I made this thread after hearing people talk about the pros and cons of using a laptop as their primary editing suite. I made the switch to solely using a Macbook Pro for editing as my photography job constantly takes me around the world, but with a difference. The other issue I would like to discuss is the increasing need for data back-up/redundancy after a court issue with a colleague in the wedding industry in Adelaide.
Firstly, below is my workstation at home, Ive posted up the specs and reasons for doing so down below. But would like to mention how great the Matrox products DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go is for laptop users wanting to connect more than 1 external monitor to their laptop for editing purposes. They are able to run 2 to 3 external monitors at once, and the laptop monitor as well at a resolution of 1920x1080, for 1080p and perfect for affordable but nice monitors like a 2311H Ultrasharps or the more expensive U2410. It only costed me $320 delivered from a company in Sydney, it can be bought a bit cheaper from the US on Ebay. They come in VGA analog model, Digital for DVI connection, or DisplayPort edition I am using here for the highest resolution possible for the Matrox. The screen shot below shows CS5 opened on the left and Lightroom 3 opened on the right, with the laptop screen for miscellaneous stuff. I dont experience any input lags for this kind of work at home, and the Matrox recognizes it as an external screen extension so it drags all the way to the left or right, not 3 separate monitors. But I had no problems calibrating it. Just make sure you use 2 or 3 exact monitor models for uniformity of colour and results. Highly recommended to anyone using laptops!
The other more important issue I want to raise is how we as professionals, even amateurs and hobbyists alike - back up our data for security and redundancy. I have just heard of a photographer in Adelaide being taken to court with a $15,000 dollar lawsuit, plus a return of the wedding fees and all court expenses, at nearly $30,000 in damages being sought by the bride and groom
The aforesaid photographer lost the majority of photos on the , and cannot seem to recover them even after employing data recovery experts and hardware etc. Very sad and major bummer for the bride and groom, and possible career suicide for the photographer. I do not know what the full story is, but after hearing that it kinda scared me into reviewing and foolproofing my back up methods more.
Since switching mid last year from using 1D bodies to 5D2s, I have lost the ability to use 2 memory cards at once for data mirroring. As I strongly believe the first back up you do is in the camera not when you get home. But since the change I have started using at least 1 or 2 photographer assistants on the day, no matter how big or small the wedding is, that way they can keep going if I suffer any problems. Having a back up camera helps tremendously too in case.
On the day, during down times - ie. driving to another location or lunch or dinner or short breaks, we use the opportunity to back up the cards onto the Solid State Drive on my laptop - better security than using a normal HDD as I dont have to worry about mechanical crashes/data corruption as much, and also a normal portable hard drive.
End of the day, go home and upload the photos to 2 drives from a RAID array, and keep the external portable drive at the office and off-site. What has been on my mind lately is the idea of using a fire-proof safe to store the drives and some equipment in. Does anyone currently use these or something similar?
I guess what Im really trying to say is that it is paramount for professionals to have safety nets in place, especially when shooting something like weddings which is big money for both sides and cannot be re-shot again.
My portable editing suite at home - this set up is geared at maximum portability for usage whilst traveling and on locations for shooting tethered, processing and editing and miscellaneous stuff with maximum security and data redundancy - thanks to solid state drive
1. Macbook Pro i7 with 8GB Ram, 128GB Solid State Drive for ultra fast loading time and data access and impossible to suffer from hard drive crash by mechanical means. Screen is 15 inch Hi Resolution option with Matte for non reflective surface for temporary editing - colour and brightness calibrated by Color Munki spectrometer at 120 cdm/2 at D65.
2. Primary monitors - twin Ultrasharp 2311H IPS with laptop via Matrox DualHead2Go unit. Both colour and brightness calibrated by Color Munki spectrometer at 120 cdm/2 at D65. Great IPS monitors and affordable and with very good colour accuracy as tested around the world. One panel can be detached easily and taken for traveling and on locations for accurate editing.
3. Data Redundancy - Primary - 4TB RAID array at RAID 1 set up for data mirroring at 2TB each on 2 drives. Connected to Macbook via Firewire 800 for ultra fast data access. Secondary - twin Western Digital external HDDs at 1TB each. All drives can be unplugged and pulled fast in case of emergencies. With an external drive at the office for off-site security.
Half of this set up is able to be easily transported in luggage to be flown on planes and used on location anywhere. I could easily go for much faster Mac Pro desktops and better monitors, but they are not as portable and much more expensive. So I think this is a good compromise between fast efficient speed and power, data access and security.