iMac suggestions for photo editing

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Kayakphotos, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Kayakphotos macrumors member


    Nov 7, 2012
    Naples, FL
    I have been using an older model PC laptop for photo editing and since I picked up my new camera (sony a7) I've noticed that it is very slow for editing. I get a bonus in August from work and am thinking about a computer upgrade. I thought I would seek out suggestions from the community.

    Things to know:
    I have a windows version of Photoshop CS5
    I am open to refurbs, but would like the benefit of less reflective screen
    I will be getting $1500, so I would like to keep budget around that (2k max)

    Should I go for SSD?
    If I'm using boot camp I don't get a benefit from fusion drive right?

    What would be your recommended model and specs?
  2. Booch21 macrumors regular


    Oct 13, 2010
    You might be able to pick up a copy of Photoshop CS6 for Mac. I upgraded through Adobe at the time and they allowed me to switch platforms with no issues.
  3. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    If you use Boot Camp, a Fusion Drive will not benefit you as Boot Camp will only install to the HDD portion of the Fusion Drive.

    I suggest you go for an SSD.

    For your work, the baseline iMac 21.5" will do you fine. I'm not sure about CS5, but I know that the Iris Pro in the base 21.5" really shines in CS6 and CC, because CS6 and CC rely on OpenCL, and the Iris Pro really zips along in OpenCL.

    As the RAM isn't user-upgradeable, I suggest you go with whatever you can afford :)
  4. Kayakphotos thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 7, 2012
    Naples, FL
    I wish my photoshop was the Mac version. It's hard for me to justify creative cloud since I don't shoot professionally. I don't believe that cs5 utilizes OpenCL. Anyone know?
  5. keigo macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2006
    For speed, yes SSD will be the way to go. But if budget constraint, HDD won't reduce your speed that much either.

    Yup boot camp won't benefit from fusion but you can always use VMware like parallel or fusion6 instead of bootcamp.

    27-inch: 3.2GHz
    3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
    Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
    8GB (two 4GB) memory
    1TB hard drive1
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M with 1GB video memory

    is a good start.

    Since photo editing do not require GPU.
  6. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Umm...the SSD is a huge improvement over a normal HDD.

    A 3.5" 7200rpm will perform at around 150MB/s, while a pure SSD will perform at around 700MB/s.
  7. keigo, Mar 12, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014

    keigo macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2006
    true when base on paper but real world usage, HDD speed is still alright for day to day use.

    Of coz if can afford SSD is better but if can't. HDD is still acceptable.

    Unless you are telling me a few sec to min delay is a big impact to you then that is different story.

    cause Kayakphotos mention he got budget limit.
  8. Kayakphotos thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 7, 2012
    Naples, FL
    I probably could get by with the hd if I needed to.
  9. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    On Premiere Pro, CS5 uses only or mostly CUDA, not OpenCL. This only worked with certain nVidia GPUs, although nVidia cards meeting the minimum spec (1GB VRAM) could be hacked to work.

    On PP CS6, the Mac version used OpenCL for some things, but the Windows version continued with CUDA. Not until CC was OpenCL widely used on both Mac and Windows versions of PP CS6.

    With Photoshop, I believe CS5 used only CUDA, but CS6 used OpenGL. Between Photoshop CS5 and CS6, different features were GPU-accelerated:

    GPU features added in Photoshop CS6

    - Adaptive Wide Angle Filter (compatible video card required)
    - Liquify (accelerated by compatible video card with > 512MB VRAM)
    - Oil Paint (compatible video card required)
    - Warp and Puppet Warp (accelerated by compatible video card)
    - Field Blur, Iris Blur, and Tilt/Shift (accelerated by compatible video
    - card supporting OpenCL, GPU mode unavailable on Windows XP)
    - Lighting Effects Gallery
    - Draggable Shadows
    - Ground plane reflections
    - Roughness
    - On-canvas UI controls
    - Ground plane
    - Liqht widgets on edge of canvas
    - IBL (image based light) controller

    GPU features added in previous versions of Photoshop

    - Scrubby Zoom. See Zoom continuously
    - Heads Up Display (HUD) color picker. See Choose a color while painting
    - Color sampling ring. Choose colors with the Eyedropper tool
    - Brush dynamic resize and hardness control. See Resize or change hardness of cursors by dragging
    - Bristle Brush tip previews. Bristle tip shape options
    - Rule of thirds crop grid overlay. Crop images
    - Zoom enhancements. Smooth display at all zoom levels and temporary zoom. See Zoom continuouslyTemporarily zoom an image
    - Animated transitions for one-stop zoom.
    - Flick-panning.
    - Rotate the canvas. Use the Rotate View tool
    - View nonsquare pixel images. Adjust pixel aspect ratio
    - Pixel grid. Hide the pixel grid
    - Draw Brush tip cursors. Resize or change hardness of cursors by dragging
  10. Kayakphotos thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 7, 2012
    Naples, FL
    Thanks for the info. It sounds like the best option is to go with hard drive or ssd and run bootcamp with my current cs5.

