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New Macbook
Old 04-20-2009   #1
JeremyLangford
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New Macbook

I am soon getting a Macbook Laptop (Aluminum) for a high school graduation gift and I want to use it for photography a lot. I'm hoping to also get a Coolscan 9000 in the future. I have some questions about this.

1) The new Aluminum Macbooks have two USB ports but no Firewire ports. How can I use a Coolscan 9000 which works with Firewire?

2) I'm expecting to need an external hard-drive to hold my Coolscan 9000 scans in order to not fill up the 160 gigs the laptop will come with. Is there anything important I need to know about buying an external hard-drive? Do they all work with USB 2.0? Are they much slower than my internal hard-drive?

3) I will probably be using the laptop like a desktop a lot with an external keyboard/mouse/speakers/monitor. Right now I'm using this monitor with my Mac Mini desktop computer:

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-730B-S.../dp/B0009CEL18

Would a new monitor be better fit for photography than my current external monitor or my laptop monitor?
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Old 04-20-2009   #2
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Make sure you get a 7200RPM hard drive for the Mac Book Pro
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Old 04-20-2009   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmarcus View Post
Make sure you get a 7200RPM hard drive for the Mac Book Pro
I can't afford a Mac Book Pro. Only a Mac Book which only come with 5400RPM drives.
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Old 04-20-2009   #4
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A few thoughts - the super glossy screen on the MB makes photo work kind of annoying, and it is less powerful than I'd like for imaging work (especially high resolution film scans!)

If you really want computing power, buy a cheaper notebook and allocate about $1000 to building a wicked fast desktop for imaging work.
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Old 04-20-2009   #5
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You gotta either get the older plastic macbooks if you want Firewire, or move onto the Macbook Pro. Maybe a used MBP would be a good decision?
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Old 04-20-2009   #6
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I've done image work on a tiny iBook (cheapest bottom of the line model with upgraded RAM to 1.5GB) for years and never had any problems. I scanned 35mm to 4x5 with it. Occasionally I could choke it, but once I figured out what would choke it, I didn't do that. It is still alive and runs the most current version of OS X, Lightroom, and CS3 (okay, not more current on the last one) just fine. I run it with a bus-powered external drive from LaCie and haven't noticed any lag time that exceeds any normal lag time from a 5 year old computer.

Firewire is potentially a problem. The MacBooks don't have any firewire. The Nikon uses firewire. Not sure you can get around that logjam. Means you either have to get an Epson V700 or buy a MacBook Pro to get firewire 800 that can be adapted to firewire 400.

I have gone through a lot of hard drives, but now I have two excellent LaCie D2 Quadra drives. They seem to be champs. Temperature is your enemy, specifically repeated changes or extremes. I keep both drives cool with a Thermaltake fan. They are hooked up to my brand new IMac now. I can't say that I notice any lag time.

I think the Apple monitors are terrific. Not many better. The MacBook has a proprietary display port connection for the new Apple 24" monitor. Expensive but great.

On the other hand, unless you absolutely need a laptop, get a 24" IMac and an iPod Touch or iPhone and be done with it. I am betting that Apple will run their annual "buy a computer get a free iPod Touch" offer for students in the fall again this year.
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Old 04-20-2009   #7
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Sorry to say, but I really think you should save up a bit more and get a MacBook Pro.

Reasons:

1. Firewire. Not only will this be necessary for the Coolscan 9000 (I have one) and any other non-flatbed, it is also a much under-used and underrated protocol. For making continuous backups, Firewire is also necessary as it allows you to make bootable backups of your entire system - something not possible with USB. HardDrives SHOULD be bought with Firewire 800 and then daisy-chained to the scanner (another pro of Firewire).

2. Express Card. This makes your laptop (relatively) future-proof. If some new data connection standard comes out (for instance eSATA), the Express Card slot is pretty much your only way of upgrading.

3. Graphics Card: I assume you're going to be using Vuescan. And Aperture (or Lightroom). And Photoshop. At the same time. My MacBook Pro with the 9600M active struggles with this. A MacBook wouldn't have a chance.

