: My First Post


DIS Ottawa
Apr 25th, 2010, 12:30 PM
Hi.

I'm thinking about switching to Mac and hope to be able to get some answers from the knowledgeable community here. I've been to the local Apple store and a couple of Mac dealers but everything they tell me about Macs is so rosy that I suspect I may not be getting the whole story.

I should preface this by saying that I use Photoshop and Lightroom and shoot with dSLRs that produce large files which require a lot of processing power to handle effectively.

I've been looking at the 27" iMac with the i7 processor. Thus far, I have always used a tower which I can upgrade. My current tower has been upgraded several times and it's relatively easy to change everything from the motherboard to the hard drives. I understand that the only thing upgradeable on the iMac is the memory.

What concerns me most about this is the longevity of the iMac. In the past I've usually upgraded components every two or three years to keep current. How long do people generally keep an iMac? The iMacs I've looked at in retail settings seem to pump out a lot of heat from the vent at the top and, of course, heat is the enemy of computer components.

It occurs to me that a Mac Pro might be a better option but the price is daunting, frankly. Especially when I consider that I will also want to replace my notebook with a Macbook Pro. I also wonder about photo editing on the glossy screen on the iMac. I currently use two Dell 27" non-glossy monitors and am quite happy with them.

So should I go for an iMac or a Mac Pro? What are the common problems, gotchas and annoyances with Macs that a sales person won't tell you?

All advice gratefully received.

Macified
Apr 25th, 2010, 01:32 PM
If dollars aren't an issue (but they usually are) you go with the Mac Pro. You won't be upgrading the mother board but you will have access to add RAM, change hard drives, swap out the optical drive as the need arrises. You will have room for things like a RAID card or eSATA support. You will also be able to re-use those DELL 27" displays you are liking (and yes non-glossy is better for image editing from a colour accuracy perspective).

What it really comes down to is what you consider as value for the money. I don't see myself ever getting an iMac but may eventually bite the bullet and go Pro. I currently use a matte screen 15" MacBook Pro with upgraded RAM and HD and the 17" version still has an ExpressCard slot, my 15" is older and has the expansion slot as well).

Yes, they are pricey though.

Oh, and welcome to ehMac. I hope you find what you are looking for.

DIS Ottawa
Apr 25th, 2010, 01:42 PM
Macified,

Thanks for the thoughts. I've noticed on the Apple site that they sell refurbished Mac, including Mac Pros, so that may be an option, although the prices don't seem that much better.

Are there any things about Macs that you don't like? I understand that Flash on Macs is problematic and given the current fight between Apple and Adobe, that isn't' likely to get better anytime soon. I've heard that some don't like the Finder although I'm not sure why.

I currently have three 1.5 T drives in my tower. Can I use these drives in a Mac Pro?

Macified
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:04 PM
I've never had a problem with Flash on the Mac. Not a fan as it does require some serious processing just to run and this isn't a Mac issue.

Things I don't like about my Mac are mainly hardware choices Apple has made for me (ie. only 2 usb ports on my MacBook Pro, line in but no mic in, etc.) My current 15" MBP has an express card slot which I do use. I can't get a new 15" MBP with this expansion slot, have to go 17". Mostly that kind of stuff. I don't have problems with the OS or the software available. I do wish Apple would provide support for BluRay but it's not that big of an issue. Nothing that really hinders day to day use by any means. I don't play games either hard-core or casual.

You can use the drives from your existing tower depending on the interface. I would assume they are SATA (do they make IDE drives that big?). The Mac OS can read and write to different drive formats to a different extent (ie. can read but not write NTFS but does read/write to others). You won't be able to just drop the drives in and run with them though even using bootcamp or parallels/vmware. If you decide to go with an iMac you can use the drives in external enclosures just fine.

DIS Ottawa
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:11 PM
Glad to hear that flash works ok as it is in widespread use. While Bluray would be nice, it's not a deal breaker for me. I have one attached to my TV to watch movies, although I would be like to be able to burn to BluRays as I'm now using my Canon 5DII to shoot HD 1080p video. I'm sure there's a work around.

Re the drives, they're SATA. Would I be able to use them internally if they were reformatted to FAT32 (I think that's what Apple uses)?

mguertin
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:12 PM
If you're a photo professional do the Mac pro without hesitation. iMacs are limited machines and if you're working with a lot of large files you will notice the difference and the ability to pick and choose your own monitor is essential. I HATE at the iMac glossy screens in the worst way. Having profiled quite a lot of them I am still never happy with the results.

Macified
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:14 PM
Glad to hear that flash works ok as it is in widespread use. While Bluray would be nice, it's not a deal breaker for me. I have one attached to my TV to watch movies, although I would be like to be able to burn to BluRays as I'm now using my Canon 5DII to shoot HD 1080p video. I'm sure there's a work around.

