Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Questions
OP theJuke2 New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?

oklaphotog wrote:

In the end both work and do the job well, but you spend a lot more for an Apple product which IMHO makes a windows machine a much better value. Personally I have no reason to have a photography only computer these days, I use one workstation for everything. Therefore I use windows as many pieces of software I use don't exist for a Mac or don't have an adequate equivalent. Core i7 windows machines are far less expensive than the equivalent in Apple land. I wouldn't want anything less than a Core i7, and that isn't available in an iMac, so you have to step up to a Macbook Pro for an i7 or a Mac Tower to get a Xeon which is capable of performing as well or slightly better than an i7. In the case of these latter two, they are easily twice the price of an equivalent windows machine.

Thank you for all of your input, I appreciate your detailed answer. I agree about the i7, but just so you know you can get i7 on an iMac now. I was at the Apple store (just to look) a few days ago and you can choose i7 as an upgrade.

I still haven't made up my mind. If they are really all the same, then it makes sense to me to go with the more affordable option.

OP theJuke2 New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?

wchutt wrote:

Since 1984  have never  spent my own money on any IT products other than those from Apple.

You state that you prefer PCs. So why not just do some research and thinking and  buy best PC for your photography? I can not understand why you would switch since you seem to be a perfectly happy  PC user.

I just want to make sure that I am using the best computer for my needs. It's not that I prefer PC, it's just what I have always used. I have nothing against Apple. I posted this question to find out if there is some reason I am unaware of that would make Apple better for photography. That's what forums are for, right? To get other people's opinions?

Thank you for your response.

EJ Fudd Senior Member • Posts: 1,285
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?
1

as for Is mac better for photography?

is may ways its easyer to use, runs faster (benchmarks of macs vs PC macs are faster)

on the app store there are many photo apps you can download for free and up for cool effects

The quality of your photography will not be improved by buying a Mac but the joy of working with those images will be I think

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D700man
D700man Regular Member • Posts: 262
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?
1

I've used PC's for 17 years and recently made the switch to my first Mac.  The new iMac with 27" screen and I maxed out the RAM to 32GB.

I have to say there is a big difference between the two and really its hard to nail down what it is thats so much better but I do love the fact that there isn't any boot-up time with a Mac.  You turn the power on and its on, no waiting for it to load or boot.  I've been an iPhone and iPad user for 5 or so years now and making the switch was pretty seamless for the most part.  Took me a couple of late nights of getting use to where everything was and converting over my external HD's and I was hooked.  Everything is just well organized, crisp, detailed and very user friendly.  The monitors that come with the Macs are breathtaking in my opinion and can't see me needing or wanting better.

As for LR.....like every has said, it works the same way but with 32GB RAM it works much smoother and instant with my iMac and I would imagine it would be the same on a PC.   What your getting is a computer that makes its own hardware and its own OS, so in return your getting a single unit that works hand in hand flawlessly.  It really is like going from a Mustang GT to a Lexus LFA sports car.  Remarkable machine and you get what you pay for.  I'm a believer.

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trac63 Contributing Member • Posts: 740
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?
1

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 use Linux for almost all of my photographic needs. Then again I don't need anything more than AfterShot Pro and the GIMP. Printer support in Linux is pretty good with CUPS (which Apple bought out and ported to MacOS). I am not a pro photographer, and don't need any of the tethering software or Photoshop plug-ins that pros tend to rely on nowadays. Calibrating your monitor in Linux can be a real chore too.

As for Mac vs. PC? The debate is inane. Macs are PCs running MacOS. The issue is really one of MacOS vs. Windows. MacOS is essentially FreeBSD with Apple's proprietary graphics layer on top of it. Technically it's superior to Windows in a lot of ways but the support for 3rd party software and peripheral devices is not nearly as good.

Hardware-wise I can build a much faster, quieter workstation with better quality components for less money if I choose to run Windows or Linux.

With laptops it's a little less clear-cut but even there, a manufacturer like Asus makes really good laptops that usually sell for a lot less money than their Apple equivalents.

Realistically though, I don't think your choice of Mac vs. PC will make the slightest bit of difference in terms of meeting your photo editing or workflow needs. It's really a matter of personal choice.

OP theJuke2 New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?
1

Is the only reason you like the iMac because of Lightroom? I run LR on Windows right now and it does all of those things you just listed.

vdubreeze Senior Member • Posts: 1,305
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?

It basically comes down to a handful of things that have nothing to do with image quality.