If you can't afford the MacBook Pro, I'd steer you away from a laptop altogether. A desktop will be less convenient, but you get much more bang for your buck and it'll let your programs run as you intend.
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Old 04-21-2009   #8
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Why not grab a little HP or Asus netbook for cheap and use it as a portable computer, and put the rest toward a good imac. If you don't strictly need the portability of a powerful laptop, the imac is the best value of the apple line. Mine is 2.5 years old and runs brilliant.
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Old 04-21-2009   #9
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On a tight budget, the white Macbook is still available but has been upgraded to the NVidia Chipset but kept the firewire port.

The screen isn't as glossy as the alu Macbooks, i.E. my older white Macbook doesn't bother me too much in this regard. To be true, I never understood the complains over the glossy screens until I tried an alu Macbook outside in the sun

I have the "ancient" version, will be two years old in November, with the GMA950 graphics and this chip is fine for picture editing, even with an external 24" monitor.

IMHO the white Macbook maxed up to 4GB RAM and any external HD is fine for your purposes, add a reasonable Monitor, a Wacom Bamboo or Intuos Tablet and a keyboard, I have a Logitec, and you're all set.
Oh! Get an active USB hub for the HD, Tablet and Keyboard, they do need some VA and the externaly powered USB hub provides that.
When I come home I just attach the display and one USB cable, easy enough for a lazy guy like me

And try to get the extended warranty, there are students rebates on that, too. It's a bit like Leicas Passport, might be helpful one time or the other. I had a display and two topcases replaced under warranty with no questions asked, only the first topcase was under warranty without any doubt. The display had dust inside, which is probably due to my smoking habits, and the second topcase was because of a broken keyboard, probably because of excessive amounts of water when I tried to clean it

Edit:
don't expect too much from the Macbook display, either new or old. the colours are flat even when calibrated with a Spyder III.
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Old 04-21-2009   #10
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1) You can't. You need a computer with Firewire or a scanner with USB.

2) Any USB 2.0 hard drive will work. Firewire hard drives are faster, but see point 1. And/or you can upgrade your internal hard drive yourself, which is cheap and very very easy. Then you can have a 7200rpm internal drive.

Although there are good reasons to go for a Mac Book Pro if you can afford it, like a bigger screen and firewire, I'm not sure if the better graphics card makes a difference. As far as I know Photoshop doesn't really use the graphics acceleration much, and with scanning the main thing that makes it slow is moving 150Mb files around, which is a hard disk throughput issue - my MBP is slow doing this, its just life.

I use a PC more than a mac now and don't really see any big difference between Vista and OS X, in your position I would consider a PC as well but maybe that's just me. The new Macbooks are really nice, my girlfriend's just got one.
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Old 04-21-2009   #11
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save for the MBP
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Old 04-21-2009   #12
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Hello.

OK, if you are going to use Lightroom (which I suggest you do) HDD speed can make a fair bit of difference when you don't have too much RAM (which is the first thing to max out). The only external drives I suggest are G-Tech, they are faster than anything else external you can get and built like tanks. They are also cheaper than they should be. I have used almost every make of external over the years, G-Tech are so far beyond anything else.

As for firewire, you can get a firewire to USB 2.0 adaptor, so don't worry about that.

For now do not worry about monitors etc, the one that it comes with will be ok for colour for now. Spend the money on the G-Tech and the RAM and Lightroom. Buy the monitor later as a treat for taking you 100th great photo.

If you need any Mac help or tech help in general let me know, it's what I do.
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Old 04-21-2009   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urban_alchemist View Post
...
1. Firewire. Not only will this be necessary for the Coolscan 9000 (I have one) and any other non-flatbed, it is also a much under-used and underrated protocol. For making continuous backups, Firewire is also necessary as it allows you to make bootable backups of your entire system - something not possible with USB. HardDrives SHOULD be bought with Firewire 800 and then daisy-chained to the scanner (another pro of Firewire).
No argument there, I should use FireWire more myself, actually

