Which 2013 iMac?? Photo editing, heavy Lightroom use, light Photoshop use.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Rob Meredith, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. Rob Meredith macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2012
    Hi all,

    I've been hanging on & hanging on for the 2013 iMac refresh. It's finally arrived!

    My main program is Lightroom and being a wedding photographer I am dealing with a large number of photos. I want to get through these as fast as possible applying quite a large number of adjustments.

    Photoshop is used for batch sharpening / re-sizing & extremely light retouching.

    Currently using a 4 year old PC which takes literally seconds between adjustments in Lightoom. Nightmare! My question is, which model to buy.

    I'm already set on 27inch, for screen real estate & ability to upgrade RAM.

    I was also thinking the 1TB fusion drive, magic trackpad & quite possibly the numeric keyboard.

    Not sure on processor graphics combo though? From what I gather the i7 would be overkill unless I'm doing video? Would the 3.2Ghz base model suffice or would I be better served spending the extra $250 AUD and getting the 3.4Ghz i5 processor + GTX 775M 2GB graphics?

    I also plan to keep the machine for as long as possible but would be happy with 3 years use which I think is pretty reasonable.

    Thanks in advance guys
  2. leman macrumors 604

    Oct 14, 2008
    If you are not playing games, the base model should be sufficient. Drop some aftermarket RAM into it and you'll have a nice photo editing machine.
  3. soulbot, Sep 25, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013

    soulbot macrumors member


    Feb 8, 2008
    Different phases of the post process will benefit from different aspects of the system. Some tasks are more disk-intensive, some are more processor-intensive. Ironically enough, there's no GPU accelertion for Lightroom. Period. Instead it is looking for pure CPU clock speed, and not really multi-cores either. Whereas Photoshop does benefit more from multiple cores. So, honestly for this particular machine CPU clock speed would trump GPU power. So it depends on whether you're going to really realize this clock speed difference with the "upgrade" because the extra 1GB of video ram is all but irrelevant.

    After that comes drive configuration. Having a Fusion drive is great. Kind of a best of both worlds. But still, asking it to manage your Os and push Lightroom and your LR catalog and talk to your photo pool—all at the same time—is a stiff order. It'll work, but it's not ideal! I've read that the optimal drive setup for Lightroom is Os, LR an LR catalog on an internal SSD, with the photos on a separate, fast drive. For you, a Thunderbolt RAID for photos, all else on an SSD would scream. And the right RAID is something you could grow larger, down the road.

    I wouldn't know about the trackpad. I don't think I could tolerate it for long sessions. It's great, for me, for dabbling and casual stuff. But for work, I go with a Wacom tablet instead. I'm a photo editor for a very busy photographer!

    Of course as much RAM as possible helps!

    Fast cores, fast disks, mucho RAM.

    Peek around before you plunk your money down. There are a lot of performance reviews on the web. This is but one.
  4. Rob Meredith thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2012
    Thanks for getting back to me guys.

    My main bulk of photos will be on external drives (via USB 3.0) with just the current job I'm working on imported on to the main drive. That's my plan anyway, although theoretically if it leads to performance improvements I could work from an external. For this reason I don't see much point in going SSD over Fusion as whatever I need to fit on an SSD will fit on fusion but with added flexibility.

    The trackpad is more for relaxed web browsing. I'll connect a USB mouse for navigating around Lightroom, plus will be using short cuts a lot to save as much mouse activity as possible. Wacom is no real use to me, for 100 hours of photo editing I might spend 2 minutes retouching.

    Still undecided on which processor to go for so would love to hear the opinions of others?

  5. soulbot macrumors member


    Feb 8, 2008
    Actually, even running the photos from a USB 3 drive can be quite fast! TB isn't necessary. At work we've got a 2012 2.6 GHz MBP with a 256GB OWC SSD that runs the 10.8, LR and the catalogs. The photos are on USB 3 externals. This machine is quite fast! Coming off the old machine you're on, anything is going to feel like a turbo boost. I'm not personally sold on the Fusion "value" just yet. It's a great balancing act—speed + size. But not for the prices, not for me at least. It sounds reasonable for your needs though.

    Yeah, I hear ya. I don't do a ton of retouching either. (When I do, the power of the Wacom is undeniable.) But just for general interaction and mousing I still find it superior for long sessions. I was in video for over a decade: Final Cut, After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. There's definitely no "retouching", or pen sensitivity involved in driving those apps, but the marked reduction in general wrist/arm fatigue made it indispensable. But hey, to each their own. Just note that the new new Intuous models have gestures built in. They are tablets and trackpads. It's not just about retouching...

