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RE: filmscanners: RE: Custom PC spec

> I've got a Celeron 466 with 128MB of RAM and recently bought a Nikon
> Coolscan LS4000. I think it's time to upgrade my machine! I've concluded
> that I need a custom built machine with a graphics card where the look up
> table can be calibrated

I am missing something here?  I think you'll find all modern graphics cards
support calibration.  I presume you are talking about per-channel (R, G, B)
gamma corrections, as performed by Adobe Gamma.

(Hmm, come to think of it, a friend running an Athlon / Geforce 2 MX / W2K /
ADI Monitor cannot get Adobe Gamma to calibrate his monitor.  When I moved
the sliders NOTHING HAPPENS - anyone know why this might be?  He is set up
for 32 bit colour.  Luckily the default calibration is pretty good.)

> and a high end monitor.

I strongly recommend you buy a 19" (or bigger if you're feeling extravagant)
monitor with a Mitsubishi NF (Natural Flat) tube.  The latest ones have a
linear dot-pitch across the whole screen (I think it is .25 whereas older
ones have .25-centre, .27-edge dot pitch), which improves "edge-to-edge"
contrast and focus.  You have to be careful to spec a monitor that has this
tube, though, as both are extent.

I rate Iiyama, but you will have to come to your own conclusions on
price/performance.  The tube is not the whole story with monitors.  It takes
very high quality electronics to produce excellent images.  For example my
work monitor is a 17" NF tube (a Dell) but the electronics are quite poor -
I can't get it to produce images anything like as good as my home PC.  It
also suffers from image stability problems - something you can test for by
Alt-Tabbing between two web pages, one black and one white (both filling the
screen, www.dpreview.com is good for black pages).  If the screen "jumps" in
response to each swap and does other "violent" things, you know it's crap
(the technical term for this is "regulation", good regulation means the
image doesn't jump with large changes in brightness) .  Trouble is, I don't
know where you can test monitors.  You'll just have to trust reviews.  Use
www.google.com to search for reviews.  Search with something like
"mitsubishi NFmonitor review".

> Can anyone recommend graphics cards that can be calibrated? I was thinking
> of Matrox.

Matrox is possibly the best regarded manufacturer of graphics cards for 2D
work (i.e. normal desktop computing, image manipulation) but has fallen way
behind in 3D (bad at most games!).  ATI is next.  NVidia is definitely not
highly rated for image quality.  (I use ATI.)

If you think you might go to dual monitors, Matrox and ATI are pretty close
(ATI prolly has the advantage).  You could use your current monitor and put
all your Photoshop palettes on it, while viewing your image full-screen on
the nice monitor.  You can also browse the web on the old monitor in those
tedious moments while filters run, or scans are being GEMmed and ICEd.

You want a card that can support 85Hz (or more) refresh rate at your chosen
resolution.  Please check the monitor can support this combination of
resolution and refresh rate, you'll be surprised that some can't at high
res, even in this day and age.

> I was planning on getting a 1GHz Athlon with 512MB of RAM and
> running under
> Windows 2000.

The Athlon/RAM combination is very good value at the moment (actually that
combination is silly money).  If you buy as a complete system you should
have no trouble - though it is fair to say that W2K and some varieties of
Athlon motherboard do not get on.  I personally wouldn't use W2K, as it is
the most incompatible operating system MS has produced in years.  I have one
friend with it who reports all kinds of grief with software, drivers,
hardware - he has re-installed operating system at least 5 times - he's not
incompetent, he's just dealing with poorly written software and "unlucky"
combinations.  He won't upgrade his PC for fear that W2K won't work, cos it
is currently reasonably stable on his 450MHz Pentium II.  I have another
friend, though, who dual boots W2K/W98.  W2K is for browsing the web,
Photoshop, writing letters.  W98 is for Quake.

> The Nikon Coolscan produces file sizes of around 70MB,

I guess you intend to scan at 8-bits.  My 512MB Windows 98 PC handles 71MB
scans quite happily.

> so a
> lot of fast RAM is important. Can anyone see any problems with this spec.

No,  512MB would be my recommendation.  Unfortunately Photoshop has some
kind of bug in it that means you have to re-start it every few hours of
editing as it doesn't seem to want to free-up all memory when an image is
closed.  (Version 6.0.1)

> Finally if anyone has any recommendations as to companies in the UK that
> could build such as machine I would be grateful.

www.overclockers.co.uk  Some of their prices (e.g. RAM) are not very good,
buy overall package prices seem very fair.  You don't need to be an
overclocker to buy a PC from them, though you might have to persuade them
that you *really* don't want the case with the go-faster stripes down the

I have only bought bits from them, not a complete system.

www.evesham.com (or is it co.uk, I can't get in right now) is well liked by
some of my friends.

> So far my research has
> turned up these people who build hi end systems but I'm not sure I would
> need a dual processor? Isn't RAM more important?

I've seen tests that show Photoshop improves quite nicely with dual
processors  Unfortunately, the same test shows you are far better off buying
a 30%-faster single processor PC!  It will cost less and work better.



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