new computer or new video card needed?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by louise, May 13, 2007.

  1. louise

    louise Guest

    I've just purchased my first DSLR (Nikon D40X) and I'm
    shooting in RAW. I am using Capture NX to do intial
    adjustments to the raw image and then saving it as a tiff.
    I then open the tiff in CS3 and continue editing.

    So, Capture NX, CS3, Outlook and Firefox are usually open.
    And my computer is moving between Capture NX and CS3 very
    very slowly, pictures are being drawn slowly and changes are
    previewed....slowly. It is only slightly better if I close
    Outlook and Firefox - it is still slow enough to be
    frustrating for any quantity of work.

    I want to emphasize that everything works, but it is slow
    and I am constantly waiting for large files to open and to
    adjust to changes. I find the transition from Capture NX to
    opening the tiff in CS3 to be extremely slow.

    I don't know whether I really need a new computer, or
    whether it is simply that my graphics card isn't up to the
    tasks I am now presenting to it. Here are the specs:

    P4, 3.2 with 2 gig of ram and an Asus Motherboard. Large
    seagate hard drive with plenty of space.

    The video card is a Saphire Radeon 9600 Pro Atlantic with
    128 meg of memory in the AGP 8x slot of an Asus P4C800E
    Deluxe motherboard.

    Do I need a new computer with a much faster processor, or is
    the the video card the main bottleneck? If the video card
    is the bottleneck, do I get another AGP 8X with 256 meg of
    ram or do I get a regular PCI card and not use the AGP slot
    at all? I do have an open PCI slot. What specs should I
    look for in a card?

    I am hoping that a new video card will take care of the
    slowness for another year when I will feel more ready to buy
    a new computer. But if not....then it will have to be sooner.

    Thoughts, opinions, suggestions, etc., all very welcome.


    louise, May 13, 2007
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  2. louise

    Paul Furman Guest

    CS3 is a hog with 10MP. You'll probably get better advice on a photoshop
    group like, You can
    check ctl-al-delete Task Manager, Performance tab to see if it's a CPU
    or page-file hard disk problem for lack of RAM. Clear your history if
    you are doing lots of edits, assign a separate partition or drive for CS
    paging. CS3 is annoyingly slow but not quite as bad as you describe
    perhaps on my 5 year old laptop Pentium M 1.5 ghz with 1GB RAM and a jam
    packed hard drive. I went back to CS1.
    Paul Furman, May 13, 2007
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  3. Wayne J. Cosshall, May 13, 2007
  4. louise

    Avery Guest

    My system, Win 2000, P4 @ 1.4Gig (yes really), I Gig memory and an
    old Matrox video card , in PS CS2 will open a 30 meg TIFF file in
    about 2 seconds. A 12 meg RAW from the camera takes about 15 seconds.

    Your system should be faster than that.

    Perhaps the only deifference is that I have all my system and program
    files on a fast SCSI drive and all the data files (and PS swap files )
    on separate ATA drives.

    I don't think you need a new system, but perhaps a second hard drive.
    Avery, May 13, 2007
  5. louise

    Ron Recer Guest

    Try disabling your antivirus software. When I bought a new laptop it came
    with what the store said was a super antivirus program, PC-cillin. It was
    super alright, thought every photo file was a potential virus and had to
    check them all before opening/processing them. I use a Canon 10D and use
    RAW for everything. With the PC-cillin antivirus software running it took
    28 seconds or more to convert, process and save a raw image to a tiff,
    without the PC-cillen antivirus software runnung it usually takes 13-14
    seconds to convert, process and save a raw image and I have McAfee antivirus
    software running.. The PC-cillin antivirus is no longer on my laptop!

