The LGE FLATRON L2000C LCD Display & Apple Mac mini Intel Core Duo Computer; My Excellent Adventure In Photo Computing Page 2

To reach that white point target during the calibration, the display's contrast adjustment was used to obtain a reading that matched 110 cd/m2. The profile that resulted provided a perceptually comfortable environment in both brightness and contrast. It allowed me to color correct and edit digital photo images from raw and produce closely matched prints. Once adjusted, the profiled L2000C LCD reproduced images with more brilliance and intensity than my old CRT. However, after just a few days of going back and forth between the two systems, I trained my perception to accommodate the differences. That resulted in the same editing and output results without losing the advantages of the higher brightness and contrast in the LCD. This is a great advantage in tasks like scanned image cleanup and portrait retouching.

The ultimate hurdle, the proof in the pudding, that defines whether a system works is in output image quality. Adobe's Photoshop CS2 as well as Elements 4.0 worked flawlessly and I was able to output fully color managed prints that matched my expectations and the on-screen image of the LGE L2000C display. And, I was particularly pleased that the latest standard Mac drivers for both my Epson R800 and R2400 ran each printer without any problems whatsoever.

Now On To The Mac mini
With the display adjusted and profiled, I could now move on to some image processing and editing work to see how the Mac mini Intel's performance handled tasks in digital photography. Before I got fully underway I installed the latest Version 1.1 of Apple's Aperture that I had recently tested with both a Mac G5 Quad processor and my dual-processor machines. Apple has already reprogrammed Aperture so it will run natively on the Intel processor Macs. It has also refined the raw file format conversion and tweaked the image adjustment tools and processes, not to mention lowered the price of Aperture $200-$299.

Because I wanted to evaluate the LGE L2000C and the Mac mini for image cleanup and retouching, I also downloaded the latest driver for my 9x12" Wacom Intuos3 tablet. This move revealed an unsuspected benefit as the Wacom tablet behaved much steadier and more reliably and tracked more exactly to the screen. I think this very noticeable improvement was due to the fact that the strong magnetic field generated by a 21" CRT interfered somewhat with the Wacom tablet. Without the effect of the big CRT, the LCD worked in tandem cleanly and precisely, as it is supposed to.

I was a bit surprised how little time this setup, configuration, and installation all took. Right off the bat I was very positively impressed by how fast and efficiently the Mac mini's little box of goodies ran everything; it worked much more quickly and effectively than the old Mac G4 it replaced. The only performance hitch was the fact that with big image files opened in Photoshop the screen took a bit longer to redraw. It was, however, not enough to really slow my work down. I think this hitch might have been partly due to the higher 1600x1200 native resolution of the LGE L2000C, and perhaps because Adobe's Photoshop was running in the Rosetta Emulation mode and not natively, like Apple's Aperture 1.1.

From the diverse experience I've had with LCD displays over the last two years I expected the higher resolution and stronger contrast of this new LGE L2000C would provide an advantageous visual environment for image cleanup and retouching. I was not disappointed, especially after taking on the cleanup and retouching of a Kodachrome slide scanned to 16x20" at 300dpi that had been previously published in both a book and magazine and was much the worse for the wear and tear. I was able to cleanup and retouch the mess in about a third of the time I expected to use. With a large library of Kodachrome slides, I am now very encouraged to scan them without investing an excessive effort cleaning or damaging my eyesight in the process.

Most applications have yet to be updated and reprogrammed to support the Intel Macs natively, so things can only get better. And the only incompatibility issue that I encountered is a dubious one, discovered when working with a new scanner. For some reason, turning on Digital ICE made everything lock up during processing. I returned the scanner, and so far have not heard if it was in some way defective, but the technician at the company advised me that their own driver does not as yet support the Apple Mac Intel processor computers. However, I was using a LaserSoft SilverFast Ai 6 driver, and LaserSoft reported no problems with the Intel Macs, and all my other SilverFast applications like DC VLT and Pro work fine with the Mac mini Intel.

