Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
PrinzMegaherz New Member • Posts: 24
Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

Hello all,

I am a hobby photographer and would like to buy one of the new M1 Macs. I still have some questions here and would be happy if you could help me.

Currently I'm still using Windows 10 with Lightroom and Luminar AI as plugin. My photos (almost 560 GB by now) are on an internal hard drive, which are mirrored via Cloudsync to my Synology NAS and from there again backed up to an external hard drive.

Why I want to switch to Apple:
a) My computer is getting on in years. It's still good enough for gaming (graphics card is still halfway up to date), but for everything else an upgrade would be due soon.
b) I used to have a Macbook back in Aperture days and switched to the PC when Aperture was cancelled.
c) I use both my Nikon and my Iphone to take photos. I transfer the photos from the camera, but for the photos from the phone I currently lack a convenient option under Windows (without an extra cloud subscription) to integrate the photos into my Lightroom library.
d) I would like to edit photos on the go, so I would prefer a notebook solution for that reason as well).
e) I also have an appleTV and would like to see my favorite shots there.

For the above reasons, I would like to dive back into the Mac world.

My question now would be:
- Lightroom Classic vs Apple Photos: I currently only use Lightroom as a DAM and not for image editing (I use Luminar for that). I would only use Apple Photos for now after the switch.
Questions: Is there any way I can elegantly import my Lightroom library into Photos? What happens if my library is larger than my ICloud storage?

- How can I replicate the current Photos data storage (internal hard drive mirrored to NAS) with a small notebook hard drive? I could plug in an external hard drive at my desk, for example, and mirror it to Synology via Cloudsync. But what do I do when I'm on the road and don't have the hard drive with me? Can I then still load photos in, which are then moved to the main library when I return?

- RAM and harddrive:
As far as I've read now from various Youtube reviews, the 8GB Macbooks are quite sufficient for my application purposes (don't currently do any video editing). Would you agree with that? And rather 512 GB hard drive, or is the smaller variant enough?

I would be glad I you could offer me some helpfull advice!

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 19,001
Re: Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

PrinzMegaherz wrote:

- RAM and harddrive:
As far as I've read now from various Youtube reviews, the 8GB Macbooks are quite sufficient for my application purposes (don't currently do any video editing). Would you agree with that? And rather 512 GB hard drive, or is the smaller variant enough?

The M1-based MacBook Airs do not have hard drives.  They have SSDs.  If you custom-order a machine from the Apple Store site, you can choose from 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB SSDs.

To estimate how much storage you'll need, take a look at how much you are using on your current system, and ask yourself what portion of that you'd be comfortable in keeping on external drives.

Greybeard2017
Greybeard2017 Senior Member • Posts: 1,864
Re: Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

PrinzMegaherz wrote:

Hello all,

I am a hobby photographer and would like to buy one of the new M1 Macs. I still have some questions here and would be happy if you could help me.

Currently I'm still using Windows 10 with Lightroom and Luminar AI as plugin. My photos (almost 560 GB by now) are on an internal hard drive, which are mirrored via Cloudsync to my Synology NAS and from there again backed up to an external hard drive.

Why I want to switch to Apple:
a) My computer is getting on in years. It's still good enough for gaming (graphics card is still halfway up to date), but for everything else an upgrade would be due soon.
b) I used to have a Macbook back in Aperture days and switched to the PC when Aperture was cancelled.
c) I use both my Nikon and my Iphone to take photos. I transfer the photos from the camera, but for the photos from the phone I currently lack a convenient option under Windows (without an extra cloud subscription) to integrate the photos into my Lightroom library.
d) I would like to edit photos on the go, so I would prefer a notebook solution for that reason as well).
e) I also have an appleTV and would like to see my favorite shots there.

For the above reasons, I would like to dive back into the Mac world.

My question now would be:
- Lightroom Classic vs Apple Photos: I currently only use Lightroom as a DAM and not for image editing (I use Luminar for that). I would only use Apple Photos for now after the switch.
Questions: Is there any way I can elegantly import my Lightroom library into Photos? What happens if my library is larger than my ICloud storage?

- How can I replicate the current Photos data storage (internal hard drive mirrored to NAS) with a small notebook hard drive? I could plug in an external hard drive at my desk, for example, and mirror it to Synology via Cloudsync. But what do I do when I'm on the road and don't have the hard drive with me? Can I then still load photos in, which are then moved to the main library when I return?