    Ron Recer, May 13, 2007
  6. I have the same combination and also have a Core2Duo E6600. Both have
    2GB RAM. The operating speeds with CS3 and Lightroom are virtually
    identical on the two systems. It's just that processing 10MP files is
    slow, period.
    Oliver Costich, May 13, 2007
  7. louise

    babaloo Guest

    Your computer is adequate but you are asking alot of it.
    Two gbs of RAM is adequate and, in fact, adding more in XP will dent your
    pocketbook more than improve performance.
    NX, PS and CS3 hog both memory (RAM, swap file/scratch disk) and system
    resources (the bits any OS uses to keep track of what it is doing, which are
    finite). 10mp images quickly swell to 50mbs or more depending on how many
    layers and filters you are using.
    You are on the right track about shutting down un-necessary background
    programs and processes: that is the main software configuration change you
    can make that will yield a tangible improvement. Virus programs and
    firewalls should not be a problem but might be.
    If you do not have at least two physically separate hard drives plugged into
    the motherboard then get a second and configure properly for use as a
    Windows Swap/photoshop scratch file. There are many source of info about
    this, including Adobe.
    If you want to upgrade the tasks you are trying to do call out for a dual
    core processor. Although each core may be slower than your PIV the OS can
    assign programs to alternate processors and some CS3 processes, but not the
    whole program, are multithreaded. Even with a dual core processor you still
    need at least two hard drives. The same RAM limits apply: XP really cannot
    use more than 2gbs effectively.
    Whatever you do, do not get Vista (or any 64 bit OS). Although MS claims
    32bit Vista can use 4gbs of RAM Vista is slower, buggy and there is a claim
    out there that every time Vista gives you the screen blankout, which it does
    every time you move a file or do some other innocuous chore, Vista unloads
    the monitor calibration data. Easy to reinstall but what a pain.
    babaloo, May 13, 2007

  8. I use CS3 on a similar spec PC to work on TIFF & RAW files taken with my
    Canon 400d and dont notice significant slowdown at all...and my memory is
    1gb to your 2gb.
    Perhaps you have too many 'hidden' applications working in the background?
    the_niner_nation, May 13, 2007
  9. louise

    RichA Guest

    Capture NX and CS are both intensive users of process and memory.
    Ever listen to the hard drive when NX is used? It goes mad. I think
    they should come out with programs stripped down to the photographic
    essentials and engineered for speed.
    RichA, May 13, 2007
  10. louise

    Neil H. Guest

    I doubt that your graphics card is the problem. I think the Radeon 9600 Pro
    is a very good card for what you're doing. And your computer specs sound as
    though you have plenty of processing power and memory.

    Forget about a graohics card for your PCI slot. Most if not all new
    computers use PCI Express for the graphics card, but PCI Express is entirely
    different from the standard PCI slots that you have, which are significantly
    slower than AGP. Since you have AGP, you surely do not have PCI Express. The
    real-world advantage of PCI Express 16x over AGP 8x is trivial anyway.

    My guess is that the slowness you're experiencing is due mostly to using
    those 10Mp RAW files. I'm assuming that you had no similar problem with
    digital photos before you got the D40x -- is that correct? But I don't have
    a 10Mp SLR, rarely if ever shoot RAW, use the older Nikon Capture 4 and
    don't use any flavor of Photoshop, so I can't really put myself in your

    Do you have any such problems when shooting JPEG?

    Neil H., May 13, 2007
  11. louise

    Fritto Misto Guest

    Just shoot JPEG and things will arrange themselves.
    Fritto Misto, May 13, 2007
  12. louise

    Colin_D Guest

    Forget the video card, it's not the problem here. And a 3.2GHz P4 with
    2 gigs of ram should be enough to handle most things. Does your hard
    drive thrash a lot while you're working? If so, it's a sure sign that
    the memory, all 2 gigs of it, is full enough that the paging, or swap,
    file is being used to hold the overflow from memory.

    CS3, like all PS software can be a memory hog. Go into Preferences and
    find out how much memory it is reserving for files - usually about half
    of available memory, so that can chew up about a gig for you, leaving
    only a gig for all the other programs and data you have loaded. You can
    reduce the amount reserved, depending on what you want PS3 to do. If
    you only open one image file at a time in PS, then it's senseless to
    reserve a gig just for that. I'd reduce it to maybe 250k up to 500k
    max, freeing another half a gig or more.

