Professional photographer needs advice.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by NWMontana, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. NWMontana macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2015
    I've been doing professional photography for a few years now and have much investeded into my camera gear.
    What I am needing advice for is which Apple computer to purchase for my photography needs. I've been a windows guy in the past but have been wanting to change and go apple. This particular computer will be used for my photography only. I also do videos , so some editing will be needed to be done with that also....mostly photos though.
    I'm looking at the 5k iMac with i7 processor, 32 gig ram and 512 flash drive, most likely update to the higher graphics card. This should put me in the 4 grand range which I am shooting for.
    Could any other photography buffs out there give me there personal advice.
    I truly would appreciate and respect any advice.
    Montana Bob
  2. stempsons macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2014
    i'm not a pro, but a serious amateur. typical work flow would be several hundred raw images per processing session. i use lightroom 100% of the time. under my use, the 16gb of ram is enough. up until last month, i did everything using a macbook pro retina 13" (maxed out version). i now use a new mac pro, base model upgraded to 16gb of ram and a 24" dell 4k monitor. this setup works great, is fast and external storage is cheap. from my experience, work flow dictates what kind of machine you'll need. i like the mac pro because it doesn't have to work very hard to process my work flow, it also drives my 4k monitor perfectly. my setup ran under 3k.
  3. NWMontana thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2015

    Thanks stempsons for the reply...did you choose the MacBook pro because of portability reasons mainly? Using the optional monitor has been a thought of mine for sure. I'm drawn to the bigger display size and an all in one because I already have a laptop for other reasons... I'm 54 years of age and my eyes are not as good as they used to be....once again thanks for the reply.
  4. sarthak macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2012
    The iMac 5K is definitely a great choice. You are headed in the right direction with the specs however, it is worth examining the software you use first before making a purchasing decision.

    In my case, I shoot 38MP DNGs and 18MP RAW files and first process them in DxO Optics Pro before further modifications in AfterShot Pro 2 (TIFFs). Now, the question is whether or not the software you use will take advantage of the hardware. In the case of ASP2, it lacks Retina display support whereas, many other pro-apps support the retina display. However, ASP2 offer OpenCL acceleration (utilizing the GPU) and does so a level that saves a lot of time over say using Lightroom to accomplish the same task.

    So whether you use a PhaseOne, DxO, Adobe or Corel solution, I would strongly recommend you check whether or not the software is optimized to take advantage of a powerful GPU and Retina Display. As otherwise, those components would not be useful if the software you're using does CPU only processing or can't take advantage of the 5K display.

    Further, I should note that most companies will sooner or later update their software to enable such compatibility.

    In the case of hardware, the iMac 5K at those specs should be future-proof for a few years. As recommended by others, you should pick the upgraded GPU version as some experience poor UI performance from the lower end card driving a 5K display. In terms of the RAM, you can save quite a bit of money by ordering it stock and upgrading it yourself (which takes minutes and is very easy to do).

    It is definitely a great choice than the base nMP (new mac pro) which does not come with a display in that price range.

    I do use a MacBook Pro Retina 15" with dGPU that runs about 3500 in Canada including taxes. Perhaps, it does offer sufficient performance but, more importantly it can be used as a single system solution (in my case, I already had a Mac Pro with ACD 30"). One can simply "dock" or connect up the rMBP to a large display when they are at home or in the studio and have everything in terms of software, settings etc. on one device that can also be used on the go. Given one can buy a 27" 2560x1440 display (better solution than a 4K display which with pixel doubling only offers 1920x1080 of useable space) for around $500-600. So that is an option as well, if you would prefer a single device to take on the go but still be able to dock at home and perform nearly as well as a desktop.

    Given you already have a notebook, the choice really boils down to the iMac 5K as you have selected which offers far greater value (display and performance) than choosing the nMP. So as initially mentioned, I'd examine the software solutions you use and whether that is in need of upgrade.
  5. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I use a rmbp 2013 (2.4/8/256) and a 2012 mac mini (2.5/4/500) with Lightroom and Photoshop.

