Looking to buy a new computer for photography

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by earthbound, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. earthbound macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    #1
    Hi all.

    I have a 15" MBP that will soon turn 3 years old. It's been my trusty companion and I've been satisfied with it until I moved on from a 6MP Nikon D40 to a 18MP Canon T2i last year. Editing large RAW files (+ Photoshop layers after another) isn't exactly speedy on this computer.

    I was set on buying another 15" MBP once it is refreshed, but the impressive performance of the 27" iMac is slowly winning me over, especially because I don't carry my MBP with me often and if I do get a new one, 95% of the time it'll be on my desk connected to an external monitor on clamshell mode.

    Here are my main questions:
    • To those who own the i5 15" MBP + 500GB 700rpm HD for photo editing, do you find that it's fast enough for editing large RAW / PSD files?
    • To those who own the 27" iMac, how's photo editing with the glossy screen? Please note that I only have a small desk, so I can't have another external monitor with me.

    I'd appreciate it if you can share your experiences and advice.
     
  2. Bobjob186 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    #2
    They are both going to handle RAW images fine, the new i chips are monsters
    compared to C2D that you've been using. Plus 8GB of ram and you'll be good to go. I personally would go for the 27", if the desk you put it on is no where near a mirror or a direct beam of light the extra foot of space is such a big advantage with photos. If you've never sat in front of one to do work, it really is something to be amazed about. I mean it's huge and it's like 2 feet away from your face. I remember when I thought my 15" square iMac was big, this thing is 27 inches of high resolution screen. You'll be way happier with the machine for your work if you don't plan on traveling.
     
  3. ComputersaysNo macrumors 6502

    ComputersaysNo

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    #3
    I believe processing power is not the most important thing in your workflow.

    The way i work:

    For example a wedding. I've probably shot arround 800 photo's and i know i'm going to end up with about 150.

    (~200 if the wedding was really nice, beautiful people, nice locations and such)

    Of course i already have all my camera settings the way i want them (always the same), and all pre-sets in photoshop and DPP (digital photo proffessional by canon)

    Make sure your lighting is spot on. The less you have to drag with sliders afterwards, the more time you save.

    Do a pre-selection with a fast raw-viewer. I use faststone on my win7 computer and it is truly a remarkable fast & free piece of software. http://www.faststone.org/

    Then i batch process the selection to Tiff's. This may take some time, but you where ready for coffee anyways. It doesn't matter if this will take 10 or 20 minutes depending on the amount of pictures. You will have to go thru this sooner or later.

    In photoshop i have several actions ready. Now i just open 15 to 20 files, and hit F5, giving me several adjustment layers of corrections i use all the time.

    with another action (i use F8), the photo is saved, converted to jpg, converted to Srgb, resized, sharpened, stored in a new folder, and closed.

    It really all comes down to your workflow, and not so much to computing power i believe.
     
  4. rhinosrcool macrumors 65816

    rhinosrcool

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    Location:
    MN
    #4
    What about working with the glossy screen? Is what's on the screen an accurate representation of the printed photo?
     
  5. wacomme macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2009
    #5
    I have the same question. Any feedback would be most welcomed.
     
  6. davegoody macrumors 6502

    davegoody

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    Location:
    Reading, Berkshire, England
    #6
    I use Both Desktop and Laptop . . . . .

    I shoot Weddings. On average I take 1000 pictures. I have a Mac Pro with 8Gb (Quad) and loads of fast disks, I use a MacBook Pro (Unibody 2.53 with 8Gb of DDR3 RAM, with a 1Tb Internal Disk. Having Loads of RAM and Photoshop running in 64Bit mode is a joy. Aperture eats up the files, though they are HUGE, I shoot on a 5D MkII and a 7D so file sizes are very big.

    The MacBook Pro is the workhorse, I use the MacPro when back to do the bulk of the edits, as it is faster, has three AWESOME screens on it, and has the added advantage of the fact that during these long UK COLD winters, it keeps my office warm too.

    Don't get too hung up on raw specs, a proper workflow procedure is just as important. My MBP is a C2D (got it a week before the i5 version was released) - and it is fine. the 8Gb probably helps with this though. Good luck with whatever you get, all the new Generation of equipment is awesome, just don't get the Machine with Apple RAM - £380 to go from 4Gb to 8Gb on my MacBook Pro, I got it as a stock 4Gb machine, got 8Gb from Amazon for £70 (SAME SPEC EXACTLY AS THE ORIGINAL) - the 4Gb that I took out has gone into a Mac Mini to take it from 2Gb to 4Gb, the 2Gb that came out of the Mac Mini is now in my friend's iMac, taking it to 6Gb.

    All good:)
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    I think the entire purpose of the new glossy screen is to exagerate color contrast for consummer media viewers. Most people use their macs for watching movies, games and so forth and they like the brighter color.