    The other main memory user could be Capture, if it holds all your images
    in memory. I don't know that it does, and it shouldn't, but check for
    that. A card full of raw images all converted into memory space can
    soak up a lot of memory. A hundred images at 18 MB apiece is 1800 MB,
    or 1.8 GB. If that's happening, write them to disk and close Capture
    before proceeding.

    You can use Task manager (Ctrl-Alt-delete) to see your memory usage.
    Have that running minimized when you load up the various programs, and
    you may get an idea of what is doing the memory hogging. Task manager
    puts a small green bar graph at the bottom right of your screen. Dull
    green is available memory, bright green is used memory. Shows you at a
    glance how much memory is being used at any time.

    Colin D.
    Colin_D, May 13, 2007
  13. louise

    louise Guest

    The disk is 300 gig and there 72 gig are used. Virtual
    memory is set for 3069 for intial and max - in other words,
    the same.

    How do I set the amount of disk space used for CS3 swap?


    louise, May 14, 2007
  14. louise

    louise Guest

    I'd like to be able to keep this computer for another year.
    I will look into a second hard drive since I only have one
    SATA drive and I have the capacity for several.

    Can you recommend a good site to explain about
    swap/photoshop scratch drive?


    louise, May 14, 2007
  15. louise

    louise Guest

    You're correct that when shooting jpg and going directly
    into Photoshop, even CS3, there is minimal slowdown. But
    what I have been doing is starting with Capture NX for RAW
    and then using Capture to "open in" (file/open in) CS3 and
    then I'm saving as a tif and continuing my editing is

    At this point, Capture NX and CS3 are both open - I'm
    realizing from reading everyone's answers that this may be
    asking too much of my system and that it would be worth
    closing Capture and reopening it when I'm ready to work on
    the next picture.

    louise, May 14, 2007
  16. Hit the nail on the head. With both open with a photo, right click on the
    task bar, open the task manager and choose the performance tab. Look at
    your physical memory usage.
    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!), May 14, 2007
  17. louise

    Roger (K8RI) Guest

    I've been following this thread and have a question and a couple of

    First, Why use capture? I do all my conversions in Photoshop.
    Running both programs at once should really slow a single core
    processor down, particularly when both use a lot of CPU cycles/power
    This sounds like page file swapping. That means you are using a lot of
    resources you don't need to be using. Even using a Nikon LS5000ED
    scanner and film strips of 5 or 6 negatives with Vuescan feeding
    Photoshop I see no slow down in VueScan, (or Nikon Scan if I use that
    one), PhotoShop, and the transfer between them. Prior to going from
    one Gig to two gigs of RAM I did. With the input from my D70 I simply
    copy or move the files to a folder on the hard drive (not the same one
    as PhotoShop or VueScan) and then run either Photoshop or Paint Shop
    Pro XI. Photoshop can do the conversion from a NEF or TIF in 3 to 5
    seconds including loading the file when set up as a macro.
    Why not just open the file in CS3?
    The graphics card should have nothing to do with it, particularly with
    static images. It is only concerned with rendering the one, static
    image so you should have plenty of video memory as well as speed.
    Only one parallel hard drive might be one of the bottle necks even if
    it is an ATA 133. That's about 1 Gbs transfer rate which your FSB can
    easily handle even if it is about a third of the new SATA drives.
    (It's fast enough to handle them too) You really need your swap file
    on a different hard drive from the app.
    This mother board has a front side buss of 800 MHz and DDR-400 memory
    which with 2 Gigs should be far more than sufficient. The machine
    beside this one is running an Athlon 3.4 Gig XP Plus with a true core
    speed of only 1.8 Gig and it does just fine IF I don't run too many
    apps at the same time. Your CPU is almost twice that fast. This one
    is a dual core FX62 running over 3 Gig core speed with SATA drives and
    16 meg cache capable of close to 3 Gbs transfer rates and I do notice
    it being quite a bit faster when loading NEFs, converting them to
    TIFFs, resizing, and then saving. Photoshop uses both cores at the
    same time in this case. I think the D40 uses a different format than
    NEF, but I'd not expect that to be a problem.
    Basically my opinion is all of the above.
    "My guess" is you may have a configuration problem coupled with too
    many unneeded apps running in the background and possibly even in the
    foreground. You only need to step across the boundary to page file
    swapping the tiniest bit and things will appear to be stuck in

