Best Bang for Your Buck Machine for Photoshop?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by sammyman, May 7, 2011.

  1. sammyman macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    #1
    I am looking at the 2011 iMacs for my wife. I will probably order a stock one and figure out how to put in my own SSD since I have a good SSD drive in my mac mini right now. Then I will probably upgrade the RAM and the hard drive to a 2tb myself while I do the SSD.

    Obviously the i7 would be the fastest for photoshop. However, which iMac do you think is the best bang for your buck? I may just get the base 27", and do the upgrades myself. I have a habit of turning around my computers almost every other revision, so I am not sure I want to go all out on the i7 since I doubt it will have the best resale value down the road.

    Will I see a huge difference for photoshop between the base and upgraded, and the i7?
     
  2. raysmd macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    #2
    I'm wondering the same thing. I tend to work with 5dii RAW files and do the occasional video encoding
     
  3. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    #3
    My wife shoots with a Mark II, but rarely shoots in RAW. She does a ton of weddings and we just don't have the room to store all the pictures. Plus she doesn't have enough memory cards to do a single wedding in RAW. We have over 2 TB of pictures right now with just a handful in Raw. It is insane!
     
  4. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Location:
    Hogtown
    #4
    probably not much difference ... PhotoShop will run just fine on all of those iMacs
     
  5. parkersjones macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    Location:
    NYC, LA and Houston
    #5
    for me it was always about the diff between the i5 and the i7 and the option of hyper-threading last year... I shoot raw from a phase one 40mp digiback - files raw are around the 40mb size and once opened and edited in cs5 are knocking on 1gb. I use external hot swap drives - nothing is stored or written to my hd...

    hyper threading makes ALL the diff when you're writing tiffs and batch work in photoshop! I use capture one for my files and pre-raw work - before I open the tiff into photoshop - and the difference between the i5 and i7 was staggering.

    this year I've stepped up to the 3.4 27" with a 2gb vcard - should be here next week. if you're going for the 27" anyway... it's worth the extra $200 for the 3.4 and upgraded VRAM.

    like you I buy with each cycle - and I always buy something that will still impress after year one. all photo apps suck ram and really benefit from extra VRAM. check out the price diff and see if it makes sense to your wife - she'll make up the difference in one wedding! :) cheers!
     
  6. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sacramento
    #6
    As far as I can tell from everything I have read -- the SSD is *not* DIY. Needs special parts.

    Its too bad TB drives arent out yet, that might solve the need for fast storage.

    But if you just need storage, 2TB USB 2 drives are under $100 everywhere -- theres no real excuse for storage. Its cheap.

    If you can wait a few days, barefeats should have all the good tests done -- but it looks like the new i7 is a step in the much better direction.

    http://barefeats.com/imac11b.html
     
  7. kevin2223 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2010
    #7
    Whenever you plan on using a computer for work, get the one that will last you the longest with the most performance *at an affordable price level.

    While there may be a $500 difference between the base 27" 2.7GHz i5 and the 3.4GHz i7, the i7 costs ~$0.17/Geekbench point (using the Barefeats data), whereas the 2.7 is ~$0.20/point and the 3.1 is ~$0.22/point. These benchmarks are synthetic but can be used as guidance in comparing models.

    The GPU upgrade between the base and the $1999 model is quite significant and the extra $100 for another 1GB of memory is modest when looking at the big picture. It'll benefit you with the 27" display and for multi-tasking with GPU-demanding applications.

    Sure, all models will be perfectly fine for your needs, but the i7 is the best option, and you'll certainly be able to get more for it when you move to a newer model in the future.

    Also, since Photoshop/other editing apps can be RAM-hungry, upgrade to at least 12GB (~$100), as you'll be able to cut down Photoshop action times quite dramatically.
     
  8. rnb2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Location:
    West Haven, CT, USA
    #8
    Honestly, the base 27" is probably your best bang for the buck. Photoshop is not demanding of the video card, and is not well-threaded in many of its operations (file saves are single-threaded, as are many plugins), so I don't think hyperthreading will help significantly if your wife is only going to be working in Photoshop.

    It's much more important to make sure Photoshop always has enough RAM - 12-16GB would be my recommendation. Save some money and buy the RAM from a reputable 3rd party, like Crucial or OWC/macsales.com.

    If you can, buy one or two external drives for backup, and try to wait until there are Thunderbolt external RAID enclosures before investing in external storage.

    Finally, for the guy whose wife shoots JPG at weddings because of storage concerns - hard drives and CF cards are cheap. At a wedding, with those white dresses, I would always shoot RAW just to give myself maximum dynamic range. If your wife is good enough to always nail exposure, my hat's off to her, but even then, modern RAW processors are able to do a much better job than the in-camera JPG engine.
     
