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Friday, 10 April 2009


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There isn't really much point in arguing whether Leopard is better than Windows, or that Windows is better than Leopard. It's really not much different than the Nikon vs. Canon debate that people like rehashing over and over again. Some people like Windows, and some people like MacOS. The technical superiority of one or the other is irrelevant if you hate working with it.

Personally, I really wish I could like MacOS, but my experience with them has been mostly negative. Several of the Macs in the lab at school have died, and mine sounds like it's on the verge of dying (I can't say it's a good thing when the computer sounds like a vacuum cleaner).

About every three years I look into replacing my current desktop computer. I do my research, figure out what I want, and then I go look at the Apple web site and find the model that has what I want. Then I go to Newegg, find the components I need for a comparable Windows system. The Windows system usually costs about 1/2 what the Apple costs. So I buy the components, put them together (no Linux required), and go another three years. If a car were as easily put together as a PC, I could see myself building my own cars.

Hey - it's a funny parallel to the Nikon/Canon debate. Both sides are passionate - there are positives and negatives to both Nikon and Canon, just as there are for Mac/Pc.

For me, I've got too much wrapped up in my PC system - all my software, plug-ins, everything is in PC... and besides - right now it's running like a dream, so why even think about changing?

Maybe it's because I can't help think how beautiful a Mac would look sitting on my desk... :)

If you're gonna build a car, may as well build a good one.

HI Mike,

I bought my 24in iMac only one week ago. I purchased the NVIDIA GeForce GT130 upgrade. Sure has made a difference with Lightroom and Photoshop. I too had a fat Mac. in fact, I still have it. Only ever had Macs at home. Maybe you should upgrade. My iMac G5 was getting a bit long in the tooth.

Thanks for the great blog. Read it everyday.
Best Regards

Just picked up a 2008 model Mac Pro a couple of weeks ago, for a very good price (less than the PC I've been spec'ing for a few months now). Still working to complete the cross-over.

I kick myself for buying this machine now.... and not years ago.

Mike , you tricky devil, you took all the wind out of our PC's sails. I wanted to tell you about the Dell Vostro 410 and upgrades from Newegg. Nevermind. You tricky devil. ;)

No argument here at all. Once you go Apple, you never go back. Later this year, I myself am looking forward to updating my ol' trusty G4 Mac with the latest... and my trusty ol' five year old G4 is probably still better than the latest and greatest $400 piece of PC crap that is being sold today!

Mike, you know how to have fun, and I quote: "*Yes, I thought it was high time for us to be treated once again to 20 comments about how you can build your own Linux machine from parts far more cheaply."

Me, I just go out front of the house and poke a stick at the hornet nests under the eves of the front porch, then run like hell. Whoa, some fun! But baiting Linux home builders? That's way better. Thanks.


It is rather tempting for a photog working with a 5 year old pc, but what about the monitor? I have been told you cannot calibrate it except for brightness. A good machine for a working photographer?

Best pet: Dogs vs. cats.
Best DSLR: Nikon vs. Canon
Best car: Honda vs. Toyota
Best Operating System: Windows vs. OS-X

The only bad choice among the above is to waste time discussing them. Especially by people whose experience is limited to just one of the two choices.

Up next, Global Warming.

Some years back, I heard a salesman from PC World here in the UK tell a customer that the iMac was fine for accessing the Internet but you couldn't install software packages on it. That, he said, was why it was called an iMac: it was Internet only. The customer seemed impressed and grateful and went back to looking at the Packard Bells.

Are you suggesting that the salesman might have been wrong in some way?

Building your own car can be fun. I have a couple of friends who built their own airplane.

I would love to love one and took a long and hard look at one in the Apple store, but I don't think I can live with the glare and reflections from the glossy screens these latest iMacs have. Maybe I can get a used 24" iMac with the old screen for little, now that the new ones are out.

This is what I plan to upgrade to. Only with a second display!

That's one down, 19 to go. [g]

Yes, the monitor is not ideal. The one thing Apple lacks that it needs is a mid-line tower, something in between the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro, that would give you decent performance and flexibility while allowing you to choose your own monitor. But the one-piece ethos is embedded deep in Apple's soul, and in Jobs' prejudices. We take the not-so-good with the good.

Dogs, Nikon, Honda, and OSX.

Oh, and manual transmissions, sailboats, and 2-way acoustic-suspension speakers, while we're at it.

But seriously, dogs.


Flying in a plane I built myself...that is scary in so many different ways I can't even parse it all.

Go to the Apple store and look in the lower left-hand corner. They usually list refurbished models for good prices.


Hi Mike:

You said " And, at what point does "salesmanship" become outright fraud?"

