iMac for photography - opinions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by macman4789, May 17, 2018.

  1. macman4789 macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2007

    Looking at getting a high spec iMac for a photo editing and occasional video editing use. Most of the time it will be handling RAW photo files and editing in RAW editors but obviously wanting it to last a long time and be very smooth when completing these tasks.

    I am considering the maxed out iMac 5K 27" with i7, SSD and 8GB Video RAM.

    Could someone with experience with using a recent iMac confirm that their experience is very smooth and quick when completing these tasks and light video editing?

    I'm half considering the base model of the iMac Pro but thinking this might not be needed.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Glmnet1 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2017
    I don't own one (yet!) but these specs should be more than enough.

    I think you should wait for WWDC (< 3 weeks) or maybe later if you can. The current iMac are almost a year old and the current generation of CPUs adequate for the iMac are a good step up.
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Photo editing really doesn’t tax modern computers all that much, as long as you get an SSD equipped machine any of the 27 inch will be for me for you. Upgrade the ram yourself and consider if you will want to 4K video edit etc in the next few years before you commit to the i7 or the i5.

    If you can wait then we should see hex core and upgraded gpus in the standard iMac sometime this year.
  4. deep diver macrumors 65816

    deep diver

    Jan 17, 2008
    Solon, OH
    I recently got a 21.5" iMac that I maxed out. I would have gotten the 27" inch but I do not have enough desk space for something that big. I've never heard anyone complain about having too much resource. I also keep my computers for a long time. What I got is fast and "smooth", and serves my needs very well. I think you will be happy with the iMac.
  5. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.
    if it were me, and I was buying today for your purpose, I would get the mid tier 27" (3.5) in the stock config (8GB RAM), but with the 512 SSD, no Fusion drive. For max usable life, it would be wise to go up spec to the 3.8.

    I would run it as-is to start.

    With the money saved over the max config, I would buy my own RAM (to take it to either 16 or 32 GB) if needed, and some rugged, fast, external storage, as well as provision adequate space for dedicated backups on a separate local or network drive.

    Depending on volume of work, a fast RAID array may also be wise in place of a single drive, for redundancy (protect against drive failure), and total amount of space needed.

    And I would get a nice mouse I liked.....I find the magic mouse uncomfortable.
  6. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I have a late 2014 5k iMac (i7, 1 tb SSD, 32 GB RAM, 4 GB GPU) and of course that's not up to the current standard.

    Whether it's Adobe's fault, or High Sierra's fault, or the hardware's fault I don't know, but with D850 RAW images (typically about 50 mb) it's laggy as hell in Lightroom. I spend an hour or two in LR every day, and it's not pleasant time.

    I wish I knew what a current-generation 5K would be like, myself.
  7. macman4789 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2007
    Thank you all for your input and replies it is greatly appreciated. It seems like most of the latest iMac configurations would be suitable but I think you guys are right to wait and see until WWDC just in case.

    Great advice on getting an SSD drive, I’ve heard mixed reviews about the fusion drives.
    --- Post Merged, May 17, 2018 ---
    That’s interesting because on paper your specs seem really good! I’ve seen that a few reviews on the new 5K’s comparing against the 2015 iMac 5K and in some tests are 60% improvement. One of
    The stand out points they make is the massive improvement with the Radeon 8Gb video card graphics wise compared to the older 2Gb and 4Gb variants. Maybe that is what is the issues?

    PS nice camera!
  8. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Could be. I think that the fault is partly with the Spectre/Meltdow mitigations, too. My iMac is Haswell.

    Before the D850 I was shooting a D810. Smaller files, but hardly small. I suppose I should point LR at a batch of the D810 shots and see how it feels.
  9. mar58, May 17, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018

    mar58 macrumors newbie


    Sep 19, 2017
  10. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    You don't need an iMac Pro. Photo editing isn't that CPU or GPU intensive and that's what an iMac Pro would give you over a regular iMac - you simply don't need 8, 10 or 18 cores and a workstation GPU. I know plenty of professional photographers who use an iMac, and theirs aren't even maxed out. The spec you are talking about would be more than enough. How do I know this? I had a 2013 Mac Pro that isn't as powerful as the latest iMac and that was more than quick enough for photo editing. I've also done photo editing on a 2012 rMBP (highest spec model - can't remember the exact spec) and that was also good enough for photo editing. All files were RAW files from a 7D2 and later a 5D3 - i.e. over 20 megapixel. The Mac Pro was driving 2 x 4K screens and it was fine.

    The thing that improved performance for me was having enough RAM (at least 16GB) and having fast storage. I keep my LR catalogue on SSD. The RAW files can be on less fast storage, but I wouldn't put them on a slow 5400 rpm HDD.

    Also look at your process for culling files. LR isn't that great for doing this, use something like Photo Mechanic if you have a lot of files you want to cull quickly. You can then get to a point where you have a much smaller subset to import into LR.

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