Don't follow the cows, or any other herding animals, Bob. Stick with the Mac and you'll never go wrong. Besides, there are many options for hooking it up to either a second monitor or a television.

Why, even an iBook can run Photoshop - just add the 320MB or RAM that it takes, and cruise until you drop.

Show the herd what the lone wolf can do.


-- Alan Agardi (, November 11, 2000.

Bob, You would have problems with the balance of the "monitor", but you could do it. But an IMac for $700 would be a much better choice.

-- Bill Brady (, November 11, 2000.

I do Photoshop on a laptop with lots less power than that, but I use an external monitor for tasks that need it.

-- David Goldfarb (, November 11, 2000.

There is a strong consensus among professionals that laptop monitors cannot be reliably calibrated. Also, you will quickly want more than 256 mb of RAM. Whether it's a windows or a Mac machine, you should look up the Color Partnership on the web and buy their hardware calibrator and PhotoCal for $199 to calibrate your monitor. It's the best value out there and is, IMHO, literally worth it's wait in gold.

-- Howard Slavitt (, November 11, 2000.

I do image processing and photographic editing using an Apple laptop. The machine is easily powerful enough, but for predictable printing I always do colour corrections and other tonal adjustments while viewing on an external monitor. The built-in screen is very high quality, but the intrinsic gamma is too low (shadows are too bright) and applying a big enough correction in soft/firmware just leads to a muddy screen. I've had the same problem with a Silicon Graphics flat-panel monitor.

So I would say get a laptop and an external monitor. A video system which allows monitor spanning would let you have pallettes and help documents open on the laptop screen, and allow you to get away with a smaller CRT. I agree that a closed loop colour calibration tool would be a better thing to hassle your computer gurus for than any particular brand of laptop.

-- Struan Gray (, November 12, 2000.


I've used a PC notebook for casual use of PhotoShop for several years. As others have stated, you do need to use an external monitor. I'm in the midst of deciding on new HW and color management SW for a more high-end desktop based solution. The wisdom I've gotten from others is to feed your system as much RAM as you can afford, and make that the priority from a HW perspective.

On the desktop, Apple has some very nice G4 tower systems available. Although the price/performance of these Macs is still a bit lower than PC systems, they are in the general ballpark so they demand careful consideration. The presence of ColorSync on the Mac is probably the strongest force drawing me to the Mac rather than a PC.

To my eyes, Mac notebooks are a whole different matter. What can I say - they sure are colorful and cute. In a past life I worked in a PC notebook design group. These Macs notebooks are no where close to state of the art compared to the best PC notebook designs. If we had proposed systems like the Mac notebooks, it would have gotten a big yawn from management. More than any other area, the multi-vendor competition which takes place in the PC notebook market has really benefited the customer. Mac notebooks would greatly benefit from some Mac OS hardware competition (but we know Jobs didn't like this business model).

-- Larry Huppert (, November 12, 2000.

Not all Mac notebooks are colourful. In fact, the ones which can use an external monitor are black with a white logo. They are cute though.

And fast.

-- Struan Gray (, November 13, 2000.

I agree with previous posts that a laptop is ok but it's necessary to have an external monitor for better color accuracy. On the downside a laptop is equipped with no more 8M of video ram, which make it not suitable for driving big monitors while still using true color (32 bit), so bigger images are harder to work with.

While Mac is the currently the standard in desktop publishing, and they are much better looking and elegantly manufactured, the price performence of a PC simply can't be beaten. You can build a machine with 2 CPU and IDE disk array. Choose Windows 2000 as the OS, it supports ICM, which is comparable to ColorSync on MacOS. This setup will easily blow G4 out of water at a fraction of the cost.

Publishing industry uses Macs because they use a lot of software that are Mac only, and use them to drive mega buck scanner and printing machine. If your goal is only Photoshop, slide scanner and inkjet or dyesub printer for desktop print making, I don't really see any reason to go for a mac.

My 2 cents.

--Li Lin

-- Li Lin (, November 13, 2000.


