Need help for a Professional Photographer

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by kenaiking, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. kenaiking macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2012
    #1
    Hey guys this is my first post here as I usually just lurk and soak in the info.

    Anyhow my wife is a professional photographer and is looking to upgrade her old windows pc. She wants a mac as the rest of the household uses mac.

    I'm not all that up on the photo part of it but I suggested a Mac mini and we upgrade the ram to 16g and throw in a SSD. We will have a NAS with 6tb of storage done shortly so storage space is not a big concern.

    She runs CS5 and Lightroom for most of her processing. I believe she shoots in raw and right now her computer is running a 2.8 duel core pentium with 8g of ram.

    Any help would be great. She would love to see what the other pros's are running. Also she has a dell monitor right now but will be upgrading later this year as well. Any recommendations on that would be helpful as well.
     
  2. Sairo macrumors regular

    Sairo

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    Jun 25, 2012
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    #2
    Why not get an iMac? 27" screen, nice specs, also upgradable.
     
  3. kenaiking thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 22, 2012
    #3
    Not a huge reason but mostly money. The mini seemed economical.
     
  4. nburwell macrumors 68040

    nburwell

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    #4
    I agree. Being that she's a pro photographer, she has a pro camera body and since she shoots in RAW the files are probably relatively huge. You would want to get a computer that has a decent amount of RAM to handle not only the RAW files, but working in both Photoshop and LR.

    If that's what she does full time, then a Mac Pro is not out of the question, but since it looks like you aren't going to spend that kind of money, I would definitely consider an iMac. The Mac mini will suffice though.
     
  5. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    Kentucky
    #5
    The OP said they would bump the ram and throw in an SSD themselves. I would think the mini would work just fine, especially if you already have a decent monitor.

    I have a late 2009 21" iMac with a 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo and 8GB RAM. It runs Aperture just fine for me. I don't have experience with the Adobe products but I would guess they should be similar in resource needs. I shoot RAW with my Canon T2i and it doesn't seem to have any trouble with them. However, I am not a professional so time isn't really a factor for me. For some, cutting off a few seconds from exports may mean money and therefore justify a faster computer, but it works just fine for me.
     
  6. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2010
    #6
    If she ever wants to have the portability of a laptop, a 13" Macbook pro would do just fine too. You already have a monitor, keyboard and mouse are fairly cheap. About double the investment of a Mini though....
     
  7. WRP macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 20, 2011
    Location:
    Boston
    #7
    Some people are crazy. I process photos on my five year old MBP with 4GB of ram just fine in lightroom and CS5. Sure, it doesn't come close to my Mac Pro but a brand new mini with upgraded ram will do just fine. If you want to save dough, don't hesitate on the mini. Everyone here always thinks people are made of money and suggest overkill.

    RAW files will probably be no bigger than 30MB (depends on what camera she uses). This isn't r3d footage or anything.
     
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #8
    Mini will be fine... but.... make sure you get a decent monitor. You may already have one hooked up to the PC, and you can most likely use that one. Also... if this is a growing business, whatever peripherals you add you may want to ensure that they also will work on a Mac Pro. It is possible that your wife will grow into a Mac Pro, and it's a lot cheaper if you can just swap the Mini out and put a Mac Pro in its place.

    One other thought.... check out the MacPros on the refurbished page. There are some phenomenal deals that are popping up, and you might decide that it's not too much extra. Note that some of these are using 2 year old technology, but for the kind of work a photographer does they have some big advantages. You can add massive amounts of internal storage, SSDs included. You can upgrade the graphics card, if that every became an issue. But for still photography the basic included card is just fine. Most importantly you can can a lot of RAM.

    Good Luck.
     
  9. kenaiking thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 22, 2012
    #9
    Thanks for all the replays. It helps a lot. I just hooked up my macbook pro and installed cs5 so she can give it a whirl. It's the 2.4 dual core i5 with 16g of ram so it should be close to what the mini would do.

    Thanks again!
     