Re the drives, they're SATA. Would I be able to use them internally if they were reformatted to FAT32 (I think that's what Apple uses)?

Burning to BluRay is not an issue, just playing BluRay movie discs. You can buy third party drives and software that allow burning just like on a Windows system. I suppose with bootcamp you could boot into Windows and watch a BluRay but if you're sitting beside your tv, why bother? You can rip BluRays on Windows so bootcamp would work for that.

mguertin
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:14 PM
Apple doesn't use FAT32 by default but you will be able to read them. I would highly suggest a reformat to HFS (the native osx format).

wslctrc
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:16 PM
If the drives are strictly for the mac, use the mac format not fat32.
I also have no issues with mac os just the hardware choices.
I am wanting to buy a 13" MBP but don't want the glossy screen but want the new I3 or I5 chip which neither are a choice.

DIS Ottawa
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:21 PM
OK, HFS format for the drives (I'll have to Bing that one), iMac screens are dodgy for photos (I'm a serious amateur photographer not a pro) and I currently use calibrated monitors which closely match the output from my Epson 3800 and BluRay not a big concern. Anything else that causes problems on Macs? Have the printing issues with Snow Leopard been resolved? Also any experience with buying refurbished Mac Pros? I assume aftermarket RAM is the way to go.

Macified
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:25 PM
Not sure which printing issue you are referring to.

I use an Epson R2400 wide format printer without issue. Unfortunately, under OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) the driver doesn't support printing via the firewire connection but usb is fine (just slower dumping print files).

DIS Ottawa
Apr 25th, 2010, 02:41 PM
I participate in a photo forum and people there were complaining mightily about Snow Leopard and Epson drivers no longer working properly. Dark prints, colours off, etc. The complaints seem to have mostly abated now; that's probably a better place to ask this question.

mguertin
Apr 25th, 2010, 03:06 PM
Aftermarket ram is the way to go, I highly suggest canadaram.com (one of them is a user here), their prices, service and shipping are great. I've not had any printing issue on my Epson here (1400). Have also never had problems with Apple store refurbs (own a couple right now in fact)

DIS Ottawa
Apr 25th, 2010, 03:15 PM
Thanks, that's reassuring. I'll make a note of Canada Ram.

I've just priced out a few items at the Apple store, including a refurb Mac Pro quad core 2.93 ghz, a new 17" Macbook Pro with i7, Apple Care for both and couple of other smaller items and it comes to $6,729! And I'd still need internal HDDs and RAM for the tower. Yikes.

ldphoto
Apr 26th, 2010, 12:19 AM
Hi DIS Ottawa, it sounds like we have similar needs and interests (not to mention we live in the same city!). I'm an advanced amateur photographer and part-time art-quality printmaker.

Go for the Mac Pro. I bought a last generation 8-core 2.8 GHz Mac Pro last summer (2499$) and never looked back. They still appear on the refurb store from time to time. Many people still think that that old 8-core is one of the best value Mac Pros to get. If you have displays that you like to work with, the Pro is the way to go. I would never trade my NEC monitors for anything Apple builds-in.

CanadaRAM is a good place for RAM. I bought RAM from them to go from 2GB to 10GB. There are 4 internal drive days, and you can configure them as RAID if you require. Much more flexibility than an iMac.

I use an Epson 3880 and have not had any problems with both 10.6.2 and 10.6.3. It seems the problem is mostly for printers that did not get a driver update after 10.6 came out. I think your 3800 would be OK. On another note, I'm very impressed by the Epson. I upgraded from a Canon printer, and I'm liking the Epson a lot.

Cheers,

Luc

ScanMan
Apr 26th, 2010, 03:17 AM
Zero problems with 10.6.3 and my 3800.

DIS Ottawa
Apr 26th, 2010, 09:27 AM
Luc,

Thanks for the advice and info re the Epson situation. I had a look at your website; very nicely done!

ScanMan,

Also thanks for the info.

Rps
Apr 26th, 2010, 09:39 AM
Hi, I have two Macs, a Mini and an iMac SE. When I bought them my wife was against them because she couldn't find software at Wal-Mart for them. Sounds silly, but she has a point. If you use high end software, which it sounds like you do, this may not be a problem, but if you like to try various packages then it could be an issue. Although you have an Apple Store where you live .... I don't. The second thing I don't like, but it is slowly changing is getting it repaired. When I was using the SE as my main computer I had to drive 50 miles out of town to find a certified repair site. This is changing but if you are moving around, like I did at the time, it could be an issue.