  11. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Instead of trying to run CS5 under BootCamp, why not invest in Lightroom? You probably need to purchase another Windows license for BootCamp. You should invest in Lightroom and run OS X, after all you are buying a Mac ;)

    And if you don't do extensive post-processing (which is probably true knowing you said you don't shoot professionally), Lightroom will do most editing just fine.

    If you can live without Photoshop, it's 149.99 USD one time purchase for the current version. If you must have Photoshop, Creative Cloud Photoshop Photography Program is 9.99 USD/month for Photoshop CC, Lightroom, Bridge CC and 20GB cloud storage which isn't bad at all.
  12. Kayakphotos thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 7, 2012
    Naples, FL
    This is a valid suggestion as well. I would still be able to have full photoshop for when I really need it (which isn't really that often in general). I've never had Lightroom and would have to adjust to the workflow though.
  13. keigo macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2006
    Lightroom is way easier to work with and it is design for photographer in mind.
  14. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Just like Keigo pointed out above, Lightroom's workflow is much better suited for photographers than Photoshop is. I rarely use Photoshop when I edit my shots since I've gotten used to Lightroom. As for the SSD, definitely go for it.
  15. slo-climber macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Hello to everyone. ;)

    I'm looking to purchase a new 27'' iMac in the near future. In addition to normal use, I will use it mainly for photo editing in Photoshop and Lightroom. My main doubt is how "good" is 27'' screen with its resolution for photo editing. Could someone who has 27'' iMac for photo editing comment this? 4K iMac will not be out for a long time, so I can't wait for it.

    And also what is the recommended distance to work with that 27'' screen?

    Thanks a lot
  16. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I think the 27" iMac screen (or another IPS 2560x1440) is the bomb for photos. Best thing this side of retina or 4k, and those actually have drawbacks (like cost). The 27" iMac is, I think, the best value in the Mac line right now.

    And in switching to Mac you have to consider that you're stuck with the hardware for a while; you don't have the option of switching around video cards and what not like you do on many PC desktops. So choose carefully.

    And I'd definitely get a SSD. It make a huge difference. Not necessarily in applying a filter or even opening a photo in say LR, but in all sorts of day to day uses.

    See if Adobe will do a swap to the Mac CS5; they do that on some products but not others (I think they don't on the CS packages, but not sure).

    And take a look at what's available as alternatives. Lightroom can do more and more, especially with all the plugins available, especially if you're mostly developing RAW and or retouching, not doing full on manipulations. Even then, there are some other applications that might fit the bill, like Pixelmator, Acorn, etc.
  17. slo-climber macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Thanks for your reply.

    Actually I was looking for 3.5 GHz configuration, with 512 GB SSD. I think it's enough. For the rest I could use external drives. What do you think?

    About RAM I thought to take 16 GB, because it can be upgraded to 32 subsequently.

    I'm not sure aboute video card. Which one of these would be sufficient for PS - 775M (2GB) or 780M (4GB) ?

    Actually, now I have one old PC computer and when I do some more extensive processing it is desperately slow.
  18. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It is with the 27", and a refurb should be within his budget. I haven't looked at recent ones, but on the 2011s the 27" display was a nicer overall display.

    It uses the gpu for a minor number of things. Don't worry about gpus. They all work for photoshop. Perhaps if you did nothing but liquify and iris blur all day it might make a real difference. CPUs do things at a tolerable speed for the most part, as most of the OpenCL functions used to be completely cpu bound functions. They're just faster on gpus, and I mean any gpu. Does it really matter if something you occasionally hit appears instant vs 1-2 seconds at most? It doesn't open up any interesting possibilities.

    You can also transfer your photoshop license to OSX. Contact Adobe and they'll do it. I personally prefer the 27" screen, but that's me. I just don't like the 21.5" very much going by past models. Typically you don't want full brightness for photo editing, and the 21.5" loses too much contrast when turned down. I suggest looking at refurb models. They're quite popular on here due to being mostly returns that have been inspected a second time.
  19. 7enderbender, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014

    7enderbender macrumors 6502a


    May 11, 2012
    North East US

    I was in the same situation and here is what I did:

    - Decided against the iMacs because of the screens not suited for photo editing (shiny, too bright, no wide gamut option)
    -Went with a custom Mac Mini i7 instead. The investment in a 256g SSD plus additional external drives was well worth it.
    - Bought a NEC 27" wide gamut screen. Dell seems to be the alternative.
    - Crossgraded to CS6 for Mac. It's not obvious on the Adobe website but you can still do it.

    All this for under 2K even with the nice screen. I already had a screen calibration tool.

    I also would second what some people said about Lightroom. Unless you do a lot of heavy editing at the pixel level LR is much more usable for 95% of what photographers do. And I was highly skeptical. I have LR5 (which works on both Mac and Windows by the way) and CS6 for Mac. I shoot mostly for fun but do the occasional pro shoot. For both LR is a huge time saver. CS6 is only for the occasional specialty case.

    So you could go with a Mac of your liking and start out with LR5 under OS X and try things out. You can always buy CS6 for Mac a little later (if still around and not replaced by their hideous cloud services...) or switch back to Windows then.
  20. Kayakphotos thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 7, 2012
    Naples, FL
    Adobe won't switch out my CS5. I'll probably try the lightroom route to start out with. I think it will provide a much quicker workflow than I'm used to.

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