Wife is photographer and needs a mac! Please help.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Fireproof!, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. Fireproof! macrumors 6502a

    Fireproof!

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    #1
    My wife is a photographer that does a lot of heavy photoshop work (CS3 with Light Room), working with raw files from a Canon 5D. So naturally, these files are very large to begin with, and they get even larger as layers are created, etc. Also, she creates some pretty hefty coffee table books, and while in process, the file size can get really large (approaching a gig) not to mention large swapfile requirements, etc.

    ANYHOO - she's currently on a quad-processor PC with Vista and it's just terribly inefficient and slow.

    We want to move her to a Mac sometime this year. Given the above type of use (90% heavy photoshop work...10% internet/budget spreadsheets/etc...0% video editing), what would you recommend for her?

    She likes the idea of portability of a 17" Macbook Pro because she could take it with her to photoshop seminars, or move it into the "viewing room" when presenting to clients. But I wasn't sure if that's beefy enough and if she'd be better off with a Mac desktop for what she needs. Right now we can't do both, so it's either/or.

    Thanks in advance for the guidance.
     
  2. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

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    #2
    The 17" MacPro would certainly be enough, also any current Mac* would work fine for your use (I use a MacMini to run CS3 and Lightroom2. It handles the raw file from my 5D fine, though I do store them on an external drive.).

    Though the 17" looks like it might be updated in the next week, so don't spend just yet.




    *The current mini is fine, but dated. Also that may get an update this week.
     
  3. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #3
    Can you elaborate on the full specs for the PC, as much as you could buy a Mac you may also just not have a sufficent setup for the PC. ie Using a 32bit Vista install instead of 64bit which allows you to use more than 3.2GB RAM, what graphics card does it have? An on board Intel X3100 (?) chip or a stand alone board with an Nvidia or ATI chipset.

    You can potentially upgrade from 32 to 64bit Vista for no cost (if you bought it as a standalone) but you do need to do a new install, which could be of benefit as a clean install could fix a few other things along the way. This MS article maybe of use: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932795/en-us

    A 17" MBP might be very nice but thats a lot of cash down when a few hundred dollars can make what you have work as well, though maybe not as portable. Look at both options before getting the MBP.
     
  4. Fireproof! thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Fireproof!

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    #4
    Thanks for the feedback. My main concern is making sure we buy "enough" of a machine. If the 17-incher will do it, that would be great. Once we get her onto the mac, then I'll probably tap into you guys for help on making sure her workflow is optimized.
     
  5. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #5
    I'd skip the portable and go with a Mac Pro for a few reasons- the Apple portables don't hold much memory if you're dealing with huge files with lots of layers, and the ability to do multiple multi-core CPUs will help with anything. Finally- though you can do it on the MBP, starting with a 20" Cinema Display is the way to go. Desktop is the way to go for coffee table book type-stuff.

    (I work almost exclusively on a 17" MBP, it's a slug compared to a Mac Pro.)
     
  6. Fireproof! thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Fireproof!

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    #6
    Thanks for the feedback. As this purchase would likely be near the end of 2009, anything we can do to address current performance issues would be welcome.

    She's running a fairly new HP m9080n Desktop. Here are the specs/details:
    - Intel Core2 Quad CPU - Q6600 @ 2.40GHz
    - 3.00 GB ram
    - NVidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card
    - 32-bit Windows Vista

    I was surprised at how slow some of the actions were and such, but then I discovered she was working with these gigantic file sizes. And since I just do basic spreadsheet stuff with my PC and Macbook, I don't know what performance to expect with this photoshop stuff. And her only comparison is with friends that do LIGHT photoshop stuff (with jpg files...not raw...) so of course they appear to be much speedier with a lower-spec'd machine.

    Anyway - financially speaking, I'd like to put off a conversion to Mac for a while, as re-purchasing all the software she uses will really jack up the price of the switch. So if there are some cheap(er) ways for her to see some improvements in performance, I'm all ears.

    That was my thinking. I tend to like to "over buy" a bit too, and certainly don't want to make a significant investment to switch only for her to say "well, the mac is cool, but it's not much faster." :rolleyes:
     
  7. duffyanneal macrumors 6502a

    duffyanneal

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    #7
    One thing to keep in mind is that some software has a cross platform license. So in theory you can swap from PC to Mac without having to repurchase the software. YMMV.
     
