Computer setup for wedding photographer

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Goobley, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. Goobley macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2011
    Hi all,

    I've been asked for help sorting out a friend's daughters in law's computer setup. She works as a wedding photographer, and currently has a home built windows computer built by her Dad, which is crazy slow, (from what I've heard). My immediate suggestion since she needs a computer quite soon as her current one is driving her crazy was the lower end 27" iMac and whack some more RAM in it. She uses lightroom a lot of the time and this is where we get to the first real question.

    My friend is not overly tech savvy and doesn't know anything about her camera equipment or what she shoots in other than using LR. I have however heard that it can take well over a day to transfer the images from her camera to the computer, this drivers her completely crazy as people obviously want their photos quite quickly after their weddings. I would imagine that she's currently shooting in RAW, but not being a photographer myself I don't really know how to speed this process up. She does use a card reader but certainly doesn't have usb 3.

    I read a thread about using a seagate go pro sata thunderbolt adaptor with an adaptor for whatever card type she uses to sata. Would this be a viable way of speeding things up?

    I can't see how transfers can take anything like as long as they do unless she's taking 500GB+ of photos (is it possible?) or unless for some reason usb 1 is only being used.

    She also needs some decent storage for the photo sets as apparently she keeps them forever, which sounds like a TB raid array to me, any recommendations?

    TL;DR Question section

    1) Is the base 27" iMac (with extra RAM) good for a photographer handling large RAWs? (yes I know the new one is on it's way but the differences won't be enormous other than usb 3 and you lot always say 'if you need a machine, buy one'.)

    2) What's the fastest way to get a large number of large photo files from a camera memory card to a hard drive?

    3)What's the best way to keep all old photo sets forever more? (What hard drive raid array setup)?

    The budget for all this is, as low as possible as I've heard that she doesn't currently have a lot of bookings for next year yet. 3) is very much optional for the moment but I'd like opinions for later on. 2) in conjunction with 1) is the most important.

    Many thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to offer.
  2. Acidglaze macrumors member

    Dec 12, 2008
    1) The 27 in iMac will be more than enough for what she needs. One important fact to consider is that she will be switching operating systems, so she will need to repurchase any of her photo editing software. If she only uses Lightroom, it shouldn't be much of a problem, but she would need to make sure there is a Mac equivalent of any software she uses.

    2) If her computer is old and a custom built PC, I could be plausible that it is still using old IDE hard drives (which could explain the slow transfer rate). I myself have a windows XP machine still and transferring pictures can take some time. The best way to transfer from a card to a computer is simply through a card reader. The iMac should be able to handle the transfers easily.

    3) If you want a pure backup solution, look for a raid 1 setup. You will need 2 hard drives for this, but will only access one. The second is a pure mirror of the first. The only catch with this is it is good for recovering crashed hard drives only. If there is data corruption, that gets copied also. You can find some simple raid 1 enclosures for pretty cheap, some already have hard drives. I wouldn't worry about TB for that since it's backup only and you won't be using it as a production drive.
  3. Goobley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2011
    Thanks for the reply, it confirmed most of my suspicions, I'll inquire a bit more into what hardware is currently in place (have built several windows systems and use both oss on a daily basis) and see if an upgrade is a good idea, I know that I'll always have the mac to fall back on.
  4. Oracle1729 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 4, 2009

    1) As the other poster said, an iMac has plenty of power for photo editing. *but* USB 3 is an absolute must. Thunderbolt is a joke because you'll pay at least $150 more for no benefit if you want a Thunderbolt device. So you pretty much have to wait for a refresh.

    The Seagate Thunderbolt adapter is a really bad idea. You're basically paying $150 to compensate for a lack of USB3 or eSata port on your mac.

    2) With a USB3 card reader. In other words no mac desktop is able to do this job. Apple desktop computers are literally years out of date at this point considering there is no USB3 port; they haven't released a desktop since Jobs was alive. If you care about your friend make sure she waits for a refresh or build her a decent PC (which should cost around $6-800 if you want to match the performance on the 27" iMac). Keep in mind the iMac is also crippled by having a laptop video chip.

    I shoot RAW. A fashion shoot for me is about 500 pictures or around 8 gig. Using my old 20MB/s card it should take about 10 minutes on a USB 2 port to off-load. Using a new 95MB/s card on a USB 3 port, it should be down to a few minutes.

    3) Forget a raid. It's good for massive active storage not for archiving. Keep one copy on your computer, 2 more copies on separate USB 3 external drives (one of which you keep off site). If it's really important, keep a copy on Delkin Gold archival DVD media (it's about $4/disc and worth every penny).

    Just one other comment "My friend is not overly tech savvy and doesn't know anything about her camera equipment or what she shoots in other than using LR. " causes me a lot of concern. It is absolutely essential for a photographer to know this stuff. Unless she's just shooting snapshots in auto mode, it's essential to understand how her camera is metering the images (incident light vs reflected light for example), I see so many people who rely on 51-segment autofocus which just results in out of focus pictures. All digital photos need post processing, and it's essential for even the most entry-level pro to know a lot more than basic tweaks in LR.

    This is nothing knew, photography has always been a very technical profession, 20 years ago it was essential to know about film and paper chemistry and how exposure effected it. 80 years ago, photographers would mix their own emulsions.

    Today with computers it's more technical than ever; auto-modes have made the bad photographers think they know what they're doing and cell phone cameras have lower people's standards drastically, but the difference between knowing the tech and not is bigger than it has ever been.

    @Acidglaze, IDE drives don't explain a slow transfer rate. IDE topped out at 133MB/s, and Sata started at 150MB/s. The slowest IDE was 33 MB/sec which would take the machine back to the 90's and still barely be a bottle neck on USB2.

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