Mac Mini Q/A for Photographers

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Obsidiank, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. Obsidiank, Mar 11, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013

    Obsidiank macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #1
    Hello All,

    I decided to start a new thread to address a bunch of questions I've received over IM. Seems like there are a lot of photographers in this forum and a lot of people want to know how my setup works for what I do. Obviously this is not a one size fits all scenario but hopefully it will give you some decent perspective.

    1. What kind of photography do you do and how well does your mac mini setup work to support that?

    I'm a part-time wedding/event photographer based on of Chicago. I shoot around 5 events/month and generate around 16GB/event and 100GB of RAW data per month. After culling, I get down to around 10GB/event. Here's the thread I started on my Mac Mini 2012 BTO and Benchmarks. This is by far the fastest computer I have owned and works really well with my workflow. http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1552293. I shoot Nikon D600 and D3s so between 12 to 25mb files.

    2. What are your thoughts on the lack of discrete graphics and the HD4000?

    I do 95% of my editing in lightroom 4 and so discrete graphics does absolutely 0 for me. When I do go to Photoshop, it's usually to clean up portraits or basic coloring work and I rarely go past 5 layers deep. From what I understand if you are a graphic artist, compositor, or heavy rendering user, having a discrete GPU is beneficial. However, for the rest of us, you will never even notice.

    3. Why did you not get RAM/Fusion Drive/SSD direct from Apple?

    Consumerism has always been about being informed, savvy, and well off. What do I mean by this? The more money you have the less you want to be inconvenienced and companies know this. For every savvy tech person who DIY, there is an equally unsavvy person who doesn't know a cup holder from a cd drive. Apple charges a premium for that convenience as do most manufacturers so you will always pay a premium for upgrades. Most would argue that you are already paying a premium for Apple products. Anyways, the short answer is that it's cheaper to DIY. I can buy more RAM, Faster SSD, make my own fusion drive for less than what apple charges.

    4. I'm scared to take my Mac Mini apart and void the warranty but I don't want to get ripped off. What should I do?

    Honest answer? Grow a pair. OWC has tons of videos that show you step by step how to upgrade your own machine. If you're really nervous, pay your neighborhood tech high school geek $20 bucks and get them to do it. Always buy your tech gear with credit cards that offer extended warranties and buyer protection. That way, worst case you can always claim through your CC.

    5. What LCD do you use and why?

    Over the years, I've been a Dell and HP fan. Dell's UltraSharp line has been top notch and color gamut has been second none. However, I use an Apple 27inch ACD that I got two years ago and short of it burning out, I don't see myself switching anytime soon. Here's why:

    A. 27inch is the right size for me. I don't need multimonitor and with the low Delta E score, the ACD has great color reproduction.

    B. SRGB is the standard display color on the web and having a higher color gamut doesn't get me anything.

    C. It looks so damn good

    6. Do you color calibrate your monitor?

    Yes, I do but only because I print. If you don't, I wouldn't bother. Here's why. 99% of people who aren't photographers don't calibrate their monitors. It means that colors that look right to you now no longer longer look right to everyone else. Truth.

    7. Do you feel like your setup is future proof?

    Nothing in the tech world is future proof. Some people are caught in the performance upgrade cycle and never break free. I remember when GHZ was the key performance indicator and the first computer to break 3GHZ was AMAZEBALLS...and then Intel realized that they could lower clock speed but increase the # of cores, decrease die size, and a gazillion other non clock speed related tweaks to make performance better. I expect this setup to last me at least two years and if you're savvy you should too. Sell your old stuff and buy new stuff and you won't be throwing money out the door. If you're running a business like me you can't keep shelling out money for better gear unless it means you can make more money.

    8. What's your backup strategy?

    To keep things nice and speedy I keep a working folder on my SSD and all primary editing is done there. Once a set is ready to be archived, I move it to the 1TB hitachi that is also on the computer. From there, I have a 4TB NAS that backs up my Mac and is mirrored. At any given moment in time, all my pictures exists in three separate locations. I subscribe to the fool me once mentally. Fool me three times I deserve to lose it all.

    9. If you move stuff over to the hitachi, why don't you just use a fusion drive?

    I like to have control over what is on the SSD and what isn't.

    10. Is the 2.6 I7 worth it or do you think I can get by with the I5 or 2.3 I7?

    I say if you have the money then go for it. Resale value will be higher and at a minimum you know that performance will be higher. My buddy has the same setup as me except he got the 2.3 and I got a 2.6. On my render test of 100 pics, I beat him by 10 seconds on average out of 3 tests. On the export test, we were tied and he beat me 1/3 tries.

    Sometimes, $100 bucks just buys you a better overall feeling and that's ok. From my perspective that's one weekend that I don't go out but I can feel good about my computer every day.

    Long post but I hope it helps some of you yall.

    Best
     
  2. dr.devious macrumors regular

    dr.devious

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    Truckee Meadows, NV
    #2
    Thank you for writing this up! I picked up a Mac Mini on Friday with a 27" IPS monitor, and I love it! I edited my first shoot on it Saturday night and it was a joy to use! So much faster than my old MacBook Pro navigating between Lightroom and my Nik plugins.
     
  3. CrazyNurse macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2012
    #3
    Well written!

    As an amateur photographer the 2012 MM works well for me (D7K, LR4, PSE).