If you like the Apple ecosystem, which is to say when you have Apple hardware there are certain paths, for better or worse, that you must go down for most software and hardware, that's one reason.  If you hate the Apple ecosystem that's a good reason to not get into it.  Personally, I've been a Mac user since the Mac Plus and I've always preferred whatever the current Apple system and interface is to the same for Windows.   That's just me, but it's a big reason.  I have to spend time in Windows occasionally and I don't enjoy it.   That's just me, but it's a good reason to be with one or the other, probably the best if all other things are close to equal.

Much software is available for both (PS, LR, etc) and are nearly identical (though you have to be in that OS and enjoy it).  Some are only in one or the other (Aperture, FCPX for Macs, many examples for Windows).  So, as been said already, if you want Aperture you have no choice, if you want LR that's not a reason to switch.

Not to get into an OSX vs Windows thing, but that's essentially what it is and it's 80% personal preference.  I have never minded what many see as the "Apple user tax" but all that really is is that you can find a wealth of cheaper PC laptop and desktop alternatives.  But my preference for OSX and the hardware quality and Apple ecosystem always outweighed any perceived higher cost.  Never felt I didn't get my money's worth.  Note that it's not that Macs per se are that much more expensive, just that there are buckets of companies cranking out PCs from $300 to $3,000 and with Apple you have to deal with what they offer.

I find using my Macs much simpler than being in Windows.  Everything is done more directly and going to less popup boxes and menus, though of course a lot has to do with the fact that I'm not deeply versed in Windows.  But when I read about what people do to solve their Windows problems my head spins with all you need to know about.  I have a lot of Apple hardware and am always able to easily take care of any OS issues that may come up.  When it happens on my wife's ASUS I feel like shooting myself if I have to tackle it  :  )  and I know it'll take a pot of coffee and an afternoon.  Again, that's just me.

If that stuff is all no problem with you then you're someone for whom it's not a factor and I wouldn't hold it up as such.  It's hard to rationalize much of the difference, of whatever difference there is.

But to answer your original question, no, I wouldn't say that in 2013 a Mac is better than a PC for photography.  I don't think there's much specific to photography in 2013 between the two that matters.  I was doing things on my Apple Quadra 650 in 1993 with a SCSI drive that would blow the minds of my Windows friends (they would sit with their mouth hanging as I did file management in two minutes what would have taken them an hour) but those days are gone.  Fun times, though  :  )

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Ken Johnes Forum Member • Posts: 81
Get a custom built PC if your main use is photo editing.
5

if you are considering a workstation for photo/video editing , nothing can beat the price/performance  ratio and ease of upgrade of a custom built PC . if you have someone in the neighbourhood or a PC shop nearby who can help you with assembling a PC ,it´s the best thing to do.

1. you can decide what components you want in your system and buy it yourself and you can upgrade it anytime you wish, no guarantee problems by opening the PC case by doing so, you have the usual guarantee on individual parts so replacing anything is easy.

2. would you really wanna send in your PC or Mac to the service centre with all your photos and private stuff?(not much of a problem if you shoot landscapes, but someone who do portraiture or any kind of people (specially something with less cloth;-) photography might get in trouble if someone in the service centre gets curious)

3. on a custom built PC you can use a 128GB SSD for OS and the usual HDD for storage so you can take it out anytime before sending it for repair.

4. you get a lot more for your money than you get from Apple or Hp or dell or anybody. try adding 16 GB ram instead of 8 GB on a mac config from the Apple store and see how much they charge for the additional 8GB RAM ( which you could  get for some 40- 50$  from your local store).buy it- plug it- in start working, no sending anywhere no waiting for few days etc,etc.

there is no arguing Macs are a better system because of it´s functional simplicity and less virus / software problems but then again it´s a closed system,and there is the biggest problem . upgrading and repairing costs too much compared to other systems once you pass the guarantee period.

i´d say, get someone to assemble the fastest intel i5 processor based system if you are on budget or get a i7 based system with 16 GB Ram and the fastest Passive cooled graphic card along with a 128 GB (for OS ) and 2x 2GB HDD for storage and you are set to go.

try www.tomshardware.com(  http://www.tomshardware.com/ )for more info on the PC components.it´s the Dpreview of hardware world :-))

cheers, Ken

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 12,807
Re: Get a custom built PC if your main use is photo editing.