DIS Ottawa
Apr 26th, 2010, 09:58 AM
Rps,

Good points; thanks. The software I primarily use is Photoshop and Lighroom and various plugins for PS, all of which are cross platform, although I will have to get Mac compatible copies if I switch. I also use MS Office, although not nearly as much as I used to since I retired last year. I'm thinking that Open Office will replace that quite nicely and is, of course, free.

I use Sony Vegas Movie Studio to edit video but will replace that with Final Cut Express. I use Spyder 3 Pro to calibrate my monitors but that will still work on a Mac, I believe. I have Syncback SE for backups but I understand that Time Machine will do the job too. It seems that there is sufficient software for what I do.

As you mentioned, there is an Apple store here plus any number of dealers who could probably manage repairs or at a minimum, arrange to send it to Apple. In fact, Vistek is quite keen to sell me what I need and will provide the same services as Apple, i.e. switch my files over and set up the computer.

I binged iMac SE and it seems those date from around 2000. Do you still use it on a daily basis? If so, I'm impressed with the longevity of the thing. Of course, I gave my cousin an old eMachines PC about four years ago and it was three or fours years old then and it still works fine.

mguertin
Apr 26th, 2010, 10:23 AM
Hi, I have two Macs, a Mini and an iMac SE. When I bought them my wife was against them because she couldn't find software at Wal-Mart for them. Sounds silly, but she has a point. If you use high end software, which it sounds like you do, this may not be a problem, but if you like to try various packages then it could be an issue. Although you have an Apple Store where you live .... I don't. The second thing I don't like, but it is slowly changing is getting it repaired. When I was using the SE as my main computer I had to drive 50 miles out of town to find a certified repair site. This is changing but if you are moving around, like I did at the time, it could be an issue.

Finding software is not a problem with the internet at all. I don't think I've purchased a boxed copy of anything from a brick and mortar store in many years.

DIS: If you want to pair down your budget, do you really need the full on 17" MacBook Pro? Unless you need to carry around a full workstation with you and work on it for extended periods that's where I'd make the cut personally ...

DIS Ottawa
Apr 26th, 2010, 10:40 AM
mguertin,

Good point about the MacBook. I could knock about $500 off the price by going with the 15" i5 model. However, my current notebook has an 18.4" 1080p monitor which is really quite nice and I'm used to that size. On the other hand, it is enormous. I'll have to think about that.

Rps
Apr 26th, 2010, 11:38 AM
Hi DIS, I don't use the SE on an on going basis anymore, I now holds my music collection.

PierreB
May 9th, 2010, 01:01 PM
I have a Mac Pro that I bought about three years ago. Just added some RAM to it and it runs like new. So yes, it is great to have to the ability to add RAM as well as hard drives. That being said, the iMac has much improved specs today compared to three years and if I were making the decision between a Mac Pro and an iMac today, I would likely go for the iMac as it is a much better value.

The basic iMac configurations comes with 4 Gig of RAM which is sufficient for the type of work you are looking at doing you may want to bump that up to 8 ($220 extra).

As to refurb store. I have bought a couple of things and have had no problems.

Note that the Pro does not come with Airport or Bluetooth included - so if you need either, it is an add-on.

PierreB
May 9th, 2010, 01:04 PM
I participate in a photo forum and people there were complaining mightily about Snow Leopard and Epson drivers no longer working properly. Dark prints, colours off, etc. The complaints seem to have mostly abated now; that's probably a better place to ask this question.

One of the more recent software updates included some updated Epson drivers so the problems that people were having have hopefully been solved.

DIS Ottawa
May 9th, 2010, 01:10 PM
PierreB,

Thanks for the thoughts. I've ordered a 15" MacBook Pro which should arrive this week. I'm going to give that a try and see how I like the Mac OS and then decide on the desktop. I'm still leaning towards a Mac Pro as I have two 27" monitors that I really like and want to continue to use. I'm also concerned about the lack of upgrade options in the iMacs and the glossy screen.

In any event, I'm planning to wait until Apple updates the Mac Pro and then decide on getting one of those or a refurbished model from the previous generation from the Apple store.

eggman
May 9th, 2010, 02:22 PM
I have a Mac Pro that I bought about three years ago. Just added some RAM to it and it runs like new. So yes, it is great to have to the ability to add RAM as well as hard drives. That being said, the iMac has much improved specs today compared to three years and if I were making the decision between a Mac Pro and an iMac today, I would likely go for the iMac as it is a much better value.

The basic iMac configurations comes with 4 Gig of RAM which is sufficient for the type of work you are looking at doing you may want to bump that up to 8 ($220 extra).

As to refurb store. I have bought a couple of things and have had no problems.

Note that the Pro does not come with Airport or Bluetooth included - so if you need either, it is an add-on.

Bluetooth has been standard since the 2008 model (on the earlier versions of the Mac Pro it was an add on, as the Airport still is)