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Thread: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

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    PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Hi!

    Just been told to buy a PC laptop for shooting tethered on location. Must have firewire access for tethering the Aptus II-8, Mac isn't an option (various multiple reasons), screen must be calibrate-able, must have speed to deal with tethered shooting/files that size (hundreds of files a day) and I don't want a huge, heavy monster either as I'll be flying with it as well as the DF, back and lenses.

    Any thoughts? Again sorry but Macbook Pro is not an option (though I agree it's the easiest answer).
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    ...Macbook Pro is not an option (though I agree it's the easiest answer).
    that would be my first choise and also the best one.

    If it must be a Windows machine, I would prefer a Lenovo ThinkPad. Long batterie times, robust design, good service if needed.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Yeah having a look at the W520 at the moment.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Ben, take a look at the Dell Precision M6600 mobile workstation. I've got a much older M6400 that I use when I'm away from my studio. Built like a tank but has all the same features as my Dell 690 (soon to be replace w/T7500 workstation).

    Don
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Don, 17" is just too big!
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    I had a W520 for a few days before I returned it (nothing wrong, they'd just sent the wrong spec machine). Blisteringly fast with the SSD and 32GB RAM, and a great anti-glare screen as well (best I've seen on a laptop). Also USB3, eSata, easily hot-swappable second hard drive / DVD, HDMI and an expresscard port. There's a lot to like. However, as has been my luck I could not get my P45 to tether to the 4 pin firewire port. Everything installed OK, but C1 just wouldn't buy it. In fact I've never got a Windows laptop with 4 pin firewire to tether. So, I bought a 34mm express card FireWire adapter and it worked like a charm in my 6 year old Toshiba. Still sitting on the fence about replacing it - would like to see what Apple bring out in the Spring. Also, if anyone ever produces a thunderbolt to firewire adapter, I think a Macbook Air 11" would make an ideal tethering companion. Either that, or I could win the lottery and buy an IQ180 (note to self: buy lottery ticket).

    Jim

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Ben, seeing as how I like helping others spend their money I took a quick peek at Dell's site. It looks like the M6600 has a little brother with the M4600 Mobile Workstation and 15" screen. Scanning the specs real fast it looks like it's a smaller version of the M6600 with a smaller screen. Good video cards, good choice on displays and full firewire. It also supports up to 32GB RAM (that I wouldn't recommend getting from Dell but go with Cruical.com)

    Just thinking....

    Don
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by f8orbust View Post
    I had a W520 for a few days before I returned it (nothing wrong, they'd just sent the wrong spec machine). Blisteringly fast with the SSD and 32GB RAM, and a great anti-glare screen as well (best I've seen on a laptop). Also USB3, eSata, easily hot-swappable second hard drive / DVD, HDMI and an expresscard port. There's a lot to like. However, as has been my luck I could not get my P45 to tether to the 4 pin firewire port. Everything installed OK, but C1 just wouldn't buy it. In fact I've never got a Windows laptop with 4 pin firewire to tether. So, I bought a 34mm express card FireWire adapter and it worked like a charm in my 6 year old Toshiba. Still sitting on the fence about replacing it - would like to see what Apple bring out in the Spring. Also, if anyone ever produces a thunderbolt to firewire adapter, I think a Macbook Air 11" would make an ideal tethering companion. Either that, or I could win the lottery and buy an IQ180 (note to self: buy lottery ticket).

    Jim
    That's good to know, I'll factor an express card in as standard then

    Don't think I'll go for over 8gb ram, not sure I need it to be honest, even the desktop is fine with 12gb.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post
    Ben, seeing as how I like helping others spend their money I took a quick peek at Dell's site. It looks like the M6600 has a little brother with the M4600 Mobile Workstation and 15" screen. Scanning the specs real fast it looks like it's a smaller version of the M6600 with a smaller screen. Good video cards, good choice on displays and full firewire. It also supports up to 32GB RAM (that I wouldn't recommend getting from Dell but go with Cruical.com)

    Just thinking....

    Don
    I'll look into it Don, are Dell better than the junk they used to be?
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    I'll look into it Don, are Dell better than the junk they used to be?
    I can only speak from personal experience; and say I haven't had any junk from Dell.