- RAM and harddrive:
As far as I've read now from various Youtube reviews, the 8GB Macbooks are quite sufficient for my application purposes (don't currently do any video editing). Would you agree with that? And rather 512 GB hard drive, or is the smaller variant enough?

I would be glad I you could offer me some helpfull advice!

I started on a similar path by getting a Mac Mini M1 16gb Memory/512 GB storage. So this is a static setup rather than mobile.

512GB will be plenty as I don't intend to use it for my photo and movie storage but I wouldn't want to be restricted to just 256GB.

It was worth getting the 16GB memory to me as I don't intend to upgrade this set up for a number of years.

It's not clear what you plan to do with your 560GB of photos - you would obviously need a much bigger (and much more expensive) drive on the Mac if you are planning on storing them internally. Perhaps you could just take a subset of the image files when you travel?

Apple Photos didn't seem like much of a solution to me so I've migrated my Lightroom setup to the mac. I have my raw files on an external drive and copy them as needed over to the Synology NAS for security.

Backups have been easy and convenient (for everything except the external photos drive) - I bought a cheap 5TB external disk to use for Time Machine which is easy to setup and just works.

You have to be a bit careful about which Windows programs you migrate - I managed to crash the Mac Mini a few times before I figured that out - not something that has happened to me on Windows since the 1990s.

Performance on the Mac has been an incremental improvement over my ageing Lenovo All-in-one with 8GB of memory - but not to the dramatic extent of migrating the Lenovo from spinning disk to SSD.

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OP PrinzMegaherz New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

Thank you for the answer!

I guess it depends on how a process for mobile editing looks like. In Lightroom for example, you could have a local catalog that only contains the photos that were taken during the travel and I would merge that catalog back into my main catalog once I'm back home.

Is there a way to do something like this with Apple photos?

Greg Edwards Regular Member • Posts: 307
Re: Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

PrinzMegaherz wrote:

Thank you for the answer!

I guess it depends on how a process for mobile editing looks like. In Lightroom for example, you could have a local catalog that only contains the photos that were taken during the travel and I would merge that catalog back into my main catalog once I'm back home.

Is there a way to do something like this with Apple photos?

I don't believe so, no.  Photos is designed to use the cloud and a single, unified, sandboxed library. Simply take a photo on your iPhone and just let it sync back to Photos on the mac. Likewise, take photos on you Nikon and either import them directly into photos on the mac or use a dongle to import them into Photos on your iPhone and let them sync back to the mac via the cloud.

It is possible to run Photos with a referenced library, but it's not pretty, as iPhone imported photos live in the cloud and the Photos library. Getting them out and back as referenced images requires a bit of manual intervention.

You can move the Photos library to an external drive on the mac. That's a relatively easy thing to do if it starts to get too big.

If I were you I'd have serious reservations about migrating from LR Classic to Photos. As good as Photos is, it lacks a lot of editing and file management tools you're used to. I feel you may end up fighting it more than embracing it.

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CAcreeks
CAcreeks Forum Pro • Posts: 16,645
Re: Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

Tom_N wrote:

PrinzMegaherz wrote:

- RAM and harddrive:
As far as I've read now from various Youtube reviews, the 8GB Macbooks are quite sufficient for my application purposes (don't currently do any video editing). Would you agree with that? And rather 512 GB hard drive, or is the smaller variant enough?

The M1-based MacBook Airs do not have hard drives. They have SSDs. If you custom-order a machine from the Apple Store site, you can choose from 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB SSDs.

I bought an M1 Macbook Air with only 256GB storage because it was available immediately at Best Buy. Larger storage and memory had a multi-week wait period. My Linux laptop's GPU fan was stressed by too much heat and sounded near-dead.

Storage is not an issue with my wife's old 1TB Samsung T3 connected. She replaced it with a 2TB Samsung T7, currently $330 on Amazon.

To estimate how much storage you'll need, take a look at how much you are using on your current system, and ask yourself what portion of that you'd be comfortable in keeping on external drives.

If I were you PrinzMHz, I would move your second Adobe license to the M1 Macbook, transfer your photo database to a 2TB T7, and continue using Lightroom. I'm not sure if you can  move the catalog to external SSD also.

