About two weeks back, I took a huge step forward in my photo gear.
I stepped from a Nikon D-80 to a, to me at least, substantial investment in a Canon system.
I hope to never ever own another Nikon product, they've joined my list that includes HP, Apple and a few others, but never mind all that for now, perhaps another time I'll rant. I may also rant about Canon interface annoyances, for now, they are on the "learn to live with them and love them" list.
Anyway, new Canon kit includes 6D, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM , Shorty Forty, 2 600EX-RTs, ST-E3-RT , PIXMA PRO-100, Remote Control RC-6, spare battery, a few other what nots. Eg-S focusing screen ordered and paid, not yet arrived.
By the way, and I hope this doesn't run afoul of forum rules, etiquette, admins or moderators, I bought from a good old bricks and mortar store in Livonia MI, a former CR advertiser, ProPhoto. I initially found them through their ads here. They offered and followed through on matching on-line prices of Authorized Dealers. They matched bundle prices of the 6D, 24- 105 kit + Pro 100 bundle, plus the 2x 600EX + ST-E3 bundle as found at a major online retailer. Plus I got the hands on with everything I had patience to play with, got lots of questions answered, mostly Canon specific or how Canon operation differs from Nikon, that sort of thing. Overall, a great retail experience.
Prior to this purchase, I'd occasionally attempted to work with Nikon raw files using GIMP and ufRaw. Caused me a lot of pain and anguish just to get those raws to look as good as the as shot jpgs, could not figure why anyone would choose to work with raw.
Ha! Now I've got a 6D. Shot about 700 photos in raw + large jpg at a family reunion this past weekend. The house is finely finished log cabin facade over framing, inside and out.
Kitchen shots were incandescent lighting reflecting off of reddish logs causing a very objectionable red cast to everything shot there.
6D (and Canon) is new to me, probing through menus I discovered I could tweak the raws in camera!! This is way cool, I'm liking the results so far, starting to grok why shoot raw, wondering what will be possible once these raws are on a PC.
But, and I knew in advance of my Canon purchase, my 8 year old ownbuilt PC is not up to snuff and is due for replacement.
I loaded up the entire Canon software package that came with the 6D anyway, opened up a few CR2s in DPP to wet my toes in raw work, I'm really getting the why raw, the what and how will take longer. Agonizingly slow on the old PC though.
So, here's my current dilemma. It's time for a fresh ownbuild PC. This time I've got a good answer to the old question of "what will you be using it for?", editing current and future raw files, possibly video work as well.
I figured to start with a wide gamut monitor, work backwards from there.
I've decided on the NEC PA241W-BK-SV with its included NEC specific calibrator accessory, this component is pretty well carved in stone at this point. Briefly considered the 27" version, just don't have room for it though the additional expense is not an issue.
Now comes the first of many catches. Specs for that monitor include " 1.07 billion out of 4.3 trillion" colors. Elsewhere I find that those colors are only available with a compatible graphics interface. Huh? Does this mean DisplayPort? I've searched until frustrated, can't find any such spec for DisplayPort. Is DisplayPort a wide gamut interface? Is any integrated DisplayPort interface wide gamut?
If not, what do I need to find in a discreet graphics card?
While this is a very nice monitor, I can only recommend it if you are serious about printing. If all your output is going to be for viewing digitally, it may be more hassle than it's worth. Anything that's viewed in a non ICC aware application will appear over saturated. This monitor also uses wide spectrum CCFL tubes instead of LEDs. It takes about 5-10 minutes to warm up, and the color temperature and panel uniformity will change during this time. It also uses a lot of power and creates a lot of heat if that is of any concern to you. I eventually went back to using a professional standard gamut sRGB monitors. I like my monitors to go into standby when I'm away and be immediately ready for use when I need them.
For connectivity, DVI is okay. The PA241W uses a 10-bit panel. DVI technically supports 10 bit over dual link, but not all hardware supports it. I had to use a DisplayPort connection with the PA241W for the NVIDIA control panel to allow me to enable 10-bit color. I had a NVIDIA Quadro card at the time. I do not see the option for 10-bit color in the GeForce control panel.
Then I start to become aware of Haswell. Tech doesn't stand still at all, I'm old, having trouble even attempting to keep up even within my relatively narrow interests.
Socket 1155, Intel Gen 3; Socket 1150 Intel Gen 4, ugh....... so much to learn before I decide and place my orders.
From what I've read, neither PhotoShop not Lightroom uses a graphics card's processing power at all.
Are there other reasons I should be considering discrete graphics for this new build?
At this point in life I have no video skills, even less interest, but I know have some fairly capable gear, interests may change, if so, skills will follow. Are discrete graphics a video processing requirement?