  10. Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

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    Nov 18, 2010
    #10
    I have the 2.2Ghz quad-core i7 with 8GB RAM hooked up to a Thunderbolt Display (uncalibrated, can't afford one yet). I have Aperture as my digital darkroom with Photoshop CS6 for any heavy editing. I also have the Momentus XT 500GB/4GB HDD/SSD, 2TB FW800 external scratch and a 3TB Time Capsule NAS. I think it's pretty similar to what you're trying to get.

    I can attest that a SSD will NOT benefit your wife much. Yes, it will speed up access times. It will make the programs read files faster. However, most edits one makes in Lightroom and Photoshop are stored in the RAM, not the SSD. Which means the benefits of the SSD will only be present when she opens up a program, which isn't even a significant portion of time spent when working. What your wife would appreciate is large storage, like a 1TB HDD for a Mac Mini. Of course, anyone would love a 1TB SSD but not many people like to empty their bank accounts for one...

    The NAS, despite having triple-channes 802.11n Wi-Fi (450Mbps), is slow. If I hooked up the Thunderbolt Display to an Ethernet connection then it might get faster, but the matter of fact is it's slow anyway. Internal storage will always trump external, so don't expect your 6TB NAS to compensate for the small storage that a SSD provides.

    What I recommend your wife is a 27" iMac with 16GB aftermarket RAM. Maybe 2TB internal storage. The 21.5" is fine too, but I think the 27" display panel is of a higher gamut and should be better for photography.
     
  11. kenaiking thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 22, 2012
    #11
    Good stuff thanks. Maybe I will skip the SSD and add two 1tb hard drives and max out the ram.
     
  12. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #12
    More RAM is almost always the best upgrade for the money. Photoshop opens up a scratch file that is about ~7x the size of the photo being edited, for each photo, as I understand it. It will try to open up the scratch file in RAM - but if not it goes to the scratch disk, which even if it's an SSD, is still way slower than RAM.

    Before the scratch file is created, the OS, and Ps are loaded into RAM - and in this case probably, also Lr. It's pretty easy to see how much RAM you are currently using... simply open up Ps and Lr, and see how much RAM is being used. Whatever is left over can be used by Ps for the scratch file. (If I'm about to start a serious editing session I'll close Safari before opening Ps - Safari will use a lot of RAM, if it can.)

    I agree with Prodo123 - and SSD gives you very little benefit, unless you are writing and reading lots of files to the HDD. Photographers don't tend to do that. If you go with a Mini, I'd suggest the RAM upgrade.

    I'll mention the discounted MacPros again... they come with a HDD that spins at 7200rpm instead of the Mini's 5400rpm HDD, and you can put at least 4 large HDDs into a MacPro.

    Luck.
     
  13. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #13
    First I would not really suggest the iMac 27" for a computer dedicated to photography. IMHO you'd be better off going with a mini, and then buying a high quality external monitor.

    The integrated display in the iMac is the limiting factor, as it is by most measures a very standard, run-of-the-mill display. Highly reflective gloss coating, limited adjustability, no wide gamut, and very difficult to get a matching monitor (short of the Apple thunderbolt display, which shares the same limitations). All it really has going for it is that it is an IPS panel.

    If you buy a mini, you can pick any monitor you want- including a variety of cheaper, more flexible, and better options from 3rd party manufacturers. You can buy two of them and get a matching set for dual displays (and in some cases, 2 for the price of a single apple thunderbolt display). And you don't have to sell the monitor with the machine in the future, nor buy the monitor at the same time as the machine. You can also upgrade the monitors separate of the computer. Additionally, when the mini gets long in the tooth, it is much smaller and easier to repurpose as something else (HTPC, home server, etc) as opposed to an iMac which has a 27" screen built in.

    It is unfortunate in that the mini's hardware is pretty limited in terms of raw computing power, and the only desktop alternative (without an integrated screen) beyond that is to go 2-3x the price and get a Mac Pro. Not to mention nobody with any common sense should be buying a new Mac Pro until they have been refreshed with updated hardware. I've thought about converting my PC into a dual booting hackintosh simply because Apple does not offer what I want. Don't get me wrong I like my mini server, but I do wish I had more options in the Apple desktop arena.