    Lightroom does not care wether you have 4, 8, 16 or 32gb of RAM. That has no influence on its performance.
    What it does care about is an ssd instead of an hdd and for importing and exporting the cpu plays a large role.

    For an iMac I'd recommend the 5k base model, but with an ssd inside.
    Get the largest possible ssd, because upgrading later is expensive.
    I think the other most beneficial upgrade for you would be the cpu.
    Whatever you do, do not upgrade the ram at purchase. Upgrading the RAM is easy and aftermarket upgrades are much cheaper than :apple:. 8gb should be fine and if you need more, just buy some memory sticks later.
  6. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Isn't the RAM now soldered and has to be selected at purchase?

    Seems you still can upgrade.
  7. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    You kinda answered your own question there. :)

    In any case, the tricky part with iMacs is that :apple: ships them with spinners by default and upgrading to ssd afterwards is impossible with the 5k at this point, because the adapter necessary isn't a available yet and even when it will be available it is not something you want to do unless you are very skilled.

    On the other hand RAM on iMacs is a non issue because 8g is a hell of a lot and it is easy and cheap to upgrade later.
  8. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    Are you using both Lightroom and Photoshop on the rmbp? Do you find that the 256 drive is big enough to conveniently store a lot of data without having to continually shift files on and off to an external drive?
  9. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I use mostly Lightroom. Photoshop only for HDR.
    256gb is not enough. Neither is 512gb or 1tb. I have two external drives with 3tb.
  10. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Note, however, that ther retina iMacs come with either Fusion or SSD by default; unlike other iMacs you aren't stuck with just an HDD unless you upgrade.

    I do a lot of photo stuff now with lots of different applications, and I have a 4.0/295 riMac with tons of RAM. I got the 512 SSD, but on reflection probably could have gotten by with the 256 and used the cash on the USB 3/Thunderbolt case I bought; you're probably gonna have an external anyway for photo storage so a big boot drive isn't maybe a big deal. I have hundreds of apps, tons of email accounts, and I'm probably at the high end of boot storage needs for a Mac user, and I'm using 320GB, of which a ton is photos.

    The retina screen is amazing; great for photography. One thing to consider, however, is that all Mac displays, while sharp, aren't what some need if their color correction needs are very specific. If that were my case, I'd buy a smaller lower resolution Eizo or something as a second monitor. I'd much rather have the retina as my day to day experience, and use a special needs monitor occasionally, than the other way 'round.

    It's a crazy nice machine. Being able to see such detail in your photos is well worth the expense.
  11. stempsons macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2014
    initially yes...i've always preferred the portability of a notebook computer over a desktop. that said, i much prefer a 24" screen with the mac pro now that i've made the transition.
  12. NWMontana thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2015
    Thanks folks for the responses on my photography needs. Looks like I will go with the 5k display also looks as if I will lean heavy on the ssd, which wasn't on my first agenda. I knew and figured I would install my on Ram when I upgrade as that is a big savings cost. I really want to get one computer just for my photo work and do not want to change for 4-5 years and am willing to spend the extra cash. This will be new to me with an apple product as far as computer is concerned. I do have an ipad and iphone but have always used windows for main computer. I imagine there will be a learning curve for me but not worried about it.
    One last question and I am sure there will be several options out there as everyone is different, but what is your favorite software for photo editing? I hear lightroom, photoshop, adobe, ASP2 and a few more in your responses. Has anyone used Aperature? I've been told by a few others this worked for them. Most photos will be shot in RAW around 20meg.
    Thanks again for responses.
  13. Reality4711 macrumors 6502


    Aug 8, 2009
    Aperture is Dead

    If I was in your position (retired pro now) with the options available to you I would definitely use Capture 1 Pro (8)..

    Photoshop is so bloated now and IMO a specialist editors domain. Lightroom is probably the simplest solution with DAM and editing combined but for me the output from the RAW reader leaves something to be desired and the UI is clunky if you are a little free spirited - not 'top quality' output, from my Nikons at least.

    Aperture is no longer under development so by default I would steer clear.

    Reasons for C1 Pro. 1/ You are starting from scratch so a learning curve will experienced no matter what you choose - so choose the best

    2/ IMO the DAM is very like the old Aperture and both provide masses of help in your organising.

