View Poll Results: what computer do you use

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  • Apple iMac

    12 22.22%
  • Apple Macbook

    3 5.56%
  • laptop

    24 44.44%
  • desktop

    27 50.00%
  • Other

    2 3.70%
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Thread: Recommended Desktop Computer for Photography

  1. #1
    Bronny's Avatar
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    Recommended Desktop Computer for Photography

    Weve been thinking about a new computer, probably not until next year, but theres nothing like having it all sorted before hand .
    At the moment I run a compaq laptop, but would really like desktop. I've been thinking along the lines of a Mac. What does everyone else have and what would you recomend. TIA

  2. #2

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    Re: Computer

    Moved from Dell laptop to Mac Mini earlier this year and wouldn't go back. Of course the 23" monitor helps! Moved Lightroom and Photoshop, with Adobe's help and my external disks just connected so all photos are available. Now can use 64 bit applications easily.

  3. #3
    Bronny's Avatar
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    Re: Computer

    Thanks Peter. Now I'm not a real computer person, but can you tell me the advantages of going apple. Some people say its the only ones for photos and others say, don't go near them......

  4. #4

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    Re: Computer

    I guess its a personal thing, working with Windows PCs all day I just like the way the Mac effortlessly does what you ask without any bother. Also the graphics seem much better, although that may be down to the monitor as much as the Mac.

  5. #5
    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Computer

    I moved from a 17" Laptop to an iMac earlier this year. We are pushed for space so don't have the room for a tower, the laptop never left the house so for its small footprint and bigger screen I went iMac - I will NEVER go back to a Windows machine. I love the gestures and effortless way Lion navigates.

    There are plenty of Apple stores around so I'd say go and play, the staff are amazing and have all the time in the world for their customers.

  6. #6

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    Re: Computer

    Hi Bronny,

    It seems to generate more "debate" than religion & politics combined!

    At the end of the day, IMO, they're both just tools; on a Mac you click File -> Open, and it opens the file ... on a PC you click File -> Open, and it opens the file. Pick up any book on Photoshop and it'll say that the two are identical, except on the Mac it's the Command and Option keys, whereas on the PC it's the Control and Alt keys (although Mac users will always say "yes, but it just works better on a Mac!").

    You'll hear people say that PCs are more susceptable to viruses; actually, it's the other way around, but it's also true to say that traditionally, far more viruses are targeted at PCs (better "return on investment"). In reality, these days Windows PC keep themselves up to date automatically - there are good anti-virus programs out there - and it's 99% true to say that if you stay away from sex sites, you'll be just fine.

    With either platform, it's important to get a good monitor, and to invest in a profiling system so that you're seeing what you SHOULD be seeing in terms of levels and colours.

    I'm afraid that My experiences in Apple stores are completely different to Robin's; in my experience they use manipulative tactics to extract more money out of you; of recent I tried to buy a new battery for my iPhone 4, as a good example -- they wouldn't sell me one, insisting that they needed to "service" the phone (whereas I've done them before - it's a grand total of 3 screws and about 3 minutes work) (I've bought many iPhones + iPads + iPods + Apple TVs + accessories over the years direct from Apple). I'm not saying that many businesses aren't just as agressive, bottom line is that they're there to make sales, and many are pretty agressive in the way they go about that.

    One point of difference you might like to keep in mind is that - out of warranty - apple products will cost you a LOT more than their PC counterparts to repair (for what it's worth, I used to run my PC business from office space sublet from within the local apple dealership (as it was at the time). Not trying to put you off - I've never owned a Mac, but might even buy a Mac laptop myself next time! But at the end of the day - much the same as Canon -v- Nikon - they're just tools.

  7. #7

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    Re: Computer

    Interesting post Colin as I have to replace my 19" NEC monitor and have also been looking at Apple. I want a bigger monitor (images and palletes get in each others way less) and my wife hates the spagetti like jumble of the present set up. I was thinking of a 24 inch but discovered Apple go from 21 to 27 inch. The 27 looks like overkill but having tried it in the Apple store I have to say the screen is very impressive and a rough calculation indicated that a good 27 inch monitor plus a new computer (probably needed in the the next year or so) might not be all that much short of 1400 for the equivalent Apple. So roughly comparing like with like there may not be all that much difference in cost. But why not get a good 24 inch monitor now and replce the PC as and when necessary? Well, domestic bliss is part of the equation and the neatness of the Apple is a real attraction to the CEO and she is prepared to release funds.