The comparison between Mac and PC cannot be done on a pure MHz basis. I understand where your coming from in terms of the price/performance of a PC vs Mac. However, I believe PhotoShop presents a special case. I sense that PhotoShop uses the Mac G4 hardware to it's best advantage, and key's off the G4s unique strengths. Results from comparative benchmarks such as: which compares a Apple G4/500, Dual G4/450 and Pentium III 1GHz running Photoshop 5.5 using the PSBench 21 Filter Test benchmark,

gives a bit of insight into how theses systems compare while running PhotoShop. The dual 450MHz G4 won the benchmark, but not by much with the 1GHz PC coming in second. The single processor G4-500MHz was last. Of course all that a benchmark proves is which machine was fastest running the benchmark. It doesn't necessarily relate to the reality of using a machine. This benchmark only used a 10MB PhotoShop file, and the PC was running W-98 2nd edition. It is reported that PhotoShop runs better on Windows 2000, so who knows what the results may have shown if Windows 2000 was used instead. The author of this article couldn't make the 50MB file benchmark run on the PC, so he couldn't provide comparative results at that level. I'm not sure what a 10MB benchmark really tells you if your interest is in high quality digital photography. PC Mag did some benchmarks as well across platforms. Their results were interesting in that in general it showed how great the G4 DP machine was at PhotoShop, but somewhat lack luster when comparing other graphics intensive applications.

It is true that Mac has ColorSync and Windows 2000 has ICM. However, I'm not sure if ICM is very robust, and whether apps are really making use of it. I believe PhotoShop on the PC uses it's own ICC profile subsystem and ignores what's in Windows. I've poked around some newsgroups trying to understand ICM, and the little information I've found suggests that ICM is somewhat buggy and of questionable value in it's current state. Of course you can do color management at the application level, but that doesn't seem like the best approach. This in fact may be a bigger issue than all the hardware put together.

-- Larry Huppert (, November 13, 2000.

You may want to check out this thread in the forum for some reasons that ColorSync make a mac worthwhile.

I would stick with a desktop system given the choice, but leaving the Mac platform is out of the question for me; ColorSync simply saves me too much money (by virtue of making fewer fine-tuning prints) when used properly.

Anyone who tells you the mobile Pentiums at any speed are faster than a 500MHz G3 hasn't actually used both machines. The mobile pentium (ii, iii, whatever version) is a crippled and hobbled dog of a processor, barely fit for running the latest version of Word. Seriously - I've tried it - on a machine with 128MB of RAM! Just think what it would be like in Photoshop.

-- Doug Broussard (, November 14, 2000.


You must have tried the most torrible implementation of Pentium's in mobile platforms known to the earth! I can't speak to the relative merits of the G3 vs. Pentium, but what you suggest isn't the norm. I use a notebook with a lowly Pentium (i) @ 225MHz w/ 64MB or RAM, and it run most common software quite well. Web browsers, Word, Excel, Quickbooks, Visio are no problem at all. I've even run PhotoShop, and although it wasn't nearly as fast as I'd like, it got the job done. Unlike the Mac where there is only one hardware supplier, you do have to be careful when choosing a PC based platform. A fast processor with a poorly implemented set of core logic will yield poor results. Notebooks can be particularly difficult where vendors play all sorts of games towards the goal of superior power management. There is no question that these tricks can impact performance on a notebooks, but you should be able to turn off the tricks or not have them apply when AC powered.

You might think I'm a PC bigot - hardly. I just ordered an Apple G4 tower specifically for digital photography. As you mentioned, ColorSync and the 3rd party profiling tools and profile editing tools are just better implemented on the Mac at this point. Have I defected from the "darkside"? Hardly. It just seemed to be the better tool for PhotoShop in particular at this point in time. My non-PhotoShop computing needs will still be done on a PC.

-- Larry Huppert (, November 20, 2000.


I've been running Macs and Epson combos for a number of years now, currently a G3 with La Cie 19" monitor and Epson Photo 2000 P. This combo can't be beaten for value for money and excellent monitor to printer output. As the others have said Colorsync is a big plus for using Mac. I've used both platforms over the last 10 years as a photographer and for graphic art. For me the Mac combo wins hands down. To reduce physical size of the computer have you looked at the Mac G4 cube?

I also agree that currently, to get good monitor to printer colour, you need a seperate monitor and good calibration.

By the way the powerbooks are a much better option than the iMacs. Good luck.

-- Peter L Brown (, November 24, 2000.

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