Quote:
Originally Posted by urban_alchemist View Post
2. Express Card. This makes your laptop (relatively) future-proof. If some new data connection standard comes out (for instance eSATA), the Express Card slot is pretty much your only way of upgrading.
No experience on this, so cannot comment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by urban_alchemist View Post
3. Graphics Card: I assume you're going to be using Vuescan. And Aperture (or Lightroom). And Photoshop. At the same time. My MacBook Pro with the 9600M active struggles with this. A MacBook wouldn't have a chance.
Strongly disagree here! Use VueScan and PhotoShop for your film workflow, use LightRoom for the digital workflow. When editing a film and digital project, handle the film files first, import them in LR and then edit the digital files to match color, light etc. Then export the whole bunch. No need to run all programs at the same time if you keep the process tidy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by urban_alchemist View Post
If you can't afford the MacBook Pro, I'd steer you away from a laptop altogether. A desktop will be less convenient, but you get much more bang for your buck and it'll let your programs run as you intend.
I have been running a 13" MacBook with Lightroom, Photoshop and Minolta ScanDual software for over a year, just clean up files regularly and have 2Gbs of memory installed and you will do just fine. Mine is still spinning a 5400RPM drive and I have no trouble when using the above approach to film and digital files. Just make sure you save the PSD files from your scans as TIFF before importing them in LR, the PSD files have layers and these slow the whole thing down a lot...
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Old 04-21-2009   #14
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Hello. I bought a macbook last Christmas, initially not for photography but I am gradually using it for everything. I am very pleased with it.

For you the lack of Firewire is an unsolvable problem. Either you get another computer (white macbook+external screen, macbook pro or imac 24) or you get another scanner. I have a Minolta 5400 which has dual wire USB and firewire, but it is a 35mm scanner.

Aside the wirefire, I personally think the macbook pro is not worth the price gap. The different graphic card is not that important, RAM and hard drive space are more important. People swear that the screen of the macbook pro is so much better, but I'd rather save for a external screen. With the money you save not buying the macbook pro you can buy aftermarket 4Gb RAM and a 7200 hard drive (I'd say 320Gb or 500Gb) and a external screen. I have a 19" Eizo monitor bought years ago, if I had to buy now I'd go for a 24" Dell.

As other poster said, normally you would need Vuescan + photoshop for film workflow and lightroom for digital workflow, not everything at the same time. At least this is the way I work.

Something I miss miseably in mac is a powerful photomanager like ACDsee. iPhoto is like a toy to me, perhaps I did not fully grasp its potential.

If you are in a tight budget you could go for a 2nd hand model, possibly not the most recent mac.

Good luck.

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Old 04-21-2009   #15
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Having both an iMac 24 matt screen and a small Macbook glossy, I will tell you a portable is poor in comparison for photo work, for viewing reasons. Functionally it is fine as a computer, but a notebooks have screens that change as the angle of view changes.
Ergonomicaly they are are pain with a small keyboard. Matt/vs glossy has nothing to do with problems.

I love having the portable to take around to show finished pictures and for vacation, but working on one is a pain.

My little MacBook has CS3 and NX installed on it.
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Old 04-21-2009   #16
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I have a macbook. Its pretty slow. The pro is much better. Or if you don't need to portability, go for an imac. If you have the technical know-how and can deal with annoyances of updating you could also go for a hackintosh, which is probably illegal, however, if you at least purchase your copy of Mac OS X, then I don't think it is immoral.
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Old 04-21-2009   #17
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Quote:
Some folks don't see a difference, and in fact if you are simply printing to a desktop printer only a PC might do.
In my case I need a small and light laptop, and Apple don't make one, at least not one with a slot for a lock, which is absolutely essential for anyone who works a lot in national libraries. Thus I have a Thinkpad X61, which I would in no way recommend for photo work as the screen is dismal - I just use it for Word.

I was pretty surprised how good Vista was - it's not as well thought out in the details as OS X, but it's not that bad and most photo software (Lightroom, Photoshop etc.) is available for PC and Mac. It might be at least worth looking to see if a PC is available that has the right specs, given that the OP wants firewire but can't afford a MBP.

