Photographer seeking advice!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Chedd, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. Chedd macrumors member

    Aug 22, 2012
    Hey guys, I am a part time wedding photographer and a full time college student/avid mac user. I use Lightroom 4, Adobe Illustrator CS5, and Safari extensively. My question is simple, I am upgrading from a Mid 2009 15" MBP (2.66GHz Core 2 Duo/4GB/320GB SATA/NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT 256 MB) and would like to know, of the following options (or any other that you could suggest), which would I see the best improvement in; In terms of speed, productivity, and price/value.

    13" MBA
    2.0GHz Intel Dual-Core i7
    256GB Flash Storage
    Intel HD Graphics 4000

    13" MBP
    2.9GHz Intel Dual-Core i7
    256GB SSD
    Intel HD Graphics 4000

    It is also worth noting that the RAW photo files I handle are about 35MB each. I do not store any of these photos on my hard drive, as they are all kept on a 1TB Western Digital MyBook Studio via FireWire800. I would love to take advantage of the new Thunderbolt port, but I have not yet see an affordable or reasonable Thunderbolt HD.

    Thank you for your time!
  2. noodile macrumors regular

    Aug 4, 2012

    well, for storage, get a seagate USB 3.0 adapter . (5gbs transfers speed which comes out to about 450mb/s.), or get a thunderbolt adapter, and hook them up to samsung 830 series SSD. you'll end up with a read and write speed in the 400 range for around 300-400. (for 256gb).


    go for the MBP, take out the optical drive, throw in a data doubler, and put an SSD or a 7200 rpm HDD in there. that way you get built in storage.

    PS: USB 3.0 is faster than firewire. like over 5 times faster
  3. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    I'd do the MBP as well given your circumstances. The mobile processors handle the RAW files just a tad slow. The full-power processor in the MBP would be great for those purposes.
  4. MacBookLady macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2012
    Know your applications

    Hi Chedd !
    My current wedding video is in post-production with over 2,000 photos and 1,000 video clips. So my question to you is: How many photographs do you take during a typical wedding ? If your answer is more than 100 photos per wedding, then you need to think seriously to upgrading your MBP choice to include a better GPU. The Adobe application line takes advantage of the CUDA cores in the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M.

    Next you should have at least two hard drives backing up your work. Go to OWC to get their USB3 (FW800,USB2) docking cradles (NewerTech Voyager <$90).
    All you need then is to drop in a raw hard drive into each and backup. I have found this to be a very reasonable cost-effective storage.
    Disclaimer: I do not work of OWC, but I do buy/use their products.
  5. Chedd, Aug 23, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012

    Chedd thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 22, 2012
    Slower than the 2.66GHz Core 2 Duos in my current MBP?

    Thank you! Those write/read speeds are awesome. My archive of RAW photo files currently totals up to about 420GB, so as far as affordable SSDs from the 830 series goes, I'm at a bust. :(

    Hi! I take between 1,000-2,000 photos every event. I did not know that about the Adobe/NVIDIA connection. I really wanted the MBA, but now the two things that worry me the most about it are the CPU and GPU. In reality the applications I use work fine on my computer (with the exception of a few lags in Lightroom 4), I was just looking for something a little smoother/better than what I had and not necessarily the best. BTW, thank you for your help!
  6. Blackberryroid macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2012
    Secretly, the MBA is 3.2 Ghz Quad Core (Turboboost + Hyperthreading). So the MBA is not a problem. You're just working with photos, anyway.

    I'm working with videos, 1920x1080 30 photos per second, with audio. I'm working with AE, FCP X and Motion. No problems here.
  7. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    You are mostly incorrect regarding CUDA. It's used in After Effects for accelerating raytraced functions. It's used in Premiere for a few things. The OP doesn't mention dealing with any video editing. OpenCL is used. For that purpose, the 2012 isn't any faster than the 2011 15" models. The 13" and Air don't necessarily support some of it, but those are features the OP may never use. The OpenGL frameworks theoretically speed up drawing in photoshop. It won't make a huge difference. I've used it on a mac pro with the 5770. I've used it on my macbook pro with the 6750m 1GB version. Even slow gpus can draw reasonably fast there. Please be a little more careful when offering such advice. The OP here is a college student, so they are likely on a budget. Even the 2011 15" is significantly faster than the Air, but looking at this relative to the OP's machine, I suspect he's taking a big hit due to 4GB of ram + HDD for scratch disks, especially with the way spotlight slows them down.