Interesting how this relates to your previous two posts about overcooking photos. Also interesting is that the posting of Morenatti's remarkable photographs (superbly processed, I might add) generated only 8 responses, whereas the two posts dealing with excess image manipulation garnered nearly 150.
I’m not sure what this all means, but I have a feeling it’s not good.

Nick, Just spray that screen with dulling spray.....I can't believe the excuses people come up with not to try a better product.

"Also interesting is that the posting of Morenatti's remarkable photographs (superbly processed, I might add) generated only 8 responses, whereas the two posts dealing with excess image manipulation garnered nearly 150.
I’m not sure what this all means, but I have a feeling it’s not good."

Brings to mind an old quote by Hugh Kenner--"Art is whatever accredited art historians feel they can talk about with sufficient interest." (I think that's it; I might be off by a word or two.) One thing I've noticed on the web is that sometimes some really good content just doesn't invite discussion, and some really trivial stuff does. I don't think that the amount of discussion something inspires is really a reliable indicator of its importance or even its popularity; it just means that it's something that people have opinions about that they'd like to share. It doesn't worry me much.


I built and sold white-box PC's for 20 years or so. I became angry at the necessity to upgrade or re-install the OS so often. I have worked on mainframe OS systems for 30 years and they are stable as a rock. Yes, some upgrades are needed, but not on a monthly basis, as is the case for Windows. MicroSoft is not capable of building an OS from scratch. That is the only solution for Windows.

I bought my first Mac three years ago and I desperately wish I could undo all the damage done to my digestive system by all of the excess stomach acid I generated over the years trying to maintain a clean OS on my home system and use the Internet at the same time. MacOS solved that problem for me. Thanks Steve and Friends.

I recommend reading this post by David Brooks of Shutterbug magazine: http://blog.shutterbug.com/davidbrooks/

He admits to favoring Macs and carefully explains why.

I bought a Mac Pro new, first generation, when they came out in fall '06. I will have this computer for at least 2 more years, and it will still be fast and will still have enough storage to work with enormous lightroom catalogs and video editing. $500/year for a fast, reliable, easy-to-use machine? I'm not complaining one bit!

I hope you didn't stop with the customer and also brought the salesman's spiel to the attention of the store manager. They set the "tone" for the store and can't fix any problems they don't know about...

The same money from Dell nets you a Studio mini-tower with a Core 2 Quad, 1TB drive (and room for more internally) 6GB RAM, 2408WFP display (same panel as the pre-LED 24" Studio Display, better panel than the iMac) and Radeon 3450 graphics. A much more powerful machine apart from the GPU.

Apple makes damn good systems and a great OS. But bang/buck just isn't there. I can get a lot more machine for the same money, or spend a lot less money on the same machine elsewhere. The Macbooks are generally much better deals than the Mac desktops though.

I used Windows for 16 years (from 3.1 through and including XP) but switched to a Mac last year after enduring viruses, spyware, etc. (Yes, I had my Norton up to date...)

I would never go back to broken Windows because I can now use my computer to accomplish things with it in photography as opposed to against it.

Only if you value your time at sub-minimum wage rates does Windows make sense. Simply, it is a second rate OS created hurriedly with little thought to intelligent ergonomics. I am, after more than a year, still amazed at how well finished Mac OS-X is.

People will drive Kias but they want BMWs. I own a BMW now. I am happy.

I can see no reason ever to go back to a Windows computer or, for that matter, to use anything from Microsoft. I am not intoxicated by a plethora of poorly conceived and engineered "features" that confuse an already confused interface like Windows.

If I own a fine automobile, I do not want or expect 37 ways to turn on the ignition. I expect the manufacturer to have used its expertise to determine the one or two best ways to accomplish that. Otherwise, why pay for a fine machine?

Users, too, are increasingly seeking simpler, easier solutions without all the nonsense of false "features".

When I was much younger, Windows was tolerable. I grew up and do not want or need the false ego stroking of confused thinking and "features."

I want well thought out and engineered devices that are consistently reliable. I have a Mac.

Having been a Win-Tel person since it displaced 8 bit CPM, I have been very happy with the iMac I purchased last year. Paying $100 for a year of weekly one-on-one training sessions was a wonderful benefit of moving to Apple.

Interesting. This is a blog for photographers and not one comment on the fatness of any and all Adobe products. It doesn't matter what OS you have it's all those apps you use that effects your productivity. Let's hear more comments about Adobe and less on the OS.

Hey, if you like Macs, you like Macs. We all have our little vices, eh?

But in terms of astonishing cheapness, it really is amazing what's going on in the non-Mac sectors of the computing world. The Dell I just bought is a quad-core, 64-bit, 4GB, half-terabyte behemoth, the sort of thing that even Lightroom and Visual Studio COMBINED can't make slow down.

