The new Macs are coming out. The new M1, M1x, etc. MacBook Pro’s are not only good looking but also very speedy and stable. Soon the new iMacs will also have that incredible M1 or even M2 processor. So why do i stick with my Windows Desk- and Laptop ? Most of my answer is: it’s personal choice. The other part, it is a financial choice.
What do you need
I have worked with iMac and Macbook Pro in the past. And it was good. But if you buy them new they come at a price. And with some limitations especially on the Macbooks. Like no legacy USB ports. So you’re stuck with dongles or bays. And they also come at a price. Then there is the question: do you need it ? After a few years i asked myself that question as well. And the answer ? Nope. I don’t need it.
The reason why this question came up was that my Apple stuff was getting dated and i was due on a big trip and with even bigger expenses. I went online to check out various self build PC systems and calculated the costs. Also for mobile use i had get a new laptop. Soon i found out that i can do with a mid-class PC and a well specced laptop.
Pre-configured, Self Build or All-in-1
The problem with pre configured systems is that they are focused on 1 goal. Gaming, office work, workstation, etc. So when you do a self build you can spec it up to your needs and make it future proof.
And that is exactly what i did. You see i don’t game on my PC. What i do is i use a browser for internet, websites, etc. I use Lightroom, Photoshop and some more tools. And for that use you don’t need the cream of the crop, the best of the best. What i do have is a very good monitor, a really good one. Color calibrated. And it is worth investing in a good monitor, especially when you do photography.
But Mac does offer that too ! Well yes and no. Yes, you can have basic iMacs and Macbooks, but there is always something that requires an upgrade. So in the end you’ll be specing it up anyway. Second is that Mac is very difficult to upgrade yourself. Sure, the Macs can do what i need, and they can do more, but also at a price. Then there is repair. iMacs are all in one systems. If you have a problem, your system is gone. For days, even weeks.
In short: find out what you do on your computer and then see what you need. And it is a hell of a lot cheaper to work with PC. (depending on your needs)
What you are
And this is not unimportant ! Why ? Well i am a travel photographer. So i travel. A lot. Investing in a very expensive iMac for home would be stupid because i am hardly at home. But if you are a studio shooter, i can imagine that you would go for that very expensive computer. Mac or PC alike. What i did is investing in a decent laptop. My choice was the Dell XPS15. 15,6 Inch screen and some decent specs towards the display. I don’t have the top model, since that one was a bit overdone, but something in the upper middle range.
In short: find out what you are, what you shoot and then have a look if you need an average desktop or a super laptop. Or both !
This can not be overlooked. See, you got a Sony A7R Mk4 or a Canon D5. The RAW files from these cameras are huge. So when you have a computer you need to see how fast they can empty a CFexpress, SDXC, etc. memory cards. You don’t want this to be a night job. Lucky most computers come with USB-C or Thunderbolt so transfer speed can be very fast, if you choose your computer well.
Then there is software. The files from your camera need to be processed. And try to import, say 500 holiday pics from your Canon D5 in full RAW. That’s a few gigabyte. Yes. And your computer need to able to process it.
In short: don’t under spec (but don’t over spec it either) your computer or laptop. Look what you have on cameras and see if it’s speedy enough for you. Waiting for 1 or 2 seconds more doesn’t mean your computer is slow.
What are you gonna do with it ?
This is something to think about. If you do photography only and mostly for web purposes, i doubt that you need a very high spec computer. Things change when you gonna do video and large scale printing. Here, processing power is key so you need some serious power depending on the scale that you do. If you do 4K live rendering with color correcting, etc. with a file that goes over, lets say, 30 min play time, then yes, you need some serious power. Rendering small clips (1, 2 min) doesn’t need high power/spec.
Same for design. If you are graphic designer and you need to make large billboards out of your photos, then sure, you need more specs, more power. Same if you are in the printing business.
If money is no object, then go for the high spec iMac and Macbook. These are truly good machines and give you at least 5 years running time without upgrading your hardware. But they come at a price and with some disadvantages that cannot be overlooked. If you can settle for that, then please, get them !
Unfortunately most of us are not in the position where money is no object. 🙂 And there are other choices to make. Like I said before, i am a travel photographer and i want to travel. Lots of travel. I am not compromising on less travel to get a better computer (that is: apple and pc alike). So i settle for a good mid-range PC and higher mid range laptop.
So what did i spent on my total computer system ? My laptop is a Dell XPS15 and i bought it 2 years ago for 2100USD. It got a really good screen which is, for me, THE most important part of the laptop. My desktop is a self-build system, AMD processor based. I use a BenQ Photovue 27″ color calibrated display. The complete set was about 1500USD. Total 3600USD for a good set, laptop and desktop. If i would choose Mac, i would spend nearly double to get the same. (Well, a little bit better 🙂 )