Serious Photographers - How would you budget your upgrade?

hoya87eagle91

macrumors member
Original poster
Apr 29, 2005
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HI - I am looking to change from a 2005 Power MAc dual 2.0 w/ an average 20" Dell monitor to a new photo processing / Printing set up. I am avoiding the iMac becuase the glossy screen and lack of adjustment controls is a total bust for me. I want accurate prints - WYSIWYG. In adition to shooting RAW , JPEGS, I have a growing Medium format negative / Slide library to scan / tweak.

In addition, I have a rapidly growing HD video library to processs into 5-15 minute shorts.

So If you had 2k to Spend, would you spend $1k On a high quality monitor and $700 on a new Mini, with possible $ left over for maybe Max RAM and some other things? What would you do???
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
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The Dell displays are easily calibrated. I would spend the money on a quad MacPro and a Dell display. That would be more than enough power for you, gives you space to increase storage over time, and as I said ... the Dell display is easily calibrated.
 

peskaa

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Mar 13, 2008
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I'd actually do some research first. You can calibrate the iMacs properly, just as much you can with an external display, and get matching prints. Of course, you need hardware to do this, for both screen and print.

As such, I'd buy a 27" iMac and a Pantone ColorMunki or similar.
 

Badger^2

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Oct 29, 2009
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I'd actually do some research first. You can calibrate the iMacs properly, just as much you can with an external display, and get matching prints. Of course, you need hardware to do this, for both screen and print.

As such, I'd buy a 27" iMac and a Pantone ColorMunki or similar.
I agree. Not sure where you heard that iMacs cant be done properly.

You just need the right calibrator -- and my vote would be for a Spyder 3 right now.

Several good threads over a DPreview. Everyone loves their 27".

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1017&message=33945286

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1017&message=33962659
 

peskaa

macrumors 68020
Mar 13, 2008
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I second the Mac Pro recommendation- internal drives are going to be faster and capacity is higher without going to externals.
For under $2k though? Not happening! You can easily blow that budget on a single Eizo screen, and the Mac Pro alone will also cost more than the budget.
 

CrackedButter

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Jan 15, 2003
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HI - I am looking to change from a 2005 Power MAc dual 2.0 w/ an average 20" Dell monitor to a new photo processing / Printing set up. I am avoiding the iMac becuase the glossy screen and lack of adjustment controls is a total bust for me. I want accurate prints - WYSIWYG.

So If you had 2k to Spend, would you spend $1k On a high quality monitor monitor and $700 on a new Mini, with posible $ left over for maybe Max RAM and some other things?What would you do???
Dude, as long as the screen is calibrated and the prints come out it won't matter. At Uni we use Mac Mini's with the Glossy Apple Displays for printing out work.
 

compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
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For under $2k though? Not happening! You can easily blow that budget on a single Eizo screen, and the Mac Pro alone will also cost more than the budget.
Only by $150-250 if they go refurb or are a student or developer. If they go with the 20" Dell instead of a 30, it's really not a huge delta in price, but it will be in performance if they go off the internal HD.
 

Badger^2

macrumors 68000
Oct 29, 2009
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Only by $150-250 if they go refurb or are a student or developer. If they go with the 20" Dell instead of a 30, it's really not a huge delta in price, but it will be in performance if they go off the internal HD.
Have you been reading the iMac i7 benchmarks?

As fast as the low end MP for many things...

http://www.barefeats.com/imi7.html

The only 20" Dell IPS panel is the 2007 @ 1600 X 1200, a lot smaller than the 27" iMac, and they are $369. And never go on sale.
 

hoya87eagle91

macrumors member
Original poster
Apr 29, 2005
75
0
Thanks for the input so far everyone.

My Dell isn't fuly adjutable for contrast, just brightness. I calibrate it every few weeks with inconsistent output results. Annoying

I read reviews in Shutterbug mag and other places that after calibration, the mac monitors are measurably inferior to many third party ones ike NEC, Ezio, even Lacie. Can anyone confirm or deny that? No way can I work on a glossy screen of an imac ever. Who's idea were those any way?! the reflection is a deal breaker. Kepp the input coming. Thanks!

