Computer for photo editing

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by vandrv, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. vandrv macrumors regular

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    #1
    I currently have a 2.66 core2 duo Imac with 4 gigs of ram as well as a core2 du Macbook Pro with 6 gigs of ram. I am having issues running Lightroom 4 with either of them. Previews tend to load slowly, which I can live with, but if I convert an image to a tiff and run it through any of the Nik Software it starts to have problems. No matter what I do the screen refreshes several times before any change is made. I am thinking I probably need to upgrade my computer and am looking for advice as to what to buy. I would prefer replacing the Imac, and am considering a Mac Mini. Would this be a good way to go or should I just bite the bullet and go for a Mac Pro? By the way I would connect either to a 23" Apple display. Thanks for any ideas.
    Joe
     
  2. Dolphinton macrumors newbie

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    Jul 27, 2012
    #2
    I am in a similar position, however, I am running Win 7 and was looking to go across to iMac.....not happy to hear that you are running into the same problems as me :eek: At the moment it is taking an age to go through the post production process for a wedding, and it is driving me mad. I have found a lot of other users who have far superior machines to me that are having problems with LR4, so it may not be your computer.......sorry, don't have a solution for you.
     
  3. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Thanks for the reply. I just assumed that computer would be the bottleneck but maybe it still something quirky in Lightroom. My general workflow is to use Lightroom for my initial edits and then go to either Viveza or Color Efex 4 for any final editing, but when I do this and return to Lightroom this is where my troubles really begin. I also have noticed that certain filters in Color Efex 4 or if I add several filters definitely slows down.
     
  4. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #4
    It's possible you are simply short on RAM - you don't say how big your photographs are.

    When you noticing that LR4 is bogged down, open up the Activity Monitor. Check the CPU usage, and note how busy the CPU is. Then check the Memory tab. Are you getting lots of Page Outs?

    If you are RAM starved, then LR4 is needing to open up a scratch file on your hard disk, and the system is then moving contents of RAM (which works very fast) to the HDD - which works very slow. You may not even need to open Activity Monitor... if you can hear the HDD grinding away when LR4 is bogged down, then I would suggest you have your answer. That grinding is massive bottleneck that will bring speediest system to its knees.

    Also, a Core2 Duo is getting kinda long in the tooth. Still a capable machine, but it will not perform as well as a modern CPU. You might want to consider upgrading one of those systems for something more modern while you can still sell one of your current systems to subsidize the purchase.
     
  5. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    The iMac has 6 gigs of ram and the MacBook Pro has eight. As far as I know they are both maxed out. I have never used the MacBook much go editing so don't know if the extra ram would help. I will give it a try. I will also check the activity monitor to see if I can figure out what might be causing the slowdown. That is if I can figure out how to understand what I am currently shooting with a Nikon D3 but have been considering getting a D800 so the files will only be getting bigger.
    Your other thought that the core 2 duo is a bit outdated also occurred to me and I thought that maybe replacing it now whole it still had some value might be a good idea. I'm just not sure what the best replacement might be.
     
  6. snberk103, Sep 26, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012

    snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #6
    An iMac with 4 gigs may be RAM starved, depending on what else you are doing at the same time. One with 6 gigs should be good unless you are also opening up a lot of other memory hogging programs at the same time.

    Check Disk Activity too, on the Activity Monitor, when you feel the system is bogged down.
     
  7. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 27, 2008
    #7
    Sorry about my first post. I was wrong, the Imac has 6gigs of ram and the Macbook Pro 8. As I understand it these are both maxed out. So if ram is my problem, I'm guessing the only real solution would be a newer computer.
    If I should decide to go the route of a used Mac Pro, what would be the minimum processor I should look for. I'm not sure I really exactly understand all the differences available. Thanks again for nay advice.
    Joe
     
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #8
    Sorry, now it's my turn to be confusing... one with 6 gigs should be good. Just to be sure, though - find and run activity monitor and check the Memory Tab. Do a search on these forums on Activity Monitor if you need help interpreting. It's the Page Outs we are concerned about. If it does show you are RAM starved, it shouldn't be just LR that is the culprit. It may simply be as easy as shutting down some of the other RAM hogging programs that are open when you run LR4.

    If it's not the RAM, then it may be the processor is bogged down. Again, Activity Monitor will show you what other processes are running at the same time as LR4 - and you can shut them down.