As for "only" 8GB memory, it seems plenty. Perhaps you'd need more for panorama stitching. DxO PhotoLab is very fast on my M1.

robgendreau Veteran Member • Posts: 8,378
Re: Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

PrinzMegaherz wrote:

Hello all,

I am a hobby photographer and would like to buy one of the new M1 Macs. I still have some questions here and would be happy if you could help me.

Currently I'm still using Windows 10 with Lightroom and Luminar AI as plugin. My photos (almost 560 GB by now) are on an internal hard drive, which are mirrored via Cloudsync to my Synology NAS and from there again backed up to an external hard drive.

Why I want to switch to Apple:
a) My computer is getting on in years. It's still good enough for gaming (graphics card is still halfway up to date), but for everything else an upgrade would be due soon.
b) I used to have a Macbook back in Aperture days and switched to the PC when Aperture was cancelled.
c) I use both my Nikon and my Iphone to take photos. I transfer the photos from the camera, but for the photos from the phone I currently lack a convenient option under Windows (without an extra cloud subscription) to integrate the photos into my Lightroom library.
d) I would like to edit photos on the go, so I would prefer a notebook solution for that reason as well).
e) I also have an appleTV and would like to see my favorite shots there.

For the above reasons, I would like to dive back into the Mac world.

My question now would be:
- Lightroom Classic vs Apple Photos: I currently only use Lightroom as a DAM and not for image editing (I use Luminar for that). I would only use Apple Photos for now after the switch.
Questions: Is there any way I can elegantly import my Lightroom library into Photos? What happens if my library is larger than my ICloud storage?

No. You'd manually import them, hopefully after writing all your Lr metadata to the files.

And I'd wait on that decision. Apple Photos has far far far fewer features than Lr Classic or even non-Classic. And even though you'd only use Photos and Luminar for processing, you may still miss many organizational features. Start with a few. And add Raw Power for photo adjusting if you do raw. And note that if you have a newer camera it might not be supported by macOS yet; check.

And if your library is more than the cloud storage you can buy start culling. You can't mix and match synched vs non synched images like with Classic. You can, however, have totally separate Photos libraries, one managed and synched, one offline and managed or referenced.

YMMV, but don't dive in without doing a LOT of experimentation first. It's very difficult to go back from online storage.

- How can I replicate the current Photos data storage (internal hard drive mirrored to NAS) with a small notebook hard drive? I could plug in an external hard drive at my desk, for example, and mirror it to Synology via Cloudsync. But what do I do when I'm on the road and don't have the hard drive with me? Can I then still load photos in, which are then moved to the main library when I return?

Well, if you use Photos app you'll need one copy of the Truth in the cloud, and then Apple automagically manages local storage to a large degree, with the user having only limited control over that. The point, as with non-Classic, is cloud storage.

Classic would still work essentially the same however.

And for travel, many of us just use Classic to sync smart previews and then work on non-Classic on the laptop. It syncs back automatically to Classic. Or export a subcatalog with images for use on the laptop, then re-import it.

And images taken on your iPhone by Lr auto-sync back to Classic, as do any imported from the camera roll. I assume you're doing that already. I don't know if you're using the Windows application for iCloud photos already on your Windows machine.

And BTW the smart previews sync to Adobe's Lr app on Apple TV, so you don't need photos to show them there. Assuming you have collections or something in Lr presently for such viewing you might wanna keep Lr Classic just to use those on Apple TV rather than recreating them in Photos.

- RAM and harddrive:
As far as I've read now from various Youtube reviews, the 8GB Macbooks are quite sufficient for my application purposes (don't currently do any video editing). Would you agree with that? And rather 512 GB hard drive, or is the smaller variant enough?

I would be glad I you could offer me some helpfull advice!

I'd err on the side of more, but that's me. Note that there are some really small, quite fast, SSD drives with USB-C connectors for fast storage on the go. It's annoying to have a dongle hanging off the machine, but it's quite fast with some of these drives to swap files around. I often do it while charging since I'm wired then anyway.

OP PrinzMegaherz New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Migrating my current PC setup to a Macbook Air M1

Again, thank you very much for the very helpful posts!

I think I will do it like this:

Attach an external drive, use it for my main library. Use cloudsync to back it up. Export only my favorites after editing to photos so it can be synced to my other devices. When I'm traveling, the 512 GB version should have plenty of storage for the pictures I take. After I'm back, I can merge it back to the main catalog on the external drive.

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