I'd actually do some research first. You can calibrate the iMacs properly, just as much you can with an external display, and get matching prints. Of course, you need hardware to do this, for both screen and print.

As such, I'd buy a 27" iMac and a Pantone ColorMunki or similar.


So what extra hardware do I need to do this?

I'd actually do some research first. You can calibrate the iMacs properly, just as much you can with an external display, and get matching prints. Of course, you need hardware to do this, for both screen and print.

As such, I'd buy a 27" iMac and a Pantone ColorMunki or similar.
I will duplicate the post correctly ...- so what extra hardware will help calibrate the imacs properly? Thanks

Mac Mini would probably not perform well enough
Is this because of the slow internal drive? Thanks
 

CrackedButter

macrumors 68040
Jan 15, 2003
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51st State of America
Mac Mini would probably not perform well enough
To post process one image and print it? The Mac Mini is more than capable. It depends on your work flow doesn't it. If you're going to be playing itunes, on the internet watching video's and flicking through aperture for the next image then probably yes, it would not perform well.

But for the Uni setup they have, no.

It goes back to what you're going to do with the machine in the end.
 

stagi

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2006
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I would put more of your budget towards a better tower vs a mini. And do agree with others some of the dell monitors perform pretty well, although I have a 24" that even when calibrated isn't perfect compared to my 30" ACD which is spot on.
 

mep42

macrumors member
Aug 4, 2008
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I would get a 27 inch imac and you can easily calibrate those with software, they have IPS panels in them and can deliver excellent performance
 

peskaa

macrumors 68020
Mar 13, 2008
2,104
5
London, UK
I will duplicate the post correctly ...- so what extra hardware will help calibrate the imacs properly? Thanks
You need a calibration device, such as the ones listed here: http://shop.colourconfidence.com/section.php?xSec=10210&jssCart=7231230625c74d39e1ffd7182e588fa5

They are worth spending a decent chunk of change on, and if you're looking for perfect print matching you will need to get your printer profiled as well as your screen.

My personal recommendation is the Pantone ColorMunki Photo, which will do your monitor and printer. The Spyder3 is also great, and can also be purchased in a kit that can profile printers.


I used to have a 2008 Mac Pro with a 30 and 23" displays. Loved it, but when the Quad iMacs came out I moved to the 27" i7 iMac. I'm not really noticing any difference either - Aperture is behaving in exactly the same fashion, and the system is about just as fast as the Mac Pro was. The bonus is that they're a hell of a lot cheaper - you *could* get a second hand or refurb Mac Pro for your entire budget, but then your monitor would be small/bad for colour accuracy and you wouldn't be able to get a calibrator either.
 

compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
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Have you been reading the iMac i7 benchmarks?

As fast as the low end MP for many things...

http://www.barefeats.com/imi7.html

The only 20" Dell IPS panel is the 2007 @ 1600 X 1200, a lot smaller than the 27" iMac, and they are $369. And never go on sale.
No, I'm going on the speed differences I get between USB2, Firewire and SATA drives on my Mac Pro and Macbook Pro. Yes, 20" is smaller than 27", I think we all knew that- however 20" is just fine for photo editing- the biggest issue for me is disk space, and I save more time with internal drives on a Mac Pro than anything else in my workflow. As the benchmark you point to says, if they added an eSATA port, the i7 would be competitive, but they didn't- and that's where I bottleneck when working with panoramas, batch settings, HDRs and even batch resizing- heck even full-rez raw conversions suffer once they leave the memory card.

I'd skimp on monitor size with an eye to future screen updates before I'd skimp on the Mac Pro vs iMac because even the low-end Mac Pro will house 4 internal SATA drives, and that has the most day-to-day impact performance-wise for my photo work.
 

Badger^2

macrumors 68000
Oct 29, 2009
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Im sure everyones workflow is different, and I understand the advantage of the extra internals on the MP, but you are talking a whole different price category.

