Photo Editing Workspace

What it must include?

EDITING February 15 2022
Photo editing workspace
Isabella Tabacchi Landscape Photographer

By Isabella Tabacchi

The photo editing workspace is really important to easily edit your photos. And not only! We have to be sure we work with accuracy and the best performance for the software we use.

A good workspace is made of several things.

For our editing phase we need a good computer with a great performance to work with Lightroom and Photoshop. But that’s not the only thing we need.

Let’s see what we should not miss in our editing workspace!

In this post

Isabella’s Shopping List 

This is a summary of the essential elements for a good photo editing workspace and some suggestions for your shopping. 

I’m suggesting the best products I know according to my experience in photo editing.

1. PC/ Laptop

To have a good computer for your photo editing workspace you can buy the pieces on a shop like Amazon or buy a good laptop.

I’ll write a whole blog post on the specific components for your computer and how to choose a computer for editing.

2. Monitor

A good wide gamut monitor for a high quality photo editing.

For Beginners
Benq Photo editing workspaceBenq Photo editing workspace

BenQ SW270C

  • 27″ In-Plane Switching (IPS) Panel
  • HDMI 2.0 | DisplayPort 1.4 | USB Type-C
  • 2560 x 1440 @ 60 Hz Native Resolution
  • 1000:1 Static Contrast Ratio

For Professionals
Eizo CG319X photo editing workspaceEizo CG319X photo editing workspace

Eizo CG319X

  • 31.1″ In-Plane Switching (IPS) HDR Panel
  • 2 x DisplayPort 1.2 | 2 x HDMI 2.0
  • 4096 x 2160 Native Resolution
  • 1500:1 Static Contrast Ratio

3. Calibrator Device

The calibrator device calibrates your monitor for an accurate photo editing. If you own some kinds of wide gamut monitors you don’t need a calibrator device.

Datacolor SpyderXDatacolor SpyderX

Datacolor SpyderX Pro Colorimeter

  • Precise Screen Color and White Balance
  • Lens-Based Color Engine Technology
  • Single-Click Wizard Calibration
  • Display Mapping and Analysis Tools

4. Mouse

A good mouse is an essential element to face long editing workflows. 

Logitech MX Master Logitech MX Master

Logitech MX Master 3

  • 2.4 GHz & Bluetooth LE Connectivity
  • 4000 dpi Darkfield Optical Sensor
  • MagSpeed Electromagnetic Scrolling
  • Logitech Flow Compatible

4. Graphic tablet

A good mouse is an essential element to face long editing workflows. 

For Beginners
Wacom Intuos S Wacom Intuos S

Wacom Intuos S

  • 6.0 x 3.7″ Active Area
  • 4096 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity
  • USB & Bluetooth Connectivity
  • 4 Programmable ExpressKeys

For Professionals
Wacom Intuos Pro MWacom Intuos Pro M

Wacom Intuos Pro M

  • 13.3 x 8.6 “- 338 x 219 mm
  • 8192 Levels of Pen Pressure Sensitivity
  • Multi-Touch Support
  • USB & Bluetooth 4.2 Connectivity

PC, Mac or Laptop?

For a photo editing workspace, the computer is the essential thing we need to run the editing softwares.

Of course I need a computer with good features and great performance.

The graphic card, the RAM, the processor and the hard disk space are the most important technical specifications to run Photoshop or Lightroom or other editing softwares.

Photo editing workspace PC components

So, the components are the most important thing for a computer and the brand doesn’t matter

Indeed I have a Windows desktop computer built by myself with components I bought and assembled in 2016. Since that moment I just replaced the ssd and the RAM because I wanted to upgrade them. And my PC still works as a beast with my huge .psd files. 

Probably I’ll replace other parts like the processor and the case because I always like to work with the best and new specs. 

The laptop is a good solution for traveling but it has not to be the only device. I suggest you to have a good PC too. The laptop overheats often because the components are in a way smaller space. 

I have Windows in the Desktop PC and in the laptop. My choice is because I like to change the components also on my laptop and I like the flexibility I have in a Win OS for several reasons. But I love the Apple smaller devices like iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch.

Minimum and recommended system requirements for Photoshop

As you can read in the tab below, the processor is really important and also the RAM and the space on your hard disk. 

I suggest even a 3-5 GHz processor to run Photoshop with the best results.

16 GB RAM are a good start even if in my opinion with 32 or 64 GB you can edit your photos faster.

I suggest you to install an OS and the softwares on a SSD card instead of an hard disk because the first one is much faster. A 1TB SSD card is good but 2TB is even better.

