Looking for advice on monitor/computer

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MacDevil7334, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. MacDevil7334 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2011
    Austin TX
    Hi everyone,

    I have a few questions that I'm hoping to get some input on. I bought a Nikon D5500 on Black Friday last year and have been steadily getting more and more into photography as a hobby. My computer is a mid-2014 rMBP 15" i7 with 16 GB of RAM. The performance has been fine so far. However, I am finding working in Lightroom on the laptop screen to be cramped and increasingly frustrating.

    I would like to get a bigger screen to work on and am considering a few options. Money is not necessarily a factor in that I know what good technology can cost and I am prepared for that, as long as I am not buying more than I need. The other factor to consider is that my fiancée's laptop is ~5 years old and definitely on its last legs. One way or another, we will be buying a replacement computer in the next year or two.

    The options I am currently considering are:
    • Buy an external monitor. If I went this route, I would want something color accurate. I'm not doing much printing now, but I expect that to change over time. It seems only reasonable to get something I could calibrate for prints. I would also only be willing to spend ~$1000 if I were to do the monitor only route, since we would also have to spend on a new computer sometime down the road. Based on what I've read, that probably rules out 4K.
    • Buy a 2017 27" iMac. This is the option that seems to make the most sense given my other considerations since we could split use of my current rMBP whenever one of us needs a laptop. However, I am concerned about the P3 color gamut as compared to an Adobe RGB monitor. The internet seems to be split on whether it's a real issue but I know an Adobe RGB monitor would be better for printing.
    Based on all that, my questions are:
    1. Which option makes more sense from a photo editing perspective? The iMac has a very high res screen and large gamut, though P3 seems more geared toward video. Is the difference between P3 and Adobe RGB enough to be an issue?
    2. If I get a monitor only, what do you recommend that is in my budget?
    3. If I get an iMac, does it make sense to upgrade from an i5 to an i7 given that the most taxing tasks for the machine will probably be Lightroom and Photoshop? What about gpu options? I've already decided to go with an SSD and upgrade the RAM myself so those aren't an issue.
    Sorry for such a long read! Thank in advance!
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    So I'd always suggest a pro monitor for photo work. You are right that Adobe RGB is more suited to photo work. DCI-P3 is becoming popular since Apple adopted it, but thats mostly seen as a video colour gamut.
    iMac's are very capable machines, but their glossy bright screens are not uniform. What that means is you will have to run your monitor brighter and that means your prints will no doubt come out dark.

    I'd recommend the Eizo monitors if money is no object.
    CG277 or CG2730. Both are self calibrating (although the CG277 has a better built in calibrator).

    Alternatively the CS2730 and buy a calibrator like an i1 Display Pro.

    A better value option is a BenQ SW2700PT. You'll still need to buy a calibrator. The advantages of all the above is they all have hardware calibration. The iMac does not.
  3. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    The internet is split on everything; don't let that affect your decision.

    There aren't a lot of cheap options for a wider than P3 monitor. But sometimes they come bundled with a colorimeter, or have better controls, or a screen with less glare, etc. So even though expensive, might still be good value for you.

    But. If you're not doing much printing, then is a wider gamut really necessary? I've done some color proofing on my iPhone at times (P3), being kinda cheap, or even used someone else's monitor. Or done several prints to get the color right. The service fees were less than buying a new monitor. But only you know if that extra $$ is worth it. I seem to recall that greens were a prob for me, but with the vast majority of my stuff it didn't matter that much; I could live with fewer of 'em in essence. But if you had critical color accuracy issues with say an ad for a product, you might reach the complete opposite conclusion. For mere mortals, that extra money could also be spent on lenses, printing services, etc.

    I would think, especially over time, the i7 would be better. Bare Feats has some stats on stuff like that, but it kinda depends on the Ps or Lr action. I was just editing a very heavily denoised and perspective corrected image on a 4.0 i7 and it could feel the strain. Other stuff wouldn't matter much. I find processor delay in live stuff more annoying than say a delay in import and preview creation, which can be unattended.
  4. SoN1NjA macrumors 68000


    Feb 3, 2016
    peanut farm
    the Buying Tips and Advice section might help you more
    it's located under the Macs section
  5. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    MacDevel you have not said anything about the requirement of mobility. If you have to have a laptop, then go a good 4K monitor like the Viewsonic VP-2780-4K. If mobility is not a requirement, go for one of the new 27" iMacs with 16GB of memory and a 512 SSD. Use external drives for the document library (photos, videos, music, .....et) and a seperate external drive for Time Machine backups.

    BTW, my late 2013 rMBP (2.6 with 16GB) is stilling doing Lr and Ps just fine connected to a Dell 4K monitor via TB2.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you can afford a new 2017 iMac, that's the thing to get!

    One suggestion:
    DON'T buy the 1tb fusion drive version. The SSD portion of the drive is only 24gb -- too small!

    I'd suggest a build-to-order upgrade to either a 256gb or 512gb SSD.

    If I was buying for myself, I'd pick the smaller 256gb SSD (only $100 more), and then add USB3 external storage as required.