    One of the things I did get rid of was Norton's "auto protect" which
    I've found to be a real resource hog. Another is built in the error
    reporting. I've forgotten the name of the windows app, but that thing
    starts an error report every time it thinks an app isn't finishing up
    when it should and that slows things even more.

    Another thing I'd try is to run clean up.
    It's free and effective and they do ask for donations if you like it.
    (Disclaimer, I do not know them and have no association with the
    product other than liking it), HOWEVER make sure you have all of your
    passwords listed so IF they should disappear you can get back where
    you were. Also it will clean cookies up and if you use cookies to
    remember logins you may have to log in again. Follow the directions
    carefully. The first time I ran it on this machine it freed up over 5
    Gigs of disk space and I'd only been using the machine about a month.

    I've had no problems with it, but they do warn all prospective users
    about using programs to clean up computers.

    If you've not cleaned out your temp files and other stuff that
    accumulates it might very well make up a considerable portion of the
    material on your hard drive.

    Good Luck,
    Roger (K8RI), May 14, 2007
  18. louise

    Bill Funk Guest

    MS has such an app included with Windows: Paint.


    Paris Hilton sought Wednesday to avoid her
    upcoming stay in the Los Angeles County Jail.
    She has inspired forty groups around the country
    to stage rallies demanding a pardon. Nobody's
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    isn't president anymore.
    Bill Funk, May 14, 2007
  19. louise

    Neil H. Guest

    Are you making these up yourself, or getting them somewhere?

    That one's so good I think I'll swipe it. But I do enjoy most of yours

    Neil H., May 14, 2007
  20. louise

    louise Guest

    Thanks for your thoughts. I don't use cleanup, but I do use
    CCleaner (crap cleaner) - same general principle with a lot
    of flexibility and choices.

    I'm using Capture NX because CS3 does (not yet) support the
    D40X although they do support the D40. Adobe and Nikon
    agree that the NEF files are slightly different on the two
    cameras. So at this point, Capture NX is a necessity. But
    I have been starting to close it after making basic
    adjustments and then moving the tif to CS3.

    I haven't run CCleaner in a while and will do so tonight. I
    don't run anything Norton except for using Ghost for monthly
    backups - it is not running except when I turn it on. Daily
    backups are done with Retrospect. I try to keep background
    apps to a minimum but it is a constant battle. I do have
    automatic reporting turned off. I'm using a very low
    resource hog AV (NOD32) but maybe not such a low resource
    hog, SuperAntiSpyware. I could probably turn that off also
    when I'm doing photos.

    However, I'd like to understand the use of a second drive
    for the swap file. I can certainly pick up a second drive
    on Newegg and install it. I gather I would then format it.
    Then what? Do I just use it as a swap drive for CS3? Do
    I partition it? How large should it be?

    I'm wondering whether it might be a good idea to get a large
    second drive, partition it, and store all my raw files on
    one partition while using the other partition for a swap
    file. Would that be reasonable? I'm thinking of it because
    now that I'm shooting in raw, I'm beginning to have a large
    quantity of large files which I would like to keep
    unprocessed for possible use in the future.

    I'd greatly appreciate some clarification about how to set
    up the swap file and whether I could partition it and save
    my raw files on the other partition. How large should the
    swap file be?

    I'm off to run CCleaner :)

    Thanks again for your thoughts and suggestions.

    louise, May 15, 2007
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