A great budget system for our OP would be a 21" 3.06 base iMac for $1000 + extra 4 gigs ram $100 + whatever 24" matte screen he wanted next to it $600 and up (Dell U2410?) + 2 TB external FW800 drive $200 + a good color calibrator (say, Spyder 3) $300 = less than the price of a stock/base model macpro and 5X as fast as his G5 (faster than a $700 mini too) add another $400 for the ATI 21" iMac for the larger drive and faster video (important for Lightroom/Aperture)

The 1 TB internal is plenty large enough to store several big shoots on, even if there were 100 gigs of images for one shoot.

Plenty of direct SATA connection with the internal drive.

Then when all of your post processing is done, transfer the files to your external FW800 drive. FW800 isnt SATA, but its plenty fast enough for opening large files and transferring gigs and gigs of data around.

Again, we all have different needs, and Im thinking the OPs arent as demanding as yours...
 

peskaa

macrumors 68020
Mar 13, 2008
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No, I'm going on the speed differences I get between USB2, Firewire and SATA drives on my Mac Pro and Macbook Pro. Yes, 20" is smaller than 27", I think we all knew that- however 20" is just fine for photo editing- the biggest issue for me is disk space, and I save more time with internal drives on a Mac Pro than anything else in my workflow. As the benchmark you point to says, if they added an eSATA port, the i7 would be competitive, but they didn't- and that's where I bottleneck when working with panoramas, batch settings, HDRs and even batch resizing- heck even full-rez raw conversions suffer once they leave the memory card.

I'd skimp on monitor size with an eye to future screen updates before I'd skimp on the Mac Pro vs iMac because even the low-end Mac Pro will house 4 internal SATA drives, and that has the most day-to-day impact performance-wise for my photo work.
See, I don't get why you're doing a comparison with a MacBook Pro, which uses laptop drives, rather than the iMac that everybody else is talking about which uses standard desktop SATA drives.

The Mac Pro is going to ship with a single 640GB drive, which is going to be exactly the same speed (give or take, depending upon exact model) as the 1TB drive that the iMac would ship with. Same interface, the lot. The difference is that the Mac Pro offers 4 bays - but I would argue that the 2TB BTO on the iMac is plenty of space, with FW800 being there for external/backup.


Quite simply the 27" iMacs offer incredible bang for buck. Performance-wise, they're faster than the base Quad Mac Pros, but their downer is the lack of expansion. However, if you spec the iMac up right (ie: big internal drive) you won't overly miss that.
 

compuwar

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Oct 5, 2006
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See, I don't get why you're doing a comparison with a MacBook Pro, which uses laptop drives, rather than the iMac that everybody else is talking about which uses standard desktop SATA drives.
See, I'm saying external drives in general, laptop or desktop are slow enough that it makes a difference. I thought that would be obvious given the context.

The Mac Pro is going to ship with a single 640GB drive, which is going to be exactly the same speed (give or take, depending upon exact model) as the 1TB drive that the iMac would ship with. Same interface, the lot. The difference is that the Mac Pro offers 4 bays - but I would argue that the 2TB BTO on the iMac is plenty of space, with FW800 being there for external/backup.
See, you can get about 30% faster by going with 10k RPM drives on the Mac Pro and you don't have to worry about anything other than plugging in new drives. You might find 2TB "plenty of space" but not everyone does- take out the OS and all the other data and I have my photos spread over two 1TB drives of their own there's no way I won't be upgrading at least one internal drive in 2010, and most likely all 3 non-OS drives. More importantly, moving everything off a single drive is the largest performance gain you can get.

Quite simply the 27" iMacs offer incredible bang for buck. Performance-wise, they're faster than the base Quad Mac Pros, but their downer is the lack of expansion. However, if you spec the iMac up right (ie: big internal drive) you won't overly miss that.
Nobody said the iMacs aren't incredible bang for the buck, but performance isn't just about CPU- having your OS on a different drive than Photoshop's scratch area or your images or library all come into play- and you're going to spend more time waiting on a single drive, especially if you're working with large files, panos or HDR. The first thing anyone says to do to improve PS performance is to move the scratch files to a different drive-

I'd also be wary of putting a 2TB drive into an iMac, as the cooling paths aren't all that great- I have a friend who uses one as the main computer in his studio, and it's in for it's PSU dying, and it's killed three or four drives- most likely all due to heat issues.

