iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

Started Feb 22, 2013 | Discussions
ARB1
ARB1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,366
iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

I'm considering an iMac to be able to work on these large 36mp D800 files and just want to make sure this is powerful enough for such work.  Can anyone give me some guidance with this possible purcahse; I'm not much of a tech guy when it comes to specs.

  • 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 Quad-Core
  • 16GB of 1600Hz DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB 5400rpm Hard Drive
  • nVIDIA GeForce GT 640M Graphics (512MB)
  • 21.5" HD LED-Backlit IPS Display
  • 1920 x 1080 Native Resolution
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, SDXC Card Reader
  • 720p FaceTime HD Camera, Dual Mics
  • Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (64-bit)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/904256-REG/Apple_z0mp_md0931_21_5_iMac_Desktop_Computer.html

Thanks

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Allen
___________
"Easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
-- Frederick Douglass

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Nikon D800
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Alpha Doug Veteran Member • Posts: 9,222
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed
1

That model should be sufficient for your camera work.  Also consider getting Apple's extended warranty "Apple Care", which is only $122 to extend it to 3 years.  Also, you will need an external USB hard drive to backup your computer, and if you want to read or burn any CD/DVDs you will need the external DVD drive which is only $79.  And if you are new to Macs, I would suggest signing up at your local Apple Store for "One on One" training which you can only do when your Mac is first purchased (you don't have to have bought it at the Mac store).  I don't know if you are switching from Windows or not, but if you are, get David Pogue's excellent book "Switching to the Mac, The Missing Manual".

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Only my opinion. It's worth what you paid for it. Your mileage may vary! ;-} www.dougwigton.com/

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ARB1
OP ARB1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,366
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

Alpha Doug wrote:

That model should be sufficient for your camera work. Also consider getting Apple's extended warranty "Apple Care", which is only $122 to extend it to 3 years. Also, you will need an external USB hard drive to backup your computer, and if you want to read or burn any CD/DVDs you will need the external DVD drive which is only $79. And if you are new to Macs, I would suggest signing up at your local Apple Store for "One on One" training which you can only do when your Mac is first purchased (you don't have to have bought it at the Mac store). I don't know if you are switching from Windows or not, but if you are, get David Pogue's excellent book "Switching to the Mac, The Missing Manual".

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Only my opinion. It's worth what you paid for it. Your mileage may vary! ;-} www.dougwigton.com/

Thanks so much Doug.  I have a Mac Air (a loaner from my job) but I'm not really a Mac person when it comes to photo processing so this will be a bit of a change for me but at least I know a little bit about how Mac's work; I've always been a PC guy though since I work with financials.

Do you think getting a 2.9GHz or 3.1GHz over the stock 2.7GHz would make that much of a difference for what I'm doing?  I made sure to look at getting 16GB of RAM which some have said would make a big difference with those large files.

Thanks again for your help

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Allen
___________
"Easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
-- Frederick Douglass

 ARB1's gear list:ARB1's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Sony Alpha a7R II Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS +1 more
Jen Yates Senior Member • Posts: 1,414
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

CPU, RAM & GPU should be fine. With a 'slow' HDD being used for OS & image storage you'll see slowdown at certain times compared to using a machine with an SSD for the OS and maybe storing the working files on the SSD.

EG going through lots of shots will put pressure on the HDD to supply the images quick enough, but working on one image at a time will be fine.

Basically the 1TB HDD is the weakest component.

John Deerfield Veteran Member • Posts: 3,020
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

Do you think getting a 2.9GHz or 3.1GHz over the stock 2.7GHz would make that much of a difference for what I'm doing?

No, not really. It helps with resale value though! Your biggest bottleneck will be the hard drive. First, it's the boot drive so keeping images on that isn't recommend anyway. Second, it's only 5400 RPM! I have 16GB of Ram in my MacPro and it's OK but I have considered upgrading. And I am using external eSata hard drive towers... and the hard drive speed is still a huge bottleneck when working with D600 files. So D800 files would only be worse. I would look into something like this G-Tech drive as my primary image storage drive. However, as a Raid drive be sure you have a back up of the data on the drive (which is a good idea anyway).

