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DiverPam

Lightest, smallest computer that runs lightroom

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I would tell anyone that they should get a minimum of 4 gigs of ram. Apple ram is very hi quality but is also expensive. When I buy a new computer I get it with the least amount of ram I can and then order the ram I want from Crucial. Ramjet is also good. Both companies make very high quality ram and are considerably less expensive. I have never had a problem with any of the ram cards I have ever purchased or was given.

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Since the wetpixel upgrade, the posts over the last few days are gone. So wanted to update you ....I did it! Finally ordered my laptop. I got an Asus 11.6" Zenbook Ultrabook, i7 processor, 4 GB memory and 128 SSD, Windows 7 OS.

 

I decided to go with the 11" screen after comparing them side by side in the store. There was just enough difference for me in the comparison to make it worth it for travel. Since this is not my primary computer and for travel, I felt this fit my with my original requirements well. My eyes are actually uncrossed now...have not looked at computer specs in a few days.

 

I could not have done this without all of your help and input. Your information has been invaluable to me during this process. Thanks for putting up with my questions. Now just waiting on UPS to arrive with my new laptop.

 

Happy diving and photography - Pam

 

 

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Thanks for the (restored) update. My Surface Pro 128G arrives soon, and I've verified Lightroom's license permits 2 installs per copy; its never been anywhere but my desktop so that'll be about the first thing I load to the Surface. After the obligatory playing around with the new toy period....

 

(I actually got tired of waiting for mine to arrive and went to a local Best Buy to check them out earlier this week, and they had three of the 64GB versions left...after playing a while there I bought one and presented it to the wife. Only about 30GB available storage, but that can be bumped a tad by moving the recovery stuff all to a USB drive, and with a 64 GB microSD card she's back to a respectable 100GB storage for her purposes -- mostly Office, continuous donations to the iTunes Borg Collective, Netflix and social media. She'd probably have been OK with the RT, but I wanted the flexibility of a 'real' Windows computer for her just in case. Expensive way to soften the opposition to my getting a new toy... but she's very happy with it so far. The screen is pretty amazing, frankly, for the size, and the soft touchtype cover really does work despite no 'tactile' feedback (moving keys). I'm quite impressed and looking forward to my own.)

Edited by rtrski

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@DiverPam: The ASUS Zenbook 11.6" is a great little Laptop ( Ultrabook). Congrats!

 

I am very happy with mine so far!

 

/Erik

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Update on using the Surface Pro for a Lightroom engine (128 GB version). The short version: it works, probably acceptably for travel use, but its a bit slow / small to be really satisfying for that purpose beyond travel use.

 

First the upsides.