    Either way, at this point you can't go wrong. Even the base models are going to trump the old PC so hard it's to be several leaps forward, not just steps.
  6. blanka, Sep 25, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013

    blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    If you want a serious calibrated monitor like a NEC PA271W/Dell U2713H for 10 bit wide gamut AdobeRGB, just get the quad Mini and add yourself a 250-500GB Vector/Samsung 840Pro. CPU power is what you need, and the Mini 2.6 quad offers it as a way better price than the iMac, and you can have a quality matte screen with it.

    And with the pro screens you can increase your price. When people see you with a black hooded display on the desk they think you're a professional instead of the average iMac using wannabe photographer.
  7. AppleDroid macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    If you want to do heavy LR and Photoshop don't get a Mini. The GPU is underpowered and any GPU acceleration in Adobe apps will be wasted.

    As much as the iMac screen isn't my favorite for photography/design work there are thousands of professionals that use one for their daily work. I prefer my matte NEC but the new low-glare iMac screens are beautiful and I may end up with one if the MP is too expensive.

    That said definitely spring for the i7 upgrade as that will give you hyper-threading and a higher burst speed. Get at least the 1TB Fusion drive and supplement it with a fast USB3 or TB external for scratch and storage with a matching backup drive. (Always have a backup!)
  8. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I wouldn't get an iMac for photo work. I'd get a Mac mini instead. No glossy display, it's easy to add a second drive (including an SSD for a Fusion drive), 16 gb of RAM. It's more than enough computer for photo work.

    This is completely misleading. The HD4000 can render Canon 5D Mark III raw files in real-time. Lightroom makes almost no use of the gpu and Photoshop only uses it for things most photographers don't use on a regular basis, such as its morphing filters (e.g., liquify, etc).
  9. soulbot macrumors member


    Feb 8, 2008
    There is no GPU acceleration with Lightroom.

    I can attest to a solid experience with a Mini-as-photo-editor. Our 2nd "workstation" is a Mini with a SSD, external USB 3 storage again and a Dell U2410 monitor. It's a great machine. Capable of everything we throw at it, which at times, can be a lot.
  10. fredr500 macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2007
    Don.'t want to hijack this thread but..

    I do have a question along the same lines.

    I have the same needs as the OP, but my current machine is a 6 year old Mac Pro. It has 4 2TB drives, 10GB RAM and 4 monitors. It still runs great but is a little on the slow side.

    Would it make sense for me to get a mini as a replacement "processor" that drives my main display, then use the Pro connected via gigabit ethernet as a file server for the pictures? I could let the Pro continue to drive the other 3 displays, using VNC or something similar to display virtual screens for the mini?

    Now that I see that in print I think I know the answer - get the 27" iMac, drop down to 1 additional display, and put the drives in an external USB3 box. Then sell the old Pro for a few bucks.

  11. Rob Meredith thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2012
    Thanks for your input guys but I'm pretty set on an iMac. I want an all in one for the neatness & am quite partial to the look of the iMac.

    From what I understand a mac mini & decent monitor would cost me about the same?

    The type of work I do, weddings, doesn't rely on me being a pixel peeper & having absolutely the highest colour range etc. I'm more about capturing emotion, mood & giving the images a feel. Personally, having a top end monitor will do nothing for me in this regard.

    Feel free to check out my work - www.robertmeredithblog.com

    So, yeah any more advances on which processor to get?

    As a couple of people mentioned, Lightroom doesn't use the GPU and my PS use won't be enough to test the GPU. They also don't use hyper threading so I can't see any justification for going all the way up to the i7 unless? Is it worth me spending an extra $250 to get the 3.4Ghz over the 3.2Ghz (this as standard would include the increased graphics card with 2GB)? Will this ensure more longevity or is it a negligible increase that I won't notice & I'd be better just spending that money on some RAM?

    Thanks all
  12. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    The Mini can drive two displays, one 24" (HDMI) and one 27" (Mini DisplayPort).

    Yes, but the Mini would be easier to upgrade RAM and install a second drive (e.g., SSD) for a Fusion drive. Mine has a 1.5 TB spinning drive and a 240 GB SSD that are initialized as a single Fusion volume. I also have two external drives (3 TB each) connected by Firewire 800. It's nice and speedy.

    The weakest link will be the hard drive, so if you can afford it, fastest cpu, SSD and 16 GB of RAM.

Share This Page