Ken Johnes wrote:

1. you can decide what components you want in your system and buy it yourself and you can upgrade it anytime you wish, no guarantee problems by opening the PC case

I'm not sure if you realized what you just said:  "you can … guarantee problems by opening the PC case" (!!!)  Not the argument I'd make for a custom-built PC.

4. you get a lot more for your money than you get from Apple or Hp or dell or anybody. try adding 16 GB ram instead of 8 GB on a mac config from the Apple store and see how much they charge for the additional 8GB RAM ( which you could  get for some 40- 50$  from your local store).buy it- plug it- in start working, no sending anywhere no waiting for few days etc,etc.

You're apparently unaware that most current Macs have user-upgradable RAM, and that third parties sell RAM for them.

The models on which RAM is not user-upgradable are the MacBook Air, the Retina MacBook Pro, and the 21.5" iMac.  The first two are "thin and light" notebooks that have soldered-in RAM, as do virtually all PC Ultrabooks.  The 21.5" iMac used to have four user-accessible RAM slots, but sadly, lost that feature in the current generation.

curiousmike1300
curiousmike1300 Contributing Member • Posts: 751
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?
1

I'm just making an observation from reading a random sampling of the replies.

My bias has me read this:

"I had an old PC and bought a new Mac and the Mac is better."

Are we comparing an old, 3-5 year old PC that's bloated over time with a newer spec'd Mac that's factory fresh?

That's like putting new tires on your car after your last tires were to the cords and saying, 'These new tires are great!'

An ideal (fairer) comparison would be both modern hardware - at that point, you're comparing the operating system and perhaps hardware quality.

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phaedin
phaedin Senior Member • Posts: 1,623
Re: Get a custom built PC if your main use is photo editing.

Tom_N wrote:

Ken Johnes wrote:

1. you can decide what components you want in your system and buy it yourself and you can upgrade it anytime you wish, no guarantee problems by opening the PC case

I'm not sure if you realized what you just said:  "you can … guarantee problems by opening the PC case" (!!!)  Not the argument I'd make for a custom-built PC.

That was a creative edit of the original quote - although the original quote wasnt entirely clear, I believe that "no warantee" would have been a more clear choice of wording as opposed to "no guarantee" (purely semantics)

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Ken Johnes Forum Member • Posts: 81
Re: Get a custom built PC if your main use is photo editing.

Tom_N wrote:

Ken Johnes wrote:

1. you can decide what components you want in your system and buy it yourself and you can upgrade it anytime you wish, no guarantee problems by opening the PC case

I'm not sure if you realized what you just said:  "you can … guarantee problems by opening the PC case" (!!!)  Not the argument I'd make for a custom-built PC.

Tom ,it´s my english which made you write that ,my bad( sorry ,it´s my 4th language ;-).but i thought  it was clear .What i meant was " no - Guarantee related problems"..:-)

4. you get a lot more for your money than you get from Apple or Hp or dell or anybody. try adding 16 GB ram instead of 8 GB on a mac config from the Apple store and see how much they charge for the additional 8GB RAM ( which you could  get for some 40- 50$  from your local store).buy it- plug it- in start working, no sending anywhere no waiting for few days etc,etc.

You're apparently unaware that most current Macs have user-upgradable RAM, and that third parties sell RAM for them.

try opening your new mac and  plug in one component not sold by apple directly`during the warranty /guarantee period ´and see if they service your mac for free when something goes wrong.( by the way check their RAM upgrade prices;-) )

either way nothing comes close to the price/performance/user upgradability of a custom or self built PC.the fact is if you want an affordable 16 or even 32 GB ram, 3.5-4ghz  quadcore system for around 700-1000 $ for photo /video editing the best bet is a custom PC.with mac the same config may run at twice or 3 times the price with not much of a noticable or useful performance boost.

it´s the same with intel processors too, you pay way too much for the high end proc for simply 15-20 % performance boost.

The models on which RAM is not user-upgradable are the MacBook Air, the Retina MacBook Pro, and the 21.5" iMac.  The first two are "thin and light" notebooks that have soldered-in RAM, as do virtually all PC Ultrabooks.  The 21.5" iMac used to have four user-accessible RAM slots, but sadly, lost that feature in the current generation.

i dont think the OP want those above mentioned macs for photo editing anyway

Ken Johnes Forum Member • Posts: 81
actually some companies dont even do paid service once you open your computer yourself.

phaedin wrote:

Tom_N wrote:

Ken Johnes wrote:

1. you can decide what components you want in your system and buy it yourself and you can upgrade it anytime you wish, no guarantee problems by opening the PC case

I'm not sure if you realized what you just said:  "you can … guarantee problems by opening the PC case" (!!!)  Not the argument I'd make for a custom-built PC.