You can also use eSATA on the Mac Pro, giving you external drive performance that's better than twice as fast as FW800. You can expect ~120M/s write and ~140M/s read on eSATA- FW800 is going to give what 55M/s write and ~65M/s read? I'll take your word that you wouldn't "overly miss that," but I sure as heck would- every single time I processed an image!

Paul
 

TheReef

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Sep 30, 2007
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I upgraded from a G5 Single 1.8Ghz to a mini early this year.

Aperture runs great with 16MB RAW / 40MB tiff images, it won't be as smooth as a Mac Pro but max out the ram and you have a pretty capable system for the money.

Sure the Mac Pro is ideal, but the price... I was able to sell the G5 for such a good price and almost swap it for the mini.
 

compuwar

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Oct 5, 2006
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lol, the Mac Pro is OVERKILL for photo editing.
Depends on how much editing you do, how much batch photo processing, how large your photos are, and if you do multiple-image projects like panoramas and HDR or if you routinely work on multiple layers in Photoshop.

I actually wish I'd gone with dual quad cores rather than a single quad core for my editing- so it's definitely not overkill for me. I also had to go to 8G of memory to even get panoramas to stitch with my new camera and the extra processor would save me a *lot* of time.

If all you're doing is bumping an adjustment in small files, then yes- but if you're doing any real work the Mac Pro is the right platform.
 

peskaa

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Mar 13, 2008
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Speaking personally, and this is after all, what this is all about, I'm noticing not much slow down on my iMac from the Mac Pro.

To qualify, my usage is Aperture for cataloguing RAW files from a 5D Mark II, 1D Mark III, 1000D, and then some miscellaneous other cameras and negative scans. I very rarely export to Photoshop CS4, and when I do it is normally for clone stamping and other such 'basic' adjustments. I do not do HDR, nor deal with any files with lots of layers. I expect that there's a lot of people doing similar work levels to their shots as well - not everybody is stitching a 50gigapixel panorama...

For the above, the iMac is great. Aperture is smooth and responsive, and the fast CPU means that any exporting etc. is rapid. I find your statement about batch processing interesting, as damnit, that's a CPU task at which the iMac excels. I've got 8GB of RAM installed, so I don't have any problems there either.


No, the iMac can't have a pair of internal drives, but PS does quite well with an external scratch disk over FW800. It may not be *quite* as fast, but it certainly doesn't turn the system into a piece of slow junk.


As for the 2TB hard disk limit? Meh. If I fill the internal drive, I'll archive older work onto externals for access when needed. Easy enough.



The main point is that for the OP, the iMac is within budget (and not massively over like a Mac Pro...) and will most certainly do the job. Perhaps not quite to the point of a spec'd out Mac Pro at twice the cost, but certainly at a very competent level. The iMac is perfectly capable of "real work" - we've just installed three at the office and are working perfectly.
 

Razeus

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Jul 11, 2008
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Depends on how much editing you do, how much batch photo processing, how large your photos are, and if you do multiple-image projects like panoramas and HDR or if you routinely work on multiple layers in Photoshop.

I actually wish I'd gone with dual quad cores rather than a single quad core for my editing- so it's definitely not overkill for me. I also had to go to 8G of memory to even get panoramas to stitch with my new camera and the extra processor would save me a *lot* of time.

If all you're doing is bumping an adjustment in small files, then yes- but if you're doing any real work the Mac Pro is the right platform.
Understandable. This is why I do my photo RAW processing in Lightroom/Photoshop CS4 on my i7 Windows rig. I leave my MBP to the light weight/iPhoto/Facebook stuff. Nevertheless, the iMac is very sufficient to processing what you describe.