iMac specs for photo editing

Discussion in 'iMac' started by A_medwardz, Dec 18, 2018.

  1. A_medwardz macrumors newbie


    Dec 18, 2018
    Hi guys, I’m looking into buying an iMac, but really can’t decide on what size and spec to go for.

    21.5” with i5/push to i7, 16g of ram and 512gb SSD.

    27” with i5, 8g of ram but would upgrade with another 32g myself and either 256 SSD maybe a push to 512g.

    Basically looking for any advice or for any other users that have similar systems and use for lightroom/photoshop

  2. mpe macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    I'd go for the 27". The screen resolution is a great benefit for photo editing and you can actually aftermarket upgrade RAM on the 27".

    As for myself I used 2015 27" 3.2 i5 with 2 TB Fusion and it served me well for LR/Photoshop.

    Eventually I upgraded it to a base iMac Pro (mostly due to my sw development job). It is obviously better, but not day and night better than my old Mac as far as interactive speed is concerned.

    The storage requirement depends on the size of your catalogue, but sooner or later you'll connect an external SSD anyway as your library grows. A Samsung T5 is cheap and works very well for Lightroom.
  3. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I’d go with a Mac mini and a dedicated colour accurate monitor. The iMac has a glossy screen which isn’t great for photography.
    I use a BenQ SW271 with my mini.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Get the 27" -- of course!

    I'd suggest the "midrange" model (3.5ghz). It also has an improved graphics GPU (over the base model).
    Get 8gb of RAM, add more later.
    Either a 512gb SSD or even 256gb.
    Then... add more storage via USB3 (either HDD or SSD).
  5. rjsounds macrumors member


    Jul 3, 2017
    I second the 27". Personally I think it's a no brainer... 21.5" seems a little small these days. You'll appreciate the screen real estate. However, keep in mind that the iMac is well overdue for an update. If you can wait a bit, I would highly recommend it.
  6. A_medwardz thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 18, 2018
    Thanks for the reply! Yeah, I appreciate there’s an refresh coming soon...although we don’t know how long that is could be beginning of the year, could be after, right?

    Also there’s the fact they could decide to take away the slot for upgradable ram on the 27” so I’d rather get the current to be honest. :)
  7. SkiHound2 macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2018
    An iMac update us been expected for some time. Many thought it would come in the summer, many this fall. I was actually very surprised a new iMac wasn't announced in October. At this point it's anyone's guess when we might see a new one. Personally, I think it's likely we won't see user upgradeable ram. Perhaps if they don't do any other significant redesign other than cups and specs. But moving toward increasingly closed systems seems the trend. They are still very nice machines and you should buy if you need. It does go against my grain that Apple will not reduce the price on products that are very old in the product cycle. If Apple offered reasonable price reductions for products like this I'd be much more inclined to buy. I suppose that's exactly what they want to avoid; folks like me who might wait till late in the product cycle to pick up a bargain. You might look at the refurbished store. It seems Apple really does a thorough system evaluation, and of course many of the products were returned simply because folks chose to return them. They come with a full 1 year warranty, and you can buy Apple Care+. You may have to get lucky or wait to find one with the exact specs you want. The normal configurations are fairly prevalent but if you want something with a certain size SSD you might not find one for a while. They are usually around 15% off normal price.
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    My -guess- is the new iMacs will appear sometime between April/May/June 2019.

    Can you wait that long?
  9. dwig macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    ... also, I would NEVER suggest that anyone doing high end graphics work ever buy a new Mac during the first ~3 months after the release of a new OS release. You need to give Apple, Adobe, and others some time to ferret out and fix the various issues that the new OS introduces.

    Like the others, I recommend a large display (if you can't afford 2 large displays) and a lot of RAM. Also, opt for a better GPU and then up the processor. I also suggest at least 512gb internal SSD and several external drives (TimeMachine, primary image storage, and 2 for alternating offside backups).

    At work I do major photo editing for an art photographer. I use Lr and Ps heavily. My Ps PSB format master files are generally in the 1-10gb range with 1-2 Smart Objects and 5-30 adjustment and retouch layers. My 2015 27" iMac with 1tb SSD, 32gb RAM, and the fastest i7 and top GPU available at the time is quite functional, but some of my files do take up to a minute to "render" when I edit the Filter on a Smart Object. Ps also often lags with painting on a mask for one of those Filters. It was the most powerful iMac available 2 years ago and the new ones are only slightly better. I have an older Cinema Display attached as a second monitor for displaying Finder windows and other things.

    I frequently produce very large files for printing (48" x 96" at 300ppi and larger), and it is the layered PSB master files for these that strain Ps. When working on the small files needed for magazine and brochure work and the minuscule files need for Web use, my iMac flies.

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8 December 18, 2018