Hi Steve,

I enjoyed your article about the day trading PC. It inspired me to build a similar machine.  I made a few changes to your configuration by getting the ASUS Deluxe GEN3 motherboard and the Intel 2700K processor.  As we know technology keeps improving and as soon as you build something the new stuff will come out.  Previously I had two computers built for me based on my parts specification.  This was my first attempt at a build myself.  It wasn't that difficult, about 4 hours of work. I'm sure I could do it much faster next time.

 

I enjoyed your article about the day trading PC. It inspired me to build a similar machine.  I made a few changes to your configuration by getting the ASUS Deluxe GEN3 motherboard and the Intel 2700K processor.  As we know technology keeps improving and as soon as you build something the new stuff will come out.  Previously I had two computers built for me based on my parts specification.  This was my first attempt at a build myself.  It wasn't that difficult, about 4 hours of work. I'm sure I could do it much faster next time.

 

A few things I didn't see in your article that I came across.  After acquiring all the parts I found I only had one 3.5" to 5.25" drive bay adapter so I couldn't initially install both the media card reader and the 2 USB front ports.  Also, I needed an 8-pin CPU power cable extension as the cable included with the power supply was a bit too short.  I decided I didn't really need the two front USB ports anyway as I can use the top ports already a part of the Lian Li case. I noted that one of the two pin connectors from the Lian-Li case had the polarity reversed . Also, took me a while to figure out where the speaker was for the case :-) I didn't expect it to be so small and in the plastic bag of parts.

Also, I went for the low profile 16GB memory from Corsair as the G Skill was a little more difficult to obtain.  I skipped the flash drive.  I know you like these drives but I have my own concerns about the reliabiliy and longevity of these drives based on talking with people here in that industry.  I went with the 2 TB Western Digital Caviar Black for the system drive.  I had to pay a hefty premium for it due to the flooding in Thailand.  Once drive prices fall back to earth I plan to setup a RAID 1 configuration with two additional drives like it for data and photo storage.

I went with the Sapphire Vapor Radeon 6850 graphics card as I wanted both DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI output to be able to drive the full resolution of the Dell UltraSharp U3011 30" LCD monitor and my LCD tv.  One thing I really like about the Dell monitors is that they have so many connection options and the setup is via the front panel buttons.  So far I am very happy with the graphics output of that card.  It's quite an improvement over what I got from using my laptop to drive the monitor.

Haven't gotten to the tuning and overclocking of the new machine.  Hope to work on that soon.  The software tools from ASUS and the BIOS setup are great compared to what I had seen previously.

I was originally shopping around for a laptop in the 14"-15" range but I could not find very many that supported DisplayPort or Mini-DisplayPort output to drive the Dell 30" monitor at full resolution.  The HP Envy and the new Dell 14z and 15z are capable but those laptops have other drawbacks.  I know the latest HDMI spec supports higher resolutions but haven't seen any graphics cards that spec the higher resolutions for output to HDMI.  I decided to go with a smaller lighter laptop or possibly an iPad for travel and use the new desktop at home.

Kevin

 

Hi Kevin –

It’s great that you built your own, that’s exactly why I try to make the articles so detailed and to explain the reasoning behind the parts selection.. in the event someone has different requirements they can see the reasoning and then decide on their own.

You’re right, I missed a few parts.  With Lian-li you’ll have a tough time finding the smaller options/parts at the bigger stores, they just don’t carry them.  There is a shop on the ground floor in Pantip who sells all the Lian-li cases and parts, but in the states you’ll need to use Amazon.  If you used the excellent 1020 case you’ll for sure want the BS-06 video card cooling fan.  This reduced your video card temps 30-40%, well worth the money.    search for it in silver if you need silver.

 

You’re right, I missed a few parts.  With Lian-li you’ll have a tough time finding the smaller options/parts at the bigger stores, they just don’t carry them.  There is a shop on the ground floor in Pantip who sells all the Lian-li cases and parts, but in the states you’ll need to use Amazon.  If you used the excellent 1020 case you’ll for sure want the BS-06 video card cooling fan.  This reduced your video card temps 30-40%, well worth the money.    search for it in silver if you need silver.

 

Also, to take advantage of that 20 pin USB 3.0 header on your motherboard one of these comes in handy:     And here are the excellent matching 5 – 3.5 adapters that match the brushed aluminum look of the case: 

 

Also, to take advantage of that 20 pin USB 3.0 header on your motherboard one of these comes in handy:     And here are the excellent matching 5 – 3.5 adapters that match the brushed aluminum look of the case:    Also, to take advantage of that 20 pin USB 3.0 header on your motherboard one of these comes in handy:     And here are the excellent matching 5 – 3.5 adapters that match the brushed aluminum look of the case:

 

Because I deal with Lian-li all the time I keep their small parts in stock and I forgot to show in my review where to get them.