And they sell it for $439.

I've used both Apple and PC for the last few years, and there really isn't much difference. Each has positives and negatives. That being said, I agree with the poster above that a mid range Mac tower is needed. As has been mentioned umpteen billion times on various sites, these built in monitors on the newer iMacs are not ideal for photography, and I wouldn't even bother. I think it's a mistake to specifically recommend these to photographers. A mac or PC tower with a good IPS monitor is the way to go... or possibly a mac laptop with the non glossy screen.

Not to take the wind out of your Amazon affiliate sale link, Mike, but it's worth mentioning that if you're a student you can get an educational discount on new Macs over at Apple's website. You don't save a huge amount, but it puts enough cash back in your pocket for a RAM upgrade, a block of film... or a generous donation to TOP!

Well even as a Linux person, usually composing my computer for myself, I have to admit that the mac *is* a treat, and be it only for the superb design both of the gear and the OS (as a photographer I admit to be an eyes' person).
An the only nitpick I have is that fruit company's really slouchy awareness of the environment impact they create. They simply seem to care quite a bit less than others in their field. A pity for someone who wants to be the front-runner.

After years of hearing all the benefits of a Mac, I bought one in January (had one about 15 years ago, but that was before they were magic, I suppose.)

I am still wondering just exactly why my new iMac is any better than my old PC. Really, would love to hear specifics.

In fairness, it's not all Mac. My un-mighty Mighty Mouse died within 1 week so instead of calling a "Genius" about a warranty replacement I bought a Microsoft mouse. Like every PC I ever had, the mouse just works. My Mac does too---when it wants.

Gotta go, still trying to get the wireless system to work for the ol' Mac. Had to go back to wired after the update to 10.5.6 the day after I bought it. Gonna check Mac forums (I almost said "support", but Apple provides no online support) and see if any of the many who have the same problem have been able to resolve it yet.

Gotta PC and it works for you? No need to go to Mac. And visa versa.

What a debate! I see it this way, Macs are like the Porsche 911 with automatic transmissions, ABS, and all other traction control bells and whistles. This is a great easy to use fast car. PC's are like the stripped down Porsche 911 GT, no ABS, manual transmission, no traction control of any kind...heck, not even a passenger seat. This is a car that needs an experienced driver to keep it on the road, but with that it can out perform the fancy toy any day. PC's are harder to use properly, that's why they are cheaper. Mac's are very stable, even if you're a moron and click on pop up adds while online. I prefer PC's because when you're in a pinch you can buy a part at any electronics store, install it yourself and keep working. Mac's have so many proprietary components that the Mac store doesn't always have, I find myself waiting for the mail far too often with my machine at my job (Dual quad-core Xeons, 8 gig of ram 2x 1 terabyte drives about $3,200). It's a great machine, a real work horse, but it's let me down far to often. I love my $300 PC with 4 gigs of ram and it's single dual core chip, and yes...Vista SP1. If I could have it my way Adobe would support Linux Ubuntu and we'd have a third OS to battle over.

"I think it's a mistake to specifically recommend these to photographers."

But the glossy glass screen makes your colors look even brighter and more saturated, for those whose goal is to get disqualified from Danish photojournalism competitions.


If the colors look more saturated on the screen, then the over-the-top photo editor will undershoot the goal. This does suggest a niche product: an over-the-top monitor profile for those who just can't help themselves. Their pictures will look normal to the rest of us!

On the platform choice, for me the computer is a support system for Photoshop, Lightroom, and the web browser. The integration of hardware and software of the Macs is nice, but I like the component stereo style menu of choices approach so I can get whatever I want and replace any part that breaks.

Jeremy Wa, you certainly chose a good antivirus... not. Sorry, but Norton is awful, awful, awful. "10-foot pole" doesn't begin to describe the relationship you should have with it.

But Mike, building your own computer cheaply? Where's the fun in that? I can obliterate $1500 even before I start thinking about a monitor. Quad core procesor, $250. An appropriate MBO with bells&whistles like sound, RAID and Firewire, $250. A good case with enough cooling, $150. A good power supply, $150. 8GB RAM, $350. 2 x 1TB disk, $350. Bye, $1500. Still no graphics card.

Okay, that's Croatian prices which are about 30% more than the US ones. But if I choose a good video card, it will bring the sum somewhere around $1500. Still no optical drives, no mouse, no keyboard, no speakers, no OS, though. Need several hundred dollars more.

But with all that, it would be a killer machine for graphics, either 2D or 3D.

And then, a nice, big wide-gamut monitor.