About the only thing about PCs that really annoys me is that they don't ever seem to sleep properly when you close the lid, or at least not nearly as quickly and elegantly as a Mac.
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Old 04-21-2009   #18
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The MacBook will be fine.
You can get a cheap adaptor from the Apple store that will allow you to connect firewire devices (such as your scanner) to your MacBook. This is NOT an issue.
I suggest that you use a fast external hard drive for your photos. Then you won't be filling your internal hard drive so quickly. They are cheap these days.
In any case, a 5400 rpm hard drive will work well.
You MacBook monitor will work well provided that you don't intend to edit more than one photo at a time.
So don't worry - you will be fine with the MacBook - no need to save for the MacBook Pro. If you save your money, use it for an external hard drive or a larger monitor, not a MacBook Pro.
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Old 04-21-2009   #19
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By the way, you can boot from USB with the latest Macs.
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Old 04-21-2009   #20
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The macbook has plenty of power to do image editing, and you can always upgrade the hard drive and RAM later. The macbook I use at work is the previous generation (white, 2GHZ, firewire) that's been upgraded to 4GB of RAM and a 7200 RPM drive. It drives a 24 inch monitor for Photopshop work fine.

You can get a usb to firewire hub to use with your 9000: http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProdu...duct_Id=199941

Or you can just buy an external hard drive that does both USB and firewire and use it as a hub.
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Old 04-21-2009   #21
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Quote:
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You can get a usb to firewire hub to use with your 9000: http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProdu...duct_Id=199941
I think that requires a firewire connection to the computer to use the firewire ports.
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Old 04-21-2009   #22
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I had to laugh when I read that... No wire cutters in your part of the world? Or it's just not done?
It's true! The libraries I use are tightly access controlled, so leaving a computer locked up even for a few hours is no problem. At the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin you get given a pass when you go in with a computer and have to present it when you leave, at the British Library there's cameras all over the place and you get searched on leaving the reading rooms - and at both getting a readers card involves bringing lots of ID, having a proper ground for using the library etc. It'd probably be OK leaving a computer without a lock, but I don't want to tempt fate. And those all so essential trips to the cafe for yet more coffee are really annoying if you have to carry a laptop - you can't take bags inside so you have the laptop in one hand, a cup of hot liquid in the other, maybe a crossaint balanced somewhere.... If only Apple had thought of this when they made the Macbook Air

At my normal university library, or indeed anywhere else, on the other hand, I'd never leave my computer unattended locked or unlocked..

Anyway, on topic, I would be wary about using a USB to firewire adaptor for a Coolscan. They are notoriously tricky about the connections - usually daisy chaining them will cause them not to work, and even connected directly to an internal firewire card they can be fussy about the chipset. You would want to at least check it works before you buy an expensive computer and expensive scanner and an adaptor you can't really use for anything else and then find out none of it works together.

Last edited by historicist : 04-21-2009 at 05:15.
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Old 04-21-2009   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric T View Post
The MacBook will be fine.
You can get a cheap adaptor from the Apple store that will allow you to connect firewire devices (such as your scanner) to your MacBook. This is NOT an issue.
I suggest that you use a fast external hard drive for your photos. Then you won't be filling your internal hard drive so quickly. They are cheap these days.
In any case, a 5400 rpm hard drive will work well.
You MacBook monitor will work well provided that you don't intend to edit more than one photo at a time.
So don't worry - you will be fine with the MacBook - no need to save for the MacBook Pro. If you save your money, use it for an external hard drive or a larger monitor, not a MacBook Pro.
Could you post a link to the adapter you are talking about? This is the first post that says anything about me having any chance at using a firewire Coolscan 9000 on the USB-only Aluminum Macbook.
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Old 04-21-2009   #24
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The only upgrade I was planning on getting with the Macbook is 4 gigs of RAM. I am fine with using external hard-drives because when I'm at home, I planned on having the laptop closed and using it like a desktop with an external monitor/mouse/keyboard/speakers.
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Old 04-21-2009   #25
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There's one here:

http://www.usbfirewire.com/uadapters.html

though it kind of suggests its designed for camcorders. I guess there must be others. But seriously, don't go for it unless someone who actually owns this combination tells you it works or you can try it yourself. I have no idea myself, but I do own a Coolscan 8000 and I can say that Nikon specifically say that it should be connected directly to the computer (i.e. no hubs, not daisy chained) and that even when it is connected exactly as they suggest it still sometimes doesn't work.

There is a Yahoo group for owners of the 8000/9000 here:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coolscan8000-9000/summary

it is probably worth asking about the USB-firwire converter there to see if anyone has experience of it.
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