  9. pcypert macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Location:
    Bangkok
    #9
    There has been talk of programs moving to using more video ram to leverage for processing tasks...I think in the future Vram will be more important. I'd go upgraded if you're serious.

    I shoot so many events every day that time spent at computer really does matter. Those 5DmkII files are large, but not too bad. I mean in a pinch I've used my air also and I just have to leave the batch running for a bit and can't do more than about 150 or so at a time. With my older (now sold) i7 2009 imac it could really cut through the 5dmkii files. I loved watching quickly click by.

    For me the fastest you can get is best as you can hold onto it longer or sell it for more down the road...
     
  10. rnb2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Location:
    West Haven, CT, USA
    #10
    Nonsense - there is no need for the high-end card for Photoshop, let alone the upgraded VRAM. Even if PS starts making more use of it, video framebuffers for 2D work require very, very little VRAM - the high end card is strictly for gamers and 3D artists.
     
  11. qap macrumors 6502

    qap

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Location:
    Udine, Italy
    #11
    IMO depends how you work with PS, for open big files and apply filters you need CPU clock and HD/RAM speed, for manage a lot of images togheter you need RAM capacity and CPU cores.
     
  12. parkersjones macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    Location:
    NYC, LA and Houston
    #12
    rather than disagree with another's observation or opinion here, I'll simply draw from my experience with photoshop which is both extensive, and on a professional basis. your video card does matter... as does the speed of your processor and the amount of ram. and on a side note, so does the speed and cache of your drives - both internal as well as external... I work only from hi-spin external disks, leaving my hd or in possibly in yr case an ssd to react only to the needs of the open programs.

    the VRAM plays an integral part in photoshop in a number of ways... especially when it comes to plugins. the first and most important aspect of VRAM is how quickly an image refreshes, while performing retouches, such as skin work, cloning and dodging or burning... if your wife uses scripts or actions while performing the above tasks, she will see a marked diff between a 1ghz and 2ghz card. while adobe lags behind slightly if the department of making full use of all our macs can do these days, features such as hyper threading, and extra VRAM will make a visible diff and reduce the time waiting for, redraw, action completions, tasks such as cloning, blurring, canvas rotations, copy and paste from one photo to another such as a vector logo or other type elements... and of course scanned photos - which is where I first got my start using photoshop in '92.

    one of the best features that makes use of the additional memory performance of your vcard when working in fashion with photoshop is the option of enabling openGL drawing. this is only possible with a faster vcard and does make use of specific VRAM to aid in advanced features like anti-aliasing and vertical sync.

    so zooming, rotations and features like scrolling at high zooms are smooth and without ose horrid jaggies! :) I hate those buggers! and of course, the more you can off-load to your vcard the more productive your processor will be.

    do you NEED the extra VRAM or .3 ghz? simply, no. does it make a difference to a professional spending 8+ hrs a day in and out of photoshop and maybe bridge or aperture or lightroom etc... yes, it it does.

    I teach photography, to both students of film and the digital age... and one of the first thing I teach is to get the most you can for your money. that is true both when buying a camera these days and the computer you're going to use to process your work - whether it be scanning and retouching film shots or simply importing digital shots straight from your camera.
     
  13. drew.bowser macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Location:
    Missouri
    #13
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/8H7)

    If you are shooting with the 5d2 you NEED to be shooting in raw. Memory cards are cheap. I use 40gb a wedding. If you are shooting more than that, then you need to cut back on being so shutter happy. All the iMacs are great... Ram will be the best upgrade for handling files in cs5 on the iMac. I have the 2.7quad and it runs great. I just bougt 4 tb worth of fw 800 drives for 300 bucks...that means as a wedding photographer I have over 12 tb of external storage.
     
  14. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    #14
    Not to deviate too much from the original topic, but why does she NEED to be shooting in RAW? Because she can? Because those that don't get the picture right the first time need to tweak it later? Or because it sounds cool and high tech?

    All of the most famous wedding photographers that charge north of $10k a wedding that I have spoken to personally do not use RAW. So maybe I am missing something.

    I estimate with my wife's volume, she would use around 8TB a year if she shot in RAW. That is not including local backups (along with online backups).
     
  15. phylumook macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2011
    #15
    I mean if you really just need to use photoshop this can be done on a PC for $400 of the same quality, windows is a pretty great operating system and if its really a problem just pretend its OSX and click on the photoshop icon when the computer starts up and you'll never know the difference, saving over $1,000 for a compromise with preference is a pretty reasonable and logical decision, maybe take your wife on a tip with the left over :)
     
  16. sammyman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    #16
    That would be nice. However, she has been spoiled since she switched to a mac, and now refuses to go back! :confused:
     
  17. rnb2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Location:
    West Haven, CT, USA
    #17
    If your wife is shooting that kind of volume, then processing each shot would be time prohibitive - if she's good enough to get the exposure right reliably, like I said, my hat's off to her. This is an advantage that people who shot a lot in the film era also have (not sure if this applies to your wife) over those of us who cut our teeth on digital - they had to nail exposure, with no LCD screen to check it during a shoot. I shoot everything with the expectation that I'll be tweaking it in some fashion, but I do try to get the exposure correct as much as possible.

    You seem to know what you're talking about, and you clearly have a lot of experience, but your observations do not jive with anything I have ever heard from other Photoshop users. In particular, EJ Peiker (a former Intel engineer and noted wildlife photographer) and Lloydd Chambers of http://macperformanceguide.com (probably the single best source of technical info for Mac-based photographers using Photoshop) have specifically noted that they have seen no advantage to a faster graphics card in any of their recent Macs, let alone extra VRAM on the cards. Maybe they work with Photoshop in a completely different way than you do?

    On the subject of extra cores, Chambers has noted that Photoshop CS5 actually gets slower when you add more cores beyond a certain threshold, because it spends too much time and effort setting up to use the available cores, then doesn't use them efficiently. This is comparing a 6-core to a 12-core Mac Pro, but it points to the general inefficiency of Photoshop's underlying code on a multi-core machine.

    In general, his observation is that fewer, faster cores are almost always better than more slower cores when working with Photoshop (within limits, of course - four cores should just about always beat two). I'm not saying that Photoshop would not use Hyperthreading on an iMac, or that it might not be beneficial in some cases, but the thread starter asked for the best bang for the buck, and everything I've seen indicates that you would get the vast majority of the BTO iMac's performance from the base 27" i5 when working with Photoshop, and would save $500. From my personal experience, I can say that I've seen Aperture and Capture One make use of Hyperthreading on my 2009 i7 (though with nothing like the efficiency of something like Handbrake), but I've very rarely seen Photoshop make much use of it.
     
  18. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #18
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I've not seen so much misinformation and bad advice in any other thread on this forum before. Shocking stuff.
     
  19. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #19
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

    All of the world's photographers that do this for a living, besides your wife and the 5 "awesome" photographers that you've spoken to, use RAW for professional work. They are probably all wrong. Sounds like you guys need to so some reading and figure out your workflow.
     
  20. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #20
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I don't know what a 1ghz or a 2ghz graphics card is - I'll leave you to figure it out and enlighten me, but I can tell you that having extra video card ram (measured in GBs) has no effect on things like image refresh times or anything else that you've mentioned.

    I just hope that you don't include anything to do with computers in your class.
     
  21. rnb2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
    Location:
    West Haven, CT, USA
    #21
    I generally agree with your assessment of some of the information being presented here, but I have heard of high-end wedding photographers shooting JPG because they shoot such high volume. With hundreds of shots, they'd never go through and post-process them - there's no time, given the number of weddings they do.

    So, they rely on their experience to get the shots right in camera, and anything that clearly didn't work gets deleted and never seen again. That's just how some in that part of the industry work. Honestly, I'm not good enough to shoot that way, and I would probably still prefer to have the ability to tweak shots to my satisfaction - as I said, current RAW processors are way beyond any camera's built-in JPEG engine.
     
  22. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Location:
    Hogtown
    #22
    Awesome story Bro ... the OP was asking about running Photoshop on certain iMacs ... thanks for your opinionated help though
     
  23. drpotter2807 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    #23
    Ok...now I'm TOTALLY confused. I read thread after thread that says a base 27" is more than adequate for PS and then to get such contradicting info. One says i7 will improve speeds considerably, another says the opposite. This will be my first mac, and although I consider myself technically inclined I by no means am up to date on the latest processor or gpu's.

    I think the majority of us watching this thread are just wanting suggestions for a great machine for our photo editing. I personally don't want adequate...I want to buy whatever iMac is gonna rock my editing world. If it's gonna make a difference, I want it. But If I wont notice a difference I want to spend that cash on some more glass.

    So THAT being said....can anyone clear the mud?
     
  24. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Location:
    Hogtown
    #24
    a base iMac will edit your photos fine ... if you are worried, then get a top end MacPro
     
  25. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    #25
    What he said above.
    You can do a lot more work with a RAW file then with a JPG file. ( lots of loss occurs in JPG files )
    Wedding should be done in RAW.
    Just add $50 to the fee for each wedding and that will cover the added cost of CF cards and HDD's for storage.

    ALSO - Once a wedding job is complete, back up that wedding onto a DVD drive and no need to keep it on the HDD.
     

Share This Page