Ideal Mac for profesional photography

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Txema, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. Txema macrumors newbie

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    Apr 28, 2014
    #1
    i need a new mac for photo editing and i need to know if I would be best served by the most powerful configuration of Mac Book Pro with retina display or by a Mac Pro medium config (maybe it is a little overkill).

    For photography on Photoshop, Lightroom and Apperture what is most important?
    The processor, the RAM or the Graphics Card?

    Thankyou.
     
  2. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #2
    You want as much RAM as you can afford. Graphics card power is important with photo editing, video editing especially, and finally gaming. The clincher is whether you want a portable or a desktop? If you want a desktop, a nice iMac would do the trick nicely!
     
  3. Txema thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    The thing is I'll be buying it in the US but I'll use it in spain. I can not take a imac with me but I can the macbook pro and mac pro. Also I have two really good self calibrating screens at home.
     
  4. Chris7811, Apr 29, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014

    Chris7811 macrumors newbie

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    #4
    I use a macbook air 100% of the time the new one with an i7 1.7GHz turbo boosted to 3.3GHz, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive and honestly it works for everything and I do edit pictures and play high intensity games and it runs really smooth. I play black ops and borderlands 1,2 as well as a few graphic oriented racing games.

    F1 2012, 2013, and 2014
    call of duty 4, 2, black ops
    real racing 2
    highway rally
    minecraft for some reason is a graphic game so my computer uses a lot of the power to play it as well.
     
  5. jakesaunders27 macrumors 6502a

    jakesaunders27

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    #5
    +1 on the MacBook Air, I have the base model and that handles editing in Aperture really well.
     
  6. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #6
    I would get a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The problem with the Air is the lack of 16 GB of RAM. As a person who works with advanced projects in Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, and Aperture, I can tell you I can max my machine and get the Memory Pressure in the high yellow and red areas. RAM is the clincher here.

    From there, you can look at different CPU and GPU options. The Iris Pro is no slouch when it comes to performance. However a dedicated card is always good.
     
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #7
    If you mean the new desktop Mac Pro... I think that is overkill unless you have other things you can do with it. The nMP is aimed at music/video professionals primarily and brings very little that especially important for a still photographer, imho. You will know when you really need the nMP.

    The thing you need most in your system is RAM. Absolute minimum is 8 GB, and you'll be happier with 16 GB or even 24 GB if you can swing it. At this point any graphics card in any current Mac is more than adequate for still photography. If you are doing video or gaming then you may need one of the better ones. Photo-editors don't use the vast majority of the power of advanced graphics cards.

    You have the monitors, so that's good. You may find SSDs useful as well. I don't have an SSD, though I do have enough RAM that I don't miss it all.

    All of this is just imho only of course, and without the benefit of knowing anything about how you shoot.
     
  8. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    #8
    Yeah, not enough info. If you mostly just retouch and develop RAW and organize, that's gonna be different than if you are gonna do 4K video.

    I would think, however, that any traveling photographer is gonna need a laptop at some point. For instance, do you shoot tethered? need to show a portfolio on the road to clients? A MP won't help much with that.
     
  9. Txema thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 28, 2014
    #9
    Thanks for the suggestions. Excuseme for the long post but my English does not allow me to be more concise.
    I already have a Macbookpro(2010) and it is excruciatingly slow. So my idea was buying a Mackbook air 11" for traveling and a Mac Pro (medium config) or top of the line Mac Book pro.
    Reading the product advisory it is suggested not to buy a Macbook pro retina since it will be updated very soon. I develop RAW, retouch and organize.
    The Mac Pro (3.5GHz 6-core, 16GB, 1TB flash storage) allows the option of upgrading the processor and the memory so it might be future proof +- 10 years (new cameras, larger files) and since I already have the screen it will be 1.5k more than the the top of the line Mac Book pro which might be good for +- 4 years.
    I wonder back and forth whether is it necessary (maybe not now but in +-3 years) or if it will last +- 10 years and the pace of computer improvements.
    Another important factor is that the mac pro will cost me the same as the Macbook Pro in spain so since I'm going to SF ob may...
    Is it nosense?
     