    It also serves as my main desktop. I like it so much I'm gonna get the new Haswell model for the kiddos.
     
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #4
    I'll just say it is a real pleasure to see threads like this one. A clean, clear and thoughtful "share" of personal experience for a pro that can be used by novices as well.

    My days of doing pro photog ended in the film only era. I do work with Photoshop for another side of photog - image restoration and retouch. For me, I can completely see your POV and it is not much different than my own. For my work (presently) I use a quad 2.0ghrz Mini, 16 gig of RAM. I have found that even on a Mac Pro (older model) that graphics card in general add very little to the equation for Photoshop and at times, impedes certain work related to filters. My next round will be either the same as your Mini or when the next model comes out. What I do find that 16 gig of RAM and use of SSD goes a long way and really smooths out most of the workload.

    Mac Mini quad 2.0, 16 gig Ram, 2x240 SSD (OWC 6G). NEC PAS241W monitor. Kensington Trackball, Wacom Intuos (prefer it over my older Cintiq), various external drives and 2 QNAP NAS.
     
  5. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Location:
    Metro Kansas City
    #5
    Forget that!! YOU take the Haswell and pass the 2012 on down!! Just a quick clone and restore and you're done. Kids should always get the hand-me-down tech unless they are buying! ;)
     
  6. blanka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #6
    1. What kind of photography do you do and how well does your mac mini setup work to support that?

    Architecture and product photography, with a D700/D800 combination. Not many pictures, but huge files

    2. What are your thoughts on the lack of discrete graphics and the HD4000?

    Irrelevant, I only encounter a little slowness in Sketchup. GPU accelerated filters in Photoshop are cheesy crap, not suitable for my style of work. HD4000 will still accelerate that.

    3. Why did you not get RAM/Fusion Drive/SSD direct from Apple?

    I found out a Caviar Black works faster for me. I use 4Gb of my 16 Gb self installed RAM as Photoshop scratch disk, lightning fast, and because of the large files, I just want a large fast internal drive. I don't do fusion and RAID combo's. I want every drive to work in a USB box in case something goes wrong.

    4. I'm scared to take my Mac Mini apart and void the warranty but I don't want to get ripped off. What should I do?

    In the EU it does not void, no matter how much stickers they put into it to say it does.

    5. What LCD do you use and why?

    Eizo SX sRGB CCFL monitors. The Dells (except the last 2012 models) all go wacko when you limit their gamut as they have no 3D lut. The next screen will be a NEC PA271W probably. I just want monitors that are under delta-E of 2 out of the box with ambient light sensor, and have a reputation of staying well over years.

    6. Do you color calibrate your monitor?

    No. It costs time, you make mistakes, and NEC's and Eizo's are so well calibrated out of the box, it is a breeze to set OSX on sRGB, your monitor on sRGB and just forget about it. Never had a weird print in the 5 years I use my uncalibrated SX2431W now.

    7. Do you feel like your setup is future proof?

    Yes.

    8. What's your backup strategy?

    I always update to the largest available HD as it still allows me to put all company files on 1 drive to prevent the need to keep a track on what is where. There are 2 external drives, one is permanent in the office, the other is travelling between the house and the office. The computer at home contains a third set of everything, and the Mini at work only carries the current projects (1Tb is too small to hold all). Synkron keeps everything the same, and I can decide to use any drive as working drive (backups are fully working and accesible volumes)

    9. If you move stuff over to the hitachi, why don't you just use a fusion drive?

    See above: RAID-like software constructions can give headaches when a drive goes nuts.

    10. Is the 2.6 I7 worth it or do you think I can get by with the I5 or 2.3 I7?

    Now I would get the 2.6 i7, but at the moment I run a 2.5 i5 HD6630M. Mini's almost loose no value, the cheapest TCO computer there is.
     
  7. VI™ macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Location:
    Shepherdsturd, WV
    #7
    1. What kind of photography do you do and how well does your mac mini setup work to support that?

    Portraiture and Editorial/Commercial work with a 5D MKII

    2. What are your thoughts on the lack of discrete graphics and the HD4000?

    I have the MM with the dedicated GPU, so N/A here.

    3. Why did you not get RAM/Fusion Drive/SSD direct from Apple?


    I have a server for my images and I bought 8GB of ram for about $125. Aftermarket prices are cheaper, I work with computers at my day job, and I'm not afraid to disassemble something and work on it on my own.

    4. I'm scared to take my Mac Mini apart and void the warranty but I don't want to get ripped off. What should I do?


    It's easy to work on and simple upgrade won't voide the warranty as was said above.

    5. What LCD do you use and why?

    A 30" HP. I was looking at 30" monitors and it was one of the most accurate once calibrated.

    6. Do you color calibrate your monitor?

    Yes. Once you buy a calibration devide it takes no time at all and the one I own adjust to ambient light.

    7. Do you feel like your setup is future proof?

    Of course not. Well, unless technology doesn't advance, file sizes stay the same, and time stops.

    8. What's your backup strategy?

    External data server with reduntant copies over several drives.

    9. If you move stuff over to the hitachi, why don't you just use a fusion drive?

    N/A

    10. Is the 2.6 I7 worth it or do you think I can get by with the I5 or 2.3 I7?

    You can get by with the I5, but the I7 will be quicker and perform task faster. Is your time worth it?
     

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