Best computer for my photographer dad (mac OR pc)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by guitargoddsjm, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. guitargoddsjm macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    Location:
    MA
    #1
    My dad currently has a 3-4 year old Vaio. It's really starting to show it's age, especially after a Windows 7 installation I performed ~6mo ago.

    About my dad: He's in his early 50s, and he's not really a computer person. He has pretty much only used Windows machines in the past. He likes to THINK he has a good grasp on how to use Windows. I love my dad, but he really doesn't... Once he's shown how to do something, he can repeat it, but if it's something new, he tends to get confused.

    What he'll use it for: Mostly work (reading/writing email, word, powerpoint), photography, and possibly some video editing. He really enjoys photography, but he's never gotten into a good workflow with it. He typically just imported his pictures and would perform any/all editing with Photoshop. He just heard about Lightroom and seems interested in it, so it seems like he may be willing to start using photo organization applications now (Aperture, Lightroom, etc).

    He's been looking at desktops recently (because of the extra horsepower); for example, an HP elite with a 3ghz AMD phenom quad-core, 8gb RAM, 1TB HDD, ATI 5450 w/ 512mb DDR3 vram, built in blu-ray player/dvd burner, and built in wifi (bgn). Honestly, spec-wise, that sounds like a great computer for $880 (it was something like $750 last week). BUT, because this is his primary work computer (and he would have to travel), I think it would be better for him to have a laptop. He was thinking about getting a desktop for power and using his laptop if he needs to bring a presentation somewhere; I think his laptop is junk and that it may be too complicated for him to work with two computers.

    What I think: Personally, I'm a mac person. I'd like to think he'll have an easier time getting the hang of OS X than Windows if he's forced to use it, even though he's only used windows in the past. I think he would be pretty well off with a 13" Macbook Pro (~$1100), as he already has a 24" monitor. If he really wants a desktop, a refurb 27" iMac w/ a C2D, 4gb of ram, and a 1TB HDD is ~$1300 right now.

    At the same time though, I'd like to be realistic. Macs aren't the cheapest computers, and my dad is stubborn (particularly about getting a Mac). Personally, I think Thinkpads and the higher-end Dells are pretty good for what you pay, but I haven't had to deal with PC hardware in a really long time, so I don't know what to look for hardware/price-wise...

    tl;dr:
    This is what I'm looking for:
    • Will handle photography (especially an app like Lightroom or Aperture)
    • Good computer that will last (reliability and performance)
    • Mac or PC
    • Good value, less than... $1400?
     
  2. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    #2
    Why not go with the 21 inch iMac? Its $1200 and can certainly handle when your dad needs.
     
  3. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #3
    OS X is easy to use but I've found out that especially older people are pretty stubborn and want to use Windows because they think they know how to use. I would give him a small brief of OS X and then ask his opinion. iPhoto is very simply and nice app, I'm sure he would like it.

    However, I wouldn't push too hard for Mac because he will use it, not you. HP Envys look amazing and have decent specs.
     
  4. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    If you have an Apple Store within driving distance, go with him there and have him bring a USB memory stick with a bunch of his photos and videos on it. Have him try out iPhoto and iMovie. If he tries it on the 27" iMac, I'm sure he will want it! The base 27" from the refurb store would fit your budget.

    I wouldn't force a Mac on him without a trial. If you do his tech support, point out that you can use iChat to help him out remotely, using the screen sharing.
     
  5. guitargoddsjm thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    Location:
    MA
    #5
    How do you think this would compare to the last-gen 27" C2D iMac? (I think it's on the refurb store)

    I agree. I'm trying to nudge him over there, but if he doesn't like the computer, he probably won't use it. I'm heading home in a week, so I'll sit down with him and try it out.

    The iChat-tech support already works wonders! My family has a 24" iMac at home, and when my mom is stuck with something, I'll remote desktop in. I've tried to get my dad to use it (I installed a copy of Aperture on it), but he never really did much beyond using the internet. Part of it might be because it's my mom's main computer and she's on it a lot... And when she's not on it, my brother is on it. And he has his own computer, so he doesn't need to use it.