    I don't think it's a bad idea to keep an SSD around, even if just for "general responsiveness". Having an SSD installed makes the computing experience so much more fluid and responsive, that IMHO it's worth putting one in. However, LR also does benefit from having an SSD I think, if you put the previews file on the SSD it loads them very quickly and rifling through your photos is very responsive.

    If you buy the mini server you can get dual drives, and install one HDD and one SSD. SSD for applications and scratch disk, HDD for "big storage". Although dual 1TB platters is probably not a bad choice either. It also should be noted that the mini is much more serviceable than the iMac, since anything on the iMac beyond installing more RAM requires you to remove the display, a fairly involved and non-trivial affair.

    Anyhow just my $0.02.

    Ruahrc
     
  14. Prodo123, Jul 15, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012

    Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    #14
    The iMac and the Thunderbolt Display both use the same panels. They are 85% Adobe RGB, which is (just barely) passable for use in photography. By no means are these panels just run-of-the-mill; they are quality panels that are bright enough to overcome any glare. Sure, 100%+ gamut is better, but for a single package, the iMac is the most economical choice.

    Think about it. Assuming that you go for the Server Mini with a Dell U2711, you're paying $2000 for pathetic internals (Intel HD 3000 for graphics, laptop processor in a desktop) and a wide gamut display. The lag caused by the HD 3000 will negate any benefits provided by the SSD in terms of fluidity. If you go with the one with a GPU, you get a worse CPU: a dual-core i5 or a marginally better i7.

    When, for the same price, you could opt for an iMac with a 2.7Ghz desktop quad-core, proper GPU, 16GB aftermarket RAM and 2TB hard drive. Which is still suitable for photography and at the same time will deliver much better performance.
     
  15. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    Jun 9, 2009
    #15
    The iMac panels are actually only 72% AdobeRGB, or better put, ~100% sRGB coverage. Which is the same as virtually every monitor out there, from the cheapest bargain bin TN panels to the entry level IPS monitors many people (like myself) use. This does not make it bad for photography, but it is certainly not an advantage. Let me say it again, there is nothing special about the iMac display that makes it particularly good for photography other than its size and that it is IPS. However, those two attributes (size and IPS) are easily obtained in a plethora of easily obtainable and affordable monitors.

    Regarding brightness and glare, output power is not the problem- if you are at all serious about photography for print you are going to calibrate and run your display at 80-100 cd/m^2, which is at or near the bottom of the range for many current monitors. Photographers could (should) care less about whether their monitor can hit 300-400 cd/m^2 because they have no business running it that high. The problem is that the screen is very reflective, and if you cannot adjust your working situation to overcome screen glare, it is going to be a big nuisance. The extremely limited, one-axis adjustability of the iMac does not help in this regard either. Turning up the brightness to overpower glare is not the correct solution to the problem. Getting a display without reflective glare is.

    Some people prefer glossy displays and that's great- my point was with the iMac you have no choice- you go glossy or you go home. Whereas with a mini + your own display, you can choose what works best for your preferences and your working environment.

    And for the most part, photography does not depend on a high end GPU. An HD3000 will serve fine driving multiple large monitors, unless you have some very specific photoshop needs. People put way too much stock into the GPU these days, (and similarly, often times overly discredit "integrated" GPU solutions) when for all intents and purposes, anything out there today is way more than sufficient for 2D work. We by and large solved 2D display performance 10 years ago. The HD3000 is fully supported by Photoshop CS6 to take advantage of all the 3D hardware-accelerated capabilities CS6 offers.

    I have a mac mini server w/HD3000 driving dual 22" displays of 1680x1050. It has no problem. Everything is buttery smooth, and a more powerful GPU would not improve things (except for gaming, which is a separate topic). I have hooked it up to my TV (so 1 1680x1050 and 1 1920x1080) and still no problems. 2D UI performance is simply not an issue anymore, and has not been for the past 10 years. Heck even my 2009 Macbook Pro with 9400M GPU can drive its own display plus an external 1080p display with no problem. It can even play back using hardware acceleration 1080p blu-ray videos with no problem.