    I made the switch from Mac in 2006 to the Precision 690 workstation which has held up fine the past 6-years. I've had to replace the DVD burners last year after they gave up the ghost however other than that the machine has done everything I've ask it to do. I've had my M6400 since early 2009 and it has been just as reliable.

    I have decided to upgrade the 690 to a T7500 and have placed the order for it (won't bore you with the details). While I've had no issues with either Dell I'm not willing to wait until I do and feel 6-years on heavy use is just cutting it too close.

    A couple thing to consider with Dell and this just might be here in the US. While I go on-line to spec the machine out I never order on-line. Instead I call the small business section and go through what I need then wait as they build it with me on-line. It's a PIA to speak with an account rep the first time if you don't know or have one however it'll save you big bucks in the end. I save close to a $1K in the end doing this with the T7500 and got free shipping. Going with the business section I'm also assured that my support at least here in the US is North American and not outsourced.

    The above is slightly off-topic of which laptop however I wanted to let you know my own experience with Dell. They can sometimes get a bad reputation but then I've heard horrid stories on just about everything.

    Regarding memory upgrade. Again, from personal experience that no computer company can beat or is willing to beat the prices offered by Crucial.com. I've used Crucial for many years for memory upgrades and they have by far much better prices. I just called them regarding memory for the new 7500 and they knew me as a small business. This call (my first) set me up with a small discount when ordering on-line just by logging in. The price I saved in the memory is just over 50% of what Dell offered and they wouldn't budge on their price.

    Good luck

    Don
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Pretty sure the M4600 doesn't have powered firewire (here's a pic), just the 4-pin job. Dell aren't exactly forthcoming on their website about this - but the photo clears it up. I've only seen powered firewire on big Windows laptops - 17" screens and above.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Would an express card fix that?
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Would an express card fix that?
    Ben, short answer is while I really don't know I don't see why not.

    Here's some specs on the machine as well as a link to a review with images.

    1-IEEE 1394 (left side)
    2-USB 2.0 (left side)
    1-eSata/USB 2.0 (rear) (Firewire 400)
    2- USB 3.0 (right side)

    Link


    I've no real dog in this fight and it's up to you which laptop/company you use. I'm just attempting to help out where I can.

    Best of luck


    Don
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Many thanks Don! I have to of course see which company had the better support out here, I would have bought a Hasselblad H4D-40 in a second over the DF if it wasn't for the fact that the support here is nothing in comparison to the Leaf support (understandable, they're made about 70 miles away). Better has to be taken in context of pro usage and that is itself location biased.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Yup, an expresscard will allow you to tether no problem. I bought a Best Connectivity Firewire 2-Port 1394a PCMCIA Cardbus Express Card 34mm 400Mbps like this one off eBay (think I paid $15), and it works fine with a P1 back.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    That's good to know, I'll factor an express card in as standard then

    Don't think I'll go for over 8gb ram, not sure I need it to be honest, even the desktop is fine with 12gb.
    I recently bought a well spec'd Lenovo W520. One advantage of the W520 is that it has 4 ram slots so it is very inexpensive to upgrade to 16 gb of ram. I was able to find Corsair Vengance ram on sale which only cost $60 for 4 sticks of 4 gb ram.
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Thanks guys! Just waiting for a quote from the supplier, we don't have a Lenovo online here.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    I have looked into this myself, but have not bought one yet. Since I have started to do CAD I was looking for a laptop with a top graphics card AND that is on par with prepress displays for PS. There are only two options: DELL Precision line with their optional RGB LED display and the HP Elitebook line with their Dreamcolor displays. Both machines seem to be top and cost nearly the same, can be configured with up to 32GB RAM and are very solidly build.
    At the moment I would give the slight edge to the DELL M4600, because they have redesigned their venting system and people say that it stays cool and quite even under load. It has a lot of connections and USB 3 which is nice if you are planning to use with a fast DSLR in future.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Two companies that I've had bad experiences with, HP especially, groan...

    Why not the Lenovo? Same graphics card as the Dell?
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Two companies that I've had bad experiences with, HP especially, groan...

