Best desktop computer for photography work.

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Questions
theJuke2
New MemberPosts: 15
Like?
Best desktop computer for photography work.
Mar 31, 2013

I'm trying to look for a new desktop which will be dedicated just to my photography work and I won't be using it for anything else. I am a PC person by nature, but I am not opposed to Mac. What are the pros and cons? Everyone I talk to seems to prefer Mac. I'm trying to find some PC users (or past PC users) to get their input and see how they feel about the Mac/PC comparison for photography work. If you are a past PC user, why did you switch? I'm looking for the pros and cons for each. (Please don't give me the "Macs don't get viruses" reason, and please don't tell me that Macs are made with all Mac hardware and processors - that isn't true any more.) I'm looking purely for functionality. Thank you!

ANSWER:
This question has not been answered yet.
hotdog321
Veteran MemberPosts: 9,088
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to theJuke2, Mar 31, 2013

I'm a lifetime photojournalist and am more than pleased with my PC desktop and laptop. I work around guys who often use Macs, but there doesn't seem to be a bit of difference between the workflow and output--other than that Macs seem  to be a LOT more expensive and a hassle to upgrade or swap components. Of course, Macs are prettier.

Personally, I love the i7 processor, 8-16 GB of RAM and an SSD. You can get a VERY powerful machine for under $1000.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Glen Barrington
Forum ProPosts: 12,474
Like?
In truth, I don't think it matters any more. . .
In reply to theJuke2, Mar 31, 2013

Buy the one that gives you the best deal.  Personally, I'm exploring the practicality of transitioning away from both towards Linux.   I don't think either are truly 'in the game' when it comes to serious photography.  They are relying on past efforts and sort of coasting on the fact that most graphics software is as mature as they are going to get.

Linux seems a far more dynamic environment for graphic software that will only get better.

-- hide signature --

I still like soup. . .
Now that you've judged the quality of my typing, take a look at my photos. . .
http://www.jpgmag.com/people/glenbarrington/photos

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Leon Obers
Senior MemberPosts: 2,785
Like?
Re: In truth, I don't think it matters any more. . .
In reply to Glen Barrington, Mar 31, 2013

Glen Barrington wrote:

Linux seems a far more dynamic environment for graphic software that will only get better.

Only if Photoshop CS6, Lightroom and other serious camera RAW-converters are running within it.
If not, it is a dead end IMO.

-- hide signature --

Leon Obers

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Sonyshine
Senior MemberPosts: 4,255Gear list
Like?
Re: In truth, I don't think it matters any more. . .
In reply to Leon Obers, Mar 31, 2013

MAC for me every time. Having bought my first one about five years ago I have never looked back. My first one is still working perfectly and now three more have replaced our windows PC's. they are just so well made and the software is integrated beautifully too. I use Aperture for photo management which is a MAC only programme.

 Sonyshine's gear list:Sonyshine's gear list
Nikon 1 V1 Fujifilm X-E1 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm F2.8 Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 +6 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Leon Obers
Senior MemberPosts: 2,785
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to theJuke2, Mar 31, 2013

PC build it yourself.
Good motherboard (e.g. ASUS), Intel i7 3770K, at least 16Gb RAM, at least one SSD Samsung 840 Pro (+ extra hard-drive). Extra GPU, suggest NVIDEA based (GTX 650, is more than enough to accelerate the extra tools within Photoshop + 3D section).
Only if you buy a 30 bit Screen (3x10) using Photoshop 30 bit, you need an NVIDEA Quadro or AMD FirePro graphic card.

-- hide signature --

Leon Obers

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Mark K
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,361Gear list
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to theJuke2, Mar 31, 2013

theJuke2 wrote:

I'm trying to look for a new desktop which will be dedicated just to my photography work and I won't be using it for anything else. I am a PC person by nature, but I am not opposed to Mac. What are the pros and cons? Everyone I talk to seems to prefer Mac. I'm trying to find some PC users (or past PC users) to get their input and see how they feel about the Mac/PC comparison for photography work. If you are a past PC user, why did you switch? I'm looking for the pros and cons for each. (Please don't give me the "Macs don't get viruses" reason, and please don't tell me that Macs are made with all Mac hardware and processors - that isn't true any more.) I'm looking purely for functionality. Thank you!

I am PC man as well. Years ago I understood Mac was made for graphics and that was the only solution. However, recent development of Adobe showed the other way round. Current PC with good enough hardware can run Adobe or other photo editing software smoothly. There is no comparable hardware in Mac world, unless you go for Mac Pro. For that department, any upgrade is painfully expensive. If you don't mind spending tons of money, Mac Pro is a better choice.... because Mac Pro can utilize multiple CPUs .

