Image editing software today is highly processor reliant so the faster your processor, the better. In addition, most image editing software programs are able to take advantage of the multiple core processors that are now available so getting a dual- or quad-core processor for photo editing is a huge plus.
The RAM or memory in every computer can be thought of as the workspace that a CPU uses to do its processing. If there isn’t enough RAM, the computer starts swapping files between the RAM and the hard drive – significantly slowing your computer down. As a rule of thumb, the memory available should be at least 5 times the size of the largest file you intend to edit. Camera manufacturers such as Nikon are now selling 10+ megapixel cameras that produce 16-bit RAW files of around 50MB each. This means your image editing application needs at least 250MB of free memory per image that you want to have open. It’s a good idea therefore to get as much RAM as you can afford. A computer running a 32-bit operating system – read almost all versions of XP and Vista – can take up to a maximum of 4GB of RAM.
Again, with digital cameras now producing images that require tens of megabytes on disk, you’ll soon find your hard drive filling up pretty quickly. Fortunately, hard drives now extend to 1TB (1,000 GB) in capacity so you shouldn’t run out of space too soon. The optimum hard drive set up for a computer that will be used for photography or videography is one hard drive for the operating system and applications and another hard drive or set of hard drives in RAID configuration for your photo files. RAID, which stands for redundant array of independent disks, means two or more hard drives work together to provide data back up as well as significantly increase the read and write speeds. When your photo files are on a separate hard drive from your operating system and application files, it ensures that your image files have the fastest possible pathway to the CPU which edits those files. It also ensures that in the event that your operating system files become corrupt or that this hard drive just stops functioning, your photo files are safe.
Contrary to popular opinion, image editing doesn’t need fast video cards because all the editing is done by the CPU, not the video card. A good budget to mid-range video card should work out just fine. If you are not into gaming or 3D rendering you should think carefully before buying an expensive video card because you are unlikely to ever use its full potential. A fast video card consumes a lot of power and generates a lot of heat – not a good thing in the confined space of a computer case.
All digital cameras use flash memory to store their images. We offer a 28-in-1 flash card reader as standard on every desktop so you should be covered – whatever flash memory you use.