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Images, Graphic Design, and Digital Photography Discussion of all things graphics.

Which iMac would be fast enough for photo processing?


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fleurya

 
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I have just gotten into amateur photography as a hobby and found that my aging 2.16 C2D MBP is pretty out of date and doesnít run current software very well. Iíve read that even newer Macs can have trouble running programs like Aperture and LR when processing photos without significant RAM and a really good GPU.

Iím thinking of getting a new iMac and trying to decide between the new lower-end configured i5 27Ē and the last gen i7 27Ē model. Anyone know which would provide better performance? Would there be a big performance difference between 1gb graphics RAM on the older model versus 512mb on the new one?

Iíve also heard of other photography/software related problems with the iMacs, such as the screen isnít supported by Adobe RGB or something like that, and the graphics chip isnít Adobe-certified. Honestly, I'm not even sure what this is all about. Is there anything to this and should I heavily consider these factors as an amateur processing RAW images?

Which of the available newer and older models would you suggest? If I can get away with really good performance out of an even lower-end model like an older i3, that would be fine too, but I do want a larger display for sure. Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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I run Aperture and shoot RAW. Haven't seen any real problem with my 2007 vintage MBP (4MB Ram) handling processing or editing images. I suspect that any of the current iMacs would be more than up to the task; my own leaning would be to the 27 in model (really would like to have that huge screen to call my own )

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pigoo3

 
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I'm thinking you'll be fine with almost any newer iMac. Technology has improved quite a bit since your 2.16ghz Core 2 Duo iMac!

Check out this list of benchmarks (Geekbench)...for an idea how much improvement:

Mac Benchmarks

...your iMac gets a score of about 2850...the slowest newer "i3" based iMac gets a score of about 5700. Geekbench doesn't test graphics hardware...but the graphics hardware on newer iMac's will blow the doors off an older 2.16ghz Core 2 Duo iMac.

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MYmacROX

 
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I don't know if this will be of any help (probably a no-brainer) but I read this review earlier today and your post reminded me of it.
Apple iMac (spring 2011) review -- Engadget

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Reminder: Please include your Mac's specs. This will make it much easier for the other members to assist you.
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Doug b

 
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Some good questions there. Let me start with what's at the top of your list.

I primarily use Lightroom 3 for 99% of my processing. I have had Aperture 3 on my system on and off through each of its iterations, and each time I've found it to not be as good as LR for MY needs and how I work. But of course, what might be right for me... doesn't have to work for you so... definitely try both. I can give you specifics in terms of what each do better, but that's for a different conversation.

I'm using LR3 with my C2D 2.4Ghz MBP and it only has 4 gigs of RAM. I'm not having any issues with speed and can plug along quite well with it. No, it's not going to be faster than an new iMac or even an new MBP, but my point is that you shouldn't need more than what your budget will allow.

I'm in line for a new computer soon too, and my thoughts go something like this (with editing in mind) : Purchase the model with the fastest i7 processor. Leave the rest stock and then purchase 16 gigs of RAM as well as an OWC SSD and use it in place of the SuperDrive. Then, replace the stock HD with a 2 TB drive and use that as the scratch disk (cached files). This configuration will allow any DAM to fly.

As to the iMac monitor, I think you'll find it more than what you'll need for now, unless you plan on going into fine arts graphics where you need the wide color gamut range. The iMac's IPS LED screen conforms to sRGB standards, which is the most widely used standard on the web. aRGB is a slightly wider gamut, and then there's the Pro Color gamut etc.. While it's nice to boast having higher gamut screens, they're not always necessary, especially for a novice. Not to say you couldn't take advantage of a higher gamut screen...

The good thing about the iMac's these days is that they calibrate a lot better than ones from several years ago. This is of utmost importance for a photographer. So, don't skimp on investing in a calibration device. Colormunki, Spyder Pro, Eye1 Pro... all good names and highly recommended. I've heard that Colormunki works really well with iMacs btw, but you should do some of your own investigative work here.

Anyway, all of those things you've "heard" are all nonsense and should be ignored, fully. While industry pro's aren't using iMacs for intensive print work, (their monitors alone are nearer to 8-10 grand), there's nothing wrong with an iMac for "our" purposes. Trust me on that.

Just make sure to load up on RAM, a very decent processor and the SSD swap would be great, and you'll be very good to go.
Doug
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fleurya

 
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Thanks for the info. My concern came from looking at reviews on the Mac App Store for Aperture where many people have complained that even on their newer model iMacs and MBPs they have seen significant lag running the program. I take those reviews with a grain of salt, but I have seen an awful lot. Also, on a photography forum I frequent I’ve seen people say they’ve needed to upgrade to 8gb of RAM to get their software running at a good pace.

"Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others"
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fleurya

 
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Thanks for the info, Doug! It’s always a toss-up between going for a lower-end model and getting a higher end one with better longevity in performance and resale value. But it’s nice to know that I should be fine with whatever I get.

The setup you’re planning sounds really sweet! I would definitely want to go with an SSD sometime, but not sure if I’ll have the guts to crack open an iMac!

Thanks, MYmacROX, I had actually just read that review earlier today. I don't think I've read a bad review yet on the new models. The blistering-fast $1999 model does have me drolling!

"Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others"
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Doug b

 
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Oh btw.. it is important for you to remember that you should set your camera to shoot in the sRGB color space, NOT aRGB! If you're using an Nikon camera, it's in the "shooting menu", fourth item down usually.

