what is the best mac for an ametuer photographer?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by beppo, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. beppo macrumors member

    Jan 7, 2008
    hey I was wondering if any body could help me out. I want to switch to macs because there isn't that much good software out there for photo organizing/editing in the PC world. My price limit is $1,800.00 and I don't care if it is powerpc or intel. I would like something with a relatively large amount of pixels too. Thanks
  2. airjuggernaut macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2007
  3. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    My status as a photographer is unclear.

    I have been paid for some photographic work.

    Have had some work published. though I don't do it to make a living.

    I use a 24" iMac.

    It serves me well. Currently use Adobe Photoshop and Apple iPhoto though soon upgrading to Apple Aperture.

    My advice would be to take your camera out, shoot a few select images and then take a look at the images on the computers you are looking at.

    The iMac has a glossy screen, takes some getting used to but I love it.

    At last count my photo library consisted of over 10,800 images and we have a lot more negatives to scan and add.
  4. MacFanBoyIIe macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2008
    The iMacs' screens are in question with regards to quality, so that leaves them out. The MacBook Pros are pricey, and the screens are small.

    Go with a Mac Mini with lots of RAM and the large HD. Then you can pick and choose a quality LCD from Dell, which most people agree has better displays (at cheaper prices) than Apple. Finally, make sure you have an external drive to back up your photo library. This may bust your $1800 limit, but not by much.

    BTW, if you decide on the Mini, wait until the newer version (hopefully!!) comes out soon. Apple will drop the price of the current fastest Mini processor by adding a newer/faster processor to the Mini product line. Then you can get today's fastest Mini at a cheaper price.
  5. Photomax macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2007
    I think if you are into photography then switching to the Mac is a great idea.

    The one thing I would not get hung up on is the specs of the Mac you intend to buy. Mission one should be to get the best monitor/display you can afford. It does not have to be 30" wide. It just needs to be quality.

    Using a nice Mac with a quality display while working on your images is a beautiful thing. Using the latest top of the line Mac Pro loaded to the max but matched with a cheap display will still make the experience and workflow a downer. Its like listening to music delivered with the most expensive amplifier and cheap Radio Shack speakers: no matter how good the stereo system is the music will still sound lousy.

    Get a cheaper or used Mac if you are on a budget but make sure you get a nice display. Speaking of displays: don't pay too much attention to how bright or contrasty a display is for gaming performance etc. Editing photos accurately has little in common with rendering the latest shoot-em-up video game.

    Good luck!
  6. MacFanBoyIIe macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2008
    I agree with Photomax.
    Hence my earlier recommendation to get a Mini and splurge on a good display.
  7. greg555 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2005
    I just bought a refurbished 20" white iMac because they used a better quality LCD in it than in the new 20's. I am very happy with the screen quality.

    Max out the RAM (with non-Apple RAM), get an external hard drive and you are still well under budget.

  8. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    I would say a Mac Mini + a high quality display is a good route.

    That's what I use, and I am also an amateur photographer :) Add an external hard drive and boom you're good to go for a hell of a lot of photos.

    iPhoto is great, if you need editing get Gimpshop or Photomatix or Photoshop Elements when it comes out.

    You then can do 99% of what people with multi$$$ systems can do, all for under $1,000!
  9. doubleohseven macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2008
    Sydney, Australia
    My entry-level MacBook can handle Aperture great, with no crashes or freezes. I wouldn't go for a PowerPC, mainly because that many software titles will eventually become Intel only applications. But if that's not a big concern for you, then a PowerMac G5 would be a great machine for photography.

    A Mac Mini is also good for photography. Since it has nearly the same specs as an entry-level MacBook, it should run a program such as Aperture fine. Connect it to an Apple Cinema Display or another quality display, and you're set!
  10. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    Hi, I run a busy professional design studio, and do EXTENSIVE work with imaging running Photoshop, Aperture & iPhoto...here is my two cents...

    For $1400 you can currently get a refurb previous generation white 24" iMac.

    (link: http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APP...e.woa/wa/RSLID?mco=44BD9AA1&nclm=CertifiedMac)

    IMO, you will need at least 3gb of RAM (the white's max out at 3gb, and the newer alum ones can take up to 4gb). The Mini only allows a max of 2gb of ram, and I do not think that would be sufficient for what you want to do. Buy add'l ram from a third party to increase it's RAM from the stock 1gb to the 3gb max, this should run about $150-175 (I have used Crucial, Ramjet or Memorytogo). Adding memory is very easy to do. Also I would recommend the AppleCare for $169, especially for a refurb. This would extend the coverage for 3 years.

    The white iMac has the advantage of the matte screen, and I have found it to calibrate VERY easily, and is very accurate for my prepress and imaging work. I used the Spyder2Pro, which is usually around $100-125.

    I think the machine has iLife 08 (iPhoto) already loaded. iPhoto is an excellent image organization app, and has some limited editing functions as well (you can easily edit images in Pshop in conjunction with iPhoto). I also use Aperture which is sort of like iPhoto on steroids. Apertures imaging adjustments are much more powerful, and I find myself editing more and more using it over pshop. The downside is that the interface is a bit less intuitive than iPhoto.

    I would stay away from the 20" iMacs, as I think the displays are of a different caliber than the 24's. ALSO, updates are coming soon (tomorrow?!) so refurb prices may drop a bit more (while they last). I have 35-40k high res images archived, and work every day on my white 24. It is among the best machines I have ever had over the years. I replaced my G4 tower with the iMac and it proved to be a sound buy...