Photoshop

Windows

  Minimum Recommended
Processor Intel® or AMD processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster processor with SSE 4.2 or later
Operating system Windows 10 64-bit (version 1909) or later; LTSC versions are not supported
RAM 8 GB 16 GB or more
Graphics card
  • GPU with DirectX 12 support
  • 1.5 GB of GPU memory
  • GPU with DirectX 12 support
  • 4 GB of GPU memory for 4k displays and greater
See the Photoshop graphics processor (GPU) card FAQ
Monitor resolution 1280 x 800 display at 100% UI scaling 1920 x 1080 display or greater at 100% UI scaling
Hard disk space

4 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation

16 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation
  • Fast internal SSD for app installation
  • Separate internal drive for scratch disks.
Internet Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services †
  Minimum Recommended
Processor ARM processor
Operating system

Windows 10 ARM device running Windows 10 64-bit (version 1909) or later

RAM 8 GB 16 GB or more
Graphics card 4 GB of GPU memory  
All the other aspects for ARM are the same as Intel
macOS
  Minimum Recommended
Processor Intel processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster processor with SSE 4.2 or later
Operating system macOS Catalina (version 10.15) or later macOS Big Sur (version 11)
macOS Catalina (version 10.15)
RAM 8 GB 16 GB or more
Graphics card
  • GPU with Metal support
  • 1.5 GB of GPU memory
  • GPU with Metal support
  • 4 GB of GPU memory for 4k displays and greater

To find out if your computer supports Metal, see Mac computers that support Metal

See the Photoshop graphics processor (GPU) card FAQ

Monitor resolution 1280 x 800 display at 100% UI scaling 1920 x 1080 display or greater at 100% UI scaling
Hard disk space 4 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation

16 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation

  • Fast internal SSD for app installation
  • Additional high-speed drive(s) or SSD to set up scratch disks
Photoshop will not install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system
Internet Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services †
  Minimum Recommended
Processor ARM-based Apple Silicon processor 
Operating system macOS Big Sur (version 11.2.2) or later  
RAM 8 GB 16 GB or more
All the other aspects for Apple Silicon are the same as Intel

† NOTICE TO USERS. Internet connection, Adobe ID, and acceptance of license agreement required to activate and use this product. This product may integrate with or allow access to certain Adobe or third-party hosted online services. Adobe services are available only to users 13 and older and require agreement to additional terms of use and Adobe’s online privacy policy. Applications and Services may not be available in all countries or languages and may be subject to change or discontinuation without notice. Additional fees or membership charges may apply.

Minimum and recommended system requirements for Lightroom

The minimum and required specs for Lightroom are almost identical to Photoshop.

That’s the reason why I recommend even more performing components than the recommended ones if you use both Lightroom and Photoshop. 

Lightroom Photo editing workspace

Windows
  Minimum Recommended
Processor Intel® or AMD processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster processor
Operating system Windows 10 (64-bit) 1909 or later
  8 GB  16 GB or more
Hard disk space 2 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation
Monitor resolution 1024 x 768 display 1920 x 1080 display or greater
Graphics card
  • GPU with DirectX 12 support
  • 2 GB of VRAM
  • GPU with DirectX 12 support
  • 4 GB of VRAM for 4k or greater displays
For more information, see the Lightroom Classic GPU FAQ
Internet Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.†
macOS
  Minimum             Recommended
Processor Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support or Apple Silicon processor
Operating system macOS Catalina (version 10.15) or later
RAM 8 GB 16 GB or more
Hard disk space

2 GB of available hard-disk space; additional space is required for installation

Lightroom Classic will not install on case-sensitive file systems or removable flash storage devices

Monitor resolution 1024 x 768 display 1920 x 1080 display or greater
Graphics card
  • GPU with Metal support
  • 2GB of VRAM
  • GPU with Metal support
  • 4 GB of VRAM for 4k or greater displays

To find out if your computer supports Metal, see Mac computers that support Metal

For more information, see the Lightroom Classic GPU FAQ

Internet Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.†

† NOTE: Internet connection, Adobe ID, and acceptance of license agreement required to activate and use this product; the application attempts to validate your software every 30 days. This product may integrate with or allow access to certain Adobe or third-party hosted online services. Adobe services are available only to users 13 and older and require agreement to additional terms of use and the Adobe Privacy Policy. Applications and services may not be available in all countries or languages and may be subject to change or discontinuation without notice. Additional fees or membership charges may apply.

The Monitor for photo editing

The monitor is another essential part of our photo editing workspace and also here the specs have to be the best for the photo editing.

A wide gamut is the most important thing that a monitor for a photo editing workspace needs.

A wide gamut monitor shows you a large gamut by using pure spectral primary colors.

The best photo editing monitors cover the 99% of the Adobe RGB gamut because it means you’re viewing almost the maximum quantity of the colors in the image you’re editing.

Photo editing workspace

The monitors can be HD, 2K, 4K depending on the quantity of details they are showing you. 

My actual monitor is Eizo CG319X, 31 ” and 4k resolution. For sure an expensive choice but I’m really happy with it: I work with it every day and I need such accuracy and high quality.

Calibrator device

Another essential element for a photo editing workspace is the calibrator device. It’s essential because every monitor needs to be calibrated.

Of course we don’t need to buy a calibrator device when we have a monitor with a built-in sensor such as some models of  the Eizo ColorEdge line. But we need to calibrate them with the proper ColorNavigator 7 softwares of course.

