The importance of gear selection for photo & video editing
As a photographer, the equipment and software you work on can have a significant influence on the final quality of your work. So, if you do a lot of photos or video editing, it's critical to select the best equipment for your budget. Otherwise, you risk running into issues that can slow you down or bring your work to a grinding, sudden halt.
To avoid issues, do your homework. Research in advance before you start buying. Luckily for you, we've done some legwork, and we'll be sharing it with you here.
One of the most critical elements of photography work is storage and memory space. A single RAW-image file can take up 100 MB. 4K video files will swallow your gigabytes. Suck up enough of your computer's storage space, and you begin to slow it down and waste your precious time.
Ideally, your desktop should hold 24GB to 32GB. Anything less, and you can expect problems. But, we also recommend a good quality SSD drive of at least 1500 MBs, as well.
Storage is one area we suggest you don't scrimp on space or quality. Keep in mind that photography and video editing benefit significantly from multi-core processing. Being able to multi-thread when using a program like Lightroom is also critical and can make switching between applications seamless.
This is an essential piece of equipment. Proceed carefully when purchasing a monitor. Certain things shouldn't be sacrificed to save money when choosing a monitor. High resolution and color accuracy are critical for professional work. You need your screen to represent colors accurately. If you can, purchase a monitor with HDR. It's not a must-have purchase, though, because 8-bit monitors are usually sufficient.
Tip: If you opt to purchase HDR, confirm that it's genuinely a 10-bit panel. Some manufacturers advertise a monitor as HDR, but it's not 10-bit. Acer's ProDesigner BM270 and the Dell UltraSharp 27 4K HDR monitor are both very good but expect to pay well into $1k.
CPU - Central Processor
The CPU is the most critical component of any computing device. Think of it as the brains because it manages all of the necessary instructions and designates the complicated tasks to specific chips.
If money isn't an issue, then consider the powerful multi-core Xeon or Core i9 processor. If money is an issue (it usually is), then consider AMD's 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and expect a 20 to25-percent hit on performance.
GPU - Graphics cards
Before you select GPU, think about the work that you do because it can make a big difference in what you ultimately choose. Is your work video or photo editing or both? Let's break it down:
If you're working with Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop, GPU will have little effect. (Adobe GPU support for Lightroom CC is only helpful if you have a newer high-end GPU and 4K monitor.) More RAM and faster storage usually makes more sense for photo editing instead of investing in GPU.
If you do a lot of video editing, then you'll be using GPU. It's worth investing in the best you can afford because there is a clear difference in performance based on price.
Tip: Before you purchase a graphics card, be sure that it is compatible with your monitor and computer. Not all graphics cards play well with specific computers.
PC vs. Mac?
This is an eternal question when discussing computers, likely to be argued until the end of time. Here are a few things to know about the two:
MacBooks have slower GPUs than Windows 10 laptops.
Macs also lack the ports that are PC standards.
Even so, Macs are extremely popular within certain industries, especially graphics. Why? Simplicity and power. The Mac OS is simpler and more powerful than Windows 10.
Macs also offer better support than most PC vendors and are better designed.
Lots of options, usually for less than you'd spend on any desktop Mac. A good example is Dell's XPS Tower Special Edition (8930) PC with Intel eighth-generation Core i7-8700K 6-core CPU, 32GB of DDR4 2,666MHz RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU and a 256GB M.2 PCIe x4 SSD program drive/2TB 7200-RPM multimedia drive. Good workstation options are any of HP's Z-class models which you can upgrade as you want.
The best Macs around are typically the newest models.
Purchase one with at least 16GB of RAM and ideally more. Be prepared to shell out a few thousand dollars.
Video editors will want to spend more while photo editors can look at the under $2k range for the integrated-graphics models.
If you're tempted to travel light with their two-pound Mac in tow, it's barely powerful enough to run Photoshop or Lightroom CC well and decently.
Look for their new (powerful) desktop expected to be out in 2019.
Photographers are increasingly turning to newer models of laptops given how portable, powerful, and lightweight they are. You can't carry that desktop with you out to the field! Once again, consider how and where you will use your laptop and for what - video or photography.
There are several workstation quality laptops on the market which would serve you well if graphics are important to your work. Look at the GPUs and 10-bit graphics and expect to pay more for them. For example, the WS63 with Quadro P4000 goes for $3,500.
Tip: If you do more photo editing than video editing, then you can sacrifice GPUs for a lighter, more portable laptop. Look at Dell and Microsoft.
We also suggest asking peers what sort of equipment they're using and their thoughts on the pros and cons of each. Just be certain that they're work needs are similar or the same as yours or you're wasting your time.
Equipment needs to be selected according to: 1) professional needs and 2) budget. These can guide you in one direction or other when it comes to choosing products. Spend time doing your research before you plunge into making any purchases.