Mac Mini 2018 - good for photography?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ozone, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. ozone macrumors 6502

    ozone

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    Feb 18, 2004
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    Ontario, Canada
    #1
    I'm not a true techie, so what the opinions on the newly released Mac Mini 2018 for photography editing and processing? Lightroom, Photoshop. I might do some light video, but probably not heavy video needs. What would be the minimum I should spec in the new Mac Mini?
     
  2. F-Train macrumors 65816

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    #2
    Are you using Lightroom/Photoshop on RAW files or JPEGS?
     
  3. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

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    #3
    Both... I use JPEG for events where absolute quality is not critical so I can use smaller files. For portraits, I'm shooting RAW - high resolution Nikon and Fuji files.

    Something tells me you're going to advise me to look elsewhere...
     
  4. strawbale macrumors 6502

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    #4
    No panos, no stacking?

    What do you use now?
     
  5. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

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    #5
    I don't do much with panos, and no stacking, but I can't rule it out in the future.

    I actually use a 2016 MBPro 15" connected to an external monitor/kb/mouse. I'm not super happy with it - I'm not a fan of the new keyboard, battery life is poor, it's just dumb looking to keep all these dongles connected to it, etc. But since it just sits connected for 90% of its life, I figured I might go back to a desk top.
     
  6. strawbale, Nov 7, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  7. F-Train macrumors 65816

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    #7
    The Mac mini will work fine. You might have a look at other threads here on using it for photography and video.

    I'd suggest the i7 processor, but you could get by with an i5.

    For RAM, 16GB is plenty.

    The size of the Flash drive depends on how big a workspace you want on the computer itself and how much you want to keep on external drives. I think that 128GB is too small. I'd be looking at 256GB and 512GB. If you want to use the computer for general storage, you can go as high as 2TB, but larger Mac mini flash drives are very expensive.
     
  8. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

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    #8
    I'm wondering about the onboard GPU. I figured I'd be better off with an i7, and I know that PS and LR don't use the GPU extensively... but I don't want to get something and then be unhappy with it only a few months down the line.
     
  9. now i see it macrumors 68040

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    Jan 2, 2002
    #9
    Photography of any size, billboards included, can be handled by the i3 Mac Mac mini easily. The most important hardware for professional photography is an excellent monitor, lots of storage (external is fine) and lots of RAM (for Photoshop).
     
  10. strawbale macrumors 6502

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    #11
  11. namethisfile macrumors 65816

    namethisfile

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    #12
    The Mac Mini is basically a "headless" mac. Be it, a headless iMac or a headless Macbook Pro. The 2018 Mac Mini uses desktop CPU's like the iMac, now, which is a change. So, in that regards, it is closer to a headless iMac. But, the 2018 Mac Mini, in terms of CPU power can be configured to be faster than the fastest current iMac since it can be optioned with a 6-core/12-thread Coffee Lake i7. I believe the current iMac's fastest CPU option is a 4-core/8-thread Kaby Lake i7 (the 7700K)....

    That can change whenever Apple's refreshes the iMacs to the new Coffee Lake 8th Gen or 9th Gen CPU's....

    The Mac Mini's integrated GPU is its weak-point versus the Macbook Pro and the iMacs. I don't use Lightroom so I can't say for sure how an iGPU will affect one's work. But, my gut instincts tells me that you can do it with a 2018 Mac Mini. You're not playing Battefield 1 or BFV on it. And, you're not editing 4K or 8K on it. Just still images. Albeit, RAW and big. But still one image at a time.

    I am not being sarcastic here when I say, Yeah. Totally! One image at a time is something the 2018 Mac Mini should be able to handle with ease.

    Just make sure you have at least 16GB RAM for those huge RAW files. And, a fast SSD to work on, if not the internal, via external TB3 SSD or something. The latter cost more. But, I believe I/O performance (your storage medium's speed, for example) and RAM (since CPU is current) would be the more on the priority list for single, one image at a time, whether they're 30GB RAW files or whathaveyou.

    The 2018 Mac Mini's integrated intel GPU can also lend a hand with openCL and Metal tasks, depending on how Lightroom is optimized. And, it should be leveraged in photo-editing work since it should have free resources for the application since it only needs to drive the display and the other cores even in an integrated GPU will be freed up to lend a hand, sorta, speak in less demanding workloads, such as photo editing.

    So, my answer is a resounding, Yes. The Mac Mini 2018 is good enough for like a National Geographic Hot Shot Documentary Wild Life Photographer. I am not one, but, I'd be willing to prove it if NG hires me and gives me a 2018 Mac Mini and tickets to wild life sanctuaries.

    Thank You!

    And, oh, a top of the line medium format digital camera and large format 35mm digital camera... Thanks NG!

    And, if, for some reason you need more oomph in your GPU, the 2018 Mac Mini has like 4 TB3 ports where you can connect an eGPU....
     
  12. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

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    #13
    Yes, I also keep my main files on an external drive. I'm more concerned about performance rather than storage.
     
  13. for this macrumors 6502

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    Nov 18, 2014
    #14
    Yes, still images are not that tough a task anymore. The new i3 model is even faster than late 2012's top of the line, the i7 2.6GHz quad core. But yeah I would admit it wouldn't make me feel good/proud to have the base model and this is not a small factor at all.
     