  8. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #8
    I have a system that is pretty much like that one and I have no qualms editing uncompressed 720P video on it.

    I would consider looking at putting in more RAM, and installing 64-bit Vista, and trying out PS CS4 with it's 64-bit extensions allows for better handling of bigger files.

    That quad core machine should fly with pretty much anything you throw at it.

    The other thing that would possibly speed up the system is adding in additional disks, perhaps faster disks.
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #9
    Adobe offers a $50 cross-grade, what other software are you looking at replacing?

    The other thing nobody has mentioned is working with printers/publishers.

    Every printing house I've encountered uses Macs. My IT clients have found that they can turn around printing content much more quickly if they're also on a Mac platform because of proofing and color matching alone, let alone font selection.
     
  10. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

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    #10
    I know people who managed to get CS3 changed over free. Lightroom shouldn't be a problem as the media and licence key work on both Mac and PC.
     
  11. ajpl macrumors regular

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    Oct 9, 2008
    #11
    That's the issue there. You are dealing with biiiig files. I use a new Mac and an old PC laptop side by side and despite having 7 fewer cores and 1/3 the memory the Vaio laptop does not shame itself next to the MacPro and can run CS4 no problem, though obviously it is not as fast when dealing with big files, otherwise, not a massive differnce considering there's often no swap file drive for the laptop . The fastest way by far to run PS curently is on Vista64 with CS4 64 bit version - the bigger the files the bigger the difference. There is no Mac PS64 bit version and won't be for 18months or so.

    Buy Vista 64 [OEM version is very cheap] and upgrade to CS4 [and use 64 bit version] then add lots more memory, which is dirt cheap for PCs and you will have a very fast machine. Also make sure you have PC set up right [this applies to Macs as well] have your OS on one disc, have swap files dealt with on an empty fast disc and have your data stored on a third [and backed up on a fourth]. Disks are very cheap these days as well.
    Also make sure you don't have crap like Norton running in background. Norton is *(&^ and should never be allowed near computers. It also used to be harder to remove than a virus - which is sort of ironic.


    I intend setting up Vista64 on my Mac Pro and running PS in there for maximum speed. MacPros run Vista very well by all accounts.
     
  12. ajpl macrumors regular

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    Oct 9, 2008
    #12
    Depends where you live. In the Uk Macs are not as prolific as in the US, many design places are Mac free zones.
     
  13. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    #13
    If you get MBP, you can get an external desktop harddrive, either Firewire 800 or eSATA.

    iMac or MacPro might also work.

    No, windows just don't work the same. Try open up 100 5mb jpegs and see windows suffer.
     
  14. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #14
    I checked out Crucial.com and some good news, the top of the line 2GB modules run a whopping $27 each. As the m9080n supports 8GB you can pull all the existing modules, put in 4 modules that are exactly the same (to be on the safe side) and spend $108 plus any taxes or shipping. You do not need to buy all new modules but for best performance having 4 identical modules but by doing so all modules perform the same. You also play into the dual channel where you want both modules being the same, right now you probably have a 2GB & 1GB module which means the dual channel setup isnt there to assist you either.

    I would assume that Vista came with the pc so you should be able to either check the documents that came with the pc or contact HP and ask regarding changing over to 64bit Vista, you may need to purchase an upgrade but that should be around $150.

    Overall the system should be fine but then not everyone plays with 1GB files :). For around $250-300 she should have quite the workstation.

    To take it a step further, we havent touched on using multiple drives, raid setups etc that can also help improve performance. In many cases this could involve the purchase of a $60-70 hard drive.

    Just a reminder, you must install 64bit Vista to go beyond the 3.2GB ram limit, and you must install 64bit Vista as a new install not an upgrade.
     
  15. bruinsrme macrumors 601

    bruinsrme

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    #15
    Check with HP they may provide a 64bit version free or at a reduced cost.
     
  16. Fireproof! thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Fireproof!

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    Frisco, TX
    #16
    Awesome - lots of great advice guys. I really appreciate the help and patience.

    I would like to get her over to Mac eventually and am glad to hear that many of the software can transfer licenses, etc. That's good news - i was not aware of that.