  10. h9826790, May 5, 2014
    Last edited: May 5, 2014

    h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #10
    If you prefer new stuff, I think the new iMac is good for you.

    However, if you are looking for something with better price / performance ratio, better expandability for future use, and do not mind to use 2nd hand stuff.

    You may go to the follow page and have a look.

    http://pindelski.org/Photography/technical/mac-pro/

    An iMac should be good enough for photo editing, and may be good for next few years, but a old Mac pro with the proper expandability, can last for more than 10 years, and the performance still at the top of the list.

    For Photoshop, RAM, SSD (as scratch disc), CPU, and Graphic cards are all important for performance.

    You have to make sure a good balance in all these component in order not to waste any money (e.g. very strong CPU and GPU but not enough RAM = expensive but poor performance).

    For your reference, even though my 2009 Mac Pro is 5 years old now. It's performance is better than some new Mac Pro (by benchmark software, or real world photoshop test), but the upgrade cost is much cheaper than buying the new iMac.

    Geekbench 3 table.png

    NovaBench.png
     
  11. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #11
    10 years is just too great a distance to future-proof. You're not likely to know what your business needs will be, no less where computer architecture may go.

    There's indication that socket-compatible CPUs for the nMP are on a very short path to extinction, perhaps just a couple of years before no further performance upgrades will be available on this particular pin-out - what will change is price. It seems some of those buying the 4-core now are waiting for the cost of today's 6-, 8- and 12-cores to drop - that's a short-term strategy, not long-term. Effectively, "In two years I'll be able to afford today's top-of-the-line processors."

    Just in terms of hardware longevity, how many are using 2004 computers today? The only likely source of replacement parts will be other, used machines. No manufacturer stocks parts going back that far.

    Further, Apple was still on the PowerPC architecture 10 years ago. When's the last time a developer released a software update for that platform? Perhaps 7 years from now, you may be stuck with whatever software you already own, and new software may require a new computer.

    There's debate over whether/when Apple will move Mac to ARM processors. I think there are plenty of good reasons for them to stay with Intel for the near term, but long term? I wouldn't place any bets.

    It's often said, "Buy what you need today." If you're making money, the cost of a new computer will be incidental. It's not hard to imagine that, in five years or less, the power of today's nMP will have migrated to much cheaper machines. Certainly, if history repeats, in 5 years $1,500 will buy a new computer that has equal or better performance to today's nMP.

    As a purely business decision? If a MacBook (Air or Pro) will do the job today, invest the other $1,500 into something else that can make money for you today. If you can generate a 10% return annually on that $1,500, you'll be much farther ahead than if you "invested" it in a machine that depreciates in value over the same period.
     
  12. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #12
    I would say this is a non - issue. Any modern gpu has enough power to prevent it from being the bottleneck in such a setup. Also with video editing it depends immensely on the software and how it is used.


    Blah that is an absolutely terrible idea that you're likely to regret later. The first problem is that 10 years is longer than any of this hardware will be supported regardless of whether the raw processing power continues to meet your needs. If the software you want to use isn't supported on that hardware, it doesn't matter. The other thing is that your cpu upgrades may be meaningless. The only thing you can gain over that 6 core in the same chipset is more cores, and it will be meaningless for most photo editing software. Their basic operations don't gain much at really high core counts. When it comes to massively parallel operations eg those are the things that have been relegated to gpu processing rather than the old bucket methods.

    Now you're probably wondering why I said not to worry about gpus. For this kind of thing they're just inherently faster to the point where most operations that take advantage of them are near instant on whatever you buy anyway as long as the data is being loaded from memory rather than disk. The other thing is that they rely on specific frameworks. Newer frameworks won't be supported on the older hardware regardless of what you buy today. The one situation where you might gain a little future proofing there is if one is said to support OpenCL 2.0 and another only supports 1.1 or 1.2. In that case one might outlast the other, assuming that 2.0 support materializes for that gpu under OSX and not just Windows.