  • Screen is superb, crisp, good color gamut, and appears well calibrated out of the box.
  • Comes with a stylus which makes for a quite useful tablet-mode 'mouse' substitute to do editing without requiring a bluetooth mouse. The touchpad on the touch keyboard also works better than I was lead to believe from reviews. But the stylus is really nice - the capacitive sensor in the screen is sensitive enough to the stylus that you get a floating cursor indication just holding the stylus near (and that also turns off finger gestures, so if a finger intrudes into the edge of the screen it's not registered as another touch for a pinch gesture or whatnot). One thing this makes possible is 'closing' both sidebars in Lightroom by default, because just hovering the stylus near them activates the auto-open so a single click on a setting, then move away, and you can use all the screen real estate for the image being edited (although I do tend to leave the current batch filmstrip across the bottom open as well).
  • Ditto for the touch keyboard itself - despite being a nonmoving keyboard (no actual button mechanism) you do have enough of a ridged texture for a tactile feedback that your fingers are on the keys, and it works surprisingly well, even ignoring palm rests but still registering finger taps. Any errors I have with the keyboard are more related to the fact that it's small and I'm used to a full-size keyboard I fly on at work, so I tend to 'overthrow' my fingers and hit for example backspace or backslash when I was after "=" or "Enter". For those who must have tactile motion response, the 'typepad' exists, but after playing with one in the store, I found it didn't help me any compared to the touch cover.
  • The WiFi does work fine with the Patriot Node enclosure I also bought, letting me move pics to and from an 256 GB SSD wirelessly instead of being limited to storage 'on' the device directly. The micro SDXC card slot also works with a 32 GB card, but I configured mine as a virtual hard drive that automounts and that slows down storage to it (I did the dynamically resizable VHD option, which is slower at runtime and also required NTFS vs. exFAT which shortens life a little bit perhaps). Overall storage "on" the 128GB Surface Pro with the 32 GB card is on the order of 110-115 GB (the 128 GB is really only about 120GB since they call 1e9 bytes = 1GB, you lose about 28GB to the OS and programs plus the recovery partition, which I chose not to delete although I did make a USB recovery drive, then add the card back in with a little overhead held back on it as well for errors.
  • The included full-size USB3 port is nicely fast, letting me use a very compact (Kingston Mobilite G3) card reader to get photos off the camera, or if your camera supports USB3 you could do it via cabling.
  • Charges nice and fast, about 60-90 min, included charger hardware is nice and small (and 110-240V capable), and includes a USB port to charge additional accessories as well. Far smaller than the typical laptop charger bricks I was used to.
  • Although compared to a true tablet the Surface Pro is thicker and heavier, I found no difficulties using it handheld in tablet mode for as long as the battery held out to do so. It never got unacceptably warm while processing images, and the fan noise through the sort of hidden 'ridge vent' that circles the perimeter was never intrusive to me. (I did play a game that really taxed the video capabilities to hear what it's like at full bore, and it does become audible then, but never hit that level of thermal load running Lightroom.)
  • I've had no errors of any kind running Lightroom 4.3 (have not yet loaded 4.4). The Surface Pro is running full Windows 8 so I shouldn't have expected any, but it probably does have kind of a unique driver load.

Downsides:

  • Although this is a multicore i5 processor, with 4GB RAM, processing is a little slower than I would like. I chalk this up to the integrated graphics. Probably fast enough for travel where luggage space is a premium, but if I'm not travelling I can tell I'll be going to the 'real' desktop vs. doing editing while sitting in an armchair downstairs, beyond perhaps just initial tagging and keywording.
  • The overall form factor is smaller than I thought it would be, once you start using it. (Which is funny, because the biggest negative review of the Surface Pro seems to be that its too big to be a 'real' tablet.) The screen resolution is fabulous, but that means the interface text is TINY. And sometimes trying to get the stylus right on the one or two pixel border to drag and reshape the toolbar area is a serious effort, like playing that game "Operation" on a touchscreen! I suspect an 11" laptop use would have some of the same frustration.
  • Although the Surface Pro is billed as having a full Wacom-like pressure sensitive digitizer and stylus....its not really pressure sensitive for Adobe products right now, only a couple of Microsoft apps. Basically they rolled their own, vs. truly using the Wacom drivers. They claim that feature is coming....but updates on a timeline have been few and far between. Promised since about early Feb with the actual launch and still no known release date.
  • Battery life is a bit shorter than I'd like while processing images. I'd say I got 2-3 hrs of really solid use before I needed to plug in. Probably enough for travel, any longer than that and I'd prop it on a table with the kickstand and have a keyboard on it, which means I'd also not mind finding an outlet.
  • Which brings me to the kickstand angle when using it in 'laptop' mode on a tabletop. I find it holds the screen just a tad to close to vertical for my comfortable viewing. I'm 6'2", fairly long in the body vs. the legs, so my 'seated height' has me kind of looking down on it more than I want. I do wear bifocals so at least looking thru the bottom portion of my glasses works, but I keep wanting to push it further away from me on a desk or table of typical height than I feel is comfortable (for keyboard and touchpad access) to make the viewing angle feel better. Makes me hunch down to get lower and cock my head back when using it this way, which of course is bad for the posture (especially in evenings between dives, since I tend to get a little stiff-necked from tipping my head back trying to get my face against my (Ike) housing viewfinder port on dive trips already...this might accelerate the purchase of a 45 deg viewfinder :pardon: ).
  • This might be more a Win8 complaint in general, but "Libraries" such as photos or music won't let you add directories on 'removable' drives to the automatically searched locations that builds its database. Yet they consider a USB3 thumbdrive 'not removable', but the SDXC slot...is not??? Of the two, on a tablet formfactor, I'd tend to see a thumbdrive as a way more temporary attachment to a microSD completely hidden in an internal slot! So to include photos on the SDXC in your library, you have to hack around that limitation: create a VHD (virtual hard drive) file on the SDXC, set up an auto-mount on boot task to mount it, and you can assign that 'drive' as a location to search for the library databasing. Silly and counterproductive, since the VHD file requires reformatting the card to NTFS vs. the exFAT that microSD cards prefer. This only matters because you are sort of storage limited on the Surface Pros, and I for one would rather put all my music (about 11GB, just encoded as middle-of-the-road bitrate WMA) on the SDXC to leave the onboard SSD available for programs and documents and the like.
  • Windows 8 is kind of schitzophrenic with being all touchy-feely-swipey-pinchy in "app" mode, but not so much in 'desktop mode'. Lightroom of course operates from the desktop mode. Some gestures do sort of seem to work (pinch to zoom being one) but seem laggy. I think I'll use this less as a 'touchscreen' and more as if my stylus is a mouse, since you can both left-tap and right-tap with it (side button on stylus makes a tap act as a mouse 'rightclick'). This isn't a complaint specific to the Surface Pro, but I'd sure like to see Adobe adding a lot more gestural features to improve the usability model for touchscreens (or Windows 8 blurring the line between App and Desktop operations...either way).
  • In 'desktop' mode the onscreen keyboard (accessed with a little taskbar button quite efficiently) 'overlays' the desktop. Wish Win8 would let you rotate the Surface Pro into 'portrait' mode and just 'shrink' the desktop to say a 4:3 aspect ratio that fills the top portion of the screen, and put the onscreen keyboard BELOW that space. So keyword entry, filename entry, etc. while using Lightroom on the Surface in 'tablet' mode (no attached keyboard) means temporarily obscuring the screen and losing the flow. If I could use the whole 9:16 screen real-estate (in portrait) as a 4:3 desktop or even a square 1:1 desktop, I'd still have quite acceptable resolution and plenty of space for the keyboard on screen below.

