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If you are going to be adjusting levels and curves etc there is a significant advantage in using the 16 bit image depth, if you go to 8 bit then I would wonder if you get much advantage shooting RAW over JPEG. When it comes to printing the final image then for many printers there is little difference between 8 and 16bit images.
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For what it may (or may not) be worth.
I shoot only 14-bit lossless compressed Raw files on my D800 and D800E. The files average out at around 45Mb each.
I process mainly in Lightroom 4.4 and Photoshop CS6 with the suite of Nik plug-ins.
I find no problem at all processing those files with that software on a PC with an i7 processor and 16 Gb of RAM running 64-bit Windows 7. The PC is about 18 months old now - more recent versions should be even better.
Quote: For what it may (or may not) be worth.
on a PC with an i7 processor
I am no computer expert, but something like a 1.7 processor is important - and the best 1.7 processors seem to be in about their fourth generation.
When I upgraded 8 months ago I went Mac with Retina screen.
While the improvement was "supersonic" a current high end PC would be significantly better than Vista 32 bit on a 5 year old machine.
A USB 3 machine and USB 3 external drive (around £120 for 2 GB) is significantly faster than USB 2.
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