That was a creative edit of the original quote - although the original quote wasnt entirely clear, I believe that "no warantee" would have been a more clear choice of wording as opposed to "no guarantee" (purely semantics)

i agree, what i wrote was really confusing .!!

yycPhotog Forum Member • Posts: 84
Re: Used PC's...4yrs ago BOUGHT an iMac and have NEVER regretted it

EJ Fudd wrote:

Its $20 about every 2 years I think or at worse every year..

10.5 to 10.6 is $20

it is NOT required to update for yous system to work..you can stay on the last OS and all will work fine

10.5 to 10.5.1 FREE

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And if I remember correctly, you can upgrade up to five Macs at that price as it includes 5 licenses, not the 1:1 upgrade deal that MS offers....

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EJ Fudd Senior Member • Posts: 1,285
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?
1

I am not pointing out the NEW mac is better the an OLD pc...

I am pointing out MAC seems to be easier to work with, more user friendly ,FASTER  (in photo apps) same processor same ram MAC benchmarks FASTER so 2 2013 cars one does 0-60 in 5 sec and one in 3 sec ...

I would take a 2year old mac over a new PC any day of the week

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Adrian Van Contributing Member • Posts: 684
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?

After using a 2009 imac 27 inch for 3 years and still going strong, I would agree Mac is faster if you have PC and mac with the same specs: processor, video card, ram,... as the Mac internal hardware architecture I have read is more efficient pipeline of data throughput on imac over a similar PC (or has that since changed on the PC side?). This was demonstrated on a chart on apple site a while back when I bought mine. Benchmarks show it too. However, with new SSD startup drives and fast i7 systems, windows can still do a great job processing.

The monitors on the imac are excellent high resolution and colour and if you tried to build same spec with both PC and mac as an all in one system (like imac) price is similar if you look at the Dell "all in ones top XPS 27" systems" for example, price not far off.

I really like the Mac OS system now that I know it, after using windows for over 10 years.

That said, some of my programs like Sony Vegas Pro only work in windows, so I use Parallels and Bootcamp. I prefer Bootcamp for Vegas. Parallels 7 is still slower than Bootcamp, although handy for some applications when I do not want to switch over from Mac OS so I use both. I need Win7 for some of my other windows programs as well.

For my photo editing programs and adobe suite, iMac is great for fast processing and editing.

To each their own, and your taste may vary on OS preference. Like Windows 7 a lot when I am using it. Do not like Windows 8 as a few of my IT friends do not like Win8 metro either, despite having option of using retro or start8.

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oklaphotog Senior Member • Posts: 1,093
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?
1

theJuke2 wrote:

Thank you for all of your input, I appreciate your detailed answer. I agree about the i7, but just so you know you can get i7 on an iMac now. I was at the Apple store (just to look) a few days ago and you can choose i7 as an upgrade.

I still haven't made up my mind. If they are really all the same, then it makes sense to me to go with the more affordable option.

Many folks swear by a specific interface, and all power to them. For me, as someone who has used damn near everything gui wise (GEOS, Amiga OS, BeOS, QNX, Mac OS pre-X and X, Windows 3.1 through 8, OS/2, many different unix/linux platforms/window managers etc...), I don't get caught up in a UI, as long as it works well. I've found that nothing is perfect and both modern windows and mac platforms are pretty universal when it comes to something simple like image/video editing since the industry standard software exists for both, they are both easy to use, as well as both being stable OS's for the most part. The apple's tend to have more of a hipster/trendy look, but they are nothing more than a PC under the skin for a lot more money. If performance per dollar is important, there is no way a you can beat a windows machine since it gets the job done equally as well for far less.

Most major TV stations edit video on a PC using Avid News Cutter, as well as use PC's for their graphics production. If it's good enough to get time sensitive breaking stories on the air nearly immediately and reliably when every second counts, then the platform is more than adequate for still photography needs IMHO. These guys are using machines built with quality hardware though and not machines built with the cheapest hardware available by joe bob hole in the wall PC shop.

There's nothing wrong with a Mac (expect price/performance ratio), I've owned several starting with a Mac SE 40 and administrated many more. There was a time many, many, years ago when it was a better platform than windows for desktop graphics production. But the playing field has been pretty level for quite a while. If you want to use apple specific software like Aperture or FCP etc..... Then you're stuck with a mac. If you want to use the more popular Adobe and Avid products, they exist for both and you save a lot of money going with a windows system on decent quality hardware.