I made sure to look at getting 16GB of RAM which some have said would make a big difference with those large files.

Yes, that would be the minimum I would consider.

rich garrett Forum Member • Posts: 91
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

I recommend going with the 17 processor.  those big images can use the extra horsepower.

I did some testing on my Macbook Pro,  and 8GB Ram seems to be sufficient, for pretty large images - test with a 780MB panoramic composite and didn't use all the ram.  go with the 16GB ram on the 21.5 since it is pretty difficult to upgrade later.   Ram in the 27 can be upgraded at any time,  and cheaply.

as to permanent storage.  take a look at bare feats.com benchmark of HD vs Fusion vs SSD.   fusion looks very nice for the $$.

Rich

ARB1
OP ARB1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,366
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

You guys have been great - thanks for all the help.  Now I'm off to build a system based on these suggestions.

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Allen
___________
"Easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
-- Frederick Douglass

 ARB1's gear list:ARB1's gear list
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Alpha Doug Veteran Member • Posts: 9,222
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

Don't forget that you can pick up some pretty good deals on pre-configured systems from the Apple Refurb store.  I buy all my Macs from the Refurb store, and save anywhere from 300-300 dollars.  Same warranty as new.  Never had a problem.  Go to the Apple Store online, click on the Store in the menu, scroll down and on the left side you will see a choice for Refurb Macs.  Unfortunately, at this very moment, they do not have any iMacs.  But this changes constantly.  You might think about getting one that is one generation back.  The brand new ones are really skinny, but they have removed the CD drive, and the ability to easily upgrade memory or drives internally.  The recent ones are very easy to upgrade, both memory and drives, and have a built in CD drive.  You can probably get one that has the i7 processors and 16gb of memory and other goodies for the same price or less than the new i5 skinny iMac.

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 Alpha Doug's gear list:Alpha Doug's gear list
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noirdesir Forum Pro • Posts: 13,381
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

John Deerfield wrote:

Your biggest bottleneck will be the hard drive. First, it's the boot drive so keeping images on that isn't recommend anyway.

And why would that be? Because a boot drive might fail more often or suffer corruption because it used more? Or because it might more often need to be completely erased (which would require a shuffle of the images)?

John Deerfield Veteran Member • Posts: 3,020
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

And why would that be? Because a boot drive might fail more often or suffer corruption because it used more? Or because it might more often need to be completely erased (which would require a shuffle of the images)?

Sure, those are good reasons. And in this case, the internal drive is 5400rpm which is slower. And, using an external drive for your data is going to be faster: one set of read/write heads to run the computer and another to cache data (images). As a bonus, it's easier to move your data to a new computer! In the end, there are several great reasons to use an external drive for your data. And now-a-days I can't think of any reason not too.

noirdesir Forum Pro • Posts: 13,381
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

John Deerfield wrote:

And why would that be? Because a boot drive might fail more often or suffer corruption because it used more? Or because it might more often need to be completely erased (which would require a shuffle of the images)?

Sure, those are good reasons.

In 20 years owning Macs, I never had to erase my boot drive except once when I took one wrong turn running the migration assistant, but I also had to erase my (new) data drive because it was also affected by my MA mistake. I also never had a boot drive fail.

So, yes, there is a marginal case that a boot drive gets used more and is more likely to fail but using two drives instead of one also increases your likelihood that one of will fail.

And in this case, the internal drive is 5400rpm which is slower. And, using an external drive for your data is going to be faster: one set of read/write heads to run the computer and another to cache data (images).

You said putting image on a boot drive is not recommended. That was an advise regarding boot drives not an advice to avoid putting (any) data on a 5400 rpm drive. And I would rather have a fast drive for my boot volume than for my data volume.

As a bonus, it's easier to move your data to a new computer!

Only if the external drive is data only, if your user account is also on it, it is actually more work (as MA won't migrate the system to one drive and the user accounts to another). It is a bit quicker because you have to copy less data but then this something happening only every couple of years.

In the end, there are several great reasons to use an external drive for your data.