    And in the meantime, it looks like I might have a good project on my hands installing 4 2gig ram sticks and upgrading to Vista 64bit. She already has CS4 sitting on the shelf because she got a discount buying that with Lightroom2, I think.

    While I don't look forward to the hassle, I think that might be a great interim step for her and keep her rocking while we put aside some of her profits this year for a new Mac Pro. :D

    Thanks again. I'll continue to monitor this thread, so any other tips are appreciated.
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #17
    That may be true- but please keep in mind that design houses are different places than four-color offset printers who put out large format "coffee table" books, and the original poster is listed as being in Texas, which while the residents like to think of it as an independent republic is still a part of the US. ;)

    In my experience is that even running Quark on a PC will cause font problems as well as color problems with proofing electronically when the printer is using a Mac. Enough problems that one of my customers purchased a Mac Pro and cross-grades last month because they could ROI it by skipping the design firm's services for a month or two by going straight to the printer. They've been unable to do that because of the turn-around/mismatches on color proofs and more frustratingly the font mismatches when using PCs.

    Granted, the majority of my press and pre-press experiences have been in the US newspaper industry[1]- but there four color web press runs are proofed on Macs. I don't know that there are that many press manufacturers or that the fonts and colors are all that different between them, even globally- do you happen to know if the larger offset print houses that can put out and bind large format books in the UK are PC or Mac for their pre-press operations?

    [1] Eight and a half years at Gannett/USA Today, but before they started buying up the UK dailies.
     
  18. Fireproof! thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Fireproof!

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    #18
    Since you already looked into it, can you tell me specifically which modules I should get that will work with her system? Or a direct link? I don't want to get the wrong kind.

    And I have read about the benefits of all the same brand/speed/etc, so I'm with you there. And I do believe we are not leveraging the dual channel setup (though didn't realize that until you posted it).

    Thanks!
     
  19. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #19
    Lots of good advice above.....

    I will just add a piece or two, IF you decide to switch to Mac. I am also a photographer, and I deal with very big files as well. I'm doing more fine art than commercial, so some of the work flow is different.

    I have the 8 core Mac Pro. It is a bit overkill for what I do, but I figure I won't need to trade it in for a long time. I am absolutely thrilled with the performance I get from it.

    1) You can buy "good as new" systems from the refurb section on the Apple online store. These systems come and go seemingly at random - as stock comes in and gets sold. Get in the habit of checking the prices every morning, and comparing the refurb units with the "New" units. You will get a feeling for when a really good deal comes in. When you and your wife decide its time to switch, then you will recognize when its time to buy. Good deals move fast.

    2) More memory is more important than CPU speed. I believe (others can confirm or correct) that fast memory is also more important than small increases in CPU speed.

    3 Your wife probably doesn't need the notebook to do her PS work. The light is too variable, the screen too small. A less expensive notebook is all thats required to "present" the images to the client. At that point the layers are merged, presumably, etc etc. An older MBP would do nicely. If you can't do both the Mac Pro and the MBP, then I would do the Mac Pro.

    There are improvements slated for OS X that will make it easier, in time, for programs like PS to really take advantage of multiple cores. I think the 8 core Mac Pro will do your wife nicely for a very long time if you decide to move from the PC. The quad core Mac Pro probably won't be worth the cost of switching.

    Good Luck - Let us know how it goes.
     
  20. Fireproof! thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Fireproof!

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    #20
    Thanks for the addtional comments!!

    A new mac is in our future for sure, because she can't stop drooling over my new Macbook Alum. :D But we just can't afford the upgrade right now. But thanks a lot for the suggestion of watching the refurb deals. I'll continue researching and do just that.

    All of this helps us to hone in on the investment required, so we can budget for it accordingly and earmark some funds.

    In the meantime, I just ordered 8gigs of new RAM and will upgrade her current setup to 64-bit Vista, CS4, with 8gigs of Ram. That should help. :)

    Thanks again!
     
  21. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #21
    Whoops! I went through all the looking, had the link to post and then forgot that minor detail :). Looks like you ordered already but herte is a link for future reference

    http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.aspx?model=Pavilion Elite m9080n

    Also for reference, if you go with 4 of the same stick you don't need to figure out which slots the sticks need to go for dual channel as sometimes you go 1 & 3, 2 & 4, though thankfully they are generally color coded.