The power supply cable I’m a bit confused about, you used the Seasonic?   I remember it being tight, but routed properly it should have fit without an extension.  I try not to use extensions because I appreciate the cleanest power and extensions ‘can’ be problematic.  It was a hard fit though, you need to get that cable in at the right time or you’ll find your fingers just won’t fit in there and you’ll be pushing it on with a really long screwdriver and a lot of patience.

Did you use the white pin block Asus supplied with their motherboard to help with the pinouts?  You’ll find all the print on the connectors will face the same way and the pin block, even if you don’t use it (I don’t, I like the connections without it), will help you know where the pins go.  Ya, that small piezoelectric speaker is a bit deceiving..

The WD Black drives are a good choice for data storage.  For imaging professionals they’re the standard.  I use a ton of them.  I’m also taken with the new Seagate I reviewed in this article:   I’m currently running 2 of the 3tb’s in a RAID1 and I’m happy with the speed (much faster than any other mechanical drives out there), but of course the RAID1 slows them down a bit.

I’m currently running my 4 Crucial C300 256gb SSD’s going on their third year.  One is in a workstation that I never power off and by that I mean never.. another in a small Lenovo x201s laptop that I use daily but it’s not left on all the time, but it does get bumped around a lot.. and 2 more in student workstations.  I put a PCEe Revo in my sons workstation going on a year.   In any case, I’ve not had trouble from any of them.  I’ve probably installed 100 more in customers computers.  No trouble with those either.   With mine I run benchmarks every few months because as you say, it is new technology so I like to make sure degradation isn’t an issue.   It isn’t.  They run just as fast today as the day I put them in use.

Keep in mind any decent SSD comes with a 3 year warranty, some 5 years.  This is long than I’d use a mechanical hard drive for any serious purpose.  You’re familiar with running SMART tests on mechanical hard drives?  As they get some hours on them the SMART tests start revealing weaknesses.  By the time you get to the 3 year point even the best ones are showing enough small issues where you wouldn’t want them as a system drive nor as a primary data drive.  

So ya, I’m a big fan of SSD’s, once you experience the performance difference you won’t go back.  Especially in a laptop you carry for business where you’re opening/closing out of hibernation or booting it fresh several times a day and a customer is waiting on your boot.  Sometime next year I’ll replace my Crucials at the 3 year point and I’ll probably replace the desktop workstations with Revodrives 3 x2’s and the laptops I’m not sure yet, now there are a ton of really high performance SATA II and III SSD’s out there.

That Dell U3011 is a nice monitor for sure.  If you were into imaging on a more frequent or serious basis you might want to spend the extra for the NEC PA301w.. 

If you’re looking at a laptop for travel take the time to read this article and pay attention to the weight, durability, power, and battery life:  Also, any of the new Ultrabooks coming out by Asus, Lenovo, and others are right in that same weight/performance/battery life window but for a lot cheaper.. new tech is almost always better and cheaper..

Thanks for the feedback Kevin.  If you don’t mind I’ll run your feedback and my response in the next column so the information is out there for the next guy?

Steve

 

Hi Steve

Well I owe you a big thanks for the tips you gave me on the lessons I took with you in Thailand.  One point you pushed several times in our meetings was to always apply the lens hood and at the weekend it really paid off.

I was in Koh Chang and had been taking some photos of the endless pool against the backdrop of the sunset over the sea.  On the way home and in the dark I was not looking properly and didn't see the steps in front. As a result I went for a tumble.

Tried to save the camera in my hands (also had an ipad) but the camera took a huge bounce on the concrete path. It landed on the lens hood and then a second harder bump on the body.

End outcome was a small scratch on the lens hood and a perfectly working camera.

The cost of my lessons was recouped in a few split seconds...... but my skins still under repair LOL.

Thanks Peter

 

Hello Peter -

I'm sorry you fell, are you okay? I've noticed the older I get the longer the skin takes to grow back.. :)

I'm happy your camera and lens was okay, those hoods sure can take a lot of abuse. I tend to bump mine on door frames as I pass through and they can take quite a wallop without damage.

Do you mind if I use this in the column this Saturday? It might prompt others to be more diligent..

If you get a chance to share some images we could sure use them.

Steve

 

Steve:

How do you feel about this statement?

