Best iMac (or MacPro?) for Pro Photo/Video

Discussion in 'iMac' started by sperdynamite, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. sperdynamite, Mar 21, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016

    sperdynamite macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #1
    Ye olde late 2009 i7 iMac is getting a little long in the tooth here and I think some of the new models might warrant an upgrade for me finally. I typically like to buy the best mac for my money in its class to maximize the investment. I shoot weddings and edit the work in Lightroom, and I make Super 8 films and edit the 2k scans in FCPX. That's the extent of my power-user work. I would also want to run bootcamp to play Naval Action!!!! But that's another thread I suppose... :)

    Am I right in thinking that the best 5k iMac right for my needs? I would probably be looking at the 1tb SSD option, with the better GPU and I'd install 32gb of ram. Then I'd run a RAID via thunderbolt for my archive and theoretically edit active projects off the internal SSD. (Could I expect similar performance via a Thunderbolt SSD?) Is there anywhere I could save some money and not notice the performance gap? Like a lower-spec CPU? To give you an example of what I work with, I shoot a Pentax 645z 51.1mp medium format digital camera, and my Super 8 scans are generally Prores at 2k or 1080p. They're chunky files.

    ORRRR am I better waiting to see if the Mac Pro's get a spec bump this year and moving over to that? For any reason? I had understood that Adobe products don't always take advantage of everything a Mac Pro can do... Would that be a big waste of cash for marginal advantage?

    Thanks!
     
  2. briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502

    briloronmacrumo

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #2
    I think you'd be happy with either a new 27in i7 iMac or new Mac Pro. Your current machine has a 3 Gbps SATA connection, so an SSD upgrade wouldn't produce the speed of current 6 Gbps SATA or the PCIe connections. A October 2015 iMac purchase still makes sense because it's doubtful any significant iMac updates will appear before Fall of this year. The 2013 Mac Pro is clearly overdue for a refresh ( and there are newer Xeon CPUs available the nMP doesn't have ) but Apple likely waits for the right combination of hardware upgrades before we'll see a rev. Some are predicting a possible June WWDC nMP announcement but Fall this year wouldn't be surprising.
     
  3. sperdynamite thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 21, 2011
    #3
    But if I waited till fall, which is do-able, I'd then be cooking with gas? Just don't want to miss an update that is significantly better than a current best iMac...
     
  4. briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502

    briloronmacrumo

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    Jan 25, 2008
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    USA
    #4
    There are no guarantees; these are just consensus opinions based on things like past history, what new hardware is available for Apple's use, and whether the upgrades are significantly better to justify an upgrade etc. Obviously Apple looks at other factors like profitability, cost, availability of parts in large quantities and whether it fits their long-term plans. It's possible( but not likely ) there will be no new iMacs or Mac Pros this year. It's also possible the community's evaluation is inaccurate and Apple will surprise us.

    IMO any new iMac in the Fall won't be significantly better than then current iMac. Incremental improvements such as larger storage options, perhaps Thunderbolt 3/USB-C and maybe, if we're lucky, a larger screen( although I consider a larger screen significant but less likely ) are more likely. Buying the current 27" iMac is likely a good fit for your needs based on your description. A TB2 connected RAID ( particularly an SSD-based RAID ) is very fast and probably would exceed your expectations if you haven't experienced it.
     
  5. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #5
    The only thing worth worrying about is better GPU's,in your case it won't make too much difference but may make a difference if you move to 4K video.
     
  6. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #6
    Yes a 2015 top-spec iMac 27 would be a major improvement over what you have. I professionally edit 4k video and also 43 megapixel raw stills from a Sony A7RII, Nikon D810, Panasonic AG-DVX200 and various other cameras. I mainly use Lightroom and Photoshop CC for stills and FCPX for video but I also use Premiere CC for a few things.

    You definitely want the fastest i7 CPU, which is 4Ghz, and the fastest available GPU which is the M395X. My iMac 27 has 1TB SSD but most of my media is on a variety of Thunderbolt RAIDs. I have tested a 2013 iMac 27 with 3TB Fusion Drive and there wasn't much difference in video editing -- from an I/O standpoint -- since the media was external. However it makes sense to get SSD since it is a little faster for some things and it avoids the slight but possible reliability issues of a spinning internal drive.