Doug
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Doug b

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fleurya View Post
Thanks for the info, Doug! Itís always a toss-up between going for a lower-end model and getting a higher end one with better longevity in performance and resale value. But itís nice to know that I should be fine with whatever I get.

The setup youíre planning sounds really sweet! I would definitely want to go with an SSD sometime, but not sure if Iíll have the guts to crack open an iMac!
If you have a clean space to work in, and the tools (very basic tools) it's very easy from what I've seen in tutorials. It's just a matter of organizing. Taking the casing off is nothing.. you just have to remember where you took screws from and make sure you don't lose said screws. I'd never work with it in a cluttered messy space, for just that reason. Though, I'd likely put the small screws in a bowl or tin or something.

Doug
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rocketman766

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fleurya View Post
I have just gotten into amateur photography as a hobby and found that my aging 2.16 C2D MBP is pretty out of date and doesnít run current software very well. Iíve read that even newer Macs can have trouble running programs like Aperture and LR when processing photos without significant RAM and a really good GPU.

The biggest thing that jumps out at me here is "amateur photography as a hobby". I don't know your background or financial status, but a new 27" i7 iMac is overkill for a hobby. While I am not a full time pro, (still have a day job), I do a signifigant amount of editing and processing on my 2.2 C2D MBP (OWC 6gig ram kit) and I have had NO problems at all. The most ram you can install is 3 gig from OWC (4 gig, but 3 recognized per their website). I was in that same boat, so I traded my 2.16 MBP for my current 2.2 C2D MBP so I could install more ram. I would like to think the amount of work I throw at my MBP is a pretty good amount and it handles it like a champ.... which keeps me from absolutely needing that shiny new 27" iMac or that kick *** Mac Pro that I really really really want (a few extra reasons that could be justified for the Mac Pro, but.... $$$$$$). I don't think a novice would really notice the difference between the graphics cards or the i5 and i7 chips, but I could be wrong. I don't think the graphics card really comes into play unless you are doing movie editing or some serious graphic design.

I am on a tight budget so I tried to be smart. I bought a Dell 22 Inch 2209WA and a Spyder 3 elite to go along with my MBP. No problems so far. It may not be as fast as a new Sandy Bridge i7, but it does just fine for now. As much as we would all want that new 27" iMac, I think you can save a few bucks and get the right tools for now. Maybe spend that other $2grand on a sweet piece of fast glass!

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There is really nothing wrong with your current system that some basic maintenance or a reimage could not solve. If your RAM is at the most the system can take (and RAM is cheap enough, especially when compared to a new system) then you will be fine.

I ran CS3 on my old Win7 machine (4GB RAM, 2.22 C2D) and it was fine. The only "lag" is the startup and that machine was decent, especially when I bought it new. While I am a bit further up the professional rungs (stepped out of the hobbyist role a few years ago) it worked fine, and when resizing for the web, it would do a whole week's worth of shots (2.5k) in about 20 minutes. That is more than acceptable.

I just got my new MBP a few weeks ago, and I have Bootcamp Win7 with my CS3 and Sony Vegas Pro installed for the major work, but I found I wanted to spot-edit without rebooting so I picked up Aperture. I don't know what these others are talking about in terms of lag, but when I added my Scotland Tip library (copies only) into Aperture and started working on them, I thought it was a bit slow until I realized it was indexing the whole directory (3000 shots at 8MB each in Canon RAW). Once it was done, and since, I have seen no lag.

If your budget is tight, get more RAM first, clean up your old system or do a full reimage and reinstall your software. If you still are having issues then you are out only time and about $100 or so for the RAM.

When it comes to the color space, unless it is really bothering you, or you are selling something, it isn't going to make a huge difference. For my cameras and my system, I have everything set to sRGB. Works perfectly well. And, with RAW, you can change it on the fly. So again, not a huge deal. And, the only REAL place it matters is at the printer. your print shop should be telling you their image settings anyway, if they are worth their salt.

I really think you are over-thinking things.

Example of an unedited photo straight out of the camera:
Model: Canon EOS 20D
Aperture: f/11
Exposure Bias Value: 0 EV
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority
Flash: No Flash
Focal Length: 16 mm
ISO: 100
Metering Mode: Multi-Segment
Shutter Speed Value: 1/60 sec
Color Space: sRGB
Date/Time: Thu 26 Aug 2010 05:51:34 AM EDT


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MacMini 2011, 2.7GHz Intel Dual-Core i7, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256MB RAM
iPhone 5S 64GB, iPad Gen3 32GB WiFi, iPod Nano Gen6 8GB, Apple TV 3 & 2
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Any new imac will be enough for photo processing but as others have said try a ram upgrade first, unless you really want a new machine.
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Unless you're a pro (unlikely if you are asking this question) then any imac will be up to the job. Check out the minimum specs of the software you intend using, double it and go on from there.

Happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you get.
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Originally Posted by Sawday View Post
Unless you're a pro (unlikely if you are asking this question) then any imac will be up to the job.
Or even if you ARE a pro -- every pro photographer I know (that would be quite a few) uses iMacs. Most of them are embarrassingly old, I might add.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
Most of them are embarrassingly old, I might add.
The Macs or the Photographers, or perhaps both?

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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