    USB3 external SSD's are relatively cheap (WAY less than paying Apple's premium).
    And since the new iMacs have tbolt3/USB-c, one can also get a USB3.1 gen2 external SSD, which should offer almost 2x the speed of a "regular" USB3 SSD...
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    One problem with the iMac is the glossy and very reflective screen. It is not a killer issue but you will be restricted in where you can use the iMac. Certainly not any place that has a bright window to your back. You need to be able to dim the lights behind you too.

    In the old days Macs were made for content creators and had mat surface, anti-glare screens. Those days are gone ad now if you want better screens you have to buy a professional monitor. Lightromm will run just fine of a MacBook and monitor and an external storage device for the images. and then you have the option to take the computer with you and work on the small thumbnail versions of the images and small screen.

    But if you don't need to have a portable computer and you have a location where you can use the iMac's glossy screen the iMac is a good deal and outperforms the notebook

    I'm using my 27" iMac and except for about one hour a day when the sun is in the wrong place it works fine.

    Storage is an issue. Make sure you have that figured out and how you will backup the images to a couple (at least) different locations.
  8. Nathan King macrumors member

    Nathan King

    Aug 24, 2016
    Omaha, NE
    I would opt for the external monitor, in fact, that's what I do. Whether or not the difference between P3 and Adobe RGB will be an issue depends on the work you do. When I photograph a space for an interior designer the color must be perfect. The room represents his or her vision and any discrepancies between the room and the photograph will be noticed immediately. That tight workflow must continue down the imaging chain with the ink set and paper used to gain any benefit. If I'm photographing my vacation to share with friends on social media then there is no meaningful difference. Unfortunately, I have no first-hand photo editing experience with current monitors in your price range. Don't forget to add a hardware color profiling tool into your budget; no monitor will have perfectly accurate color out of the box.

    The i7 or GPU upgrade likely won't yield a noticeable performance improvement.
  9. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    I would question wether a $1000k monitor really makes sense, and what it will give you over say a more basic dell ultra sharp and a calibrator (spyder/monki etc)

    If your right at the top end or require very accurate colour work in your photography, then maybe spending so much is needed, but for a hobby photographer even a serious one, its probably over kill....I am not sure personally if I would spend a $1000 on a monitor to go with a $500 camera.
  10. MacDevil7334 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2011
    Austin TX
    Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies!

    I think the comments about a high end monitor being overkill for my needs are valid. I am definitely a hobbyist at this point and a nice monitor is a want much more than a need. Supposing I decide to go with a more affordable route and get a nicer sRGB monitor instead. What are some good options? The BenQ seems like a good possibility though it sounds like quality can be a bit hit or miss? Having lived in retina world on all my devices for a few years now, I'd really like 4K. But, it's not a must.

    Regarding the iMac, it seems to me to be the best value overall? Even though the amount of cash I have to fork out is significantly higher than buying an external monitor, I get a screen that is both very high res and wide color (though P3 rather than Adobe RGB) plus a more powerful computer than I currently own. Am I thinking about that right? I don't think the glare will be a huge issues since my home office has good blinds and the windows are not behind where I sit. How hard is it to calibrate the iMac screen properly given that it lacks built in hardware calibration?
  11. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    iMac screens are calibrated to P3 at the factory. That is very close to Adobe RGB. I you want to calibrate them to Adobe RGB then run a calibration kit with sensor on the screen and tell the software you want Adobe RGB. It will build a custom profile file that will get you as close to Adobe RGB as possible.
  12. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    +1 for the iMac I work in graphics/Photography and have tightly calibrated systems at work. I have a late 15 5K iMac at home and it is more that adequate. I thought the glossy screen was going to be a problem but with the right room placement it has been fine. But if money was no object a Ezio monitor would be my choice!
  13. omihek macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2014
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Alienware has new monitors. They look pretty shiny in the photos.
  14. Chancha, Jun 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017

    Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    The iMac 5K screen probably only comes short for professionals whose workflow relies heavily on color accuracy in their delivery. For general multi-media purposes, especially if the destination is going to be web-based where the viewers are on electronic devices, the iMac "just having DCI-P3" is adequate.

    For ametuer to semi-pro photography I would say the same. Even if you need to do large prints either with your own ink jet or some local print shop, the potential mismatch due to not having full Adobe-RGB coverage is very slight, especially after hardware calibration. And then for serious photography workflows, a very popular setup is to use the iMac 5K as a main interfacing monitor, with a smaller, wide gamut external constantly calibrated Eizo / NEC on the side for full screen soft proofing. This way, the ext. monitor does not need to be ultra high resolution and/or have large real estate, both features can increase the cost exponentially.

    On a more practical note, the real issue is that the iMac and later the iMac Pro remains to be the most powerful hardware option to run MacOS natively, at least not until the promised Modular Mac Pro comes which can be years from now. So for people who really need to use *just* external monitors, their options are limited, and if they go for an iMac then the 5K screen is a sunk cost, compared to if a modern headless Mac existed in place. And the screen coating being glossy definitely doesn't help.

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