Haswell is the newest generation of consumer grade CPUs and that's what you most likely want to go with. Socket 1150.
While Lightroom does not utilize the graphics card (yet), Photoshop does. It uses OpenGL and OpenCL to accelerate many features. Video editing software like Premiere and Media Composer will make use of the more advanced CUDA architecture available on NVIDIA cards.
For years, I've been intrigued with the Mini-ITX form factor. Now there's a new kid, Thin Mini-ITX, cool looking, maybe I can custom build an All In One, have some measure of portability. Nothing here yet carved in stone. ATX and a full tower is still possible, though choices really are overwhelming.
Mini-ITX is a very interesting form factor. Silverstone (one of my favorite chassis brands), makes some Mini-ITX cases with excellent cooling and room for a full length graphics card.
What chipset? So many choices I can't begin to sort through them all and their differences.
Since you are probably going to be using Haswell processors, your choices are Z87, H87, and H81. The Z87 and H87 are mostly identical. The Z87 is more targeted towards power users and includes a plethora of overlocking options. The H81 is a more economical chipset and is fairly locked down. It loses a few PCI lanes, and SATA ports.
I'm seeing speeds from 2.0 to 3.2 GHz, caches from 3 to 6 GB. No idea what is a smart choice.
I believe the Intel i7-4770 is the fastest processor available for that socket right now. There are also S and K versions. The S designates a lower max TDP (65W vs 84W), and the K version is "unlocked" for overclocking.
I'm figuring 16 GB memory, minimum, 32 GB possibly optional.
This can vary a lot depending on what you plan on using the computer for. 16GB minimum recommended. Also, use 8GB x 2 modules so you have two free slots for future expansion. When I'm doing a photomerge in Photoshop CC, it will easily chew up 19-24GB of RAM. Many, large layers will do this too. Photoshop, like many applications, will start using virtual memory when there isn't enough RAM available. It greatly speeds things up if physical memory is available to it.
No spinning hard drives within the PC case, large capacity spinning hard drives for external back up only.
Inside the case, ideally four SSDs in two RAID 0 arrays, actuall capacity secondary to speed. Haven't even started looking for drives yet, I'm guessing and hoping that'll be the easy bit.
I think you would be content with a single SSD. Most current generation SSDs are pushing in excess of 400-500MB/sec transfer speeds. You might not see much of a difference with RAID 0 in real life usage. The Intel RAID is also a software solution and requires CPU overhead. The latency of a software RAID array will usually be higher than with a single drive. With RAID 0, you also increase the risk of data loss by 50%. I have a single Seagate 250GB SSD (On a 3Gbps SATA interface even!), and Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects all open in slightly over a second. My Lightroom catalog with thousands of images, will load high res thumbnails as fast as I can scroll. I can't imagine needing anything faster except for bragging rights (lol). If you do decide to go with SSDs in RAID, you'll need a motherboard with the Z87 chipset, as that is the only one that supports TRIM commands over RAID.
Input please? Comments on what I've written? Your personal Dream Build PC specs, hopefully with some whys?
Budget here isn't exceptionally tight, though you will notice I chose 6D rather than 5D III or 1Dx. Still, from all I've read, 6D would remain my first choice even with lotto moneys.
Hoping to get 4 or 5 years before having to go through all this again.
Oh yeah, WINDOWS 7 or 8? I'm not worried about 8's interface, there's Classic Shell for that. More worried about software compatibility. Forgot where, somewhere in my recent research, saw something about BlueRay not playable with some hardware and WINDOWS 8, really? No way I want to sacrifice BlueRay watching on the PA241W-BK-SV.
edit 1) so far, I've only looked at Asus and GigaByte boards, open for other suggestions or specifics with those two brands.
IMO Windows 7 is still the best. I tried Windows 8 and got very frustrated with how dual monitors are utilized. I never really warmed up to the interface either. The biggest problem I had though, was my NVIDIA drivers would crash multiple times a day. This was with a clean install and a final release version of Quadro drivers.
Believe it or not, Blu-Ray playback on the PA241W was not that great. Blu-Ray playback software like WinDVD and PowerDVD are not ICC aware and display over-saturated and/or incorrect colors. The PA241W also has a slightly high latency and would ghost quite a bit during some scenes.
As for motherboards, I've always used Asus in the past. However, computers that I've built for people in the last 2-3 years are starting to come back with bad motherboards. One of my own failed too. I now prefer Intel branded boards. Asus also tends to stop updating drivers after a year or two. Not just motherboards, but with all their products.
Hope this helps. I'm not as "is in the loop" as I used to be a year or two ago, so feel free to correct me.