    There isn't one. Note my reference. This forum can be a fire hydrant of misinformation at times:p. When you first load a ton of photos into lightroom, it will go through some processing. Photoshop and lightroom are pretty ram heavy. If you note the current recommendations for CS6, 8GB is recommended. I find this to be slightly on the light side when dealing with many files or large ones. Lightroom is a bit memory heavy too, although I haven't used it in a while so I can't really comment exactly how much it takes advantage of this.

    The current MBA is significantly faster. I'd suggest the ivy bridge one specifically (not a refurb sandy). It supports OpenCL 1.1, unfortunately not 1.2. I haven't seen any signs of photoshop leveraging it for OpenCL acceleration, yet this is limited to lighting effects, liquify, iris blur, and possibly a few other things. They still run faster on the newer cpus. They're ridiculously fast if they can run on the gpu. If you order from Apple, they don't charge a restocking fee. I'd suggest you order the Air you want. I really suggest the 8GB ram model if possible. If it's laggy, you can return it without a loss. I just think others are making your paranoid.

    As for me, I've dealt with enormous print comps with dozens of layers on much older hardware. I've dealt with a lot of rendering too. During the G4/G5 era, I used to severely limit history, turn off thumbnails on every tool, use a dedicated scratch disk, tune the ram allocation and cache levels, disable spotlight (this was in Tiger) to any directory where it placed scratch disks, and a list of other things. Some of those still boost performance. If you have disk warrior it helps too for clearing up quirky file system issues, but I don't really suggest buying it today.

    If you're on Core2duo hardware, I suspect your issues are more than just cpu. If you're on an old HDD, it writes things to a scratch disk and spotlight is constantly watching. Just disabling most of the system area stuff in spotlight takes care of most of that. If you're below 8GB of ram, that can be a huge bottleneck. The thumnbails + not using histogram or navigator palettes is more about minimizing disk activity than anything.

    If you get a new Air, I doubt you'll have to do any of that. The quad models are still faster, including Sandy Bridge. I just don't think it's a guarantee that you will need these, and it annoys me every time someone mentions the gpu. Photoshop mainly cares about OpenGL version supported, OpenCL version supported if you want those accelerations, and amount of available vram. Only the 8GB air meets the recommendation of 512MB of vram. The up charge on the Air for 8GB is annoying, so only you can decide if that's worth it in the end, but I would guess that is one of your current bottlenecks.
  8. zObsidian macrumors member

    Nov 25, 2010
    I assume you're looking only at 13" laptops because you need the portability... The new 2012 13" Air is what I bought, exactly with the upgraded specs you listed, and I'm happy with it. I really like the lighter weight of the Air, doesn't seem like much from the Pro at first, but after using it for a while, your shoulders/back/etc. will really appreciate it.

    I'm running Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CS6 on it as well as Aperture. It handles all of those applications just fine even when working with large files. I also do a fair amount of 3D work on Modo and it seems to still do okay with scenes at about a million polys.

    This current generation of laptops, the 13" Pro doesn't have as much of an advantage in performance as in the past. So unless you want to go 15", the 13" Air actually performs quite well.
  9. Chedd thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 22, 2012
    No budget really, I could go for a rMBP, but I don't like the idea of pixel doubling. Probably isn't a real issue, but coming from a photo/design background it is bothersome. One of the main reasons I'm looking at 13" models was because I found my 15" MBP to be a little too bulky and starting to slow down.

    Yea, somewhat paranoid. I'm just worried that I wouldn't see much of a improvement, or that I would eventually find myself hitting a wall again in processing speed.

    I have 4GB, so I think that could be it. Also, I will try that.

    Definitely! Thank you so much. I am slowly piecing all this input together to make a good decision, but I really appreciate all of the information :)
  10. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    No problem man. I see way too much emphasis put on the gpu at times. The thing is shiny test results can be misleading.

    You can check out some comparative tests on that page. Note that liquify, lighting effects, and iris blur are gpu accelerated. They all use OpenCL, but they don't necessarily perform fastest with the NVidia one. In both cases they call it their "mercury engine" so the other person may have confused it due to the same name being used for a CUDA based set of functions in Premiere. I hadn't thought of this possible mix-up before. Even those functions maybe eventually end up on the 8GB version of the Air, as they require 512MB of vram where basic OpenGL acceleration only requires 256. I'd want the 512 due to 8 either way as future versions may require it. The cpus are slower, but you have to take the graphs in context.

    A lot of that has to be taken in context. I'm not sure of the file sizes generated. The gpu gains are on a very limited set of functions. If you don't commonly use them, they're a non issue. Liquify was always a bit slow prior to CS6. Iris Blur is extremely slow without the gpu acceleration. In both cases, many people never touch them, and I can't recall liquify ever having taken 45s to render anything.

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