    I doubt you need a Mac Pro.... though to be honest I just took delivery of a new refurbished one. But I'm a professional photographer and can justify the need for multiple cores and lots of internal drives. You will likely be just as happy with a newish iMac, to be honest. With multiple cores and a modern CPU it will feel like it is running more than 2x as fast as your old one.

    Don't forget to look at the refurbished section for good deals on iMacs.
     
  9. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    Thank you for your reply. I did follow your advice and look at the activity monitor while running Lightroom. I will do some research here on what it all means since I'm not quite sure, but I did notice that cpu usage % went way over 100%. So maybe it is the processor that is slowing things down, although I don't usually have much else open when using Lightroom and Lightroom isn't too bad until I convert a photo to a tiff, and then it gets wonky.
    I'm sure I probably don't need a Mac Pro either, but I don't think I want another Imac. And i could probably get a late model used or refurbished Mac Pro for not much more than the Imac. Also wondering what your opinion might be on a high end Mac Mini? I do appreciate your input.
     
  10. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #10
    Converting to TIFF is an intensive task... so not surprised if the CPU gets used at that point. It's what the CPU is for, after all. What you don't want to see is the CPU running at 30% or more with LR4 just sitting there, waiting to be told what to do. That means you have another program running that is hogging the CPU, and causing LR4 to bog down when it needs the CPU.

    The bottom line is this, I think. If you have adequate RAM, and it's not causing the bottleneck. Then that is good. If you don't have any CPU hogging programs running, and LR4 is getting bogged down, then you have to ask yourself how much is it worth to you to upgrade the system?

    I don't know enough about the Minis to make any informed comments. Also, my need for a Mac Pro is different than your needs. Because this is my profession, my timing was based as much on retiring a system that had an expired warranty as anything else. The new (refurbished) Mac Pro is a far bit faster, but that's not why I got it. I got it because it has a warranty, and I could literally swap the old one out and put the new one in its place.

    I actually think an iMac may be better suited for you, at this point.

    That said.... I started with a Mini, with the goal of getting a Mac Pro when I could afford it. I bought all my peripherals (printer, scanner, monitor) with the notion that one day I would retire the Mini and put a Mac Pro in its place, which I did. Because I did my research (about the peripherals) there was very little transition angst. It was almost as easy a swap as this last one. I mention this, only because if you are going to go the Mini route - think ahead to what you may be replacing it with in a few years. For a while I had quite the set up hooked up to a rather modest Mini.
     
  11. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

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    #11
    I really appreciate your advice. I know converting raw files to tiffs is processor intensive, so I really expect this to take a bit of time. But the big problem I keep having is tha when I reimport a file that has been exported to one of the Nik filters absolutely anything I do in Lightroom from that point on causes my screen to refresh over and over. This never happened in Lightroom 3 so maybe it a software not a hardware problem.
    The main reason I haven't considered a new IMac is that I don't have a lot of room for a second display and I don't like editing on the glossy screen
     
  12. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #12
    I don't have any experience with Nik filters, but that does sound like a SW issue. Check with their support pages to see if this is a known issue, and if so - what the solution is.

    Some iMacs come with non-glare screens. I regularly troll the refurbished section on the Apple Store. Good deals pop up on a regular basis. And disappear quickly too. You need to be ready to buy when you see something you like. You have the luxury of a functioning system, so you can afford to wait for the good deals. Keep in mind that your existing system can be sold to help fund the purchase, or any upgrades.
     
  13. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    I will give the Apple store a look. As I understood it, though, you could no longer get an IMac with a matte screen display.
     
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #14
    Perhaps not new, no... but they are still coming up in the refurbished section on occasion. The stock changes often there, sometimes hourly. Just get in the habit of checking a couple of times a day.... earlier is better. Be prepared with an Apple ID to pounce when you find the deal you are looking for.

    Refurbished products are sold by Apple as good as new, and qualify for the same year warranty and can have AppleCare added as well.
     
  15. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15
    I've bought a couple of Apple refurbs so I know they are a good money saver. Unfortunately I think any iMac that would come with a matte screen would be even more out of date than mine
     
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #16
    I saw some i5 and i7 cpu, 27" models with matte screen in the past couple of months. Just check regularly. Some with and some without Thunderbolt, so quite up to date.
     
  17. vandrv thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    I didn't know that. I thought they had completely done away with matte screens. I will start checking the Apple store.
     

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