    FCPX is extremely fast and handles 4k with no problem. Lightroom has some mild performance problems which is an Adobe issue. In general it's OK but if you work really fast you can encounter some periodic lag. There is no solution for this except for Adobe to get their act together.

    While in general each year's Mac updates provide incremental performance improvement, this year we expect a refreshed Mac Pro and possibly a much more powerful GPU in the iMac. This is because of the imminent availability of GPUs based in 14 nm fabrication from AMD and nVidia. It is impossible to say if the new AMD Polaris GPUs will be used in the iMac refresh, generally expected in 4Q this year, but it is plausible based on the current projections of part availability: http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/what-to-expect-from-next-imac.1961770/page-2#post-22701844

    There is nothing wrong with the 2015 iMac and it does very well on both still and video editing, including 4k. It is unlikely that video editing in general would be vastly accelerated by a 2x faster GPU, since most common activities are CPU-bound. However it would probably help.

    If you need a machine before 4Q, get a 2015 top-spec iMac 27. You can save some money by getting it with 8GB RAM and adding 3rd party RAM from OWC or other reliable providers. This does not affect your Apple warranty. If you can wait until 4Q and see what the new iMac 27 includes, that might be better.
     
  7. sperdynamite thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 21, 2011
    #7
    I think it might be prudent to wait until the fall. My 2.8 i7 is slogging along and I can get through half of wedding season by embracing a couple tricks in LR to speed performance. I think I'll be doing A LOT more editing in the coming year or more and an updated Mac Pro is still somewhat appealing. They're bound to update either the iMac or the Mac Pro or both SOME TIME, and in either case I'll get a little more for my money. Even if it's a cheaper 1tb internal SSD.

    Don't get me started on Adobe's crap coding. Why bother improving LR when they can get away with fully f**king up the import process, only to roll it all back in the next update??? They're the only game in town for workflow but I often wish Apple had been more dedicated to Aperture. Adobe needs SOMEONE competing with them.
     
  8. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    Boston
    #8
    Perhaps, and then if you wait for the fall of 2017, you'l get an even faster machine. If you have a need now, then by all means get the iMac. I think we're still early in the product life cycle that it makes sense to buy now, rather then wait for the next model. the i7 5k iMac will be a beast and handle what you want.
     
  9. deelek5 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    #9
    Looking for the best configuration for new iMac 5k. Photography is my passion not my living but I do spend a lot of time with it editing raw files mostly on Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop. Minor video tinkering although maybe more in the future as my early 2008 iMac really isn't up to it even with a ssd replacement. Retired so could be my last big time computer purchase. Could never go back to spinning drive so that's no question and leaning to i7 just because I want it but my main confusion is with The GPU is 395x something that makes sense for me? Starting to really tax my spending ceiling as is. Any insight or advice would be much appreciated
     
  10. sperdynamite thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #10

    If you're using LR I can help a little bit when dealing with an older machine. First, when dealing with a large amount of images build smart previews, and then move the location of the associated image files. You will then be editing the smart previews and once you're finished, reconnect them. Second, take advantage of DNG conversion WITH lossy compression. I am a professional photographer and I use a medium format digital camera and I can tell you that you will not see a practical difference between a full DNG and a DNG with lossy compression. I run my 51.1mp files though this process and they become 12mb files at full resolution.
     
  11. deelek5 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    #11
    Thanks for the info sperdynamite. I do use smart previews and I keep the image files on an external drive as you have suggested. For some reason I have always been reluctant to do the whole DNG conversion thing, maybe a general distrust of Adobe? I'm not sure, evidently it is something I should rethink. On the other hand I would like a new iMac as much if not more because I want it as need it. I have always been a few generations behind with my computers and I think I deserve to be a little closer to the cutting edge for once and that screen, wow. If you have any suggestions as to a reasonable configuration for a new machine I would love it.
     
  12. sperdynamite thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #12
    Oh I don't blame you on wanting the new machine! Just offering up some stopgaps. It's what I do to put up with my 2009 i7 machine. I'm really wanting a Mac Pro for the future I think. A machine to last the next 8-10 years. :)

    As for the DNG format, it's actually far more open than Canon or Nikon or otherwise proprietary raw format. Adobe has made the specifications of it freely available to all. There is a super tiny movement to advise ALL camera makers to allow simply shooting in this format actually. It's very good for general archival purposes because it's likely any program in the future can be made to read it. You are not at all locked into CC programs. For instance I believe Capture One has no problem with DNGs.
     

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