And now-a-days I can't think of any reason not too.

Clutter? Laptops? Extra backup routines to set up? If your user account is still on boot drive, you will have to distribute data manually between the two drives when the boot drive fills up.

John Deerfield Veteran Member • Posts: 3,020
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

noirdesir wrote:

John Deerfield wrote:

And why would that be? Because a boot drive might fail more often or suffer corruption because it used more? Or because it might more often need to be completely erased (which would require a shuffle of the images)?

Sure, those are good reasons.

In 20 years owning Macs, I never had to erase my boot drive except once when I took one wrong turn running the migration assistant, but I also had to erase my (new) data drive because it was also affected by my MA mistake. I also never had a boot drive fail.

Hard drives fail. It's as simple as that. Just because you haven't had a boot drive fail doesn't mean it doesn't happen. In my 12-years of owning Macs,, I do a clean install about once a year. Probably one of the best things I do. But I am not suggesting everyone do this. Just that personal experience, no matter how good or bad, isn't anecdotal for the best way of doing things.

So, yes, there is a marginal case that a boot drive gets used more and is more likely to fail but using two drives instead of one also increases your likelihood that one of will fail.

Marginally. It isn't like we are talking server clusters. In any case, whether your data is on the boot drive or an external drive, data back up is highly recommended.

And in this case, the internal drive is 5400rpm which is slower. And, using an external drive for your data is going to be faster: one set of read/write heads to run the computer and another to cache data (images).

You said putting image on a boot drive is not recommended. That was an advise regarding boot drives not an advice to avoid putting (any) data on a 5400 rpm drive. And I would rather have a fast drive for my boot volume than for my data volume.

Yes, I did say that and still recommend it. In this case the boot drive and the 5400 rpm drive are one and the same so I didn't feel I needed to make any distinction. Between a 5400 rpm drive and a 7200 rpm as a boot drive, there isn't a great deal of real world difference. Now if you want to go the route of a SSD or RAID set up, that would make a difference. But by that same token, a RAID hard drive set up for data would be faster as well. As I said, for me right now, hard drive speed is my largest bottleneck with D600 files. These files are huge in Photoshop and saving a layer 16-bit file takes some time.

As a bonus, it's easier to move your data to a new computer!

Only if the external drive is data only, if your user account is also on it, it is actually more work (as MA won't migrate the system to one drive and the user accounts to another). It is a bit quicker because you have to copy less data but then this something happening only every couple of years.

I have never used MA so I can't comment. I have purchased several new computers over the years and the only thing I do is install the apps and plug in my hard drive tower with my data on it. Done.

In the end, there are several great reasons to use an external drive for your data.

And now-a-days I can't think of any reason not too.

Clutter? Laptops? Extra backup routines to set up? If your user account is still on boot drive, you will have to distribute data manually between the two drives when the boot drive fills up.

The G-Tech I linked to hardly qualifies as clutter & can be used on a laptop. I have no idea why using an external drive would result in "extra" back up routines. Unless you mean having a clone of your boot drive and a back up drive of your data. Even then it isn't all that time consuming as a clone of your boot drive needs done once. And I don't even do that anymore. The two case scenarios a clone protects me from aren't worth my time to clone the drive. I can slip another drive in and have my apps installed in a matter of hours (and all my data is safe on my external drives).  And I have no idea what you are saying about distributing my data manually between two drives. Especially if I am using an external drive: my data simply goes there and only there (plus a back up).

noirdesir Forum Pro • Posts: 13,381
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

John Deerfield wrote:

noirdesir wrote:

Hard drives fail. It's as simple as that. Just because you haven't had a boot drive fail doesn't mean it doesn't happen. In my 12-years of owning Macs,, I do a clean install about once a year. Probably one of the best things I do. But I am not suggesting everyone do this. Just that personal experience, no matter how good or bad, isn't anecdotal for the best way of doing things.

So, yes, there is a marginal case that a boot drive gets used more and is more likely to fail but using two drives instead of one also increases your likelihood that one of will fail.

Marginally. It isn't like we are talking server clusters. In any case, whether your data is on the boot drive or an external drive, data back up is highly recommended.