If you're not so flush with cash, buy Lightroom 3. It’s designed to handle everything a photographer needs to do on a daily basis. Photoshop, on the other hand was designed for visual artists of all kinds. That’s why it has so many tools that photographers never use: animation, 3D, typography tools and the like.

I am using the trial version of CS 5 and do not see any real need to spend the extra cash at this time. The only feature of CS 5 I really enjoy using is the "selective saturation" feature which seems to a real improvement over the similar tool in LR 3.

I have also read the "sharping" tools in CS 5 are an improvement over the ones used in LR 3. What is your call on that?

We are up here in Truckee all set to catch the fall colors. Well, major wind for 2 days and 2' of snow today has gotten rid of all the leaves. Oh well I guess am stuck looking at yours. LOL

Thanks

Rick

 

 

 

Hi Rick –

I think the guy generalizes way too much, but mostly he’s accurate.

Lightroom in part, is a subset of tools from Photoshop which photographers use the most. Certainly not all the tools photographers use, especially pros. Lightroom is also a great database/organizer/filer of photos, has a great print manager, a web manager, and more that Photoshop doesn’t do.

There is no doubt that from version 1 through 3.. more and more is being added, and with every version more photographers are finding Lightroom to be enough. But I don’t think LR was ever designed to replace Photoshop.. in fact I know for sure the guy who wrote it never intended it that way.

Keep in mind there is no single image processor which will fit all photographers, and most photographers require several. I personally used 4-5 different raw processors and over 25 different Photoshop plug-ins.. but I do a lot more with images than most people do.

You’ll have to show me some of those fall colors. I did a few here.. not real happy with them, but there’s always next year.

Take care

Steve

 

Steve

As a follow up to my questions about LR3 v CS5 I have a question .

The only feature I have found in CS5 that is really useful to me is Selective Desaturation.

Do you know of a stand alone program that would offer the same type Selective Desaturation as found in CS5. Something that goes from color to B&W then allows selective color replacement.

Anything to save a few baht...

We received about 3' of snow over the weekend in Truckee. I had to shovel the deck twice.

Thanks

Rickster

Hi Rick –

In this tutorial: I show how to do this in both Lightroom and CS5.. other programs do it too, but LR and CS5 are better.

Steve

 

In this tutorial: I show how to do this in both Lightroom and CS5.. other programs do it too, but LR and CS5 are better.

 

Steve,

I’ve been looking over the pre-release stuff for the new Sony NEX-5N and NEX-7. I like the OLED EVF and the bracket shooting. Maybe you could give us your take on them in your next article. Hope you are enjoying your part of the USA.

Bryan

 

Hello Bryan –

I’ll try to remember to mention these cameras..

I bought one of the first batch of NEX-5’s in Thailand, and then the first 16mm.. and I enjoyed it a lot until I received my Fuji x100 and was reminded of what I’d been missing.

What was missing was a photographers interface, optical viewfinder, exceptional lens, and low light capability.

Sony’s NEX-5n and NEX-7 have improved their interface, but it’s still what I call a point and shoot interface. Sony knows most of the buyers of this camera will just put it in Auto and forget it has other modes, but they still need to support advanced users. Before they did this poorly, the new cameras do it much better. But the Fuji x100 provides an interface not unlike old style SLR’s which were probably the apex of user interfaces for real photographers.. especially when you consider back then all cameras were manual focus and manual exposure. If you’re the sort of person who mostly uses Auto modes you’ll love the NEX series. If you often use aperture priority or manual modes.. not so much.

EVF’s have greatly improved, and I had a chance to do a hands on with a NEX-7.. and they’ve improved even more. The x100 has an excellent EVF mode as well. I suppose you can get used to an EVF, many do, but I’ll always find an optical superior in speed (no lag) and more comfortable with its natural view. Though, I do enjoy EVF’s that basically ‘preview’ your exposure settings as you change them but before you shoot. Very handy at times. And Sony’s articulating LCD for live view allows perspectives you won’t get with a optical viewfinder (from the hip, up close where you normally can’t get your head but your hands fit, low to the ground without having to lay on it). Still, if I could choose.. I’d choose an optical viewfinder despite the benefits of both the EVF and articulating LCD.

Lenses.. Sony’s 16mm and 18-55mm.. are both good lenses. Yet, I didn’t feel they were up to the sensor in the original NEX-5, so they’ll certainly be limited in the NEX-7. But.. if you want to spend the money.. Sony will be offering Zeiss lenses in several focal lengths. I’d consider these a must have.

