nMP for Photo Editing

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by tripleg, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. tripleg macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2010
    I'm about to switch over from a PC to a nMP. Mostly going to be used for photo editing with LR/PS and some mild gaming (Diablo3/GW2). My main priority is to speed up LR for culling large sets of images and doing the initial batch processing.

    I'd like to keep the initial cost down so I'm thinking of getting a Quad Core with 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD and the D300's. I'd like to put my incoming photo work on the SSD and process them from there then migrate the older images to TB/USB3 external drives. Will that be enough to speed up LR or do I need to get a 6 core and/or 32GB memory?

    Is there any need to go beyond the D300's? I'm not really into video and would not call myself a mega gamer but I do play occasionally.

    I've looked into an iMac but I just don't want the hassle of dealing with returning it multiple times because of yellow displays.

    My current PC is a 3.2 quad core with 18GB memory and an ATI 5770 card. OS/programs are on a small SSD but my photo archive is on SATA drives. I'm dealing with 18MP RAW files right now. I could upgrade this PC but I've had a lot of trouble with it and want to move on.

    Hoping this will quicken my workflow.
  2. BayouTiger macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2008
    New Orleans
    Don't let internet FUD sway you. I've had three iMacs and a TB display with the same panel and have not seen nor know anyone with a yellow cast. Not saying they are not out there, but getting one would be like hitting the lottery. A TOTL iMac and a good TB array makes for a great station.
  3. SuperMatt macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2002
  4. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    That config should work nicely on LR/PS. I purchased a 6-core/32GB but I think you'll do just fine with Quad.

    Here's how it compared to my old Mac Pro...
  5. dhazeghi macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2006
    Tony Hart has some benchmarks of various Macs running LR.

    Unlike Aperture, LR makes no demands on the GPU, so it doesn't matter whether you get the cheapest or the most expensive. LR also isn't especially memory hungry, so going from 16GB to 32GB won't make more than a minimal difference for it.
  6. Average Pro macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    6/8 Core


    Thanks for the link. I captured the short portion which directly quotes the photo portion:

    "Intensive video work is best done with 12 cores. It is a special case situation.

    For photography, testing shows that 6 cores is the sweet spot, along with the D500 or D700 GPU option. The value of the high-end GPUs being dependent on particular workflow and the promise of future development.

    Testing also suggests that an 8-core at 3.0 GHz is likely to perform no better than the 6-core on the vast majority of tasks."

  7. tripleg thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2010
    Thank you for the responses. I'm going to stay with my initial config. I know the 6 core is the "optimal" build but I need other things as well in this switch to a Mac. My Dell 2008 monitor needs to be replaced and I need to migrate from my 2TB disks to 4TB disks as my photo archive has outgrown them.
  8. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Here's a question. Are you a pro photog doing thousands of images per month? or working on very tight deadlines? If so, the hex might help some. If not, then there is very little gain in going with a hex over the quad.


    Side note here.. since you mentioned D3.. an oMP with a GTX680 will smoke the nMP on D3, but the nMP with Win8/Crossfire will smoke that 680. So if you are doing a lot of D3 with that new expac coming out, you might want to consider a Win Bootcamp. :D
  9. ogilloire, Mar 19, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014

    ogilloire macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2014
    For now my experience with mac pro (stock 6-core/D500/16GB) and regular usage of lightroom is that GPUs are not used by the lightroom processing, contrary to aperture, capture one pro, or the Hasselblad Phocus utility that ships with hassy digital backs, or even Photoshop to some extent (even if partly disabled in latest version).

    At this point in time i am not entirely happy with the speed with which my RAW files are processed in lightroom: 4-5sec when zooming into the picture for 100% enlargement (39Mpix RAW files).