    But you are right, any system is just a tool and one shouldn't loose sight of what you want to do with it. I print very little and it seems to me the cost and standard of commercial printing makes printing at home pretty questionable if you are not selling. Furthermore, we live in an apartment and there is very little room to store mounted prints. So the pleasure of seeing a high quality display is important to me (and her) and the Apple display is exceptional, perhaps if only because its glass front does seem to add some extra brilliance.

    Over the years I have not had much trouble with computers so I am not very anxious about repairs in the future, but your comment about Apple repairs is something I will want to ask Apple about.

    It still isn't a cut and dried decision and I hope this thread continues, even though I expect it has been gone over before. It is always a help to know how others are thinking.

  8. #8
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    Re: Computer

    I've got both a MacBook Air and a PC desktop. Both have LR installed on them and they both work fine. Macs overall seem to be less overhead (upgrading and configuration) and have a more streamlined feel. Windows machines allow you more control if you like being able to manually configure stuff. Being an IT guy working with Windows all day it's nice to come home, turn on the Air and just get at it.

    Operating systems aside, a good monitor makes all the difference. If you do decide to go with a PC, watch out for the package deals (PC and monitor) as the monitors are usually lower end. I upgraded the monitor that came with my desktop to an Apple one. Made a big difference in my post-processing.

  9. #9
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    Re: Computer

    I recently upgraded my home computer and choose a Windows desktop system over a Mac to replace my old laptop. Here are a few things I considered:

    1. How much do I carry my computer around
    2. How big do I want the screen
    3. What processor do I want
    4. How much storage space do I need
    5. How much RAM do I need
    6. Operating system


    My answers were:

    1. Not once since I got my smart phone
    2. 24in plus
    3. Something with multiple cores
    4. Enough for all my photos x2 (including internal back-up)
    5. Over 8Gb
    6. Horses for courses here but I am a power user of Windows and Linux (novice on a Mac)


    With my requirements I found that an iMac would do a good job. You can even buy third party RAM much cheaper than Apple and put it in yourself in 5 minutes. I've heard lots of good things about Apple and thought I might try one. However even with a 10% education discount the cost was about the same as a custom built PC with double the specification.

    So I choose to build my own computer. I had done this before but it is so much easier nowadays. All the plugs have their own shapes so you can't get it wrong. Fitting the heat-sink is the only bit that is unintuitive.

    I now have a PC that has everything I wanted. I also have the advantage that if a piece fails then I can upgrade as I go.

    Since this is very easy there are lots of companies who will do it for you and charge about 10% over the component prices. Obviously some will be rubbish and you will have to do some research (or ask) to find a good company. However it is an option that should be looked at. This will allows you to specify what you want and avoid things you do not, e.g. multiple hard drives, more RAM, cheap graphics card. You can then buy a nice big screen separately (there are threads on this site discussing monitors).

    An alternative would be to buy a generic desktop with no monitor. It will probably be cheaper due to the economies of scale and you can put extra RAM and more hard drives in yourself. This you cannot do with an Apple iMac or mini (and powermacs are too expensive for anyone sensible).

    However for a simple job at home a mini-mac plus a good monitor will probably be a great start for photos. I am not sure about your workflow but for doing batch processing of hundreds of big MP raw files it may not have enough power now or in the future. It will work but you will just have to wait a bit longer for the output to finish.

    @Peter

    Can you tell us what the specifications for your mini-mac are? Do you have 2Gb or RAM or have you gone for the higher spec?

    Regards,

    Alex

  10. #10

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    Re: Computer

    Hi, Well IMO it really depends what you are going to use it for, if just for photography do what I did, have one made for your requirements, in my case a PC. I purchased the monitor seperate as I felt that monitors that come with of the shelf PC's are really not for people like us who want to do our photography manipulation, I ended up with an NEC monitor and also bought the calibration software and the differance (to me anyway) is amazing in as far as WYSIWYG the colours on the NEC just seem so much more defined than on the monitor that came with the PC I use for internet (never use my photographic PC for the net except to update system and software). I also feel like most things you buy ready made are made as cheap as possible and sold for as much as possible so as I said and OMO build your own or get someone to do it for you to the spec that you want it for

  11. #11

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    Re: Computer

    I agree with Russell that it depends on your usage. My single most demanding application is travel photography. When I take a vacation, I generate a lot of photos and download them from my camera and work on them at night on the trip. I try to post at least some of them while I'm still travelling. For that kind of usage, a laptop is the only way to go. OTOH, for someone who is a more serious photographer and works with a calibrated high-quality monitor and perhaps makes a business out of photography, a tower would make a lot more sense.