There is a link here

http://forums.adobe.com/message/4568817

 Mark K's gear list:Mark K's gear list
Nikon D800 Canon EOS 5D Mark III NEX5R Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony Alpha 7R +52 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Scott Eaton
Senior MemberPosts: 1,928
Like?
Re: In truth, I don't think it matters any more. . .
In reply to Glen Barrington, Mar 31, 2013

>>>Linux seems a far more dynamic environment for graphic software that will only get better.

Based on what? Linux can't even run most of these software packages native without clunking around with Wine, and even that results in a subpar experience. Time being money in my case I'd rather buy an OS that supports  the software I use.

Gimp does not equal Photoshop.

Maybe if people doing development on free software packages for Linux actually got a paycheck for doing so you'd see more. Otherwise, other than lightweight photo-editing I don't see much happening at all on 'Nix other than cancelled projects. Hating the commercial aspects of Apple, Adobe and Microsoft (the main motivation for most Open Source Linux development) doesn't motivate software to be developed.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Scott Eaton
Senior MemberPosts: 1,928
Like?
Macs / OSX for a more polished worflow
In reply to theJuke2, Mar 31, 2013

Worked on both, although I'm  mostly on the Windows side of things.

Hardware is pretty the same, although you pay a premium for Mac gear. Apples users like to say their machines last longer (they don't) while also claiming Mac's use the same hardware as Windows PC's. Those comments smell of a utter contradiction, which they do, and why Apple fans need to be ignored when it comes to objective hardware discussions. iMacs and Mac portables have the same failure rates as PCs in my corporate experience, and the Mac Pro was easily the most over-priced workstation ever sold to the public. You could often get twice the performance on the PC side 6months down the road for 1/4 the price as a Mac Pro, which I don't think are no longer made. No one on the PC side wants to drop $3,000 on a machine that gets spanked by a $700 machine the next product cycle.

OSX however just has a more polished workflow than Windows, and that's because Apple's have been primary graphics and media platforms for a lot longer while Windows continues to be all things to all people. The more advanced the graphics or video workflow the more OSX saves you grief.

For using a couple dedicated image editors it really makes no difference because the applications are basically the same.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Pete
Regular MemberPosts: 253
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to theJuke2, Mar 31, 2013

I use Macs. I have used PCs, owned PCs, built PCs and supported PCs. I still support PCs. They are fine for many things. They are fine for photo work, and work for many people.

So why did I choose Mac?

The basic reason: The Mac gets out of the way and lets me do what I need to do photographically without a lot of hassle. Your mileage may vary, but instead of hassling with hardware challenges or software issues, I can just get to work.

I now have a 13-inch Macbook Pro as well as a 24-inch iMac (circa 2008).

That's the 10-cent answer.

Here are some specifics that might be more useful:

  • I find the OS to be much more conducive to photo and graphics work. Type seems to render better on screen, and not having to be burdened with antivirus software and anti-spyware software, I have found that in real-world use, my Macs were always faster than my PCs of similar age/configuration. I'm not saying you won't get a virus, just that I don't run AV software. Never have, so one less thing to deal with.
  • Color calibration is predictable (note I didn't say "best" or "perfect") out of the box, and with the new Macbook Pro Retina models, the screens are amazing -- resolution, color, off-axis angle viewing. This to my my eyes, at least. 
  • The laptops all are built like tanks (unibody aluminum), which I have found a real boon for me, dragging my MBP to wedding shoots and other events. 
  • I like having Thunderbolt for expansion -- superfast hard drives, RAIDs, etc. And Thunderbolt is a connection scheme that offers much more, including Firewire (which I still use a lot, as I find it more robust than USB for external drives), display, ethernet and PCI expansion options.
  • Doing design work as well (InDesign, Illustrator) I find it easier to deal with other designers and agencies, most of whom are on Macs, in my experience. Sure, the files are the same, but font issues can be challenges when dealing with native files. 
  • For photos, in addition to Photoshop, I do use Aperture, which is Mac only. I find it to be an excellent program for post processing, organizing and book creation. The original deal-breaker for me with Lightroom was book creation (which is now offered, I believe). This allows me to, in many cases, use Aperture as a one-stop solution for projects. Is it perfect? No. Is Lightroom? No. Pros and cons to each, but it is yet another option to explore. It has significantly reduced the time I have to spend on project management and post processing.
  • Resale value on Macs seems to be higher than on PCs. I try to rotate out laptops every three years, and consistently get a good deal when I sell. And finding a buyer has never been a problem. A Mac seems to be less a commodity than a PC.
  • Longevity. As noted, my iMac (on which I am typing this) is a 2008 vintage. It runs CS 5.5, Aperture, the latest OS without a hitch. In fairness, not as fast as newer machines or my new(er) laptop, but still more than usable.