    Anyway the desire to future proof something for 10 years is just severely misguided. You would be better off buying something as simple as a mac mini loaded with ram to be replaced a few years down the road. If you're editing things for publication you would do well to invest in a good display.
     
  13. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #13
    That really is depending on the workload. Doing a simple project in Photoshop or Final Cut Pro is a lot different than editing a 45 minute video with effects. Not only the software but the work load.
     
  14. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a

    ohbrilliance

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    #14
  15. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #15
    That is why I mentioned it depending on software. Photoshop is fine even on integrated with available vram sometimes being a factor and beyond that it being only dependent on the framework itself being supported. Premiere obviously benefits from mercury playback. FCPX has its own set of tools. In terms of photo editing meaning still editing, it's not a terribly important issue. Some people ask what kind of gpu they need for lightroom, which is extremely misguided. Lightroom needs one that can write its front buffer to the screen and little beyond that.
     
  16. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #16
    The only reason why I bring it up is since most pro editors get jobs in other fields like graphic design and video editing.
     
  17. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #17
    Yeah fair enough. They used to be much more disjoint in terms of fields. Shifts in recent years have essentially necessitated a broader skillset in that regard, but if someone is buying a new machine today, I don't think it's always possible to gauge what they may need later. He didn't mention much about the 2010. I know it can hit a wall on cpu, but the way he said it crawls leads me to suspect his settings have it chewing through ram and frequently hitting a somewhat full HDD. Typically these kinds of threads come up when people are more IO bound than anything.
     
  18. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #18
    Definitely so. I recommend the Retina MacBook Pro since it has the display quality for an editor to love, the capability to get the job done and then some, and the expandability to set it as the center of the setup.
     
  19. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #19
    In terms of notebooks I like it. Depending on the requirements, I've had better luck with some externals than any notebook screen, predominantly NEC and Eizo. They're quite costly though. The retina macbook pro has far better viewing angles and a white point that is better suited to any kind of editing than something like the Air.
     
  20. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #20
    If you need to edit on the go, then the Retina Display is by far the best to work with. Obviously an external display is better, but I don't see people bringing a 23" display with them. Though, I did see someone with an iMac in Panera Bread.
     
  21. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #21
    Take any current MacBook Pro and pack it with as much RAM as you can afford and you have a good portable photo processing machine.

    The main issue with photography on a semi or professional level is storage of files. You want to have enough left in your budget to have at least one or two external drives for file storage and backup.

    A lot to the photo people over in the Digital Photography forum here keep three backups of their image libraries. One attached to the computer, one in a locked drawer and a third in a safe place away from the home or office. This guards against the following: computer crashes, theft and fire or flood.

    For travel with the laptop a spare hard drive with a full backup is a must. And don't keep it in the same bag as the computer.

    As for your home machine, a Mac Pro is a good choice but the base model will do just as good a job. Those are server class chips in those things. A quad cord iMac will work too. A really good monitor is more important.

    Dale
     
  22. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    #22
    You kind of have to break down your 10-year product life cycle needs.

    Others have mentioned graphics cards and processors; all great points.

    But there's also just plain old storage, monitors, and even legacy software or hardware. Some of those considerations might even require consideration of something that lasts ten years. For example, there are graphics pros and others who still need those old MPs that are still chugging away because of other equipment they own. Or they've relegated them to use as file servers, media servers, etc. So you can maybe get many more years of service out of such a computer, but probably not as your main one.

    And compare the uses of old MPs with what it might be like to use today's nMP in say 5-7 years. I'm not sure that it will prove as useful in the long run. Hardware for it may come down in price...but it may not. If I were gonna go the desktop route I'd suggest a hackintosh along with a MBP. There are lots of ways to repurpose and update a hackintosh, and the issues in software that might mitigate towards unreliability go away if you've got a MBP around. And you could always stick Windows on it....
     

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