    The other purpose of the glossy screen is to save Apple to cost of a proper anti-reflective coating. You do know why good photographic filters cost more, optical coating are expensive. With a good filter, way a Hoya HMC you can stand with you back to a light source and try to use the filter as a mirror to see it over your shoulder and you can't. Cheap filters make good mirrors. Apple's glossy screen makes a good mirror too. So you have to set up the room so that it is dark in back of you, no outside windows, lamps or other sources of light.

    Annoying, yes but we live in a world where media consumers far outnumber media producers and now Apple is going after the larger numbers.

    You can always buy a MacPro and connect it to a Dell LCD monitor.
     
  8. davegoody macrumors 6502

    davegoody

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    Location:
    Reading, Berkshire, England
    #8
    Agree . . . . to a point......

    My Macbook Pro 15" has excellent colour quality. I do agree that the reflective screen is a pain in some ways, but with a bit of calibration the colour gamut is very good. Far better in fact that my older 15" with a Matte Screen. If you have very bright light behind you it can be distracting, but I find that white balance (very important to me as a Wedding shooter) and colour are very good. One tip is to turn off the Ambient Light Sensor, using a pre-set brightness level helps. As the brightness goes up and down, sometimes imperceptibly. colour quality does seem to drift. MOST PC laptops these days though have glossy screens. At least the quality of the MBP screens is very good. At home, or in the office, then an external screen may be an option
     
  9. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #9
    See my signature. The new iX processors are incredible, especially with 8Gb of RAM. I use my MBP along with a NEC monitor. I did have a 2009 27" iMac and a 13" MBP but sold them in favor of my current combo. The imac was too hard on my eyes with the small fonts. glossy makes what's there look better but a serious photographer want to see what's actually there and have matching prints
     
  10. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #10
    One more thing regarding speed. Try this Photoshop Speed test
    http://clubofone.com/speedtest/

    Set you history states to 1

    It took 33 seconds with CS5 on my i5 MBP - this will give you some idea how far chips have come in laptops
     
  11. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #11
    This question always opens up a **** storm....

    Answer: No one can tell you. Just try both. For me and friends of mine who are lucky enough to have access to equipment like colorimeters and printer calibration devices (friends who are graphic designers and one friend who designs shoes for her shoe company) glossy was the better match. Others claim matte is better.
     
  12. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #12
    No offense but a lot of this is false. Glossy doesn't exaggerate colors, it keeps colors looking natural. Antiglare coatings scatter light (thus diffusing colors) in order to prevent glare.

    Also Apple monitors do not have to be used in only a dark room. I have dual 27inches right by my window with an over head light and have zero problems. The screens are very bright and kill any glare coming in.
     
  13. earthbound thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    #13
    Thank you for all the replies, guys!

    I understand the importance of a good workflow. I'm doing much better after getting Lightroom two months ago. But Photoshop is too slow still that a lot of times I would end up resizing down my photos before I start editing them in Photoshop.

    I'm now slightly leaning towards MBP after hearing that it's more than sufficient for RAW editing. Thank you, Vantage Point, for mentioning the text size. I hadn't thought about that, and as much as I kept imagining how awesome having iMac on my desk would be, glossy screen + small text aren't going to be easy on my eyes.

    Now thinking of a base 15" + 7200rpm HD + 8GB + external monitor ;)
     
  14. Vantage Point, Jan 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011

    Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #14
    Glossy doesn't exaggerate colors, it keeps colors looking natural. Antiglare coatings scatter light (thus diffusing colors) in order to prevent glare.

    Sorry, this statement , "keeps colors looking natural" has no meaning whatsoever. Natural or otherwise, color is related to the camera, settings, white balance.... What is important to a professional is ACCURATE color, not natural color.

    Antiglare vs glare is well... lets just say that the single best way to work is with a hood over the monitor.
     
  15. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2010
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #15
    But Photoshop is too slow still that a lot of times I would end up resizing down my photos before I start editing them in Photoshop.

    I had this problem with my previous computer which was dog slow - I even converted to 8 bit instead of 16-bit to speed things up. I do not have this problem at all with my current MBP.

    Also, consider a few things about your Photoshop settings. First, if you are using CS4 you must set the amount of RAM to be used in Preference as the default is the minimum amount of about 2GB or less (max is about 3 or 3.5GB). Go to system preferences - performance and make the change, then Quit and reopen for these settings to take effect. CS5 allows for more than 4Gb of RAM to be used which will speed things up - I have mine set to use 5 of my 8GB in CS5. Also, watch the number of history states, more will reliably slow things down. Also, in CS5 the default cache tile size is ridiculously low at 124kb, you want to change this to 1024. These little things can bring performance to a crawl or zip things up considerably.

    Also, when I had a 27" iMac it used a 3.06 C2D CPU, but my i5 is actually faster in the speed test. I also use PTGui for pan stitching and I can now stitch 12 16-bit files to a full size pano in as little as 75 seconds. My 4 year old computer would have taken at least 20 minutes.
     

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