These days people who have major issues with modern versions of Windows or Mac OS can usually cough it up to user error, using poorly written software, or bottom of the barrel generic hardware (in the case of the cheapest of cheap budget windows machines) etc...

Really you can compare them both to cameras. Nikon and Canon. They take turns one upping each other on occasion, they tend to look and feel different, each one does something better than the other while also doing something worse as well. But in the end they both get the job done for many professionals, enthusiasts, and the general population just fine. Only difference is the price gap between Canon and Nikon products tend not to be as wide as a Mac vs. a quality Windows machine.

MikeFromMesa Senior Member • Posts: 2,849
Re: Are Macs better than PCs for photography work? If so, why?

hjr13 wrote:

I haven't used windows for a long time, but with a mac in 20 years, a mother board went on one computer that was 12 years old. Other than that I've never turned on my computer and had a problem.

The same can't be said from what I see on pcs. Between hardware conflicts, viruses, etc there are problems that crop up all the time.

I have had a mac pro, white notebook, mac book pro, imac, and now have a mac mini. Never had a problem with any, except the mother board on the mac pro after 12 years. On of the mac ads used to say macs just work, simple and true.

Like I said, this is only my opinion. I am sure some feel different.

My problem with Macs is that buying one restricts your software options tremendously. Lots of the software I currently doesn't exist for Macs.

Yes, I have LR and CS5 and both are available for Macs. My problems lie with the other software (photo and non-photo) I use.

1) Sagelight - a very nice editor, but not available for the Mac,

2) SNS-HDR - my preferred HDR software, but not available for the Mac,

3) Campground Navigator - the software I use to map and find camping sites. Not available for the Mac,

4) Acronis backup software - the software I use to make disc images (my preferred backup method), not available for the Mac,

There are other software packages I use on my PC that are not available for the Mac and some which I believe are available in more limited versions. I also sometimes write software and have the same sort of issue. The software I use (mostly Visual C# and Visual C) are not available for use on the Mac. There are alternatives (Java and Objective C) but there seems to be little interest in writing software for such a limited market.

I have nothing against the Mac and bought an AirBook for my wife. She had it for 2 days and wanted a PC instead. There is something to be said for familiarity of use.

MikeFromMesa Senior Member • Posts: 2,849
Well, maybe. But ...

Najinsky wrote:

Basically, millions of people have switched to Mac, and while for some it wasn't the right move, the overwhelming majority have stuck with it and prefer Mac.

While this is probably true in terms of numbers the Windows is still the overwhelmingly predominant operating system and the PC is still the overwhelmingly predominant OS and both those facts are likely to remain that way for many years to come. I did some googling on Mac vs Windows sales and found that the Mac had climbed from 5th most commonly purchased OS to 3rd but is still behind Linux. That is not saying all that much.

Yes, there are some died-in-the-wool Mac users as there are some died-in-the-wool Windows users but the Mac is still pretty much a niche computer. If you go into an Apple store where I live you will find it very busy, but most people are buying iPods, iPhone and iPads. Not too many Macs.

You can argue that the Mac is a "better" machine (and I would not argue with that) but I well remember the same argument about Beta vs VHS when tape recorders were selling and we all know how that turned out. And, when I spoke with a Mac sales person about buying an AirBook for my wife he immediately told me how easy it was to put Windows on a Mac. That is not exactly the best endorsement for Mac computers running any Mac OS.

If you believe this to be true, it seemingly gives some big advantage to the Mac.

It will seem like a bigger deal if the Mac actually begins to challenge Windows with big numbers. There may be millions of people turning to Macs, but there are still tens of millions of people buying PCs and all of the people I know who are buying computers are doing so with PCs, not Macs. What makes this even more remarkable is that fact that the Apple machines pre-date the sale of Windows machines.

I am not one of those Mac haters. I have used Macs in the past as well as written software for use on a Mac. I am just not blinded by the clever use of statistics. Windows machines account for more than 90% of computer sales in the US and Macs and Linux vie for the rest with Macs behind Linux. As of this point in time sales seems like destiny. You can argue that college students who buy Macs will continue to use them when they become self-supporting adults, but I have been listening to that argument for the past 20-30 years and it still is a Windows dominated market. Mac usage seems to be strictly a nice kind of thing.

MikeFromMesa Senior Member • Posts: 2,849
Indeed ...

+1

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