  14. F-Train macrumors 65816

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    #15
    If you look at the other threads that I linked, you'll see discussion about external GPUs. I would hold off until, and if, you find the integrated GPU inadequate.

    The main argument in favour of i7 over i5 is that you can't change the processor later. Something to consider.
     
  15. SkiHound2 macrumors regular

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    Jul 15, 2018
    #16
    The utility of a discrete gpu depends on the software used. Puget systems (do a google search, they make custom built Windows machines) has articles on some of this stuff. They recently did one with PS. At present, there are only a few filters in PS that make any significant use of a discrete gpu. I believe the current version of LR only uses it in the develop module. It seems sort of scaled such that if you're working with large raw files the gpu helps in the develop module, but there is a lag moving data to the gpu so some people find it faster with the gpu support turned off. I do know that Adobe has been trying to revise LR to make better use of multiple cores. So at some point in the future PS and LR may make better use of a discrete GPU. I've read that Capture One makes pretty extensive use of a gpu so to some extent the utility of a gpu would be contingent on the software being used. For current versions of LR and PS it's probably not a big issue.
     
  16. MistrSynistr macrumors 65816

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    #17
    I used to edit huge RAW files in Photoshop on a 2012 dual core base model mini with SSD.

    It will be fine.
     
  17. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

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    #18
    I'd probably get the i7, 16 GB RAM, and maybe the 256 GB internal with the idea of putting all my files on an external drive. I would prefer not to get an external GPU - I have enough things on my desk already. So, long term ability of the GPU included on board would be my main concern.
     
  18. F-Train macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Sounds like a plan. Until somebody credible does photography-oriented tests on the Mac mini, nobody can tell you anything definitive about the limits of the integrated GPU. I'm buying anyway, but I'm happy to go the external GPU route if necessary. For you, maybe a good reason to wait.
     
  19. jev425 macrumors 6502

    jev425

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    Seattle, WA
    #20
    I have a Fuji and use the jpeg and raw files extensively. Not many panos but a lot of stacking 3-5 raw files. Right now I use a 2012 Mac mini with the i7 and 16gb of ram. Since it is a hobby I use software like affinity and luminar for my photography to avoid the subscriptions like photoshop. It really works well for me and only “slows” down when stacking raw pictures.
     
  20. archer75 macrumors 68020

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    Oregon
    #21
    It will be fine. I have a lesser CPU in my desktop and use it for lightroom work with no issue. 16gb of ram is fine, 8gb is required by lightroom. I use 32gb as I also have so many other tasks running on my systems. I'd get external storage for all the photo files but keep the catalogs and cache on a SSD.
     
  21. Bendjosh macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2018
    #22
    Hi Ozone. I'm a heavy lightroom and medium photoshop user myself. I would just need a cheap tablet were it not for these two programs. I have a 5DSR so Raw files are huge for reference. Ive been keeping a close eye on how my older computer has been running over the last week... From this ive decided...

    i7 - the CPU seems to be the biggest factor in Lightroom performance. When I'm building previews after import it is taking full advantage of my current hyperthreaded 4 core older i7.

    512gb - 256 is just too small if youve got a big Lightroom catalog imo. I pretty much just have appications and photo catalog on my main computer. Everything else is external. Ive got a lot of photos and the extra room lets me keep 1:1 previews longer. Keeping more previews for my sporadic workflow is a huge time saver. Also, I have noticed if I run a big Pano (rare but I do it a handful of times a year for fun) it really fills up the cache on the hard drive.

    32gb Ram - I'm getting 8gb then will upgrade myself. I have 16gb now and it's okay for just about everything but Id like it to stay okay in 5 years. I was surprised that Lightroom didn't use as much RAM as expected over the last week.

    Also, I just picked up a 2tb SanDisk ssd from B&H this week for $400. Ill still need a spinning external to store older stuff but now I wont have to listen to the disks and fans spin all the time when im working. I currently have a 512gb external ssd and with these bigger files it is too small to hold my other non photo stuff.

    Hope this helps some.
     
  22. ozone thread starter macrumors 6502

    ozone

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    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #23
    Thanks. I suppose I should have mentioned I had two previous Mac minis, but one died, and the other was repurposed a couple years ago, so I was no longer following the Mac mini development.

    Yes, I'm sort of thinking 512 GB is better... except it drives up the price now! Can't win for trying... sigh.
     
  23. xylitol macrumors 6502

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  24. thoang77 macrumors member

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    #25
    Lightroom is all about processing power and hard drive speed. The GPU has only a marginal impact on the develop module. PS does utilize the GPU a bit more, but even then it's for a few specialized features and to speed up some processes (blurring, smart sharpening, resizing)

    https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/photoshop-cc-gpu-card-faq.html

    FWIW, I'm a professional wedding photographer who somehow has survived the last 3 years on this poor 2012 quad mini, but a 6-core i7 (+8gb ram with 32gb on my desk to go in and a 1tb SSD) is coming my way! Being able to fly through images, even in the develop module, really just requires a stupid fast hard drive (to quickly read the catalog file, previews, smart previews, and raws if necessary) and some proper LR preparation for speed.
     

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48 November 7, 2018