photographer needs your help - imac 2011 or Mac Pro

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Hi forum folks, I've only posted once before (and you were ace!), so forgive me if I muck up or forget something.
I'm a pro commercial photographer coming back from extended maternity leave (so limited cash flow) - and my trusty G5 has died (power unit, replacements 3rd party only, not worth fixing IMHO). I knew this day would come but hoped it wouldn't be when the Pro's were waiting for a refresh :-(
Heres a little on how I use my mac, I shoot in RAW and each image is about 70MB, with a typical shoot generating at least 300 shots. I use photoshop and bridge ALOT. I'll also be using lightroom or aperture to start cataloging my ridiculously large image library (to sit on an external HD or one I put in a MP).
My dilema is that I don't think I can hold off until the "possible" early 2012 refresh, but I'm really reluctant to pay through the nose for last years machine.... So I've been looking at imacs, the new lot look fast and tempting, but is it false economy for my business?
Theres a couple of things I really need your help with before I buy:
1. I currently have a 23 inch cinema display, about 5 or 6 years old, but works great - and has matte glass - so might I be daft to go imac gloss?
2. On MP, would I benefit from multiple cores? I don't render video or play games. Does an entry level (one 2.8 Quad, Nehalem) chew through stills slower than an 8 core Westmere?
3. I'm thinking I should go for 12GB (from crucial) in either imac or MP, enough?
4. If I went imac - could I use my display as a second screen (imac for pallets perhaps?) - is there even a way of doing it?
5. Could I upgrade the MP to a SSD boot disk in a couple of years when prices fall? (and is it easy to do?) A grand for 512 is a bit pricey for me at the moment, though I think it would speed up my workflow. I'm assuming that imacs are pretty much a sealed box, "buy now or never get" when it comes to internal drives.
6. Would my current display be compatible with the MP's - might I need a strange new cable?

7. I've specced up a entry level MP @ £2300 for:
One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem”
3 GB (3 x 1 GB)
1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB
Two 18x SuperDrives

If I put a One 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” in instead - would I see any benefit for the additional £300?

8. I've been on to the store and specced out the 27" imac @ £1900:
2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
1TB Serial ATA Drive + 256GB Solid State Drive
AMD Radeon HD 6770M 512MB GDDR5

9. On the flip side, what if I went entry level imac for a grand (+ crucial 12gig of memory):
2.5GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
500GB Serial ATA Drive
AMD Radeon HD 6750M 512MB GDDR5
and then sold it on in a year to upgrade to the "new" MP, how would it cope with my useage?

I know this has been a long rambling post, I apologise and really appreciate you reading it, any help would be very much appreciated.:)
 
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Guess it is a matter of personal preference. Personally would go for the Mac Pro with upgradeable graphics, four hard drive bays, tray loading optical drive and bigger memory capacity. You already have the display.
 

chscag

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I agree with Harry. You might want to wait a bit though.... The Mac Pro line is due for a refresh, however, prices on that line are not likely to come down any.
 
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I would get the iMac for now and wait it out. Entry level + 12gb RAM would blow away what you are using now. And yes, you can still use your monitor. A lot has changed since the G5.
 
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What kind of display port (ports?) is available on your current display? I'd be more apt to stick with the matte screen, just so long as connectivity isn't an issue, and so long as the graphics card plays nicely with that monitor.

I'd put 16 gigs of RAM from OWC in there, as well as a nice SSD Scratch Drive. A separate HD for the OS and all other applications etc..

Of course, an iMac will also do nicely, but why bother if you've got the monitor and cash for a nice MP setup? Your work flow will be that much more efficient with the benefits afforded by an MP.

As for software, I find Aperture to be a bit less efficient than Lightroom for cataloging. Plus, LR has more options in terms of plugins, better web and print features, and in general tends to be less buggy or slow. Aperture tends to lock up when applying too many edits, far too often. Hoping Apple addresses this eventually.

Also, Lightroom has better Photoshop integration and allows you to edit images as smart objects directly. This isn't supported natively in Aperture. You'd have to export to tiff first, breaking the RAW workflow. There are scripts you can find from third party sources, but that's not always reliable.

In the end though, it's personal preference. I don't like Apertures catalog interface as much as I do LR's, but I do prefer Aperture's "one stop" browse and editing interface more than LR's differentiated modules for these things. I wish they'd integrate those two specific modules.

To note, using Bridge and either LR or Aperture is a bit of overkill IMO. One of the latter will take over the job of the former, as well as ACR if you use LR since it's the same exact rendering engine.

Doug
 
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Harryb - cheers for your thoughts, valid points :)
chscag - thanks - yeh the refresh cant come soon enough for me, I fancy the thunderbolt connectivity - but sods law it'll be straight after I take delivery :-s
zacster - thanks - hmm, the imac, it is still very tempting....... I could get half the purchase price back if I sold it within 4 months - but that would mean those 4 months would cost me £125 each. Dunno, still mulling that over.
Doug - blimey - I hadn't even considered the graphics card causing the screen any problems, many thanks for alerting me! I'll take a closer look at my monitor tomorrow and repost the info just in case anyone knows the state of play.
The LR and Ap debate is interesting (apologies - I know we're in hardware - but it would be v.rude to ignore :), thanks for your thoughts, I think LR wins out for me too.

You've all been most kind, and I really appreciate the help :)

I don't suppose you have any thoughts on my point number 7 -
7. I've specced up a entry level MP @ £2300 for:
One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem”
3 GB (3 x 1 GB)
1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s hard drive
ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB
Two 18x SuperDrives

If I put a One 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” in instead - would I see any benefit for the additional £300?
 
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Would you see a difference? Probably so if you're rendering layers in Photoshop as well as exporting from LR at the same time. My philosophy on processors is that if you can afford to, max out that particular piece of hardware simply because it's not something that you can change later, usually.

Doug
 
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Macs hold their value better than that. You'd get more than half back.
 

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