Review of the Apple PowerBook 3400c Computer.

The Macintosh 3400c has survived two grueling 6-month test periods in Guatemala and Honduras. The PowerBook survived tropical heat, monsoon season humidity, and constant ash fall from erupting volcanos! We look forward to the new 500 MHz G3 Macintosh laptop but will continue to use the 3400c as a backup.

Scarlet macaw admiring Macintosh computerThere are two reasons why the Apple PowerBook 3400 computer was the sensible choice in digital photography with the Dicomed FieldPro camera or any Better Light digital camera. First, these are high-end digital systems which means they produce large files. A typical digital photograph is about 100 MB.Scarlet macaw admiring Macintosh computer A rollout of a cylindrical object is about 180 MB (up to 350 MB or more for larger objects). A digital panorama photograph can be up to 1 GB in size. To handle such files, it sure helps to have a 240 MHz chip, 144 MB RAM, and a 3GB hard disk. The Apple PowerBook is about the only computer which is fast enough to handle these files.

Second, these digital photography systems work only on Macintosh computers, even if there was a PC fast enough, it would not work with the Dicomed or Better Light systems.

Although FLAAR. Began as a 100% PC, WINTEL-equipped office, we are now 100% Macintosh for preparing our Web sites. This is because the best Web preparation software, Adobe SiteMill and Adobe PageMill, were initially available only in Mac format. Another reason why we switched to Macintosh is that the creative staff preferred to work on Mac equipment.

The PowerBook has a large screen, which is crucial for viewing panorama or rollout format. For operating the Dicomed camera out in the field it is obviously necessary to have a portable computer which operates on battery power.

Now the new Macintosh G3 PowerBook is available. It is even faster. Of special help is the the hard disk in the G3 PowerBook is larger and faster as well. But if you are on a budget, the PowerBook 3400c is just fine.

Archaeologist using PowerBookDon't try to do high-end digital photography with any lesser computer. The new generation of Better Light camera, 8000x10460 pixels, produces huge files, which require a powerful Mac computer.

For people moving to NT workstations, keep a few things in mind, namely that high end digital cameras work principally (and definitely better) on a Macintosh. Just like "no American Express accepted here," the Dicomed and Better Light systems both work only on a Mac.

But, even if Windows NT could run high-end digital photography systems, is there a portable that can handle the large files???

The Dicomed Field Pro generates individual files starting at 127 MB. With the Better Light accessory for circumferential rollouts and seamless panoramas, we routinely take single photos at 230 MB and did a test photo at 410 MB (about the limit for the current version of Adobe Photoshop).

And if the 3400c can handle such large files, just imagine what a G3 portable can do?

Last updated Jan 23, 2000.
Previously updated April 7, 1999.