    3/ Raw quality is outstanding.

    4/ Not so sensitive to hardware limits as some other software.

    5/ Editing tools are comprehensive, accurate and in some cases unique.

    6/ Supported by a company entirely based in photography with a very knowledgable and very helpful backup staff. Instructional videos available from their site or UTube..

    Some minuses - no social media connection internally i.e.. FB etc.
    unusual export/printing setup (again though if you are a new user that is part of the learning curve)

    Major points - Top Quality image production and cracking backup.

    Also see for thread on C1Pro on this site, very recommended, Virtualrain is a mind of info...

    Good Luck
  14. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I dunno what you used with Windows, but I would go with Lightroom.

    It's basically the default photo managment software, in use on more computers than anything. Lots of training and other resources. Tons of plugins and presets and exporters. Almost all external editors have plugins, from Nik/Google to DxO to MacPhun. You get a copy for one price for both your PC and Mac, since you may still be using the Mac for other stuff.

    Not to dis those who like Capture One and others, but LR really is the place to start. And at $10US/mo (or probably $150 for perpetual) the Photographer subscription PLUS Photoshop is a bargain. Maybe not so much if you don't use PS, but still.

    At least download the demo and give it a shake. New version is likely to be out this month. Works great on the riMac.
  15. sarthak macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2012
    As everyone says, avoid Aperture at all costs as it's abandonware.

    I moved away from LR5 as it is far too limited. As a pro photog, I don't assume you're looking for a "starter solution" that deals with everything from organization to editing (i.e. Lightroom).

    Since LR2, each version has been a rather minor iteration and although the software is stable, useable and is widely used, there isn't much offered in terms of control. What has been added over the years to new versions is what one expects there to be in the first place rather than simply being marketed as "new features".

    Get it if all what you need is simple, functional and can handle, organize and process your images with long-term support and updates (via Creative Cloud subscription).

    Capture One (Simply the best)
    DxO Optics Pro and P1 C1 are among the best in the industry. C1 does definitely have the edge in terms of quality as well as being quite powerful in control and in terms of tethering. Not a whole lot I can say that others haven't mentioned before already. Definitely a solid and ideal choice. The only minor downside being it tends to leave a mess of its own files in every folder you browse.

    DxO Optics Pro and ASP2
    I moved over to DxO because of automatic lens corrections that speed up workflow over C1. For me the key was basic RAW processing in DxO prior to importing into AfterShot Pro 2 for further adjustments. I can go back at any time, edit the RAW image and export it as TIFF (overwrite the previous one), switch over to ASP2 and it reapplies the adjustments to the newly processed TIFF.

    ASP2 combined with free community plug-ins definitely provides for as much control over all aspects of the image as possible. By itself, it's not a very good RAW processor often leading to muddy areas or noise (hence, I use DxO, export as TIFF to edit in ASP2).

    ASP2 is not the most stable software (especially with OpenCL turned on) but, does keep everything in sidecar XMPs allowing you to keep your adjustments with your photos and have them available on all devices. Further, it works on Linux, Windows and OS X which is great except, that results in compromises such as no Gatekeeper or Retina support. It also lacks Adobe DNG support and DNG support from certain cameras as well but, if you can work with TIFFs (or deal with its mediocre RAW processing) and get past those limitations then it does have quite a bit of control.
  16. chrysek macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2010
    oh for sure grab iMAC 27" 5k with 16gb or 32gb ram and the ssd drive, it will fly with photoshop and photos will look amazing on your screen :) ah, i7 of course and 4GB gfx card.
  17. jcxstar13 macrumors newbie

    Jun 27, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    Disapointed with the 5k

    I have been running on a nMP since it came out and it does work really great with lightroom and large files from the D800 and D810. I was really hoping that the iMac 5k was going to finally be the all in one that I wanted. Simple and clean on the desk and that gorgeous screen but I have had mine for about 2 weeks now and I have to say that I am truly disappointed with the performance in Lightroom.

