Travel Gear

True.  Very true.  I needed some device to bring with me so that I could maintain the photography store site from the road;  correspond with customers etc.  as well as have a hard drive and  dvd burner for offloading my raw files.  It finally hit me that a laptop is necessary. (Brent and a few others told me that last week).

So that took me to cost comparisions between some DELL laptops, and some Macbooks.  I   decided to go with a DELL VOSTRO 1310.

SPECS:  4.6 lbs; 2 GB RAM; XP Pro o/s;  1.8 GHz, 2mb L2 duo processor; DVD burner; 4 usb ports; wireless card; 9-cell battery; 250 GB 7200 rpm Drive with free fall Sensor, and an 8/1 media reader … and all of this for $764.

I couldn’t get anywhere close to those specs with the macbooks, because the only ones I could find that were new had better specs for more money.   I remember saying to myself, what are these guys (Apple) really selling and my answer was: the OS.  So just for the fun of it, I wondered if it was possible to buy the DELL and install Panther on it.  Turns out – that there is a way to do this; sort of.

At any rate, to get the MacBook Pro that I wanted – that was going to be about $3K.

So for purposes of having enough money for the next camera and the traveling – I’ll go with the Dell.  It is amazing that they actually offer having XP pre-installed instead of Vista as a BONUS FEATURE.

As to where I’m going to travel – that is yet to be decided.

And while I was thinking this all through, including the camera situation, it struck me that when I bought the 7800 printer, it paid for itself with larger prints within a month.  It was that quick.

I wonder whether a camera ever does pay for itself at all.  For example – suppose that I did buy the 5D II and took some great pictures with it.  According to my theory – conservation of artistic production –  no matter what the camera used, the number of good pictures per year is going to be roughly the same.   And of those say 5 good pictures, how many are people going to want at a size that I can’t do now?  Very few.  In short, unless there was a specific commercial assignment, I can’t see the camera ever paying for itself.  That doesn’t mean don’t get it – it’s just a piece of what I’ll call the reality of the photo business.

The larger printer can pay for itself quickly because there is a demand for the larger prints; but the printer is matched well with the 40D.  With a bit of extrapolation (Photo Zoom Pro 2), the 40D will produce very good 24 x 36 prints, and that’s the limit of the 7800 for that aspect ratio.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

9 thoughts on “Travel Gear”

  1. Panther is 2 generations behind… what you really want is Leopard (OS X 10.5)… it runs well on PCs with decent hardware, I even ran it on the crappy Acer One for a while. The Dell may work well, since they use very common hardware… matter of fact, I had to get a wireless Dell card to get it working in the Acer.

    Modifying the Leopard install DVD is no piece of cake, but there are other solutions.

  2. Dell does make good laptops but some of their stuff can cause problems. On some of them they have proprietary software for setting up the hard disk that make it impossible for future upgrades. Also,I would go with XP or XP Pro as the operating system. Vista stinks. My son has a Compaq with Vista Home and its a memory hog. 2 gigs of ram is not enough.

  3. I have explored going back to XP Pro, but it would require another re-install of everything. I’ve just been through that once with Vista. I’m just going to hang on with Vista for now. I understand MS has a new operating system in development. I may join the Beta crowd.

    There are two options (as I see it) for backup in the field: DVD or external HD. Your Dell has the DVD burner, so just carry blank DVDs with you.

    I bought a Western Digital 500G USB external hard drive to back up my work in the field–providing me with two copies of work–one on the computer one on the USB HD. About $100 for 500G of external HD. It’s pretty fast. Faster than burning DVDs.


  4. I also wanted to add a thought about another item you mentioned: Cameras vs. Printers.

    I had never thought of this before. Sure the camera captures the image, some better than others. Resolution can make a difference, but there are programs to increase resolution. When I was shooting professional baseball, I had images on billboards, images taken with a 6 megapixel Canon 10D.

    The printer, on the other hand, makes the products the customer buys. This is where resolution really counts! And the size of the print, like you said, generates the revenue.


  5. Brent, and I’m regularly selling prints done with my 20D at 1600 at night at large sizes (or at least as big as my printer goes).

    So I’m starting to think that from a business point-of-view, the camera is not that critical. Not compared to the printer, the software you use — for me Lightroom has paid for itself many times over — and whatever speeds up your workflow.

    I’ve sold tons of shots that I did with the 8MP infrared converted LifePixel Rebel. It doesn’t mean don’t run out and get what you want, camera-wise, but simply that from a financial point of view, I’d put the money into lenses, printers, software etc.

  6. “Lightroom has paid for itself many times over”

    It’s a useful bolting-together of Bridge and ACR, but I still find it a clunky beast. The one killer feature is the Brush Tool, for nondestructive local correction of brightness, sharpness, contrast, saturation, clarity & color.

    If it weren’t for that I’d run FAST to Aperture, which lets you do anything from wherever you are in the app, without having to be in a ‘module,’ and which has great automation capabilities for quickly applying changes to multiple images. Aperture also has a super plugin architecture, but plugins don’t access the RAW stream so you need to create NON-nondestructive TIFFs for work. And good plugins cost $$$.
    On the other hand, for ultimate RAW correction work I need to also use the almost criminally borked Capture NX, whose RAW tweaking and local corrections are superior to Lightroom’s … assuming the thing doesn’t lock up and assuming I don’t need to work on more than an image at a time. If Apple or Adobe ever opened up their apps to drop-in 3rd party RAW conversion, I’d probably cry and kiss someone.

  7. I like Lightroom. I liked it from day 1 when Adobe allowed every photographer to download it and use it for free. That was a great marketing decision. I use Lightroom a lot more than Photoshop. In fact, I wonder why I even need Photoshop! I take a minimalist approach: get the correct capture, then you don’t have to spend a lot of time fixing things with every piece of software available under the sun.

    For the record, I am shooting with a Canon 1D MkII, an 8 megapixel, very low noise, camera; and a Hasselblad 501CM. I use a scanner to make really big files of those 6X6 negatives!


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