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Digital Imaging - Computers

by Gordon Beddis

Reproduced from in focus 63 (Oct. 1998)

See also: SCANNERS and PRINTERS : FINE TUNING : GETTING TO GRIPS by Gordon Beddis

and DIGITAL SLIDE SCANNERS and SCANNING by Brian Pitkin

A few months ago I would have advised people not to embark into digital imaging: to save their money for a diving holiday or buy that new housing. My views have now changed, partly due to my own success in digital printing and partly to the march of technology. This article will, I hope, guide you in the right direction ....

Sounds obvious, but you will need a P. C., if you have one already there's a good chance that it will be of little use, unless it was bought in the last year or so, and then it might need some expensive up-grade.

The parts (hardware) that the PC is built from makes all the difference and not how nice it looks in the shop, I will try to explain.

The MOTHERBOARD: the heart of any PC. Most are for Intel's PII processing chip, 30OMhz being the current standard. Boards come in two types: single slot and dual slot. Dual slot boards can take two chips of the same speed (Mhz), but will run with one until you can afford a second one.

RAM: motherboards will either have two or three slots for memory. Modern applications are memory-hungry, so don't muck about! Get one 128mb chip to start and add more of the same.

GRAPHIC CARD/VIDEO CARD is the item that holds your images on the screen. The key factor in choosing a card is the on-board memory the card has available; 4mb is OK, 8mb is desirable, 12mb is the tops. Dedicated graphics cards not games cards are required.

HARD DISCS - this is a permanent or semi-permanent storage device for your precious program applications and photo information. Get the biggest you can afford: 66b is the very minimum. Sounds a lot but take it from me, you will need it: bigger is best!

FLOPPY DISC DRIVES and CD ROMS are all pretty standardised equipment - most makes will suit.

Sound cards are not necessary, but useful for playing your music CDs while you are waiting for the printer to print your images.

You will need a back-up storage device for those all so-valuable images. If you con afford it, I recommend two types:

A SPAPQ made by Syquest is a removable 16b hard-drive; spare discs are relatively cheap and the internal model of drive has a fast data transfer rate. Handy for storing many images that are being worked, manipulated or just waiting to be printed.

A CD-ROM WRITER is a good bet for storing images in a permanent form, e.g., for photo libraries, back-up purposes and if your hard drive goes down, CAPUT, you'll still have your images safe. Nothing is ever easy. There are two types of CDROM writer. One is a standard called IDE and the other is SCSI. The SCSI is faster, but needs a separate SCSI card. Seeing as you'll need a card for the Scanner, get a good card that will take many SCSI devices.

PHEW! I do Computer Support for a living and it does get technical. But I'm a diver and photographic technician at heart. More next time .......

Contact: Gordon Beddis, SeaScenes Scuba, 01 202 535051.

See also: SCANNERS and PRINTERS : FINE TUNING : GETTING TO GRIPS by Gordon Beddis

and DIGITAL SLIDE SCANNERS and SCANNING by Brian Pitkin


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