Mac versus PC for digital photographers?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Eauboy, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. Eauboy macrumors regular


    Jan 28, 2008
    Washington, DC
    I've read some of the many threads r.e. the merits of the Mac OS versus the higher cost of the Mac hardware. I'm not trying to beat that horse.

    What I *am* curious about are the benefits to digital photographers in particular from using a Mac versus a PC. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but if in our role as photographer we spend most of our time in one or two applications then does it really matter which underlying OS is at work?

    Here's my situation. I'm a long-time PC/Windows user. (Okay, DOS 3.1, but we don't discuss that one.) Although I make my living in the Windows world, I am by no means a Microsoft devotee. I'd absolutely get a Mac if it was the better choice.

    My Thinkpad (which I have no problem with whatsoever) is getting a bit long in the tooth, plus my wife has indicated maybe she'd like to use the Thinkpad if we get a second machine.

    I need to do the same things that almost everyone else here does: import, organize, find, caption, edit, share and enhance photos. Currently I'm using an outdated version of Elements (2.x?) which I never have cared for, so I'll almost certainly pick up Lightroom or Aperture unless Elements has really improved.

    Would getting a Mac just be putting a pretty face on the same processes, or would there be genuine productivity/experience benefits.

  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Honestly, if I did not own a Mac I'd buy it just for Aperture. Sorry but I simply love how it works. I also always thought (and could be wrong) that Photoshop was originally designed for the Mac platform. I can tell you PS CS runs better on my 3 year old powerbook than it did on my brand new PC...3 years ago. ;)
  3. Mark Morb macrumors regular

    Mark Morb

    Dec 19, 2007
    I have been a PC user since the year dot but changed to a mac a few weeks ago. I was a user of Lightroom on the PC and I'm a user of Lightroom on the mac....the difference?? I will not be going back to a PC any time soon...

    I had quite a powerful PC but had to put up with regular bouts of programs locking up, slow response when I made adjustments in Lightroom, and loads of little niggles that were just plain annoying.

    Using the mac for my Photography work has been great...everything just works the way it response.

    I did have a go with Aperture 1.5 but preferred Lightroom, however, Aperture 2.0 looks like it's copied all the good bits from Lightroom so I will give it a go in case it's even faster, etc.

    All of that is on top of the fact that the mac and OSX is just a joy to use over years of swearing regularly at PC's and Windows....

    All the above IMHO of course....

    Mark Morb
  4. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    If you're using one program, no- there's not a distinct advantage to having an end-to-end color-managed OS. If you're one of the few people who don't get virus and spyware infections, then there's not a huge advantage to OSX.

    Honestly, if any of the newer Photoshops ran under WINE, I'd still be running Linux or FreeBSD instead of OSX. Especially since Bibble Pro supports Linux. Though I'd be upset at not being able to run CaptureNX.

    I'm not sure you could pay me to run Vista for my photography business though. By the time you allocate the OS all the resources it needs, you need to beef everything up to deal with large raw files and the processing of whichever programs you use.
  5. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Some of the reasons to go with Mac:
    • More stable and secure OS frees you from worrying about trivial matters.
    • Built-in support for RAW means you can view supported RAW files without RAW converter.
    • Aperture, now even better with 2.0.
    • Time Machine can help you automate backup chore.
    • Lots of useful tools built-in, such as color calibration/profiling, color picker, font manager.
    • Being able to use a Mac. :)

    Some of the reasons not to:
    • Windows works well enough for you and you don't have time to learn new OS.
    • You have invested in many Windows software and plug-ins.
    • You use Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Lightroom.
  6. marclapierre13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2005
    Hands down mac. No question. If you are an avid photographer, it is worth it just to switch over because of how easy and smooth the workflow is. In windows, photo editing and processing has a very clunky workflow.
    The only thing I can think of, and this really isnt a problem anymore, is cross-platform files. That used to be a problem back in the day, when you save a photo on a mac, it wouldnt work on windows. But thats been fixed, and you can pretty much save or host it as anything now.
  7. macro macrumors member

    Dec 15, 2007
    Eauboy - I was using a Sony Vaio PC for the last 5 years. I am a working photographer and have been shooting for 35+ years. This last December I purchased the Mac pro Quad Xeon and will never look back. As I shoot Nikon, digitally, and the Mamiya RB67 Pro SD for film work in Medium Format I use NEF, RAW and Tiff images. The comparison on my monitor (DELL WFP 2407) is unbelievable when working in PS CS3 and/or Capture NX. The colors from the Mac are much truer. I won't compare the speeds as the PC was far under powered. It ran 2 GB's RAM whereas the MP runs 9 GB's. However, the PC was constantly needing maintainence to keep it running correctly. The MP runs like a watch and I can keep 5 apps running with no slow down.