In the end, of course, you must find what works for you.

Best of luck,

Pete

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
drj3
Senior MemberPosts: 1,080Gear list
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to theJuke2, Mar 31, 2013

Almost any desktop with I7 processor with at least 16GB memory, USB 3.0, a decent video card (my bias is nvidia), a SSD for the operating system hard drive, space for at least an additional internal hard drive (should be 3TB) for image storage and an external 4TB hard drive for backup of the computer and images should be fine.  There is little difference between Apple, HP and Dell in desktop reliability.

-- hide signature --

drj3

 drj3's gear list:drj3's gear list
Olympus E-510 Olympus E-5 Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M10 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm 1:2.8-4.0 SWD +5 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Tom_N
Veteran MemberPosts: 7,694
Like?
Re: Macs / OSX for a more polished worflow
In reply to Scott Eaton, Apr 1, 2013

Scott Eaton wrote:

You could often get twice the performance on the PC side 6months down the road for 1/4 the price as a Mac Pro, which I don't think are no longer made.

The Mac Pro is a Xeon workstation.  Dell doesn't give those away for free, either.

A quick trip to the Apple site would show you that the Mac Pro is still available in the U.S. (Apple has reportedly stopped selling the Mac Pro in EU countries due to new EU regulations on shielding fans and electrical ports, which the existing design would apparently fail).

An issue with the Mac Pro is that there has been no major update in some time (e.g., still no Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 ports).  Apple has talked about something coming in 2013 but has not given any details.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
theJuke2
New MemberPosts: 15
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to Pete, Apr 1, 2013

Thank you for the very detailed response!

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Pete
Regular MemberPosts: 253
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to Pete, Apr 1, 2013

With regards to the next poster who suggests 16gb RAM, that is what I have on my Macbook Pro. RAM is cheap, so why not?

My iMac however has only 4gb RAM. I recently PP'd an event with more than 5,000 photos on that box. And I did that in a matter of hours, as the pics had to be uploaded to the client's site. A very efficient OS.

- pete

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
glasswave
Veteran MemberPosts: 5,144
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to Mark K, Apr 1, 2013

Mark K wrote:

theJuke2 wrote:

I'm trying to look for a new desktop which will be dedicated just to my photography work and I won't be using it for anything else. I am a PC person by nature, but I am not opposed to Mac. What are the pros and cons? Everyone I talk to seems to prefer Mac. I'm trying to find some PC users (or past PC users) to get their input and see how they feel about the Mac/PC comparison for photography work. If you are a past PC user, why did you switch? I'm looking for the pros and cons for each. (Please don't give me the "Macs don't get viruses" reason, and please don't tell me that Macs are made with all Mac hardware and processors - that isn't true any more.) I'm looking purely for functionality. Thank you!

I am PC man as well. Years ago I understood Mac was made for graphics and that was the only solution.

That is completely wrong.

However, recent development of Adobe showed the other way round. Current PC with good enough hardware can run Adobe or other photo editing software smoothly. There is no comparable hardware in Mac world, unless you go for Mac Pro.

Also, wrong.

For that department, any upgrade is painfully expensive. If you don't mind spending tons of money, Mac Pro is a better choice.... because Mac Pro can utilize multiple CPUs .

Multi CPU pc's are also an option, but you simply aren't going need multiple cpu's for photo editing.

-- hide signature --

There is simply too much beauty in the world to photograph it all, but I'm trying.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
glasswave
Veteran MemberPosts: 5,144
Like?
Re: Macs are more expensive, but...
In reply to theJuke2, Apr 1, 2013

theJuke2 wrote:

I'm trying to look for a new desktop which will be dedicated just to my photography work and I won't be using it for anything else. I am a PC person by nature, but I am not opposed to Mac. What are the pros and cons? Everyone I talk to seems to prefer Mac. I'm trying to find some PC users (or past PC users) to get their input and see how they feel about the Mac/PC comparison for photography work. If you are a past PC user, why did you switch? I'm looking for the pros and cons for each. (Please don't give me the "Macs don't get viruses" reason, and please don't tell me that Macs are made with all Mac hardware and processors - that isn't true any more.) I'm looking purely for functionality. Thank you!

I have been a content creation specialist for 25 years using both macs and pc's.

Macs are more expensive (nearly double for the same performance), but the OS is built upon a stronger core (UNIX).

Building your own pc is probably the most economical route to a good editing station, if not get something from a custom builder like AVA direct,  ibuypower, or puget systems. Dells and hp's and macs are preloaded with crap sw and spyware.

Macs tend to have less virus/malware problems if you are not a very savvy web user.