    Edit: My mom was the same way (resistance to the Mac) for the longest time, even after she got her iMac, but she's now starting to go past basic internet/email usage. She works w/ Windows on a daily basis for her job (she does IT work), so I think that was part of the reason.

    Edit x2: Also, I think you guys are right about using iPhoto. I tried to show him Aperture and I think there's just too much for him to grasp (I'm sure the same will go for Lightroom as well). iPhoto is definitely more user friendly
     
  6. obibobi macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Location:
    Sweden
    #6
    I got tired of giving telephone support to my mother (73 years) so I bought her an iMac instead of the old Windows crap.
    Now she never calls me anymore ... ;)

    One reason for choosing a Mac is that you can always install Windows (or Linux) too, something that's not possible the other way round. (for normal users)

    Being a serious amateur photographer I am very happy with changing to Mac for myself, not wasting my time with computer issues, just being more effective.
     
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #7
    With the level of photographic needs your dad has, I think either the PC or the Mac will be the same. However, if you are tech support - and you are a Mac, then I think it should be a Mac for your Dad.

    He will complain for a month or so, but once he figures out how to do the things he is used to doing he'll be just as happy. And you'll be happier because you can answer his questions.

    My wife moved to a Mac several years ago, simply because I could no longer give her meaningful tech support for Windows. It was a long month ... but now she and I both happy.

    Another option is a refurbed Mini paired with an inexpensive monitor to save some bucks. Good Luck.
     
  8. guitargoddsjm thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    Location:
    MA
    #8
    I definitely think the tech support angle might help. I think we'll make a trip to the Apple store and check out the 27", the 21.5", the Mac Mini, and the 13" mbp. Maybe he'll change his mind!

    Otherwise I guess I'll have loads of fun helping him setup a PC ;)
     
  9. Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    #9
    You asked that question in a Mac forum so your answer is a foregone conclusion.


    However, in all honesty, Mac is the way to go. Macs are the platform of choice for every serious amateur to professional photographer that I know, save one. It comes with a number of useful tools that Windows doesn't have. It's more secure and easier to use, even if he is used to Windows. Macs also last longer than PCs. If you go to eBay, you will still see people paying over $350 for 2006 model Mac Books (I looked just last weekend).

    Unless your father just really loves Windows, for photography, it is an easy choice. Everything is there and you don't have to monkey around with stuff that has nothing to do with photography. You don't have worry about Anti virus software, you don't have to go look for drivers, it comes with great backup software, etc, etc.


    Hope that helps.
     
  10. guitargoddsjm thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    Location:
    MA
    #10
    I figured as much..., but I did get a recommendation for the HP Envy, which I had forgotten about.

    Unfortunately it's not that he loves Windows, it's just that he thinks he knows it and is stubborn. But these will be great points I can use to support the Mac when I help him decide next week. I'm his tech support, so things like time machine will be great for me, and I think with a little time he will learn to love apps like iPhoto.

    But if I can't convince him to join the dark side, I'd love to have other solid hardware options rather than him getting a POS from Staples.
     
  11. ski2moro macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 3, 2007
    #11
    My recommendation is to get the Mac and install Windows on a Boot Camp partition. The emulators are ok, but in my experience they bog down in high graphical applications. With BootCamp, he has the entire Windows experience.

    Encourage him to work on the Mac side of it, but in a pinch he can revert back to Windows side. Install all of his old software on the Windows side and let him be comfortable.

    When new versions of his software come out, get him the Mac software as he needs it. It was my experience that Adobe will send the Mac Version if you ask, provided that you retire your install #.

    Worst case, he has a great computer, but it is running Windows. Best case, he makes the transition.

    If he lives near an Apple Store, get him One To One. It will help with the transition.
     
  12. Chwisch87 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    #12
    Ok for the longest time, macs where the computer of choice for mobile photoediting because there screens were above and beyond just better than PCs. PC markers in the higher end have really caught up though. These days comparable machines are a toss up. PCs still suck in battery life though.