    I had read good reviews and that is what made me pull the trigger along with the need for a new office computer I was hoping this would be my answer and I would then sell the nMP and get another 5k for my main home editing machine. I ordered the upgraded processor and graphics with the 3tb Fusion drive because I had planned to upgrade it to a 7tb fusion drive if it proved to be the all in one that could handle the work flow.

    I should say that right now my library is stored on an external thunderbolt drive same as it was with the mac pro. There is one main difference and that could be the reason for the slow down and that being that the catalog file is larger that what can fit on the internal SSD drive where it does fit on the mac pro. I have a feeling that this is where the some of the lag may come in but I am not positive on this. I also should note I upgraded ram after purchase to 32GB.

    I would love to hear other peoples thoughts and results. I have done some research into this and it sounds like there may have been an issue that has been created since the update to mac os 10.10 and that is what came installed on my machine so I didn't experience anything before.
  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If you cn afford it, that is the way to go. A less expensive computer would work too but if you do this all day every day $4K is nothing. The setup should last you about 1,000 days. So $4/day. Then upgrade in about four years.

    As for software. Start with Adobe Lightroom. If other say smoother software gives better results, I argue they are looking at 400% blow-ups for 12 inches away. It's like looking at film grain in a microscope when what matters is the entire composition.

    What you REALLY need to think about is a BACKUP system. You need a "double bomb proof" system. Data loss comes from things like house fires, theft of all of your equipment, lightning hitting a nearby power pole and so on. So think about off site locations. But Tome Machine is you first line backup system. So buy a disk that is twice as large as your data and let TM have the entire disk.
  19. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Adobe posted a comment that essentially said 10.10 had some issues that were slowing down LR performance, and that Apple was aware of them.

    So I dunno what you could do at this point to resolve all the issues other than the standard tricks for speed with previews, etc.

    And as to LR vs the others, I'd agree that if you shoot tethered than C1 is maybe better for you. But depending on what you do, it's organizational tools may be inadequate.

    Fortunately, DxO works great with LR as a plugin. As does a lot of other stuff, another area where it excels over C1. And if you use Photoshop, then it's sort of a no brainer. The devil is in the details of what work you do however; each has demos to try.
  20. Ryan P, Mar 31, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015

    Ryan P macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    I am using the fastest 5K iMac, 32GB, 1TB Flash, higher graphics card. It was bought primarily for photography from the D810 including doing 100-500MP panoramics.

    I considered going the Mac Pro route (again) with a 32" 4K monitor, but given the higher cost of that setup and the fact that the Mac Pro is already out of date, I decided not too for now. The 32GB of RAM is pretty much the bare minimum for me and that was my biggest hesitation with the iMac.

    If you have a color critical workflow, there are some reservations with how accurate the iMac is after calibration. For my present needs though, it is adequate.

    I use a mix of Capture One/Photoshop CC/Lightroom 5. I also tend to run quite a lot in 5120x2880 mode. Text is quite small, but I like having the interface elements taking up less room on the screen. It also seems to me that Capture One is not making proper use of the Retina Display when in 2560x1440 mode.

    I've changed my workflow to more aggressively get rid of non keeper photos, so that more of my work can fit on the 1TB SSD. I am using a 2GB Airport Timecapsule and the 1TB DropBox account to keep everything backed up. The DropBox is nice as my essential work is also mirrored to my Macbook Pro and Mac Mini. They have an extended backup option that keeps track of an entire year's worth of changes without counting towards your diskspace. Older files (that are not that critical to me) I keep on dual USB3 external drives.

    On my wish list, is the OWC Thunderbolt dock and a large fast external SSD, such as the 1TB Lacie Little Big Disk. I will put that purchase off as long as possible in hope of better value, performance, and capacity.

    Both Capture one and Lightroom are noticibly slower when working at the 5K resolution. I think we just have to live with this and hope the software becomes more optimized. Photoshop performance is excellent. The slowest times are when Photoshop is saving multi gigabyte documents. It seems be more of a CPU bottleneck than an SSD bottleneck. It sometimes takes 2 or 3 minutes for me to save a 4 -8 Gigabyte large format photoshop document. At least Photoshop CC now performs saving in the background.