    IMHO, the Mac, as long as it has enough RAM for the tasks it is required to do, is by far the better computer for photography. The MP is also the reason that I am doing less work in the darkroom now than I had anticipated. I am now doing only B/W in the DR as I still am not that impressed with the PS process as compared to all the years I have done B/W. I may even have a Besseler 67C enlarger for sale since buying the MP.
  8. princealfie macrumors 68030


    Mar 7, 2006
    Salt Lake City UT
    PC's don't have the true colors like that of the Mac's which is built into the OS... You have to fiddle around much more using Windows.

    Basically the only pro photos which use PC's are the ones who can't afford Mac's.
  9. anti-microsoft macrumors 68000

    Dec 15, 2006
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    If you wanna go PC go PC, but if you wanna go Mac, I say Go Mac.
    For reasons such as:

    a Aperture (Or Adobe Lightroom but I prefer Aperture)

    b Drivers (Pre-installed)

    c Colors

    d You'll end up regretting a PC.:D
  10. LaJaca macrumors regular


    Nov 23, 2007
    Near Seattle
    Why should that make a difference? Seem to work equally well between both.
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Elements and Lightroom/Aperture do differnt jobs. As I see it there are two classes of photo software, in the first are Aerture, Lightroom and iPhoto. these are for organizing and making very minor tweaks. In the second class are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe "Elements" and some others like "Gimp". These are imge editors that allow you to get inside a picture and edit it. They have feaures like layers and masks and brushes.

    Why the Mac? From a photographer's perspective: The entire OS is color managed. On Windows some applicatins (like Photoshop) know about color profiles but on Mac OS it is built-in Make itmuch nicer. Also Apterure ONLY runs on the Mac.

    The Applications are NOT the same on both platforms. On the PC for example Adobe makes the workspace background not-clear so you loose direct access to the OS level desktop (maybe Adobe thought that on Windows it needed hiding?)

    Then there are the small frustraitions Windows uusers go through. I tried to connect a Wacon tablet to a PC the other night and had to mess with driver CDs and re-boot. On my Mac I just plugged in the tablet.
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    One other clue is the default about of RAM on Windows The default is for PS to use (I think) 55% of RAM on the Mac it is 70%. The Windows OS itself needs 45% of RAM vs. 30% for mac OS X. PS is faster on the same hardware if run under Mac OS X.
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I think that is pretty much true.
  14. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    The Macintosh.... period.

    Aperture 2.0 is enough of a justification, besides the fact that it runs just about every industry standard software application in the world.

    PCs can't run Aperture, and Vista is garbage.
  15. Kebabselector macrumors 68030


    May 25, 2007
    Birmingham, UK
    What an application that was released today and no-one has probably really tested yet.

    Vista is flawed yes i'll accept.

    Fanboy quote of the year? (unless you're missing the :p at the end)

    I know plenty of pros that don't run macs. Most at sporting events tend to use windows laptops to wire the images to the desk.

    Personally I use a Mac. I started with a PC then got a Mac to try (not specifically for photography). For info Adobe will allow you to cross grade a Windows app to Mac. Lightroom actually comes with both on disk which is handy if you've got it already.
  16. Eauboy thread starter macrumors regular


    Jan 28, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Thanks everyone, this thread is extremely helpful.

    To clarify, I come nowhere near a pro in my photography. Not in my work (dear lord, no) and not in how I'd be likely to stress a machine. That being said, advancing my hobby is the driving force behind any hardware/OS upgrade.

    I'm hearing two recurring themes: performance and color management. And of course "Macs are great", which I'm sure they are. And yes, I'm sincere.

    Performance: This is good to hear. It sounds like OSX isn't as big a pig as Windows, therefore leaving more RAM and CPU cycles for apps.

    Color: This is the first time I'm really hearing this message. Truer, better manageable color in images would be a huge plus. I'd be using MacBook Pro if I switched, so I hope that the advantage confers to their portable lineup as well as their desktop machines.