Even if I have a built-in calibration sensor in my Eizo CG319X, I still use Xrite i1 Display Pro to calibrate my laptop to see quite accurate colors when I’m editing during a travel or when I spend a lot of time out of my house.

However, i1 Display Pro is not produced anymore by XRite, the upgrade to this product is ColorChecker Display Pro by Calibrite. 

This is the reason why I inserted DataColor Spyder X on the Shopping list. A good price/quality compromise.  

Spyder X Pro Photo editing

In case of a built-in sensor or a device, we need the proper software to run the calibration process

In case we own a calibrator device we’ll connect it through the USB and run the calibration process through the software of the device like Spyder X Elite

XRite i1 Display Pro Calibration

Why calibration is so important?

All the monitors need to be calibrated after their production. That’s because they are like any other instrument which needs a calibration to be used correctly with a device (in this situation, our computer).

The most important parameters in the calibration are the Luminosity and the RGB colors with all the tonalities in their gamut.

As the luminosity changes often in our room, the monitor needs to be calibrated often, at least once a week. 

Another important reason is that most of the monitors are not produced just for a photo editing purpose.

Indeed after the calibration you’ll notice that the screen becomes darker. That’s normal! The monitors are produced with an higher luminosity.

That’s the reason why so many students ask me why they see the pictures much darker and saturated on the smartphone or when they print them. 

Also wide gamut monitors need to be calibrated
Wide gamut visible gamut

After their production, also wide gamut monitors need to be calibrated for your workspace, for your device and for the luminosity in your room.

For instance my Eizo CG319X has a built-in calibration sensor. When I run the ColorNavigator calibration software, the sensor comes down on the screen and calibrates the monitor.

Eizo photo editing workspace calibration sensor

You can set a time of the day in which the monitors makes the self calibration with your settings (in a future blog posts I’ll go deeper in this topic).

Then, the sensor will automatically come down to calibrate your monitor at the time you set on Color Navigator. This is what self-calibration means.

So many photographers are confused about the concept of self calibration. They think it means the wide gamut monitor doesn’t need to be calibrated. That’s absolutely wrong.

What if other people have not calibrated monitors?

On the web there are many wrong opinions about calibration.

One of those is that calibrating the monitor is not useful because so many people that view our images on the web and social media don’t have a calibrated monitor.

That’s a wrong sentence for the following reasons:

  1. So, these photographers are talking about photography and most probably teaching photo editing and they are not supposed to print their pictures one day?

When a monitor is not calibrated it is almost always brighter than the calibrated one. This means the other people will see your pictures brighter on their computers. Better brighter than darker.

Photo editing workspace
  1. If you calibrate your monitor, the color cast and the tonalities (especially the blues) will change slightly on the other devices like smartphones or tablets. For instance, my iPhone 12 Pro has a very light green color cast which neutralizes magentas and reds much more than on my previous iPhone X.
  2. This problem doesn’t occur in the printing process, of course: the colors and the luminosity in my fine art prints are the same as in my monitor.

The mouse for photo editing

Also the mouse is an essential element for our photo editing workspace. And not only because we need to move the cursor and click!

Or, well, if you just make a general editing on your image with almost no localized adjustments you don’t have to choose a specific mouse.

But if you face long photo editing sessions to make every area in the image perfect and create a beautiful harmonic style in your image, you need a good mouse for the health of your hands!

Logitech MX Master photo editing
Logitech G502

A perfect mouse for a photo editing workspace needs to be ergonomic and its shape has to be the best for our hand.

Usually the gamers install weights on their mouses because they spend hours using the mouse. This could be necessary for a photo editor too.

Everyone of us needs a mouse with an appropriate weight for their hands. One of the best mouses in this category is Logitech G502.

But the best mouse for photo editing in my opinion is Logitech MX Master 3. It’s ergonomic thanks to its shape and it has a lot of buttons in the most comfortable position for every photo editor.

Its only problem is that this mouse is just for right-handed use.

 Graphic tablet for photo editing

For a perfect photo editing workspace, I suggest to use a graphic tablet to make very precise adjustments, especially for the dodge and burn technique.

The leading graphic tablets company is Wacom and you can choose the kind of product which is perfect for your needs. 

Wacom tablet

If you have a big workspace and you wish to invest on a good solution, Wacom Intuos Pro M has the best flexible size. It’s size is 13.3 x 8.6 inch (338 x 219 mm).

The Wacom Intuos S is another smaller tablet for beginners who start to use graphic tablets for photo editing (6 x 4 inch – 152 x 95  mm).

Isabella Tabacchi Landscape Photographer Landscape Photography
About the Author

ISABELLA TABACCHI LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY

Isabella Tabacchi is an award-winning landscape photographer based in the north of Italy.

Despite her young age, she is is one of the most influential landscape photographers.

She is Hasselblad Heroine, MIFA Photographer of the Year 2020 and won the third prize as International Landscape Photographer of The Year.

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