    My workflow is actually Capture One -> Photoshop -> Lightroom. I use Lightroom as a image viewer with the ability to do prints and final image tweaks. Lightroom still isn't able to recognize the Photoshop large document format, so after an image is finished, I make a flattened copy as a 16Bit TIFF. You can go up to 4GB this way. Lightroom is much faster when dealing with these flattened files that are much smaller.

    There are some plugins, say Nik Color Efex (etc), that do not seem to use multiple cores at all. The performance becomes very painful once going beyond about 100MP. I doubt any other computer would be significantly faster as the per core performance of the iMac is very high. With my workflow, the 32GB RAM seems to be "just" enough to keep everything from swapping out. My Photoshop sessions do make huge 30GB plus scratch disks, but the SSD seems fast enough to keep the performance up.

    I really like the detail of the 5K screen. You can see issues with your photos that normally you might not see until you made a large print of them.

    I was pleasantly surprised with how portable the iMac is. I sometimes bring it to different rooms in the house, similar to how you might use a laptop.
  21. shaunp, Mar 31, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015

    shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010

    I went down the nMP route as I prefer to pick my own screen. It's a very nice machine that remains quiet even when pushed. The graphics performance is noticeably better than my 2013 rMBP (GT 650M) when working in LightRoom, but I have a PC (i7 3770k and a GTX 780) that is just as quick and costs a lot less. Overall I prefer OS X, I just keep the PC as a gaming platform.

    I have to ask though why you are moving from a PC? If it's because you prefer OS X and iCloud I can understand that, but if it's because you want a 'retina' display I would consider 4K monitors on a PC - LightRoom is LightRoom regardless of wether you run it on Windows or Mac, but you will get more performance for your money on a PC. As a business user I would ask how is this going to benefit me as 4 grand is a lot to spend on a computer. What are you wanting to achieve by moving to Mac? Having a 5K display looks nice, but doesn't make imports, etc any quicker.
  22. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    If you go with the iMac, consider exactly what method you will use to handle calibrating the screen. Remember you can only do soft calibration (as in profiles) as compared to real calibration that one could do with monitors such as NEC or Eizo. I bring this up because you seem to need a "pro" solution.

    Either remain with a PC and get a good monitor or consider perhaps a use Mac Pro or a new one. The older has room for drives within and the newer one offers the TB external option for drives (as well as native USB3).

    As someone who works with PCs, various Macs except for the nMP, I consider the iMac the last choice on my list unless I want to add a second monitor that is properly calibrated and thus have two 'unlike' monitors or more.
  23. Ryan P macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    My take on this, is if you are preparing your images for print then it is helpful to have the best calibrated monitor you can get.

    For dissemination on the web, you could argue that it is better to have a display that matches what viewers of your photos will see. For most people that is an uncalibrated desktop monitor, an uncalibrated laptop, or an uncalibrated tablet or smart phone. There is also a very good chance that the display that they are using was made by Apple and will render colors very similar to your iMac.
  24. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Matches what viewers see? Hmmm, if the typical user doesn't calibrate chances are they all see something different. Any time one is in a situation like that you start dead center as in a calibrated (soft or true). Why start off with a bias from the get go?

    I don't know too many "pro" photographers that would consider not calibrating their monitor at some level. Whether it is for printing, colour separations, or even reducing a final image down to a "web ready" jpeg.

    When you consider (going with your web notion) the number of people that use Mac computers vs non-Mac, statistics would suggest that the Mac population is far smaller than the PC world. So much for "made by Apple and render very similar to your iMac." Then again, you don't have to go far to see various iMacs each with a slightly different "cast" or set to different gamma.

    To the OP, if the iMac appears to meet your needs, then I simply suggest you get a good profile calibrator to optimize your screen experience and whatever output you require.
  25. Ryan P macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    Don't forget they have sold over 1 billion mobile devices and 80% of mobile internet traffic comes from iOS devices. I find it useful to switch to the default calibration when preparing images for the iPad/iPhone. The iMac is very close to the newer models of those. They all tend to be quite a bit cooler than a properly calibrated display.

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