iMac 4K 2015 vs 2017?

iP8SpaceG

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2019
2
1
I am amazed by 17 imac 4k display quality. It looks just insane and I would really benefit from it in my photography hobby, but I can find new 15 for 500$ less and that saving would mean a lot to me. I'm kinda of person who likes and uses 100% brightness almost everyday and time and I really liked imac 2017 max brightness. However I've read that you cant acces 500% without ambient sensor activated and heavy light going into it. Is that true and is there practical difference between '15 350nits and 17 500nits in sunny office?

And how many nits you get from 17 at 100% brightness without ambient light sensor activated?

I've tried new macbook air, that is around 300-330nits, and I find it too dark.

Sorry for bad English, thanks in advance
 
  • Like
Reactions: BluefinTuna

mcpix

macrumors 6502
May 13, 2005
277
62
Wow! You do like your monitors bright. You can obviously set your monitor up however you like, but you should know that if you ever want to print any of your photos, the standard setting for a monitor would be 100 - 120 nits.
 

iP8SpaceG

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2019
2
1
That is way to low, maybe I have to reedit for printing, but viewing my images and editing them, I need 300+, I just dont know if 350 is going to be sufficient. Store where I tested imac 2017 was extremely bright, my room is not like that so maybe 350 is going to be ok. It would be great if I could check 2015 display in person.
 

cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,334
1,708
I think you'll get used to it really quick. This isn't typically an issue for professionals and/or average users so its just going to be a minor adjustment for you.

However for photo editing unfortunately your monitor brightness is too bright. Average user that prefers a bright screen is fine however photo editors arent afforded that luxury and you'll be dealing with a major handicap right out of the gate.

There is a lot to consider.

The display should be the brightest thing in the room while you are editing. Adjustments to the room are sometimes required, like any other hobby/job there are things that are required outside the of the tools needed (ex you can't skydive in a hurricane).

Display calibration is important because you can't pick out the best digital image out of a set because you literally won't be able to tell what the best is. If you have 10 images and 9 of them are over or under exposed what are the chances you pick the right one with a monitor set to max brightness?

Calibration is also important for consistency. This is something you are dealing with right now, your photos won't look the same on a new Mac and/or monitor because you can't get one bright enough. A calibrated display can be replicated on a new display and by others. If you send images out for prints, news articles, photography magazines etc they'll have a equipment that produces the same image as you see and expect.

Display calibration starts with brightness, 120 cd/m2 is optimal especially for calibration. If brightness is 200+ cd/m2 its likely everything else is off too, colors, gamma, black points etc. So it can't be fixed with an arbitrary brightness adjustment later on.

Near max brightness doesn't leave much/any room for color correction a lot of the time. You'll be hitting display limitation and unable to see or even adjust for correct color accuracy.

If you are serious about photography but want to maintain maximum display brightness I would consider getting your own calibration too like one from Datacolor that doesn't force a brightness value on you. That way you set a maximum display brightness to calibrate for plus you can set a 120 cd/m2 profile so you can accurately check a photo compared to normal brightness settings throughout the edit.

Good luck to you!
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,603
392
The Sillie Con Valley
Get the 2017 model.
MUCH better.
I agree. You want an iMac with an SSD for photography. Avoid fusion drives as any work file will likely be on the HDD due to the miniscule SSD in the 2015–17 Fusion iMacs.

Although both have a PCIe x4 buss, Apple used a NVMe 2 SSD in the 2015 and a NVMe 3x4 blade in the 2017. This makes the 2017 up to double the speed of the 2015 for write-to-disk tasks. As you render photos, this will be important.

Get enough RAM, too. Again, photography is one task where more=better. I wouldn't think of less than 32GB. If using Photoshop, 64GB isn't too much and will be faster.

And while we're at it, spend the extra $200 for the i7 CPU.

I understand that it's more money than you'd like to spend but considering the tasks and time, it will be well worth it.
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,603
392
The Sillie Con Valley
Why though? For this use, isnt it more about ram? For scrolling between pictures, maybe? But that is pretty heavily indexed and optimized.

Sure disk speed matters, but for photography? What am I not thinking of?
Everything.

The SSD will be SUPERIOR... for EVERYTHING...
What he said.

Photography and AV (actually video) hits the trifecta: CPU, RAM and write-to-disk speed. Add to that, GPU. All components of a Mac or PC are involved—the better they are, the faster your edits will render. Before video editing became popular, photography was the real world benchmark task that was used to measure performance.

(all times approximate) A SATA III SSD is more than 6x faster than an HDD (an iMac doesn't have this unless the HDD is replaced). The HDD in the 2015-17 is slower that those in the 2009–2014 to lessen problems caused by the excess heat (yes, really). The NVMe blade in a 2015 is 5x faster than a SATA III SSD. The write-to-disk speed with the NVMe blade in a 2017 is 2x faster than the blade in a 2015.

This makes WTD 60x faster in a 2017 SSD than the basic HDD version. You won't notice a huge difference if, say, writing a book in Word but photography? Absolutely.

Likewise, an i7 is much faster for computing those edits. More RAM lessens the virtual memory switchouts to your drive—64GB isn't too much especially if Photoshop is involved.

Interestingly, you can buy a used 2015 Fusion iMac, replace the NVMe blade with a 3x4 such as the 970 EO, max out the RAM and toss that HDD (or replace it with a SATA III SSD for more storage) for not that much money. That machine will perform nearly as well as a 2017 iMac of the same specs. There are many threads on how to do this. The HDD only version of the 21.5 iMac might not have the bus connector for the NVMe blade SSD (many do but no one knows till the machine is opened up). All 27" iMacs have both busses no matter how they are equipped.

I don't know the pricing on an iMac Pro where you live but it is perfect right out of the box. So is the 2017 iMac i7 with 32G (or more) RAM and the Radeon 580 GPU. I like a 1TB SSD since it lessens the amount of housekeeping you must do. Active work files should always on the boot drive while externals are used for inactive files—bring them into your boot drive when working on them.
 

emil

macrumors newbie
Jul 17, 2002
10
0
Köping, Sweden
Everything.
What he said.
Photography and AV (actually video) hits the trifecta: CPU, RAM and write-to-disk speed. Add to that, GPU. All components of a Mac or PC are involved—the better they are, the faster your edits will render. Before video editing became popular, photography was the real world benchmark task that was used to measure performance.
Thank you Mike for the in-depth reply. He did not mention video-editing though. I get that an SSD will outperform an HDD all day long. But for the use case of photography. I feel you guys are being a bit rash saying older hardware couldn't do well too. Not as fast. I get that. But OP also said the price is an issue. And you say go iMac Pro. You clearly missed the point. Yes, newer hardware will always be better, just not cost effective if you can do your hobby for less and be ok with the software.

To OP. Both machines you mentioned will handle the workload of a hobby photographer just fine. iMacs have amazing screens as well. I can't comment on nits and that stuff. But if the screen seems too dim you can darken the room to compensate a bit.