 

I don't regret the purchase at all, I find I'm using it a lot to surf the web and such downstairs with the wife while she watches her shows, where I would otherwise have retreated to the upstairs desktop. I look forward to bringing it on my dive trip in a couple of weeks and using it on a liveaboard - I think the smallness of it will make it viable whereas I wasn't even planning on trying to do any photo triage if I was restricted to our older 15.7" boat anchor HP Pavilion laptop. (My last photo trip I just bought an 8GB SD card for each day's shooting so a flood wouldn't cost me anything but that day's images, and did only basic chimping/pruning in camera, holding all post and showoff to after the trip.) I won't feel like a table hog in the galley at all, since I can use it in tablet mode. We can also use it as a personal DVD player (32GB USB3 memory stick holds plenty of movie selections) in our cabin. I'm also strongly debating not bringing my Kindle and just using this to read on, even though I've always said I don't want to "read" an LCD, I like the e-ink.

 

 

I'll post any updates after that trip, if it significantly modifies my opinion in either direction, but right now I'd suggest to those who are SERIOUS about wanting to do Lightroom processing on trips - maybe wait and see what the next Surface Pro model looks like vs. this first one, and see if the expected spec bump (and evolution of W8) are 'there yet'. Or consider one of the actual ultrabook laptops. The current model seems like its just a bit too far to one side the size vs. functionality curve to satisfy all but the most space-frugal.

Edited by rtrski

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Nice review!

 

I am of the opinion that the graphics have nothing to do with the speed of Lightroom. I do use the internal graphics on my i7-desktop ( and too much RAM). It is blazing fast with LR4, even with my D800 photos. ( Some filters in Photoshop uses the Graphics. ) I decided against external graphics, due to higher noise levels.

The processors in the portables are nowadays mainly the ULV ( Ultra Low Voltage) versions. The performance are a bit lower, but the battery life longer.

I believe that LR mainly needs a fast Processor and secondly RAM.

