Building the perfect photo editing PC: part 3

If you’ve already read part one and part two of these posts, you’ll know that professional wildlife photographer Richard Peters has been sharing his knowledge on the components you need in a photo editing PC. In his final post for us, Richard looks at monitors, accessories and photo editing software.


A memory card reader can make life easier, especially if you’ve got multiple memory cards for one camera, as it saves you having to swap cards within the camera itself in order to transfer photos. Depending on your set-up, you can either go for aninternal card reader that goes in a spare slot in your computer case, or a USB card reader, with USB 3.0 card readers being the fastest.


While any monitor will do the job, as all the actual work is done on the PC, a quality monitor will guarantee better colour reproduction, and a larger monitor will make it easier to see what you’re doing. If you’ve got the budget, a pair of monitors, such as the ViewSonic VA2248-LED 22” will give you all the space you need to edit your photos and keep an eye on your emails! For those that just want one monitor, the larger the screen the better when it comes to photo editing. As well as giving you more space for all your tool palettes, it will also enable you to clearly see the images you’re working on.


The most commonly used photo editing software is Adobe Photoshop, currently in version CS5.5, with version CS6 just around the corner. While it is expensive, its power and flexibility is unrivalled, and once you’ve bought it, it will last you for years. You can also upgrade it when new versions come out, for a fraction of the cost. If your budget is especially tight, try GIMP, which is free to download and offers a range of powerful image editing features.

If you have gone down the route of buying a separate hard drive for backup, you can use software to automate your backups, taking the hassle out of the process and ensuring you never forget to do it yourself. FBackup is free and highly customisable, and many external hard drives also come with their own backup software.

While I’ve pointed out the components that will make the biggest difference in a photo editing PC, you’ll still need to buy a couple more components before you can start building your ultimate photo PC. You’ll need a case to put everything in, an optical disk drive, a keyboard and mouse, not forgetting an operating system. The components I’ve chosen are all designed to work together, and you can buy the whole thing for as little as £900.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these posts, and that they’ve inspired you to build your own machine. There are lots of guides out there for building a PC, and if you’ve got the patience to be a photographer then building a PC should present no problems. Let us know how you get on with the project in the comments. Once you’ve edited your first batch of photos, and wowed your friends and family, you’ll wonder how you ever got on without it!

    About Alex Wall

    "All this wine nonsense! You get all these wine people, don't you? Wine this, wine that. Let's have a bit of red, let's have a bit of white. Ooh, that's a snazzy bouquet. Oh, this smells of, I don't know, basil. Sometimes you just want to say, sod all this wine, just give me a pint of...mineral water." - Alan Partridge

    One thought on “Building the perfect photo editing PC: part 3

    1. not sure I agree with most of this. The Processor is not listed anymore, think a sandy bridge i5 overclocked would be more benefical.

      I would use a 10bit display, but they are expensive, with a nvidia quadro or amd firepro card, typical graphics cards have 3d features which would be wasted, the cards I mentioned are designed more for applications than games.

      As for hdd, I would use a solid state drive as OS and photoshop drive/swap space, so if you do start running large images or huge undo lists, swapping wont be an issue. I would run a mechanical drive/raid for storage of photos.

      As for card reader, not sure I have seen a SD card outperform USB2 yet

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