    I will agree with you that the value-for-dollar proposition of the mini is certainly less than the iMac, but that was a cost I gladly paid when I chose to get the mini over the iMac. IMHO you make up for it in being independent of the display you choose, and being able to find a use for the machine in the future. It is simply my opinion that the more effective machine for photography is the mini paired with a wide gamut display.
     
  16. fireman32 macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 30, 2010
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    #16
    Myself I bought the 13" MBP with 8GB of ram in it and run Lightroom and CS5 without any issues. I like it for portability but when I am at home I have it hooked up to an external monitor and use it as a desktop. The mini should work just fine as well.
     
  17. kenaiking thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 22, 2012
    #17
    Ended up with the mini. Ordered up 16g of ram and she commandeered my apple keyboard and track pad. Now it's just the wait game.
     
  18. nburwell macrumors 68040

    nburwell

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    May 6, 2008
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    PHL
    #18
    You also have to take into the consideration the size of the RAW files which I mentioned. The OP doesn't state what camera body his wife has. There is going to be a big difference between loading RAW files on the computer from a D800 and a T2i (just using those two camera bodies as examples).
     
  19. kenaiking thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 22, 2012
    #19
    Not sure if it helps or hinders now but she shoots a D700 and D200 (back up)
     
  20. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    Feb 24, 2008
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    Over there------->
    #20
    She'll be in great shape, assuming you pair the Mini with a good monitor (or two). I have the Mini Lion Server (latest one, whichever model that is) with 16GB of RAM and two matte-screen IPS displays attached. My two cameras produce 22MP and 18MP files (both larger file sizes than either of the cameras your wife is using), and the Mini with that amount of RAM pushes those pixels around with ease. So I think you made a good choice. :)
     
  21. kenaiking thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 22, 2012
    #21
    Thanks for that. Out of curiosity what monitor are you running? She was looking at a pair of NEC.
     
  22. Smithers2 macrumors newbie

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    Aug 11, 2012
    #22
  23. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #23
    Interesting post. I have a Mac Mini Server with striped SSD drives and 16 gig of RAM that I use for a few purposes including Photoshop. The SSD drives do absolutely help on complex edits for even medium size files. It is about the "scratch" space required. I have my Mini hooked up to an NEC "PA" series 24" LCD that is calibrated. I think the NEC screen is vastly superior to any iMac for various reasons including being able to get superior results from calibration. Please understand, for some types of photo editing use, the iMac is just fine. In fact much of the work I do would lend itself nicely to an iMac as they are scans of prints for retouch and restoration and thus the colour and contrast range is rather limited.

    Again this is just subjective but I find that smaller screens fair well in glossy such as the 21" but the 27" will fatigue the eyes if not put in a room with serious lighting consideration.

    I can't tell you what to get beyond a good monitor if you don't have one already where the computer is concerned. I find that an iMac for very serious photo work still requires adding a second monitor. Often people put the Photoshop palettes on the iMac and the image itself on the 2nd monitor.

    Just my two cents to add to the confusion.
     
  24. Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

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    Nov 18, 2010
    #24
    I really advise against using a SSD for scratch space, not to mention striping them (I'm assuming RAID 0). First of all, TRIM is not supported on RAID. Second, scratch space is used to read and write repeatedly and rapidly, like RAM (it is a substitute RAM, after all). Even with TRIM, using a SSD for scratch space will greatly reduce its lifespan to around 2-4 years. With a striped, TRIM-less partition, it should last 1-3 years. Normal TRIM-enabled SSDs are expected to last 6-8 years.
    Also, using a striped SSD partition means you'd either have to put them internally (and make them your startup drive) or put them in a Thunderbolt box to avoid bottlenecks. The former is a dangerous move, since if one SSD fails then you lose ALL of your data, and the latter is just ridiculously expensive.
     
  25. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #25
    Mbp

    Using a 2011 15" MBP with 16GB RAM and an SSD + 750GB 7200rpm HDD inside. I have a 24"ACD at the office and home office, which you can get these days for about $400 used on craigslist and is a rockin monitor still.

    Works great on my 5DII files!
     

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