  12. #12
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    Re: Computer

    Very interesting and well thought out responses; particularly from Colin and Alex. I agree that Computers are just tools and I use PCs for the simple reason that if a component fails I can run down to the PC shop and buy a replacement part. If I need a bigger hard drive, or more RAM, or a better graphics card it's easy to upgrade.

    For the most part Apple users will argue graphic quality. I use Windows 7 on 64 bit with a quality 23" monitor and I would happily pitch it against (a much more expensive) Apple any day.

    But, go whichever route you're more comfortable with. Buying a top of the range Canon or Nikon will not make you a better photographer and I doubt if an Apple or PC will make you a better photo-manipulator (if there is such a thing?)

  13. #13
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    Re: Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by ANSORB View Post
    Interesting post Colin as I have to replace my 19" NEC monitor and have also been looking at Apple. I want a bigger monitor (images and palletes get in each others way less) and my wife hates the spagetti like jumble of the present set up. I was thinking of a 24 inch but discovered Apple go from 21 to 27 inch. The 27 looks like overkill but having tried it in the Apple store I have to say the screen is very
    I went from a Dell 19-inch to an NEC 23-inch Multisync monitor. I like the Multisync but, am very-very disappointed that I went "the cheaper route" and didn't get a 27-inch. A 23 inch wide screen monitor gives me approximately the same top to bottom measurement as the 19-inch non-wide screen provided; so there is no great advantage except in width. I have tried to remedy my problems by using the Dell monitor alongside the NEC with the monitor in the portrait position. I can get a far larger view of a vertical picture on the 19" Dell in the vertical position than on my 23-Inch multisync in the standard horizontal setup.

    I generally use an older 17-inch Toshiba Notebook computer while I am traveling in my motor home. When we are flying I share my wife's 14-inch HP laptop. I don't do any editing while traveling but download my imagery each evening from the CF cards to the laptop and make a cursory inspection to see if there are any glaring mechanical errors in the day's shots. Then I copy the images in duplicate to a pair of 500GB external hard drives which are physically quite small. I carry one of these small drives in my carry-on luggage and my wife carries the other just in case something bad might happen to one of our bags.

    The workflow of downloading, checking for errors, copying to the two hard-drives, reformatting the cards used during the day and then recharging my batteries has been a very efficient way to work. I have not spotted any mechanical errors but, if something did happen, all I would lose is a day's shots from one camera. AND, I just might have the chance to reshoot what I missed.

  14. #14

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    Re: Computer

    Quote Originally Posted by herbert View Post
    @Peter

    Can you tell us what the specifications for your mini-mac are? Do you have 2Gb or RAM or have you gone for the higher spec?

    Regards,

    Alex
    Hi Alex,

    It has 4GB memory Intel core 2 duo 2.4mhz and 320 GB disk to which is attached one 1Tb and one 2 TB external disks and a 1 TB NAS that I use to view stuff on my iPhone when I'm out and about. Monitor is from Benq, 24in 1920x1080 @60 hz, calibrated using Spyder 3. I use Lightroom and CS5 for post processing.

    Peter

  15. #15
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    Re: Computer

    If you switch from Windows to Mac is up to you. People are very quickly talking about "religion" if you like Apple.

    Compare it with a camera, if you have a Canon 1DS MKIII, press the release button and it takes the picture; the same if you take a low-end PS camera, press the button and the picture is taken.

    The fact is Apple is more expensive and it's not open to all hard- and software. Is this a disadvantage? you can be sure that Hardware en software are tested well before it will or can be used on Mac.

    Since I moved to Apple I didn't have any crashes anymore. With Windows I had quit some. also SW UG are much more affordable with Apple against Windows. 30 Euro to UG from Snow-Leopard to Lion against over 100 euro UG from Vista or XP to W7.
    If you want to sell your Mac after a few years you still get some serious money back.

    About the mac mini, I'nm not so sure if it's powerfull enough to run CS5 and/or LR3 smooth with large files.
    My Imac is a core dual 2.8 Ghz with 4 G ram. It starts to get slow with RAW files out of my 5D MKII.
    Upgrade is planned for the beginning of next year and for sure it will be Apple again.

  16. #16
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    Re: Computer

    Hi Bronny, I have provided phone support for both the Mac and PC. The each have their benefits and drawbacks. They both get the job done. In broad terms, the PC is more capable, but more complex, and the Mac is easier to learn. This is part of the reason why PC's are favored by businesses and Mac's are favored by artists. If you are planning to use it primarily for photography, the Mac may be the better option for you. In the end, you'll need to decide if you want to stay with the devil you know or switch to the devil you don't!

    I run on an X58, Intel i7 PC with 6GB and with CS5, there are times I would like to have more memory. However, I rarely run less than 4 simultaneous applications and do a lot more memory and cpu intensive work than simply running CS5 and Lightroom.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 26th October 2011 at 03:13 PM.

  17. #17
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    Re: Recommended Desktop Computer for Photography

    I use a 15” Macbook Pro on the road. I couple it with a 24” IPS display when at home as a “desktop” type rig. The extra screen real estate is very nice to have.

    Here is one thing about Macs that I especially like since I am on the road a lot. And when I am, I’m never in range of any electronics shop.

    Macs can be booted from an external drive. I carry a couple of portable external drives with me. One is strictly for backing up photos. The other is partitioned to backup (clone) my machine to, and the other partition to have a redundant photo backup. So if my internal HDD fails on my machine, I can boot and run from the external clone for as long as I need until I can get to a solution. This is a very elegant temporary solution and allows me to also boot from the external while running maintenance on the internal, and vice versa. I feel fairly confident that I will have a workable computer even if my internal fails the first day I am on the road. A little peace of mind goes a long ways when you are away from home!

    Plus, with this setup I can see no need for a desktop in the foreseeable future. It is kind of mobility in the field with desktop advantages at home.

  18. #18
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    Re: Computer

    Yikes! Another PC vs Mac debate - lol

    Well, "Recommended Desktop Computer for Photography" has nothing to do with type of O.S. )operating system) anymore. Many years ago, it was Mac - absolutely. However, times have changed. The question nowadays is simply a matter of configuration.

    The MAC vs PC debate is only valid when asking which is easier to use. It's an absolute and undeniable fact that MAC's are. The only advantage a P.C. has, is that you can easily upgrade them - IF you don't buy a lower end model ( be careful/ASK b4 U buy).

    COLIN: Canon vs Nikon .... they are just tools. Yes, BUT some tools are easier to use than others. Again, MAC's are easier.

    I should clarify "easier to use":

    Opening and using programs is universal. However, when you need to to "get into" the nuts&bolts of the Windows O.S. ..... like adding printer; setting up internet; wifi, adding programs/plug-in's, etc, can be VERY "challenging".
    The best analogy I have heard was a few years ago, from some I.T. guy on the net ... Windows O.S. (apparently due to it's inherent design) is made up of many boxes, touching each other, but not quite interfaced. Each time Microsoft does an upgrade, another box gets added. This makes for poor communication and finding things - for the every day user that is. MAC O.S. is one big box ... when an update comes, it gets seamlessly integrated into the existing box.

    I always highly recommend MAC's to friends, when they are getting a new computer. All but one have done so and still thank me profusely ... 1.5 years later.

    If you live in a large city, buy used off Craigslist - under Warranty of course ... there is always LOTS 4 sale, as people upgrade to "the latest". MAC warranty is easier to deal with and they have their lemon law. The last time i bought a PC, it developed a problem after 1 week. H.P. would not cover it, because it was a software issue ... they sent me to Microsoft. The big "M" would not cover it, because OEM software is sold as a licence to the guys like H.P. and is suppose to be covered by them. I went back to H.P. and they said - No! It took A LOT of effort to return the computer to Future Shop. A guy at a different Future Shop told me that HP is VERY difficult to deal with - even for them.

    Anyway, blah, blah, blah ..... in the end, you buy what you can easily afford. Don't go into debt over it.

  19. #19

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    Re: Recommended Desktop Computer for Photography

    I have both iMAC & PC. Well look where i am located & you see why I have a PC! However just in unproductive time spent the Mac is streets ahead. The constant angst of updates, virus protection etc etc means more time spent 'housekeeping' on a PC than a Mac but for Office is still better on a PC. You may not know but Office 11 on a MAC has features not on the PC version but I stll prefer the PC version. Photo work? nothing comes close to a Mac.

  20. #20

    Re: Computer

    I recently upgraded from an average i5 Dell laptop runing Win7/32 and 4GB RAM to an Alienware Desktop i7 Win7/64 12GB RAM 2TB disk and the difference is mind blowing. I upgraded because I started to shoot RAW and the 30MB image files were bringing the laptop to its knees. What took me in time to open a 30MB RAW image in Lightroom, I now load my entire catalog of 50,000+ images.

    I say this only to demonstrate that regardless of the platform, you shouldn't be stingy with 3 elements; CPU/RAM/Storage. Get the most of each these that you can afford, regardless of whether it is PC or MAC.

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