    And thanks for clarifying photoshop/elements versus aperture/lightroom. The PC copy of Elements that I have came with Photo Album (?) which does a passable job of organizing photos, so I tend to think of Elements as doing both functions. I'm ready to start shooting more RAW now, so Elements may no longer cut it.
  17. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    From this statement alone you really need to consider the Mac. Take some of the RAW images you shoot down to your local Apple Store (if there is one around you) and import them into iPhoto and try your best to work with them as you would in your current workflow. Try out iWork and iLife apps and get a good feel for how they work.

    Don't listen to the sales persons only because it's their job to sell you a machine. Just try your best to get an understanding of how YOU will work with a Mac and use your photos and you'll find that the Mac is the answer.
  18. JDR macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    One of the best things I like about Mac joined with digital photography is iPhoto. Although it's a simple program compared to Aperture or Lightroom, the UI is just unbeatable. Full screen view comes in handy, and even the built-in editing tools are enough for the casual photographer. I have about 8,500 photos on my computer, at it would probably take me 10 seconds or less to find a photo I'm looking for using iPhoto.
  19. theBB macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    The only reason to go with Windows could be price. However, if you buy a Mac right after a refresh, the price is either competitive or even cheaper. However, over the following months Dell, HP etc would reduce prices steadily, but Apple would keep the same price for a long time, often until the next hardware update. Of course, Macs sometimes have other advantages that you cannot see on a spec sheet, such as quiet fans or better speakers etc. Unfortunately, you cannot reduce the price by removing features you don't want either. You have to get that webcam, Firewire ports etc.
  20. macro macrumors member

    Dec 15, 2007
    This is a lot Unlike the "discussions" between Canon and Nikon being the best. Thank you all for being so civil. I can't tell you the number of locked discussions I have seen on so many forums as to which is the better camera/lens. I use Nikon but still would purchase a Canon. Price would be my only consideration as I have no problem with the light tight box that supports a great lens.

    I had a Power Mac years ago when my kids were still in school. I went to PC as they were a lot cheaper. Funny thing, I learned about the windows registry as I was forced to because it always presented glitches. PS stopped working and Capture NX stopped working and I was forced to make a decision that I don't regret. I dumped the PC and got the MP. No problems so far. Doesn't mean there will not be any but I have the feeling that if there are it will be my fault. I have read about Leopard being buggy but have not experienced anything. ( He said, knocking on wood):eek:
  21. jimmer-uk macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2008
    Maybe because your in a mac only forum:D

    Honestly, you feel nicer inside using the mac. To say it is better as an equally priced pc is lying and blind. I have both and use them both the same ammount. What it comes down to is the image or just the feeling of using the mac. Get over that and spend the same on a pc and get twice as powerful is my advice
  22. macro macrumors member

    Dec 15, 2007
    My Mac is problem free after several months of use for photography. I would have had to redo a PC at least once by now. No comparison as I use the Mac for business. What more can I say?
  23. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    One word: Aperture

    I'll add another endorsement for Aperture. I started with Lightroom, but then switched to Aperture mostly because of its handling of dual monitors. I then found lots more to love about Aperture. I'd say it's reason enough to go with OS X.

    FWIW, I had been an Adobe diehard since 1989, so the switch to Aperture was no small matter for me. I hated iPhoto and heard bad things about the first version of Aperture. I was reluctant for a long time to pack up all my photos and move them (minus all my carefully entered keywords) to Aperture, but I have never looked back since I did.
  24. valdore macrumors 65816


    Jan 9, 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    First things first -- Macs are indeed great for photography workflows (I'm an advanced hobbyist), however I really loathe Aperture. I have a friggin 8 core Mac Pro with 8 GB RAM and Aperture still runs like crap. I've found Lightroom to be so much quicker and more responsive.
  25. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    We were last talking about this in February… why dig it up again?

    I switched because I had been having problems with a juiced-up Dell. I've since found out that it was BSOD'ing because of overheating in the video card. At the time I didn't know, and benefited hugely by my ignorance (I switched to a Mac Pro). The pleasure of using Aperture was an ancillary benefit, but is definitely a solid reason to switch all on its own.

    Were you using a managed or referenced library? My understanding is that Ap. is much snappier with a referenced library (no idea why/how).

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