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  • Best Computers For Photographers

    I'm curious what your opinions are about this? I will need to get a new computer soon and I'm not sure if laptop or desktop is better. Are Macs really better?
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  • #2
    Macs aren't inherently better than PCs. People tend to say that they don't have any problems on Mac while on their PC they ran into all sort of problems. The fact is that people have problems on every operating system, some more, some less. Usually you get more powerful PC with the same money you'd pay for a Mac. But also usually you need to tinker a bit more with the PC while Mac should work fine straight out of the box. And usually you get more powerful desktop than laptop for a given amount of money. If it wasn't clear already the operative word here is usually.

    Most software are for both OSX and Windows. But if you're Aperture user (which I highly doubt based on your questions) you'd need to get a Mac since it doesn't exist for Windows.

    With that said, get the computer with most RAM and best graphics card you can afford. Of course other factors are important too but Photoshop hogs as much RAM as you let it, and the more it gets the faster it works.

    Also you might want to consider if the screen is glossy or matte. Glossy screens are great in dark rooms but in daylight you probably get all sort of reflections.
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    • #3
      If you don't need portability, then a desktop is going to be better.
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      • #4
        As for memory, not only get the most you can afford, but make sure what he configuration is. For example, if the computer has four slots for memory and you get 4 gigs, try to get two 2 gig strips not four 1 gig, that way you can add more later without having to totally replace what you already have.
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        • #5
          I would also get a monitor with a high contrast ratio. I don't think the response time is as important, as you're not getting this to play first person shooters. It's also a good idea to get a monitor calibrator so you know your monitor is reproducing colors faithfully.

          If you don't need the portability of a laptop, then you'll get a lot more computer with a desktop. It's nice to have one with a memory card reader built in.

          If you decide to get a Mac, make sure the software you will use is available for it.
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          • #6
            Costs wise, pc will be cheaper for the same hardware. There is also more choices if you decide to go the pc route. There are ways to use both operating systems for both Mac and PC with a little help from other softwares. Some of the more common things used would be VMWare for windows, dual booting in Mac, parallel desktop in Mac, etc. I would say money isn't too big of a problem if you decide on Mac since they are usually more expensive, so it is just a matter of what you like in the end. Desktops are the way to go if you don't need to take it around mostly due to the most powerful machines are desktops and to get any power like that on a laptop is just asking to pay much more for it. Like kirbinster mentioned, the RAM, I would say look for ddr3 rams, depending on if you go desktop/laptop route, 4gb+ is decent I would say. With a decent processor, enough ram it should be good to go for basic editing, decent graphics card if you decide to do any video editing or play any games on it, etc. Someone correct me if I'm wrong here, anything aperture can do should b able to be done through photoshop or other programs as well. Really in the end, best bang for the buck would be a desktop pc, this is true for getting system made through some big company (dell,hp,asus, etc) or building it yourself. There is nothing "wrong" with Macs, they just cost a premium and there are more softwares that are desgined for Windows than for Macs.

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            • #7
              What would be the baseline specs for running Lightroom 3 on a mac? I've read the minimum requirements but I'm interested in real world experiences of other photographers.

              Right now I'm running it on a Macbook Intel Core Duo 2.0GHz with 1GB RAM and it's horridly slow. Since my Macbook is only upgradeable to 2GB RAM, I'm looking to buy a new one.

              Thanks

              P.S. To answer the original question. Go with a Mac. Yes they're more expensive, but you'll pay through your nose in money and time fixing PC's. Macs just work. Plus OSX (operating software) is more stable than Windows and the GUI (graphics user interface) is more intuitive.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by spencer28n View Post
                P.S. To answer the original question. Go with a Mac. Yes they're more expensive, but you'll pay through your nose in money and time fixing PC's. Macs just work. Plus OSX (operating software) is more stable than Windows and the GUI (graphics user interface) is more intuitive.
                Tell that to my father-in-law who has had to replace the hard drive on his MacBook Pro three times now, and just a couple weeks ago had things go balls-up badly enough that he almost didn't get a project turned in on time.

                Computers are computers. They're painfully complex devices and any of a thousand things can go wrong with them at any time.

                I view Macs a lot like Leicas. There's a cult of followers who believe the manufacturer can do no wrong, and everything that comes from them is perfect. Then there are pragmatists who say use the best tool for the job, and often times, there's no need to pay extra for the "privilege" of using that hardware.
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                • #9
                  Here's my 2c:
                  They are just machines and neither is Better/Worse, but each has it's limitations. I run a Macbook Pro and Macbook Air now, I built every PC I owned previously. You get more for your money hardware wise from a PC...
                  IME the limiting factor with a PC is the operating system. A mac is just "cleaner"...Not to say I haven't seen the spinning beachball lock up before, I have....I've just never had system issues with my Mac (2yrs now), I don't have hardware issues, It's just easier...

                  With a PC I would buy a dedicated workstation and leave it as that....The more you install/uninstall/(especially uninstall) the more jacked up the OS gets....Windows also tends to end up with A LOT running in the background, and memory leaks are common....

                  If you keep a base windows system with only the necessary additional software and occasional routine cleanup there is no reason for a windows machine to be more problematic. Don't install questionable software (or download anything questionable) Don't install other big memory hog applications (office) with a bunch of background functions. Don't surf the web without good firewall (wireless is good). Don't use computer based e-mail...especially without virus protection. And don't play/install games on it.

                  If you know enough about cleaning up lost files and bad registry entries (Ccleaner is helpful) and how to eliminate unnecessary programs from running in the background and locking up resources etc etc, then you can get away with a little more...

                  I'd buy a PC if all I wanted was a dedicated editing station... Hell a dedicated beast of an editing workstation AND a cheap laptop for the rest will still cost less (certainly not more) than a remotely comparable MAC.
                  Steve
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                  • #10
                    Here's my 2c:
                    They are just machines and neither is Better/Worse, but each has it's limitations. I run a Macbook Pro and Macbook Air now, I built every PC I owned previously. You get more for your money hardware wise from a PC...
                    IME the limiting factor with a PC is the operating system. A mac is just "cleaner"...Not to say I haven't seen the spinning beachball lock up before, I have....I've just never had system issues with my Mac (2yrs now), I don't have hardware issues, It's just easier...

                    With a PC I would buy a dedicated workstation and leave it as that....The more you install/uninstall/(especially uninstall) the more jacked up the OS gets....Windows also tends to end up with A LOT running in the background, and memory leaks are common....

                    If you keep a base windows system with only the necessary additional software and occasional routine cleanup there is no reason for a windows machine to be more problematic. Don't install questionable software (or download anything questionable) Don't install other big memory hog applications (office) with a bunch of background functions. Don't surf the web without good firewall (wireless is good). Don't use computer based e-mail...especially without virus protection. And don't play/install games on it.

                    If you know enough about cleaning up lost files and bad registry entries (Ccleaner is helpful) and how to eliminate unnecessary programs from running in the background and locking up resources etc etc, then you can get away with a little more...

                    I'd buy a PC if all I wanted was a dedicated editing station... Hell a dedicated beast of an editing workstation AND a cheap laptop for the rest will still cost less (certainly not more) than a remotely comparable MAC.

                    And note, I did NOT say MAc is more intuitive...after 20yrs w/ windows machines Mac was/is a huge learning curve....
                    Steve
                    the Photographic Academy.com
                    SharpShooter Industries
                    My 500px, My Flickr, My Blog

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