    I knew this beforehand that mac pro would perform no better than iMac 3.7Ghz thanks to online reviews and still deliberately chose the 6 core model, because:
    - 6 core @ 3.5GHz is still better than 4 core iMac (hence why 6 core mac pro is a sweet spot, the 4 core is more expensive and not as fast as iMac for photo!)
    - I have faith in the fact Adobe will add GPU support in Lightroom 6, just don't know when
    - I wanted a 4K display and not all-in-one iMac display
    - I had to replace my ailing iMac anyway so could not wait to see what would happen with software support

    I see different possibilities for you depending on your views:
    - Go for latest iMac 3.7G if you don't mind the all-in-one, possibly better value for money right now for photo.
    - Or latest MacBook Pro: it supports external 4K/60Hz display as of OS X 10.9.3 as well and is pretty powerful too.
    - Like me, have faith and order mac pro; if money not an object go for 8 or 12 cores, Lightroom will make use of it apparently.
    I am considering going for the 10-core E5-2690v2 aftermarket upgrade for US$2000 vs. waiting for GPU support in lightroom.

    And if you go Mac Pro, consider changing your workflow to GPU enabled tools: Capture One, Aperture.
    but I figured I was wasting more time changing my workflow than the technical performance gain I could expect.
  10. 0x2102 macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2014
    Lightroom today does not scale well beyond 2-3 cores. The top iMac, 4c or 6c Mac Pro will be best for Lightroom. A 10 core E5 will be slower than any of the above for Lightroom. You will need high single core speed.

    Let's cross our fingers that they will finally add support for OpenCL in Lightroom 8 ;)
  11. ogilloire macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2014
    I don't know, I see CPU load @ 5.5 for 6 cores using lightroom 5 so I thought it actually does a pretty good job at multithreading?
  12. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    I've gone for a 2.6Ghz Mini with an external array (Pegasus 2 R4) and my existing Dell 27" monitor as I'm not using it for professional photography work, photography is just a hobby to me. If I were using it for pro work the mini does get a bit noisy when creating the previews during an import into LR so I would have gone for the nMP.

    I would however recommend the Pegasus 2 as a storage repository for photos. I keep the catalogue and previews on the internal SSD (it's <10GB for 20,000 photos) and put the raw files on the Pegasus. I'm quite pleased with the results and I'm generally impatient when it comes to storage as I've had SSD's in my machines for a few years now.

    Overall for photography work I would choose the combination of nMP + external display over an iMac as it gives you better choices for the monitor. It's more expensive but if you are making a living out of it the difference should be worth it.
  13. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2014
    The times in Lightroom 5 where multicore matters is batch outputting, but not much during editing / development. In a proper workflow you will probably be leaving for a coffee break when doing exporting anyway, or leave it running overnight, so it depends on how tight your delivery schedule is to say how many cores are enough.

    Also my experience with LR is that the I/O speed of accessing your images is the single bottle neck of speed. The interfacing, RAW editing etc hardly ever takes more than 1 second to load, but the first time for LR to generate a RAW preview can take 10 seconds if your cameras are on 30MP+ sensors. Therefore what helped me the most is to have the sweetspot between capacity and read write speed of the online storage, such as a good array of SSD on RAID0, coupled with setting up LR to render 1:1 previews as soon as you import. With this you can feel almost no sluggishness even on a Mac Mini, let along the PCIe internal SSD of the nMP, or you can even get a TB2 SSD RAID like the LaCie as primary online storage.

    For color critical work I would say the iMac screen is not an option, as you will want / need to plug an external, proper proofing monitor such as an EIZO or NEC anyway. The nMP with Thunderbolt 2 has a lot more future options as to using displayport 1.2 daisy chain, pushing UHD / retina displays etc. In fact I think even the late 2013 MBPs are better than iMacs in this regard, especially the 15" with discrete GPU.
  14. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    All good points here. The new bus architecture of the nMP will help, even if there is only one internal SSD.
  15. ogilloire, Mar 20, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014

    ogilloire macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2014
    Here's my workflow/technical setup

    Step 1: import and generate 1:1 previews
    - RAW photos on Pegasus2 RAID0
    - 1:1 previews on mac pro internal SSD

    Step 2: rating and editing of selected photos
    Here I will review photos, mark the ones for selection, and do the editing work for the selected ones, with brushes, filters, contrast/exposure etc.
    ==> It's here that when I want to zoom in at 100% to check 1:1 size it generally takes 4-5 secs to show the full res file - not sure why!
    Do you have any idea? All I know is the CPU is maxed out during these few seconds. The Hasselblad Phocus is much quicker at that in comparison.

    Step 3: exporting/printing
    I typically export very few photos then in TIFF 16bit for printing by my lab, so the export performance is not so relevant to my work.

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