    Honestly this is really a toss up.. these days Adobe programs run far and beyond better on PC's than they do on Macs. That is not to say they not useable. But it has been 64 bit and more importantly makes better use of API's in windows to optimize processor load and process distrobution, particularly if you have a good GPU on board (on windows).

    Now are we talking like DSLR raw photo editing (in which case you really need a desktop with a raided array or SSDs) or just simple point and shoot?? Cus really unless he is trying to do some fancy art stuff, iPhoto or even windows photo gallery will get the job done.
     
  13. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #13
    I've got both a 27" i7 iMac and a MacBook. Both perform just fine with Photoshop CS5, which is a 64-bit application. The only real downside to the MacBook is the small TN display compared to the massive IPS display in the iMac.

    Aperture can use multiple cores and works much faster on my iMac, however it is still useful in the MacBook, which I use when traveling. But really the main reason to want a quad-core (or greater) processor is for video encoding.

    As far as running Windows apps, I set up my father with Parallels. Rebooting to switch back and forth is a hassle, and Parallels (and Fusion as well) do a decent job of integrating the Windows apps into the Mac environment. I switched my father to the Mac at age 87. He has since passed away and my daughter has his Mac now.
     
  14. guitargoddsjm thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
    Location:
    MA
    #14
    He has a DSLR (D90), but he doesn't really have a computer-heavy workflow. It's mostly just shoot > import > perform brightness/contrast/saturation edits in photoshop. Also, he doesn't work in RAW, but I think that's mostly because Windows machines aren't well equipped to handle RAW files without something like Lightroom.

    I love Aperture, but I think it might be too feature-heavy for him. I think iPhoto might have the perfect blend of features and ease-of-use.

    And you really don't need heavy duty storage like that unless you're a pro and/or you take a LOT of pictures. I'm a hobbyist/amateur and I worked with RAWs first on my Macbook, and now on my MBP. If my photos start to take up too much space, I'll just move the older stuff onto an external...
     
  15. Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    #15
    You only NEED an array if you a high end photographer or make a butt load of revenue to justify the expense. As far as SSDs go, they are very fast and very expensive per GB. Photographers don't typically need that kind of speed. They need massive amounts of storage.

    In my opinion, a good back strategy that includes off site storage is far more important than raid or SSD. Between the Mac HD, external storage, time machine backups and off site backups you should never be exposed to much of a data lose.

    I keep my most recent shots on my HD. That also means that they make it to Time Machine (Giving me 2 copies). I don't delete images from memory card until after I know that they are on TM (usually at the start of my next shoot). Once a month I try to clean up to encrypted disk image on a portable drive and take it over to my mother's house. Even my house burns down in the middle of the night, I still have something.

    My 2 cents.
     
  16. maclook macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    #16
    I suggest a Macbook or 13" Macbook Pro. If you give him that, it will become a personal computer for him that he will take when he travels, when he's sitting on the couch, or when he wants to plug it into his 24" monitor. If you get an iMac, it will be a permanent home computer and less personal (imo). The baseline Macbooks can handle the work he wants to do. They may be more expensive than Windows counterparts, but they are reliable and will last for years.
     
  17. Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    #17
    The MBP 13 or MB is great *IF* you have an external monitor. I have a MBP 13 (8 GB memory, 500 GB HD) and it rocks.

    The one huge exception is that doing any real photographic work on the 13inch display is painful at best. The small display is fine for everything BUT photographic or video work. With an external monitor, it absolutely rocks though.
     
  18. michalkopyta macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    #18
    I would recommend a PC to every older person. Sometimes they are used to it and even not - it is easier to ask anybody for help with your windows - because it is far more popular.
     
  19. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #19
    "He has a DSLR (D90), but he doesn't really have a computer-heavy workflow. It's mostly just shoot > import > perform brightness/contrast/saturation edits in photoshop."

    I'm surprised at how well Apple's basic "Preview" app does these things in the version that's included with Snow Leopard. Excellent sharpness control, as well.
     

Share This Page