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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > And now for something different. (Help me configure a 'book for a year in FIji)

And now for something different. (Help me configure a 'book for a year in FIji)
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d4nth3m4n
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Dec 25, 2011, 01:39 PM
 
Hey all, it's been a while.

My sister is about to leave for Fiji for a 10 month Fulbright scholarship. She's has an MFA in photography and will be there taking a ton of photos from her 5D in raw. currently she has an early unibody macbook (2ghz core2 duo with 2gb ram), but it's not really cutting it for moving around big raw image files. She's looking to get a new comp with a ~$2k budget. The education store is in play here for pricing.

She was thinking about a mac mini for the bang for the buck factor, but I have since pushed her towards a macbook for many reasons, not the least of which is the inherent UPS provided by a laptops battery.

Factors to consider/questions:
•Wants it fast and able to handle photoshop well.
•Built in storage is not a huge factor, she'll have many external drives- 128GB ssd?
•Is apple RAM still horribly overpriced or is ~$180 for 2x4GB ram reasonable?
•How much performance gains are to be had between the 2.8ghz dual core i7 in the 13" vs. the quad core 2.2ghz in the 15"? (is the 2.4ghz or 2.5ghz bump worth the $$? Video card?)

Also, her current plan for data security is to burn DVDs and mail them home on top of the external drives and about 50GB worth of camera cards. There has been some conversation about "the cloud" is there a site or service which stands above the rest for RAW image file storage? She does have a website with [unknown to me] amounts of storage. The web connection she will have access to is a bit of a mystery.

to bring it all home
What would you change about this?


Any suggestions about maintaining and storing a large amount of data in the tropics?

edit: her site's a bit of a work in progress, the holidays happened.
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Dec 25, 2011, 01:47 PM
 
Put rice in a paper envelope and put it in the bag with anything your storing. Safer and easier to get than those silecone beads.
     
d4nth3m4n  (op)
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Dec 25, 2011, 01:58 PM
 
When we were kids, we lived in [then] western samoa. Our house had a "hot closet" that we stored our cameras and such in. Sounds fancy, but it wasn't anything more than a closet that had an incandescent light bulb on full time.

Basically, the biggest easy-bake oven known to man.
     
johnsou
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Jan 17, 2012, 11:38 PM
 
Looks good to me.. Probably do at least 2 if not 3 backups and keep one in a proper low humidity location
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jan 18, 2012, 07:25 AM
 
I would think the SSD, the video card and quad core CPU would be very nice features for dealing with big images. Aperture will certainly appreciate the GPU.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Eug
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Jan 18, 2012, 06:07 PM
 
Since a single Compact Flash card might be 32 GB or more, especially if she wants to shoot a bit of video, 128 GB gets cramped really, really quickly, esp. because the local disk often may be the intermediary for some stuff.

So you might really want to think hard. Is 128 GB REALLY enough, or would 256 MB be more advisable?

In my case I function well with 128 GB, but I use my laptop very lightly. If I were an aspiring pro photographer though, I'd get 256 GB. Mind you, what I'd probably do is just get the basic 500 GB 5400 rpm platter drive, and then add in a 3rd party 256.

Samsung 470 256 GB costs less than $400

2011 MacBook Air SSD Features the Same Controller as Samsung 470

And then spend another $15 on a 2.5" SATA-USB enclosure to use that stock Apple 500 GB drive as a portable bus-powered USB 2 backup drive.
( Last edited by Eug; Jan 18, 2012 at 06:20 PM. )
     
SierraDragon
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Jan 18, 2012, 08:49 PM
 
- The stronger GPU is of major value if she uses Aperture. If she just uses PS the GPU is much less important; one of the better Sandy Bridge MBAs even works.

- I use a 17" 2011 MBP in an Aperture workflow, RAW+JPEG Nikon D2x files. 128 GB SSD works for a pro photog if Masters (using Aperture) are kept on the external drives. 256 GB SSD of course is better but the cost via Apple increases exponentially; the $100 128 GB Apple SSD choice in high end MBPs is a great bargain.

- I would forget DVDs which suck for image storage (writes are too slow) and instead buy multiple inexpensive camera cards and use them for mailing images back and forth to the USA. Of course original images get saved in Fiji and do not get deleted.

- She needs a portable hard drive to carry her in-process images with her 24/7 in addition to backup at her lodging.

It may sound like I am overstating image backup, but that would be impossible. Photogs are theft targets. Especially offshore it is essential to assume that all your kit not in a hotel safe or under tight immediate personal control will get stolen, ergo one must have appropriate contingency planning for once-in-a-lifetime work product.

One trick I use is to never, ever store shot images with the thief-attracting camera hardware. Cameras can be insured and replaced, while images cannot. Camera cards travel easily in card wallets.

- Remember to have good backup protocol in place at the USA location too; on site and off site hard drives.

- Each photog has different work style, but personally I hate working solely with the laptop display, even though I have a high rez matte 17" display. If she has a Fiji home base and there is any way she can get an external display (I use a $300 Viewsonic VP2365) to Fiji it would be very helpful, and also potentially allows smaller sized laptop choices.

- She should have multiple fast camera card readers, because they do fail. Avoid direct camera-to-computer images transfer.

HTH

-Allen
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jan 18, 2012 at 09:19 PM. )
     
Eug
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Jan 20, 2012, 11:04 AM
 
Note, I'm just a rank amateur but...

Heh. I have multiple flash readers, but I actually went out an bought a FW800 Compact Flash reader. It's amazing how tedious it can get waiting for a cheap USB 2 flash reader to download 16 GB of images and video from a flash card. Downloads over FW800 are around 70 MB/s in my setup. I'll be happy when Apple gets some USB 3 ports, as USB 3 flash readers are available now and coming down in price.

- I would forget DVDs which suck for image storage (writes are too slow) and instead buy multiple inexpensive camera cards and use them for mailing images back and forth to the USA. Of course original images get saved in Fiji and do not get deleted.
Hmm... Interesting idea, but that would require someone in the USA downloading from them and then sending them back.

I used Blu-ray myself as a secondary backup medium sometimes, but only recently has decent media come down to more reasonable prices to make this feasible. The disks hold 25 GB, are burnable in 1/2 an hour, and then they can simply be put into a disc album in the cupboard.
( Last edited by Eug; Jan 20, 2012 at 11:18 AM. )
     
SierraDragon
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Jan 20, 2012, 12:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
...that would require someone in the USA downloading from them and then sending them back.
My guess is the OP would be happy to provide that service.

-Allen
     
d4nth3m4n  (op)
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Jan 23, 2012, 12:16 PM
 
Ah, thanks guys, I'd kinda figured this thread had just died off. Wouldn't be the first time.

Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
- The stronger GPU is of major value if she uses Aperture. If she just uses PS the GPU is much less important; one of the better Sandy Bridge MBAs even works.

...

HTH
This is a good post, thanks!

One [semi-philisophical] question she raised- From our experience in the south pacific (granted 20 years ago) we found that theft was somewhat common, but mostly for small items (for instance, the flip flops outside our house). With that in mind, when considering backpacks, should she get a ratty one which looks like there's nothing of value in it (BUT raising the potential of petty theft) or the most blingin' pro-caliber backpack which conveys value to imply greater consequence if it is stolen?

Also: I suggested she get to know These guys. She'll be staying in suva, and surely they'll know about how to deal with the humidity and conditions, if not a secure backup location. One of the ways to endear herself I thought of was to purchase the MBP from them.
     
   
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