    Keep us posted on the progress.
     
  22. Aea macrumors 6502a

    Aea

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    #22
    Whoops, that's what I get for not rereading the thread, apparently the OP already has made a decision, in this case it's another voice in the fire :)

    DO NOT BUY A MAC

    Buying a Mac would probably be a waste of money to be honest.

    1) Get 64 Bit Vista
    2) Get 8 OR MORE GB of RAM, if your computer doesn't support it, it might be time to upgrade that. If you are comfortable just build your own (if you need help choosing parts ask on a hardware forum, and in this case go overboard with DDR).
    3) Get CS4, absolutely important.

    Here's the simple beef.

    You need a lot of memory to do intensive tasks, and you need quite a bit of CPU power to keep everything humming gracefully. Short of a Mac Pro all the mac lines will be Core 2 Duo machines, i.e. they only have two cores instead of the four that you have now.

    CS3 and CS4 for mac both are 32 bit, that means they can only support 4 GB (slightly less) of ram. This is where you're choking, you absolutely need to be able to allocate more ram. Windows is 64 bit, meaning you can use as much ram as your heart desires.

    Then get *-IPS display, I'd highly recommend the 23" ACD (not the 24"), or another high quality manufacturer (Dell makes some VERY nice screens) if you do not have one already.

    Or you can buy a Mac Pro which may become useful in a year or two when CS5 is released and you can get 64 Bit Photoshop on the mac.
     
  23. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #23
    If the quad core PC is "slow" the Macbook Pro wiil not be any better. In fact, depending on the specs of the PC it could be slower. What is slow inPhotshop is not the processing of images but moving them around. Getting a 1GB file to/from the disk takes time. Notbook drives, even 7,200 RPM drives are slower than the high end drives (and RAID) you can have on a desktop. Also with more RAM there is less need to move data because more gts cached in the RAM. The notebooks max out as (only) 4GB but the MP can hold more.

    The ideal setup for a pro phototographer is to have both a notebook for working at a shoot ot with a client and a desktop for use at home/office.

    You really do need the desktop setup to hold the main library. These libraies can be large, to large for a notebook hard drive.

    Aperture gives you an easy way to break off a subset of the library, work with it and then put the part back. I assume Adobe's lightroom can do the same. That's what you do take the notebook with yo do the shots and thn rate and edt them that bring them home and add then nto the main library.

    do not forget about a backup system. You will need a large disk or RAID for Time machine and you will need a set of external drives that you rotate to an off-site location. And buy a fire safe too.

    Apple's current notebooks just don't have the power, RAM and storage space of a Mac Pro but you can't cary the MP with you. So you enad of with both.
     
  24. MacNoobie macrumors 6502a

    MacNoobie

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    #24
    To be completely and perfectly honest I'm in the same boat as her with using CS4/Lightroom2 and a 5D (soon to be 5D Mark II) and the MacPro loaded with ram has been a dream for me. Ended up getting the 2.8Ghz model and using the $400 of the $800 I had left over (since it was $800 to go from 2.8Ghz to 3.0Ghz) it towards 8GB more ram from a 3rd party. The machine has no problems chewing through 20 or 30 of these 5D files in PS and with a Geforce 8800 which isnt exactly the highest end card still does admirable with brush edits in lightroom. No offense to the people using PC's I respect your opinions on buying 64 bit cpu's and extra ram because 2GB on a MacPro feels absurdly slow. Loaded up with ram I've been able to run World of Warcraft, have CS4 open batch converting PSD's to Jpegs at full quality and resolution, Lightroom 2 open, MSN or Adium running for IM, Firefox running looking at macrumors or hardOCP, and on occasion Entourage without noticing so much as a slow down or lag in the system. It could very well be the PC running the suggested Vista x64, 8GB ram and all that could easily do the same things but I have yet to see it even with vista x64 on a bootcamp setup. Then again Vista's just setup for any PC gaming addiction I have left over.. thats it.
     
  25. PCMacUser macrumors 68000

    PCMacUser

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    #25
    A lot of stuff has been said in this thread. I think the main things you need to take away from the posts is that: a. Going from a quad core PC setup to a dual core Mac will not solve your problems, and b. Getting 64 bit software and more RAM could be your solution.
     

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