For photography: Best Apple solution?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by gdourado, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. gdourado macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2010

    How are you?
    So I was thinking about hardware upgrades...
    I'm a Mac user and Mac is what I would like to keep using, so Windows based PC's are currently not an option.

    I would like a bigger monitor with a good panel. A computer to allow me to do my every day tasks and some portability.
    My everyday task are browsing the web, mail, some docs in iWork and some photo editing in Photoshop and Lightroom. I work with raw files but I usually don't batch process.

    My current highest resolution camera is the 5D with it's 12mp raw files, but I would like some headroom to upgrade camera body in the future...

    So... My thoughts...

    Option 1:
    - Buy a Thunderbolt display (excellent quality, beautiful, works as a hub for FW devices, usb, ethernet...)
    - Buy an 11 inch i7 macbook air with 4gb of ram and 128gb ssd.
    - Use Iomega FW external hard drives daisy chained for data drive, work drive and backup.

    - 27 IPS monitor
    - Macbook air is really portable and has a full OS to run all software.

    - Limited to 128gb internal storage.
    - Macbook air may not be the most performant system out there.
    - Limited to 4gb of ram.

    Option 2:
    - Buy a Thunderbolt display (excellent quality, beautiful, works as a hub for FW devices, usb, ethernet...)
    - Buy an 13 inch i7 macbook pro.
    - Buy an SSD Sata3 and 8 gb of ram to upgrade.
    - Use Iomega FW external hard drives daisy chained for data drive, work drive and backup.

    - 27 IPS monitor
    - Macbook pro is more powerful and upgradable.

    - More expensive.
    - Macbook Pro is not so portable.

    Option 3:
    - Buy a Thunderbolt display (excellent quality, beautiful, works as a hub for FW devices, usb, ethernet...)
    - Buy a wifi 16gb Ipad
    - Buy an i5 Mac Mini.
    - Buy an SSD Sata3 and 8 gb of ram to upgrade.
    - Use Iomega FW external hard drives daisy chained for data drive, work drive and backup.

    - 27 IPS monitor
    - Can have a computer with an SSD for OS and another 1tb hard drive of data.
    - More upgradable.

    - More expensive.
    - For portability, Ipad is limited by IOS to use serious apps.
    - Multiple Devices to have data spreaded... Can be overcome by iCloud.

    So, these are the options I considered...
    Looking to hear your thoughts on these...
    What would you prefer and why?
    And from a price performance point of view?

  2. ssmed macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2009
    Some thoughts:

    The 15 inch MBP can have a glare free display as well as having a better graphics card, I would consider that a much better option for photography on the go.

    The Air could have a 256Gb SSD - why limit yourself to 128GB?

    If you don't need portability I would get the mini mac/27" display combination.

  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    If you are serious about photography, then the top 3 things to consider are:
    1) Monitor - the new iMac/Cinema Display monitors are actually pretty good. There are better ones of course.... but only you can balance your budget/quality needs. However, I keep reading over and over again that Dell makes a great monitor - better than the Apple for less money.

    2) RAM - you should be thinking about 8GB being the minimal entry level amount, not what you upgrade to. I'm at 12GB and planning on bumping that to 16GB or 20GB. As your RAW files get bigger, Photoshop and Lightroom need more memory. Having adequate memory is the single best thing to do to improve performance.

    3) Storage - you are going to need lots and lots of hard drive space. External is fine, if it's connected with a fast connection, like Thunderbolt, FW800, and other highbandwidth ports. Otherwise think internal drives.

    Just my 2 cents worth....

    Think refurb store too. There are some Mac Pros there now. Not the cheapest systems in the world, but they'll last you years and years....

  4. smphoto74 macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2011
    Option 4: a 27" iMac 3.4 Ghz 2GB video card and SSD drive
    Pegasus R4 Thunderbolt drive for storage.


    I am a photographer and I have the 3 new 27" iMacs. 2.7, 3.1 and 3.4Ghz all networked together via wired Airport extreme. All 3 iMacs edit images on from a Pegasus R4 unit plugged into 1 of the iMacs. I upgraded all 3 iMacs to 16GB of Ram from Amazon(currently $98 for 16GB per iMac). No major difference in performance from the 2.7 and 3.1. Batching 700 images in LR and it was less than a minute in time. 3.4 is faster and using the Thunderbolt R4 form Pegasus is amazing. 60 seconds to copy 5GB in Raid 10.

    I know everyone is high on the MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display but I like the iMac setup. I do also have a 13" MacBook pro 2011 plugged into a 50" plasma for client ordering. Once you edit on a 27" I never want to edit on the MacBook Pro.

    Let us know what you do. :)
  5. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    If I were you I'd look at the 13"MBP.

    For you, RAM needs to be 8GB min, + I'd pull the optical drive and install another HDD rather than going external for you photos.

    13" i7 with (bto) 128GB SSD
    1Tb internal HDD (with OWC Data Doubler, or Optibay)
    8GB RAM, from 3rd party, eg OWC. [16GB poss when modules get cheaper, I think.]
    27" Thunderbolt Display
  6. will waters macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Great Britain

    Go for a 15", one of the lower spec one's however max it out with ram, and get a decent hardrive inside, and then get an LG display, as opposed to apple as they are a lot cheaper and do the same thing, i suggest looking at western digital for external hardrive's
    So my choice

    15" MacBook Pro
    27" LG Display
    Westen Digital 2TB external hardrive (firewire 800 would be the best for you)

    Cheaper than most other configurations (under £2000)
    Excellent set-up
    Powerful enough

    There are none
  7. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    The 15" is a great machine, but it's beginning to lose on it's portability stakes, esp when tied to an external HDD.

    Externals are just a pain in the a** for anything more than a backup.
  8. Vantage Point, Nov 6, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011

    Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    What I have or close to it...

    -15" MBP w/8GB ram and possibly a large hard drive to store plenty of files
    (if you are not mobile at all then a Mac Mini instead)

    -NEC or similar monitor. Yeah, you can get buy with a Mac display but for a serious photographer this panel is sub par for 2 reasons. 1) Glossy and 2) Limited gamut. Glossy can help to make your pictures look great but this is NOT what a photographer wants. A photographer wants to see exactly what his work looks like so that prints will ALWAYS match what is viewed on the monitor. Along those lines most modern DSLR cameras have the ability to capture a full color gamut but a sRGB panel can cut out part of the color that is really there - especially reds. A wide gamut monitor lets you both see and work with the color information that is actually there. I shoot a lot of sunrise and sunsets and the range of colors and lack of posterization that I can see with my NEC monitor vs a glossy mac can be significant.

    So if you want to get serious about photography in the sense that you see what is there and get perfectly matching prints (also requires one to calibrate their monitor - which will cost at least $300 for calibration tools), then you need a high end monitor. Photography is a visual art so why mask what is there? A good monitor is key to all post processing and print work. Apple monitors are great for movies and everyday web browsing and they have great sRGB gamut but not RGB or ProPhoto gamut. (Note - web posted photos should be converted to the limited sRGB gamut not wide gamut else color shifts may be visible on some monitors - so for web use and photo viewing a apple monitor is very good.

    As a side note, I am a two time international award winning photographer that has had his work displayed in the Smithsonian. It is important for people like myself to have the right tools - good camera, good lenses, mastery of composition, good software, good printer, powerful enough computer, and a quality monitor that helps bring all these tools together

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