 

I am bringing the ASUS Zenbook 11.6" on a photo vacation soon. I am interested how I will find that it deals with the huge D800 RAW files. My tests at home looks good. The downside on it is that it is impossible to increase the RAM.

 

/Erik

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Yeah, I have the same RAM issue with the Surface Pro - no expandability. There's also a new driver download for the graphics card that might let me tweak performance a bit more. I'll see if that makes any difference, and I did throttle my CPU to 95% of 'max' performance when plugged in, 85% when unplugged, to help thermal reliability, so I was artificially hobbling myself a little.

 

I tend to agree with you that Lightroom should be more memory/CPU limited than graphics card limited, but the (don't call it "Aero" anymore) Windows desktop rendering engine since Vista treats even windows as 2D pictures in a 3D rendered plane, has window frame transparency capability, etc. I found a page that suggested Lightroom 4.1 wasn't coded for GPU-acceleration, and haven't found anything newer than that to suggest 4.4 is either, but there might still be some influence from the fact that your RAM is shared with the integrated graphics. The only other suggestions I've found for speedup involve tweaking the cache memory for Lightroom some, which I haven't tried yet either.

 

My tests were with shots from my Sony A99 also which is 24 MP, all RAW files. My underwater camera remains the A55 though at a much smaller file size.

 

I think I'll be satisfied for the trip, but some of my earlier posts about the S-Pro were kind of 'enthusiastic' so I wanted to temper those a little with the review. Of course anyone who makes a toy purchased based on some other anonymous idiot's postings had already made up their mind and was just looking for agreement, but at least my conscience is clear. :crazy: Maybe this thread can morph into some settings suggestion to optimize Lightroom use now that we've selected fairly aggressively small and lightweight systems of various flavors....

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Hello, I am new to this forum and I have a similar question. I am a photographer. I've recently upgraded my Lightroom and Photoshop and my 5 year old computer is suffocating. I am thinking of buying a new model that will fly with the new image processing tools. The performance and reliability is my preference. I don't know which is better - a desktop or a laptop. If the laptop I don't have any preference to its weight since I am mostly going to use it in the office. All my applications are Windows based, but from this thread I understood it shouldn't be a problem to switch to Mac if that is the only option I have. I am not extremely technical, also I've changed hard drives, a fan and RAM a few times. My preference is the fully assembled unit with the OS installed. What would this nice community recommend for me? Thank you!

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When I first had my Mac, I was running Lightroom and Photoshop CS4 on Windows within the Mac until I got Lightroom and Photoshop CS5 for the Mac.

 

VirtualBox is what's known as a virtual machine. You could actually run any operating system you want inside it. I happen to have Windows 7 64-bit running. You will need to install Windows inside VirtualBox which means you need the Windows DVD and license key which you hopefully have from your existing machine.

 

Andy

 

There isn't really "Lightroom for Mac" since the same license key will unlock either version. So if LR is your only concern, switching is easy. I suspect if you are on Adobe CC, the same is true.

 

The Mac hardware and OS really is nice, but there are reasons to stay with PC.

Edited by Vondo

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Below are the "official" Adobe Lightroom system requirements (which I got from the B&H site).

 

What are your thoughts about these requirements given Pam (and my) need for a fast and super light weight traveling computer (or MAC) that can run Lightroom. Do these requirements need to be enhanced to make the SW run efficiently? What do these systems REALLY need? (ie: what processor, how much RAM, etc.. I'm not sure about PAM but I'll be taking 16+/- mp RAW photos and I will be on a liveaboard.

 

 

Mac OS:

Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support

Mac OS X v10.6.8 or v10.7

2.0 GB of RAM

1.0 GB of available hard-disk space

1024 x 768 display

DVD-ROM drive

Internet connection required for Internet-based services

My Mac with 4 GB of RAM *really* bogs down when making 1:1 previews in LR. Basically becomes unusable while it's doing that because it swaps out everything else. So if I could start that process and then go to dinner, I could use the machine again when it's done. I'd suggest 8 GB for LR if at all possible (and I put 16 GB in my desktop).