So, above you claim that (a) hard drives fail and (b) boot drives fail more often and thus it is better to keep all data on separate drives and now you claim the risk of one of two hard drives failing is only marginally larger (or still marginal in total).

And in this case, the internal drive is 5400rpm which is slower. And, using an external drive for your data is going to be faster: one set of read/write heads to run the computer and another to cache data (images).

You said putting image on a boot drive is not recommended. That was an advise regarding boot drives not an advice to avoid putting (any) data on a 5400 rpm drive. And I would rather have a fast drive for my boot volume than for my data volume.

Yes, I did say that and still recommend it. In this case the boot drive and the 5400 rpm drive are one and the same so I didn't feel I needed to make any distinction. Between a 5400 rpm drive and a 7200 rpm as a boot drive, there isn't a great deal of real world difference. Now if you want to go the route of a SSD or RAID set up, that would make a difference. But by that same token, a RAID hard drive set up for data would be faster as well. As I said, for me right now, hard drive speed is my largest bottleneck with D600 files. These files are huge in Photoshop and saving a layer 16-bit file takes some time.

Again, you are changing the subject to something uncontroversial (where I have to agree with you) to distract from the fact that your arguments on avoiding to put user data on the boot drive aren't so convincing.

I have never used MA so I can't comment. I have purchased several new computers over the years and the only thing I do is install the apps and plug in my hard drive tower with my data on it. Done.

Well, then your approach requires much more time than keeping the user data and running MA. How long will it take you to install about 300 applications (my average for quite a while already)? How long does it take you to set all user settings to your previous state?

Clutter? Laptops? Extra backup routines to set up? If your user account is still on boot drive, you will have to distribute data manually between the two drives when the boot drive fills up.

The G-Tech I linked to hardly qualifies as clutter & can be used on a laptop. I have no idea why using an external drive would result in "extra" back up routines. Unless you mean having a clone of your boot drive and a back up drive of your data.

That is setting up two backups instead of one, and it either means buying two hard drives or partitioning one.

I can slip another drive in and have my apps installed in a matter of hours

And I can slip in another drive, install the OS and then let MA run unattended until it is done instead of spending hours installing applications.

And I have no idea what you are saying about distributing my data manually between two drives. Especially if I am using an external drive: my data simply goes there and only there (plus a back up).

Well, you obviously didn't read my question properly, otherwise you might have answered it and would know what I meant with distributing data.

So, in simple terms: On which drive is your user account folder?

John Deerfield Veteran Member • Posts: 3,020
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

noirdesir wrote:

John Deerfield wrote:

noirdesir wrote:

Hard drives fail. It's as simple as that. Just because you haven't had a boot drive fail doesn't mean it doesn't happen. In my 12-years of owning Macs,, I do a clean install about once a year. Probably one of the best things I do. But I am not suggesting everyone do this. Just that personal experience, no matter how good or bad, isn't anecdotal for the best way of doing things.

So, yes, there is a marginal case that a boot drive gets used more and is more likely to fail but using two drives instead of one also increases your likelihood that one of will fail.

Marginally. It isn't like we are talking server clusters. In any case, whether your data is on the boot drive or an external drive, data back up is highly recommended.

So, above you claim that (a) hard drives fail and (b) boot drives fail more often and thus it is better to keep all data on separate drives and now you claim the risk of one of two hard drives failing is only marginally larger (or still marginal in total).

Well, hard drives do fail. That's a fact. You are the one that said boot drives fail more often. I just said the reasons you gave were good reasons to keep data on an external drive.

And in this case, the internal drive is 5400rpm which is slower. And, using an external drive for your data is going to be faster: one set of read/write heads to run the computer and another to cache data (images).

You said putting image on a boot drive is not recommended. That was an advise regarding boot drives not an advice to avoid putting (any) data on a 5400 rpm drive. And I would rather have a fast drive for my boot volume than for my data volume.