There are more/better  freeware tools for the pc. PC's are more upgradable.

For me, the windows interface is more efficient, mnt lion is a big improvement on the mac side.

either is a good choice.

-- hide signature --

There is simply too much beauty in the world to photograph it all, but I'm trying.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
tom graham
Contributing MemberPosts: 760
Like?
any old ....
In reply to glasswave, Apr 1, 2013

.... monitor will work.  Seems, no one has mentioned monitor.   So just get the cheapest TN type monitor you can find.

Monitors are only important if you want to work with photos.  Then they become THE most important part.  More important than CPU, RAM, HDD, OS, all hardware stuff put together.

Tom

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Glen Barrington
Forum ProPosts: 12,474
Like?
Re: In truth, I don't think it matters any more. . .
In reply to Scott Eaton, Apr 1, 2013

Based on the situation that Canonical seems well along in figuring out how to monetize Linux with both Unbutu and the Unbutu Phone OS both of which will use the Unbutu Unity user interface.  It is claimed that Unity is already optimized for both touch and the mouse/keyboard combinations. (We'll see, but if they are correct, this offers a serious challenge to the monolithic approach to the UI that MS is pursuing.)

And that a new corporation that is a joint effort with Canonical has been set up in China to develop a "National Chinese OS" (i.e. It sounds like future development will occur in China) It sounds like the Chinese telecoms think Unbutu is worth exploring.  Then add to that, Steam, the game server service, has developed a service for Linux (primarily for flavors of Unbutu) and a definite pattern of monetization of at least the Unbutu community is beginning to occur.  And let's face it when you can't figure out how to pay your bills, there isn't a lot of incentive to keep on developing.

Couple that with the unease people, and by extension, the corporations who market to them, and corporate IT departments regarding costs, feel over MS's latest moves regarding Win8.  And then throw in some of the stories about the "Blue" pre beta releases (Win 9), and you've got a situation that presents the biggest opportunities the Linux community has ever had.

And couple THAT with that no serious photography software title has come out with anything that will function well with a touch UI, and again, I see opportunity for Linux to step up.

Gimp does not equal Photoshop, but I don't use or even like Photoshop.  I DO use Lightroom 3.6, and that has been a major problem for me. But after playing around with some of the Linux options, DigiKam, and Raw Therapee in particular, I'm reasonably comfortable that it wouldn't take that much to improve them to the point where they could offer serious competition.  (And Corel claims ASP isn't dead - well, we'll see about that one!) And with the new dynamism we are seeing in the Linux community, this might be the time for many projects to start thinking about some major upgrades.

Wine, is a stopgap measure to be sure, but it IS there for those things that can't be easily replaced.

Linux won't be for everyone, and even I am still in the exploring phase.  But from what I've seen so far, serious photography is do-able on a linux based digital darkroom.  Do-able enough, that I'm willing to explore this platform.   Once Win7 starts to age and MS starts to make noises about retirement, there is virtually no cost associated with loading Linux onto the Win7 PCs.  If they work for people, great, if they don't, People can always buy a new Win10 PC if that's what they want, the cost of exploring Linux is roughly the same as not exploring Linux.

At this point we are speculating that Adobe and other software publishers will create usable touch based apps for a post win7 environment.  (And that a touch based Photoshop will actually function). But aren't we also speculating that the Linux community will respond to this new paradigm for personal computing and offer a different take on it from Microsoft?

I doubt I've convinced you, and maybe you ARE one of those who simply CAN'T use anything but Windows, but I do believe that there are rational arguments for considering a linux solution in the future.

-- hide signature --

I still like soup. . .
Now that you've judged the quality of my typing, take a look at my photos. . .
http://www.jpgmag.com/people/glenbarrington/photos

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
MisterBG
Veteran MemberPosts: 5,041
Like?
Re: any old ....
In reply to tom graham, Apr 1, 2013

tom graham wrote:

.... monitor will work.  Seems, no one has mentioned monitor.   So just get the cheapest TN type monitor you can find.

Monitors are only important if you want to work with photos.  Then they become THE most important part.  More important than CPU, RAM, HDD, OS, all hardware stuff put together.

Since the OP specifically asked for a "desktop computer for photography work", I don't see the point of your reply.

It is generally accepted that an IPS screen is superior to TN for photo editing, and these days there's not much difference in price between TN and IPS.
The important thing for photo work is that the screen should be colour calibrated.

-- hide signature --

>The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
theJuke2
New MemberPosts: 15
Like?
Re: Best desktop computer for photography work.
In reply to glasswave, Apr 1, 2013

If you are going to say that a person's response is wrong, please explain why. I'm looking for information on all sides of this issue right now. Thanks.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads