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FORUMS General Gear Talk Computers 
Thread started 25 Sep 2013 (Wednesday) 12:21
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IMac, Mac Mini, or Mac Pro?

 
phantelope
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Sep 25, 2013 12:21 |  #1

I need to upgrade from my couple year old Powerbook, it's having a hard time with the large files from the 5D3 and I have to work on old family videos.

For a while my plan was a mac mini with two monitors (probably Dell). At the apple store they also suggested an iMac. They are great machines and certainly nice to have less cables and clutter, just not sure about monitor calibration, upgrades, etc.

Then Apple announced the new Pro line. No pricing so far, certainly to be expensive, look great, spec is great, should be good for quite some years. Worth the extra cost? One or two screen would add, I want at least one larger than my current 22inch screen.

I'll be using LR and PS CS6 and for video Premiere Pro CS6, plus plugins from Nik, OnOne, etc

Suggestions?


40D, 5D3, a bunch of lenses and other things :cool:

  
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phantelope
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Sep 25, 2013 12:24 |  #2

I guess a new MacBook Pro would also be an option, but in a way I'd prefer something stationary. For regular laptop work my old one will do just fine for a good while longer and I have an Ipad. Having a laptop all wired up with screens and external drives etc, kind of defeats the purpose of a portable computer.


40D, 5D3, a bunch of lenses and other things :cool:

  
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Nightstalker
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Sep 25, 2013 12:50 |  #3

I may be just speculating but I am expecting the Mac Pro to be 2-3x the price of an iMac as a minimum with the potential to be much more expensive than that.

I'd go for an iMac over a Mini.


  
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phantelope
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Sep 25, 2013 12:59 |  #4

that's what I'm afraid of. Also not sure I'll really need that power, just don't want to buy something now and have to replace it in 3 years again. Not that it's likely I'll buy a new camera that soon, LOL

The 27 inch iMacs sure look great, vibrant colors and all, and at 27 inches I might not even need a 2nd screen, though I do have one sitting here that I could use.

I can't spend 5k on a computer though, that's for sure.


40D, 5D3, a bunch of lenses and other things :cool:

  
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Cuechick
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Sep 25, 2013 13:18 |  #5

Will the pro line offer Matt monitors? I use a Mac Mini hooked up to an older Cinema Apple screen, is NOT glossy. I also have an 2 year old MBP with a Matt screen, which I had to special order. The glossy screens, though pretty to look at are terrible for editing. Your printed skin tones will be way off and flat.

I do like the Mac mini, for the price it is an excellent option for my desktop work, my lap top is my primary computer. Though I see no reason a mini could not take on that role.

I would also suggest using a good external hard drive to work off, to help with your current computers issue. I just did a post on my blog on this exact thing: http://www.piewacketbl​og.com …2013/9/25/back-it-up.html (external link)




  
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Luckless
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Sep 25, 2013 13:43 |  #6

The big question is: How much work are you actually going to be doing with this hardware?

How many photographs are you expecting to work with in a single session? How much storage do you need?

The video can be your real killer. What kind of work are you doing with it, how long and complex of edits are you expecting?

You really can't get reliable advice if you don't yet know what it is that you specifically wish to do.


Also, Apple is now moving itself down this very weird path of consumer based users, and rapidly dropping support for serious creators who really demand far more flexibility and power in their systems than what they are offering. (The new pro is a joke, especially since the thunderbolt cable does not include a threaded locking mechanism. No internal expansion means relying on external bays for everything and assuming that your cable never slips loose or gets pulled out by accident. Far harder to do that when everything is securely locked down inside a single computer case.)


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phantelope
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Sep 25, 2013 14:01 |  #7

Thanks!

I have tons of photos to go through and edit, takes too long to even load the large preview for the large files from the 5D3. Storage on the machine itself is not so important to me, I have all photos on external drives and doubt I'll change that. Ram is very expandable nowadays, can always add more. Editing can be from minor adjustments to more radical work via plugins in LR and photoshop work with layers, filters, plugins.

As for video, I have a big pile of digital video tapes, all family, kids from baby on etc. Those need to go either onto the computer or also an external drive, then edited, but nothing super complex. Maybe transitions, music, but all just for family for now. Friend of mine works at Adobe and got me the software for a silly low price, otherwise less advanced software would be just fine. I did use premiere a couple years ago, hope I can still find my way around.

The smallest pro is about $2500, the 27 inch imac is close to that with some extras added in. Mac mini would be just fine for photo, just not sure about it's capabilities with video?

I agree about the concerns with the pro, that you can't add anything. It's not something I've had the need for so far, but to not ever have the option is something to consider for sure.

Glare is something to consider too, thanks! My current screen is matte, having a glossy one would be a problem in the location I have for my office. Are the iMacs all glossy? That alone would be a big reason not to go that way.


40D, 5D3, a bunch of lenses and other things :cool:

  
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Cuechick
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Sep 25, 2013 19:24 |  #8

Yes I believe all the new ones are glossy.




  
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MaxxuM
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Sep 25, 2013 20:08 |  #9

phantelope wrote in post #16324908 (external link)
Thanks!

I have tons of photos to go through and edit, takes too long to even load the large preview for the large files from the 5D3. Storage on the machine itself is not so important to me, I have all photos on external drives and doubt I'll change that. Ram is very expandable nowadays, can always add more. Editing can be from minor adjustments to more radical work via plugins in LR and photoshop work with layers, filters, plugins.

As for video, I have a big pile of digital video tapes, all family, kids from baby on etc. Those need to go either onto the computer or also an external drive, then edited, but nothing super complex. Maybe transitions, music, but all just for family for now. Friend of mine works at Adobe and got me the software for a silly low price, otherwise less advanced software would be just fine. I did use premiere a couple years ago, hope I can still find my way around.

The smallest pro is about $2500, the 27 inch imac is close to that with some extras added in. Mac mini would be just fine for photo, just not sure about it's capabilities with video?

I agree about the concerns with the pro, that you can't add anything. It's not something I've had the need for so far, but to not ever have the option is something to consider for sure.

Glare is something to consider too, thanks! My current screen is matte, having a glossy one would be a problem in the location I have for my office. Are the iMacs all glossy? That alone would be a big reason not to go that way.

To make it a little more easy, I'd put it this way...

Mac mini if you already have monitor(s) that you'd like to keep. If you already have external drives or are willing to buy enclosures, the Mac mini would be perfectly fine. Please note, the mini due for an update soon - so don't buy one yet! And, as always, buy upgrade RAM from another vendor.

iMac would be a prime choice for the person that doesn't want to deal with getting a new monitor and wants something 'simple'. I know several professional videographers and photographers (Vogue, Nation Geographic, Playboy, etc) that work with iMac's - so don't discount them automatically. The newer models' glossy screens are far less glary than the older models. And get a Fusion drive, it makes a WORLD of difference. External drives for your workloads. The iMac's were just refreshed, so it's safe to buy a the new 2013 model.

Mac Pro will be expensive. I've taken a look at the specs and with it's tiny footprint, I'm guessing it's going to start somewhere near $2000 and be way over $6000 nicely equipped. If that doesn't scare you, then this would be the best system Mac will have to offer the 'every-man'. Personally, unless you're working for an editing house or do some serious science at home, I'd pass on this one. Heck, I could be totally wrong though. Apple might throw us a curveball and price the Pro in the consumer range - but I'm not holding my breath.

There's one option you didn't mention - a hackintosh. I used to run one for fun until I upgraded my MBP and it took over as a home server/Plex station. I used Kakewalk, but there are other options out there. If you ever made a Lego spaceship, you have the necessary skills to make a computer. Seriously, it's easy. Kakewalk, for instance, even lists the best hardware to buy which is 100% compatible. It's a no brainer. I would not however create a hackintosh if this is for businesses use, as there is no support and no guarantees.

Other tips would be to buy refurbished models whenever possible. They have the same warranties and look exactly the same. If you buy a new model, use the Education Discount. Apple doesn't check your status online. If you buy at a store, bring along your child or borrow a family member's and use their student ID to get the discount.

Hope that helps...




  
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primoz
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Sep 26, 2013 02:12 |  #10

phantelope wrote in post #16324908 (external link)
I have tons of photos to go through and edit, takes too long to even load the large preview for the large files from the 5D3. Storage on the machine itself is not so important to me, I have all photos on external drives and doubt I'll change that. Ram is very expandable nowadays, can always add more. Editing can be from minor adjustments to more radical work via plugins in LR and photoshop work with layers, filters, plugins.

Most of normal photo editing is not that bad for hardware, but your main problem is in part, I put to bold above. No matter what computer you will have, bottleneck is still transfer of data from external disk drives. Having photos on local drive (preferably ssd) really speeds up things. Try to optimize your workflow, and that's most you will gain from it.
As to original question, personally I find new Mac Pro nice looking, but that's pretty much all for now. They didn't put out single specification based on which you could say machine is great or not great. But it certainly will be expensive, and it lacks A LOT of things to be used real work horse, what you would expect from machine in $3-5000 range (what will most likely be the price). Imac on the other side is everything but serious machine. Their monitors are more of a joke then real editing monitors, and lack of expansion possibilities is also huge minus for me. But I admit I have no idea's about Mac Mini.
One option, if you feel like doing a bit of research (not all that much nowadays) is to do it the way I did it, Hackintosh. Sure it's not perfectly legal, which is something I really don't like, but... You get powerful machine, which you can expand as much as you want, in normal housing, which you can fill with internal disks as much as you want (and as much as your valet allows you to), and as I wrote before, this with proper workflow is important for speed. And for me, this way I keep Unix (needed for whole bunch of our proprietary software), which runs Photoshop and Photo Mechanic.


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Sep 26, 2013 05:13 |  #11

I use an iMac...

BUT.. going to do a Hackintosh..

£5000 equivalent,
for around £850


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Sep 26, 2013 10:45 |  #12

Rushmore wrote in post #16326292 (external link)
I use an iMac...

BUT.. going to do a Hackintosh..

£5000 equivalent,
for around £850

Been there, done that. Hackintoshes are easy to build, and easy to run, with really, only one issue, which is that they are not quite as reliable as the real thing. The reason for this is that the hardware itself is different, especially in video-card land. Yes, Hacks can use PC Nvidia and AMD cards, but the ones that work best (in my experience, at least) are the ones that have video ports that are exactly the same as the Mac version of that card, if there is one. However, the various video card manufacturers, while using the same chipsets, use different output configurations. One will provide 2 DVI-D ports, 2 Minidisplay ports and an HDMI port, while another will provide a DVI-S, a DVI-D, an HDMI and a single full size Display port. These different configs require playing with software and com.apple.boot.plist with such entries as:

<key>ATIPorts</key>
<string>4</string>

trying to figure out how to make your XFX Radeon 6870s run multiple monitors.

It's a whole bunch easier, faster and more fun to use the real thing. However, new Macs (of any kind) are expensive. This is why I spent a couple of weeks reading Craigslist. I was able to buy a dual-quad Mac Pro base model for $700 bucks. Fitting it with a PCI-e SSD, and a used Mac video card (a Quadro FX 4800, also from eBay) put the price at just over a thousand bucks. The box's firmware can be upgraded at least one model year, RAM easily is upgradeable to 32 or more GB, and the processors are upgradeable to 3.3GHz, or, in fact, to dual six-way IPs. And it's totally silent once it has booted up, and I really enjoy watching those i6 threads running.


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Gizmo1137
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Sep 26, 2013 10:48 as a reply to  @ Hen3Ry's post |  #13

I have used IMac's for years and they have never let me down.


Best, Bruce

  
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Sep 26, 2013 11:23 |  #14

phantelope wrote in post #16324673 (external link)
Suggestions?

I have a Mac Pro 12-core, an i7 quad-core 27" iMac and a current 2.6 gHz i7 quad-core Mini.

The Mac Pro (96 GB RAM) is used for DNA sequence analysis. It's way too much computer for photo work.

The iMac is a nice, speedy computer. But it has a glossy display and you cannot open it to change or add hard drives without substantial effort. The gamut approaches sRGB, though. This computer is used by students in my lab.

The Mini is what I have at home, and what I use for photo work. It is an ideal Mac for such work. I use Aperture and it renders my 5D Mark II and Fuji X-E1 raw files in real-time. It renders my Sigma DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill files in real-time, too. These are much larger than either the 5Dii (or 5Diii for that matter) and X-E1. The HD4000 gpu is leveraged by Aperture, accounting for most of this performance. Lightroom will be slower because it doesn't use the gpu (and Photoshop only uses it for a few things, most of which you're unlikely to use on a regular basis). I also use the Nik Suite, which also uses the gpu so it's nice and fast, too.

The RAM on the Mini is easy to upgrade with third-party chips. I have 16 GB from OWC.

You can put a second drive into the Mini. I put a 240 GB 6 Gb/s SSD in mine and initialized it and the spinning hard drive as a single Fusion volume. This rather dramatically speeds up performance.

I also like that it has a FW800 port because I keep many files on three external drives connected by FW800. Plus it has four USB3 ports if you want to go that way.

The Mini can drive two external displays, up to 24" on the HDMI port and up to 30" on the Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort.

No chance I'd ever buy an iMac for photo work.


"Raw" is not an acronym, abbreviation, nor a proper noun; thus, it should not be in capital letters.

  
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Hen3Ry
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Oct 02, 2013 17:27 |  #15

Tony-S wrote in post #16326969 (external link)
I have a Mac Pro 12-core, an i7 quad-core 27" iMac and a current 2.6 gHz i7 quad-core Mini.

The Mac Pro (96 GB RAM) is used for DNA sequence analysis. It's way too much computer for photo work.

I agree, but actually, for me, its primary role is running a DAW with many audio tracks, some in record mode, so the fact that it runs PS so well is a bonus.


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