    PS: I would argue that size is a BIG feature, especially when editing images. The tools & interface of pshop & aperture can eat up a lot more space than you think. I also think the 24's have a larger field of view than the 20's do. Lastly, the previous gen white 24s have a better video card than the alum ones, IMO
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Depends on what application you use to handle all your photos. If you're using Adobe Bridge + Photoshop CS3 for editing, then a new MacBook should be perfect. Add a quality external LCD, and you're set.

    If you plan on using Adobe Lightroom for organizing and sorting through your photos (like I do), then again, a MacBook would be perfect. Having a video card won't make the process faster, so the MB would be the nearly the same as the MBP in terms of speed, as these apps are CPU intensive, and don't really rely on the graphics card.

    If you plan on using Apple's Aperture, you're better off getting a MBP. Sorry, but Apple really does take full advantage of using the GPU for intensive graphics related processing tasks. It's usable on a MacBook, but you'll definitely see an improvement with a MBP.

    I say get a MacBook + external LCD. I wouldn't get an iMac because the screen uses a lower quality LCD panel (maybe S-PVA or MVA or whatever), not the more colour accurate S-IPS LCD panels (characterized by their higher price and slow response time).
  12. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Good advice here. If op wants new, go with a Mini+matte display+external firewire boot drive.

    The AliMacs can take up to 8 gigs, unless Apple's done something to them.

    The current Minis can give you 3.1 gigs if you install two 2 gig sticks. You also get better video performance with matched pairs (vs. 2 gig + 1 gig sticks). I have the 1.66 CD edition of the Mini with 2 gigs of RAM and it performs adequately. I run Aperture 2 and Photoshop CS3 concurrently without too much of a lag. If I were doing this professionally, I probably wouldn't use a Mini. If I had to go the route of an AliMac I'd get a 20" and buy a matte DVI display to go with it.
  13. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    Sorry, I stand corrected on the RAM, I was under the impression the limits were 2gb for the mini, and 4gb for the newer iMacs. Good to hear as I will want to put some extra in my new 30" iMac (when they come out that is, lol)...
  14. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    The problem is no one yet makes a 4 gig PC5300 stick. When they become available, and provided Apple hasn't disabled the Santa Rosa chipset on the AliMacs (and MB and MBP), they should be able to take two of these.
  15. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    Don't get me wrong, I love my mac for photography (I make some money, but I'm not a full time professional). I bought my first Mac solely to use Aperture as I was sick of PC based photo organization (or lack of!) and mangement.

    However, with Adobe Lightroom now available for PC, I would argue you might want to demo it for awhile before switching. Partner that with Adobe Photoshop and really you probably get everything you need for photography at a far cheaper price than buying all new hardware.

    Again, i'm glad -I- switched, but maybe there are other options that might save you money.

  16. highjumppudding macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2008
    MacBook or iMac

    Amateur Photographer, MacBook would be fine if you need a portable. Or a refurb MacBook Pro will fit your budget. Or an iMac. Any of those systems run Aperture if you eventually move up to that.

  17. MacFanBoyIIe macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2008
    ALL Macs will run Aperture just fine (even the Mini).
  18. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Aperture 2 is noticeably slower on my 1.66 CD Mini than 1.5.6 was.
  19. MacFanBoyIIe macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2008
    I imagine so. However, this thread is about a guy who is buying a NEW Mac. The new Mini is C2D and faster processor. He should be fine with a Mini if he wants one.
  20. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    That doesn't really matter. Both the CD and C2D Minis use the GMA950, upon which Aperture relies heavily. If there's an impact with the faster cpu, it will be minimal.
  21. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    If you want to run Photoshop CS3 you will need your Mac to have Intel processor / processors .. ;)
  22. chrismac00 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 17, 2007
    If you don't plan on going professional, then a MacBook MIGHT be okay. But if you plan on getting serious and using some heavy duty programs, then a MacBook Pro is your best bet. If money is a problem, get a refurbished, they are great!
  23. MacFanBoyIIe macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2008
    I disagree since my MacBook (Feb 2007 C2D) runs Aperture 2 just fine and the current Mini has pretty much the same hardware. I would like to see a benchmark between your Mini and a new Mini both running Aperture 2.
  24. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Before I bought my MBP I was using a 2 gHz C2D SR MB with 2 gigs as my portable. Both it and my Mini routinely rendered 30D raw images (8.2 mpx at 12 bit depth) in about 1.5 to 2 seconds with Aperture 1.5. With the MBP that time was cut to about 1 to 1.5 seconds. With the release of Aperture 2, my MPB is noticeably faster at rendering and my Mini is noticeably slower, taking about 2 to 3 seconds to render. Aperture heavily leverages the gpu and does so better with a dedicated graphics card compared to the GMA950.
  25. MacFanBoyIIe macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2008
    I agree, but like I said, I have a Feb2007 C2D MacBook. I'm SATISFIED with the speed it renders in Aperture 2. It's good enough for me, I'm not a pro and I don't have a deadline. The current Mini has the same hardware and will render at the same speed.
    SOOOO, my point is for an amateur photographer, with an $1800 budget, get a Mini, and spend most of your money on the big display instead of a MBP that only gets you a 17" display, or having to STILL go out and spend more money on a display, surely busting the budget.
    I'm just giving advice based on the OP's criteria, FWIW, YMMV.

Share This Page