As I continued testing, using a set of Canon EOS 5D files and color correcting, editing, and cleaning up some 35mm Kodachrome scans, the LGE LCD's brilliance and detail rendition aided in getting really fine, accurate work done easily with minimum time and effort. I am sure I'll now be encouraged to scan more of my Kodachrome slide library in particular, and I'll surely dedicate this new Mac mini Intel system and the LGE LCD to do all of my digital camera raw file conversion and editing.

For those of you still using a PC Windows computer, it is not just the much lower price of this Apple Mac mini Intel that is inviting. If being able to use familiar Windows applications is also important these new Intel Apple Macs, like the mini, can also run Windows XP. There is a utility that supports creating a hard drive partition and installing the full Windows OS so the Apple Mac Intel system can be a dual boot machine, and it is a downloadable utility from Apple called Boot Camp. It will also be an incorporated feature in the next Apple OS, Version 10.5.

But for those who have Windows photo applications like Adobe's Photoshop and Elements, you can get Mac versions from Adobe to run on the mini by just requesting it from Adobe and paying a small fee for the new CD discs. Microsoft is the only software company I know of that won't do this, so if you need an Office suite you can run an Open Source version of Office on a Mac, and there is NeoOffice available as a free download from www.neooffice.org (although free, a contribution to support further development should in my opinion be made). I'm writing this article using NeoOffice--and it works great!

Evaluation And Recommendation
If a computer is to be used as a digital darkroom its display is key. It is the cornerstone of the system because your image quality is only going to be as good as what you can see on the screen. If your display cannot reproduce the image attributes you want to achieve then you cannot see it to control the outcome. Not everyone, me included, can afford a premium display designed and configured for professional graphic use. From my experience setting up and working with the LGE L2000C, it has the inherent quality and color accuracy, as well as the adjustment range, that allows you to accurately calibrate and profile to achieve critical print-matching performance. In addition, it has the high resolution and distinguished definition of fine detail that supports acute image cleanup and retouching. At a moderate price for a large, high-performance LCD display, the LGE L2000C is an exceptionally good buy for any serious digital photographer on a limited budget. For more information, visit http://us.lge.com/products/model/
detail/computerproducts_lcdmonitors_20inch_L2000C.jhtml
. You may also contact LG Electronics at 1000 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632; (800) 243-0000.

As to the Mac, I must admit that I have been advocating Apple Macs for digital photography computing in these pages for some time now. But I started with PCs in the '80s and was a devoted and exclusive MS Windows user for almost a decade until I decided I could afford my first Apple Mac. Now with the new affordable Mac mini Intel, I'll unload my last Windows PC as soon as my budget recovers enough to buy a fresh copy of Windows XP Pro to install in the mini.

Like all of the Apple Macs I have used, the deal maker has been the Apple OS, and particularly ColorSync color management that provides obviously superior color reproduction quality. The new Mac mini Intel has proved to be equally effective, even though it costs just a fraction of any previous Mac. Because I do computer digital photography full-time and exclusively, I have two systems devoted to my digital darkroom, and yet another to do all of my writing, communications, and business computing. Considering many of you may do many other things and limit your computing to one system, I have found Apple Macs can do most everything to advantage. You don't have to take my word for it--let me quote a reader who has corresponded with me for many years and just acquired his first Apple Mac Intel computer:

Dear Friends,
With this message I officially announce my new e-mail address as of June 1, 2006.

Yes, I have switched to the "dark" side as you PC lovers would say. I've gone MAC and with it a new e-mail account
with .MAC.

I'm going to miss those PC viruses, Viagra ads (even those Viagra ads in Japanese and Swahili), the home mortgage ads, and those desperate pleas for an offshore bank account, where they will stash millions with my consent.

I receive almost 100 spam e-mails a day. The madness must stop, so here it is!
*********@mac.com
See you in cyberspace.
Cheers,
John F. Patterson III
Missoula, MT

For more information about the Apple Mac mini Intel, visit the Apple Store online at: http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/wo/0.RSLID?mco=37CDA12F&nclm=Macmini. You may also contact Apple Computer, Inc. at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014; (408) 996-1010.

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