Low light.. This remains to be seen and will become known in the first reviews. The Fuji x100 surprised me greatly by being better in low light than my Canon 5d Mark II. DxO scores show the 5d Mark II’s sensor ‘slightly’ superior, but not by as much as you’d think a full frame sensor should be better. Meanwhile the original NEX-5 wasn’t in the same league. Soon, we’ll see how the NEX-5n/7 compares with low light..

Many people want a zoom lens, so the NEX is a no-brainer over the Fuji x100. The problem is, Sony’s zooms aren’t nearly as good as the x100’s 35mm equiv prime.. Others will be convinced the need the 24mp sensor of the NEX-7, that it will allow for things the x100’s 12mp sensor can’t give them. My guess is they’d be wrong in 95% of their instances.

What it comes down to is your personal style. I really recommend borrowing or renting the NEX-7 and its closest competition.. and living with them for at least a few days. At the same time we live in great times and we have a lot of great choices.. the NEX-5n/7 are certainly two of them.

I hope this verbosity is somehow helpful.. 

Steve

 

Steve

Is there a way to embed the dng profile i made into the file itself ? When i load the raw's from my camera into Lightroom i get Adobe Standard and Embedded in the list (this is a pentax 645D). I'm assuming the embedded profile is something the camera writes into the file, can that be replaced with my custom one so I can then throw it out from the profile list and the custom profile I made turns into the Embedded one ?

Adobe says this about the profiles:

"What's the difference between an embedded profile and an external profile?”

An embedded profile is a camera profile that has been embedded in a DNG file (i.e., the profile data is stored in the DNG along with the image data). An external profile is a camera profile whose data is stored in a separate file on disk; this file has a .dcp extension. Otherwise there is no difference between embedded and external profiles."

So i guess to clarify, how can I turn the external profiles into embedded ones so I don't have to deal with a bunch of those external files a few months from now ?

Sam

 

Sam

"Profiles" are a function of the raw processor.  C1pro will have a different profile from ACR or LR through ACR and LR probably share the same because of their close relationship with Adobe.  As a file recognized by that raw processor it seen by the raw processing software, it assigns a profile from it's database of profiles supplied by either the raw processor or any profile you add and assign.

Even years ago we were using non-OEM (for lack of a better term) profiles suppled from guys who knew how to make them and who had an eye for color.  Magne Nilsen for instance used to make some awesome profiles for the Canon 1ds Mark II which were compatible with C1pro and I still use them today.  Actually I've recently dug out my Canon 1ds Mark II and am rekindling my love affair with that body..  I'm absolutely convinced that from ISO 100-800 it makes better files than my Canon 5d Mark II.  Anyway.. this profile is flagged in C1pro so any time I process a 1ds Mark II image that profile is applied.

Keep in mind the standard profiles provided by Adobe and C1pro and other raw processors are "general" profiles meant to 'work' in most circumstances so they're not tuned to just one type of light.  The Magne Nilsen profiles were a bit more specialized in that they're geared for higher or lower saturation.

The x-rite color checker profiles are specific profiles built to balance the colors using the specific light of that shoot.  You would not want to apply these to every image you import.. or embed them to take the place of the standard profiles provided by Adobe or C1pro.. You might create a set of profiles taken in specific light conditions, shade, sun, indoors with incandescent, etc, etc.. and use them as starting points.. but what x-rite was really designed for was to be used in place of a grey card to make a more accurate profile you can easily apply to a batch of images from a specific shoot.

These profiles are different from the Camera/Calibration area in ACR and LR.  This is where you'd enter corrections to compensate for the variance in sensors used in the same model camera.  For instance, your 645 'might' make slightly different color than a 645 that came off the line 200 units ago.  But both are supported by the same ACR/LR profile.  Camera/Calibration is where you'd compensate for the difference between sensors.

What you want to remember, is that all of the above examples are 'external' profiles.  The internal profile is a camera manufacturer starting point used by your cameras in-camera jpeg converter and LCD display, and as a reference starting point for the raw processor software to build their external profile from.

So.. you wouldn't want to change it.  It is what it is.  If you feel your color isn't right what you would want to do is determine is if it isn't right all the time or just under different lighting conditions.  If you feel, for example, that the blue channel is too saturated in general.. then you'd adjust that in the Camera/Calibration settings area.  If you feel the color is off for a for a specific lighting condition.. then this is where you'd use X-rite color checker.

And finally.. if you think you'd like to be able to embed profiles that will see all and do all under any lighting conditions.. well, that would be the holy grail of color and if you could figure that one out you could set your own price.

I hope this helps.


Steve