Best mac for Lightroom 2 on a budget?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by reckoner, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. reckoner macrumors newbie

    Aug 21, 2008
    Hi all,

    Currently I use an old windows PC and CS3/Bridge. Would love to switch to a Mac and start using Lightroom 2. To cut to the chase, what do you think is the most inexpensive way to get a Mac that can run LR2?

    Obviously for new/refurb hardware it's probably the mini. For a used Mac, how old do you think is acceptable to run LR2? I am not that familiar with historical Mac hardware. I would like a desktop and hopefully running Leopard and iMovie acceptably, too.

    I could plan to upgrade again in about 2 years time, I just need something to get me through the next 2 years OK.

  2. Kebabselector macrumors 68030


    May 25, 2007
    Birmingham, UK
    I run Lightroom 2 on a 2ghz MacMini (with 2gb ram). Seems fine, though my library is on an external firewire disk. Also has the odd moment of slow down when using the new Adjustment brush, other than that it's fine.
  3. Roy Hobbs macrumors 68000

    Roy Hobbs

    Apr 29, 2005
    Any intel Mac will run Lightroom 2, as usual more RAM the better
  4. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    I run LR2 on my CD2.0GHz iMac w/ 2GB of RAM, and it runs just fine. I also run it on my brand-spanking-new MBP C2D 2.5GHz w/ 2GB RAM, and it runs much better (all-around snappier).

    So I would say get at least 2GB of RAM, and the fastest processor you can afford. Even a Macbook should be fine (I've also run it on a Santa Rosa MB), since LR doesn't use the graphics processor, whereas Aperture makes heavy use of the GPU, making it a bit of a dog on anything without a dedicated GPU.

    Hope this helps.
  5. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Pretty much any Intel-based Mac should be fine. I'd recommend an iMac if you want a desktop. You can get them used or refurbished (which I recommend). Beware that the new 20" iMac's display uses a TN panel just like all cheaper monitors you can buy. But you can purchase an external lcd later and use that as a second monitor. You should max out the RAM, though, if you shoot RAW (3+ GB, depending on the model).

    If you are getting a Mac, make sure to check out Apple's Aperture -- it's the equivalent of Lightroom with a different user interface concept. Functionality-wise, they are essentially on par. Both companies offer 30-day trials.
  6. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    As your library gets bigger, 4Gb IS A MUST.

    I've had Lightroom on its own use 2.5Gb, all I need now is a quad.

    Anything with 4Gb would be fine :D
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You say "Lightroom" but aren't you also going to be using Photoshop, either CS3 or Elements? Look at Aperture too. Although many people comming from Windows find Aperture harder to understand.

    All of those programs, Lightroom, iMovie and Elements are relativly "light weight" and don't need a lot of CPU power. Older equipment would work. Basically if it could run Leopard well it can run those programs.

    Questions for you are (1) How big is your photo library. A few thousand or many tens of thousands. If it is large staoage is a big issue and so is backup. How big are the files. Are your images 100 megabyte scans frommedium format film or smaller jpg files. If the files are large scans you'll be wanting at least a high end and modern iMac.

    For photogrphy the LCD screen matters a lot. Those new glossy screens are as good. Quality mat screens are best.

    Assuming you also need a monitor your best, lowest price Mac would be to buy a used white 20inch imac. These had mat screens and CPUs up to the 2.16Ghz and accept up to 3GB RAM. The lowest price Mac that would work. Might be a G4 Mini. Use your old monitor. Yes the G4 is way slow compared to the new Intel Macs but they've become cheap and they will run the current software.
  8. reckoner thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 21, 2008
    Thanks to all for the advice - great forum! In general it helps to know that any C2D will be OK, given enough RAM.

    ChrisA, I am using CS3 now but will probably switch to LR2+Elements for my workflow. Shooting RAW files on a Canon 20D, so they are big but not too big - usually under 10MB each. Photo library is around 15,000 images, grows about 300-400 per month.

    I am interested in the G4 idea. Many on this board may think it's crazy, but would a G4 mini or G4/G5 PowerMac do the job?
  9. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Maybe. But it seems foolish to go back that far for technology; you're on the brink of being unsupported (Snow Leopord is all Intel, right?).
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Forget about it. Stick to Intel-based Macs (except for Mac minis with Core Solos).
  11. reckoner thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 21, 2008
    Thanks again. Yes, I will probably go with a C2D mini. Now if I can just resist a $499 refurb long enough to see if they update the mini in the next few weeks!
  12. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    IMO iMacs are a better deal and not that much more expensive if you add a decent screen to the Mac mini.

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