    Why not the Lenovo? Same graphics card as the Dell?
    Customer service for the DELL has a good reputition here in the EU at least for their business line of notebooks. XPS and such notebooks may be a different story.
    Lenovo on the other has gone down and their workstations to not offer a top quality panel option like DELL and HP.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Can you educate me please in the differences between the screens they offer? I'm not really a flat screen guru I'm afraid and would appreciate a primer in how these workstation screens differ, thanks!
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    I am doing this from memory and I am not an expert on this but here it goes.

    DELL and HP will give you an optional IPS screen, which offers better viewing angles than regular screens. They both work with RGB LED technology which means each color channel has its own LED, in contrast to regular white LED backlit panels. This results in a wider color gamut, 100% Adobe RGB, if my memory serves me well.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Question is if I need that level of accuracy to be honest, I'll be balancing colour from colour charts and I'm shooting documents not skin tones. Stuff like wider gamut isn't actually that important for my uses, especially when on the road where all I want is a screen accurate enough to check what I'm doing on the first frame prior to using it as a template for an entire session. I need a good video card for the programs to use as GPU but super accurate screens, not sure. IPS would be useful though, I have to check if Lenovo offer it. Dell do have good service here, lots of research
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Question is if I need that level of accuracy to be honest, I'll be balancing colour from colour charts and I'm shooting documents not skin tones. Stuff like wider gamut isn't actually that important for my uses, especially when on the road where all I want is a screen accurate enough to check what I'm doing on the first frame prior to using it as a template for an entire session. I need a good video card for the programs to use as GPU but super accurate screens, not sure. IPS would be useful though, I have to check if Lenovo offer it. Dell do have good service here, lots of research
    If you do not need color accuracy, then it is another matter of course. For me it is no question, that once I start to budget 2K$ or more for a laptop, I will go all the way. Those people having it say the RGB LED displays are the best feature and wont give it up, speaking night and day difference to other displays.
    Testing still has to be done though as soon as I get a chance.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Battery life on the Dell is significantly below the Lenovo, like between half to a third, it's not enough even to keep me going through a flight. QC also seems to be a bit iffy from web reports which is worrying me on such an expensive machine.
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Battery life on the Dell is significantly below the Lenovo, like between half to a third, it's not enough even to keep me going through a flight. QC also seems to be a bit iffy from web reports which is worrying me on such an expensive machine.
    Yep, maybe two hours for the DELL. But workstations are all like this. Lenovo has longer life cause the proc speed is reduced when it runs on battery, please check it, I am not really sure.
    Buy BIG extra batteries.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Regarding QC; I cannot judge. I have not heared from anyone having to get a Precision replaced.
    One thing I really like about the M4600 is that it has a separate number pad. The whole width is used for the keyboard, something that I really dislike on the Mac ProBooks is how they waste the space.

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    But they look so pretty...
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Turns out I can't get custom built Dell or Lenovo here in Jerusalem and the UK version of the Lenovo doesn't offer the built in calibrator. Very annoying.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

  30. #30
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    Re: PC Laptop for MF tethered shooting

    Gents, I know this is a bit late, but perhaps I can help you. I would make a suggestion for an Alienware. I use an Alienware M18X, and I am about to purchase a new H4D and an expresscard that is powered 1394b/a

    The cons being that they are pricey, and heavy, and battery life is not spectacular are things to consider, BUT the upside is much better than you may think. You literally call these DTRs aka "Desktop Replacements". I am not sure what you shoot, but tethering usually powers the back, and no laptop out there is going to last a whole shoot off the internal battery. i shoot girls, a lot, and in a few weeks, live tigers, so I will be tethered for sure.

    1) no fault warranties, you drop it, they fix it
    2) SOLID! very, very solid
    3) gfx cards that make color calibration and integrate with the Adobe suites very well
    4) power! they have a wide variety of CPU options
    5) expandable, most have dual drive bay options

    Ok, so it may be a bit much but it may spark some interest.

    My rig is 32gb, 256gb (SSD), and a 750gb data drive, 18" monitor.

    I will make a video after next week's shoot and youtube it.

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