Yes, I did say that and still recommend it. In this case the boot drive and the 5400 rpm drive are one and the same so I didn't feel I needed to make any distinction. Between a 5400 rpm drive and a 7200 rpm as a boot drive, there isn't a great deal of real world difference. Now if you want to go the route of a SSD or RAID set up, that would make a difference. But by that same token, a RAID hard drive set up for data would be faster as well. As I said, for me right now, hard drive speed is my largest bottleneck with D600 files. These files are huge in Photoshop and saving a layer 16-bit file takes some time.

Again, you are changing the subject to something uncontroversial (where I have to agree with you) to distract from the fact that your arguments on avoiding to put user data on the boot drive aren't so convincing.

I fail to see how I am changing the subject? The boot drive on the iMac in questions is a 5400rpm drive.

I have never used MA so I can't comment. I have purchased several new computers over the years and the only thing I do is install the apps and plug in my hard drive tower with my data on it. Done.

Well, then your approach requires much more time than keeping the user data and running MA. How long will it take you to install about 300 applications (my average for quite a while already)? How long does it take you to set all user settings to your previous state?

The last time I did a clean install it took me less than 4-hours. With Adobe Cloud now-a-days, it would probably take longer. Of course, I don't have anywhere near 300-applications, that's insane. In any event, there are very good reasons to do a clean install over MA. To each their own. Finally, you could still choose to use MA with your data on external drives, this would save you the time of needlessly copying data.

Clutter? Laptops? Extra backup routines to set up? If your user account is still on boot drive, you will have to distribute data manually between the two drives when the boot drive fills up.

The G-Tech I linked to hardly qualifies as clutter & can be used on a laptop. I have no idea why using an external drive would result in "extra" back up routines. Unless you mean having a clone of your boot drive and a back up drive of your data.

That is setting up two backups instead of one, and it either means buying two hard drives or partitioning one.

I can slip another drive in and have my apps installed in a matter of hours

And I can slip in another drive, install the OS and then let MA run unattended until it is done instead of spending hours installing applications.

And I have no idea what you are saying about distributing my data manually between two drives. Especially if I am using an external drive: my data simply goes there and only there (plus a back up).

Well, you obviously didn't read my question properly, otherwise you might have answered it and would know what I meant with distributing data.

So, in simple terms: On which drive is your user account folder?

The boot drive. Why? I have no data in my user account folder. Apps will have their applications support and preferences and such, but I don't even keep iTunes there (I wouldn't want to image "migrating" my iTunes library).

noirdesir Forum Pro • Posts: 13,381
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed

John Deerfield wrote:

I fail to see how I am changing the subject? The boot drive on the iMac in questions is a 5400rpm drive.

The question I asked you was why putting user data on a boot drive is a bad idea since that is what you said. You said that it is in general a bad idea to put user data on the boot drive. A general question, unrelated to any specific computer.

The boot drive. Why? I have no data in my user account folder. Apps will have their applications support and preferences and such, but I don't even keep iTunes there

And do you throw away all the data in your Library folder (which includes the Application Support folder, the Preferences folder but also all your e-mails for example) whenever you get a new computer (or just do a re-install)?

(I wouldn't want to image "migrating" my iTunes library).

Which is one of easiest things to migrate, you drag it and then you drop it.

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 12,806
Re: iMac question for Nikon D800 files help needed
1

ARB1 wrote:

Do you think getting a 2.9GHz or 3.1GHz over the stock 2.7GHz would make that much of a difference for what I'm doing? I made sure to look at getting 16GB of RAM which some have said would make a big difference with those large files.

Small differences in CPU clock rate don't matter much, especially seeing as how the CPU is not the only determinant of system performance.

If your budget and desk space allow, another option you might want to consider is purchasing the base-model 27-inch iMac ($1,799) and an 8 GB stick of memory from Crucial or OWC (about $50).  (RAM is user-installable on the 27-inch model, so you're not forced to buy it from Apple.)

For the extra $350 ($500 difference in base prices, minus $150 saved on the cost of the RAM), this would give you

  • A 27-inch screen
  • The ability to install up to 32 GB of RAM, should you need it at a later date
  • A 7200rpm hard drive
  • A slightly faster CPU and graphics chip (less important than the other items)
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