 

The DVD-ROM is completely unnecessary. You can download the Lightroom trial edition and then just type in the License key. I own the DVDs of LR2/3/4/5 and I suspect only #2 has ever come out of the case.

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Hello, I am new to this forum and I have a similar question. I am a photographer. I've recently upgraded my Lightroom and Photoshop and my 5 year old computer is suffocating. I am thinking of buying a new model that will fly with the new image processing tools. The performance and reliability is my preference. I don't know which is better - a desktop or a laptop. If the laptop I don't have any preference to its weight since I am mostly going to use it in the office. All my applications are Windows based, but from this thread I understood it shouldn't be a problem to switch to Mac if that is the only option I have. I am not extremely technical, also I've changed hard drives, a fan and RAM a few times. My preference is the fully assembled unit with the OS installed. What would this nice community recommend for me? Thank you!

 

If you are never going to take the laptop out of the office, why spend the money for portability, battery, etc.

 

Do you have a monitor you can re-use? If so, no need to buy a new one.

 

I'll tell you what I just did. I got rid of a 4-year old PC (pretty beefy at the time) in it's big case, etc. and replaced it with a MacMini. I got the fully tricked out Mac with 2.6(7) GHz CPU and the 1 TB Fusion drive. I didn't buy the Apple memory because it's expensive and installing your own is dead simple (sounds like you've done that). This machine is really snappy. Raw CPU power for LR rending is probably 50% higher than I had before, but the fusion (combo SSD/regular hard drive) makes so many things so quick.

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Thank you, Starfish! I do have a nice Samsung Monitor which I would like to continue using. I will look into Mac you've recommended.

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Vondo, Thank you for this info. I think, these requirements are the bare minimum. I have Intel Core Quad and 7 GB RAM (miscalculated what I need for upgrade :)) and I am snoring when processing a wedding (hundreds of images). My Mark II produces big files and I need something powerful to fly thru the processing.

 

I bought my PC with Windows installed, and I didn't have any software DVD to go with it. Do you or anybody on this forum know how to get the installation Key for Windows in such case?

 

thank you all very much!

Vlada

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Follow-up on my Asus Zenbook. I have now had it on three dive trips since the end of May. Based on my original requirements, it works great. It is light and easily fits almost anywhere I need it to go (and does not feel like I am carrying around a boat anchor anymore). I knew the screen size was going to be small, and I have adjusted to that when traveling. Just know that I can use my larger monitor when I come home for the full on review of my pics. The speed at which it can download my pics is nice and fast, and I can also multitask fairly easy while it is doing this. I can use LR for some editing while it is downloading/backing up my pics. I carry a slim external hard drive with me and that works nicely to store my pics so that my laptop does not get clogged up with all those raw files.

 

One downside so far....I have found that I tend to edit pics in LR a little bright on the road with this laptop. Do not know if this is my screen calibration or not. Will do one in the next week and see what happens. Alex noticed this during Digital Madness last week. What I was seeing on my laptop and what the pic would look like on another computer would be a little brighter than I would like. Going to work on this issue.

 

Would highly recommend this little gem for travel. Happy diving everyone - DiverPam

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Vondo, Thank you for this info. I think, these requirements are the bare minimum. I have Intel Core Quad and 7 GB RAM (miscalculated what I need for upgrade :)) and I am snoring when processing a wedding (hundreds of images). My Mark II produces big files and I need something powerful to fly thru the processing.

 

I bought my PC with Windows installed, and I didn't have any software DVD to go with it. Do you or anybody on this forum know how to get the installation Key for Windows in such case?

 

thank you all very much!

Vlada

It sounds to me like you may need a serious desktop. Of course, a 5-year old quad core is going to be smoked by a new quad core, but maybe not by enough. You'll be hard pressed to find a laptop that's much faster than the Mac mini I mention. Unfortunately from Apple the next step up is an iMac which comes with a built in screen and a higher price tag. Unfortunately they don't offer a true desktop without screen until you get to the Mac Pro machines.

 

Re: your Windows license, it's quite possible it is restricted to the single PC you got it with and cannot be legally used on another computer.

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