Ah. Heaven. :-)

One issue with the previous 2 generations of 24" iMacs related to photo editing is the difficulty in achieving the recommded 100-120 cd/m2 monitor brightness level. These things are just way too bright. There is shareware to trick the monitor into being darker, but this can't coexist with a color profile. An Eye One profiling device could only get my 24" iMac down to 170 cd/m2. Using Color Eyes was the only way to get the brightness down -- profile looks great, too. So factor in another $175 if you don't own this software already and are particular about your brightness levels.

Mike - how about a column to provoke response on good TFT monitors for photographic use? Given the use of RAW files, the monitor has greater impact on the final output than the field imaging system.

You know, not to add to the fire, but having worked on Macs and Windows for print design, Linux and Windows at home (though I've never built my own box - a shame), I have to say that I've always had more trouble with Macs crashing.

But even if not, I don't go for Apple's design Gestalt. I find it neither beautiful nor intuitive. To me, the iPod/iPhone design language is a total boondoggle. In fact, the iPod (this was way back in 2004) was the one electronic device I couldn't even turn ON without help. But I'm the sort who administers his blog from the command line, so maybe I'm just out of touch.

But you know, none of that really matters. It's the Adobe software that counts, anyway, and Mac or Windows, at the end of the day, it's just a platform to run Photoshop. And my copy runs on Windows. So I got a Windows box for it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

"But the glossy glass screen makes your colors look even brighter and more saturated, for those whose goal is to get disqualified from Danish photojournalism competitions."

Actually, it might help you stay in the competition, since if the image looks brighter and more saturated on your screen, the actual file you create would look less saturated on other screens (assuming the competition judges weren't using the same screen as you).

As far as operating systems are concerned, Nextstep was the best operating system I've ever used. I know that with OS X they tried to incorporate much of Nextstep, which is one of the reasons I eventually switched to Macs. Somehow, though, it isn't as satisfying to use. Nextstep on a Next Cube was sweet. If they still made them, I'd still be using one.

I went all-Mac several years ago, because I didn't want to know anything about computers, and Macs will help you with that. My problem is, the hardware hasn't been terribly reliable -- certainly not as reliable at the plain-vanilla Dells I'd been using up to then. The OS is fine. Safari has some compatibility problems with big news/entertainment sites, but nothing that can't be worked around. I've tried Firefox, but it makes me tired.

I've listened to computer b.s. from salesmen at big-box stores, but it's so transparently b.s. that it's hard to believe that anybody would believe them, and I'm not sure that most people do. More pernicious is the b.s. from semi-speciality stores, and more specifically, camera stores, where the salesman is trying to move somebody up to a more expensive point-and-shoot. He goes on about more megapixels and better resolution when the person really just wants 4x6 snapshots, and obviously knows nothing about cameras. You want to say, "Look, buy the $50 camera. It'll tell you if you need the $400 camera."

There used to be kit cars built around the old VW bug. Anything like that still around?

Oh, who cares? Whatever hardware you prefer, you'll spend most of your time in Adobe software products anyway. Nothing like a car where the hardware IS the environment. Time for my nap.

Hey, I bought a box of pencils and had them optimized at the store and it was great. No packaging to take home, all the erasers were now perky, erect, out in the open and ready to go, and best of all, each and every pencil suddenly had a fresh sharp point. Did I say pencil? Sorry. I meant digitally manipulated writing system. Still, it's great. Don't know how I could have done this on my own.

Dear Guy,

I've never had a problem calibrating a Mac monitor. Calibrate just as nicely as my PCs.

There is a problem with calibrating cheap LCD screens on any platform, which is that cheap monitors don't actually do full 24-bit color. This creates major color calibration hassles. You still have to spend circa $500 minimum (I think) to get a real 24-bit monitor.

I'm pretty sure the 24" iMac has a proper 24-bit display but a query in the users forum on the Apple site will quickly get you a definitive answer.


Dear Mike,

You loozer! Parrots are superior!!!

Just ask one.


Some performance comments. I largely agree with what Greg and Lloyd have to say, although we'd disagree on some subtleties. I think Greg seriously underestimates the file sizes one can work on efficiently, but this is a matter of taste and workflow. Personally, on a 4 GB machine, I'm comfortable up to a 250 MB file.

Priorities: whatever you buy, upgrade to 8 GB RAM immediately. Get it from OWC, not Apple. Even if you don't think you need that much RAM for Photoshopping (and you'd be surprised), if you don't want to be closing down all your other apps to make plenty of room for PS you want the extra RAM. Me, I'm always running at least Firefox, Eudora and Nisus, and before I know it 2 GB of RAM have evaporated.

Sufficient RAM will make the biggest difference in performance. So big that if your budget won't allow you to buy the middle-tier iMac and 8GB RAM, buy the lowest tier iMac. It's a better use of your money. Second most important will be a good external scratch drive.

Check out these two columns of mine:


One thing to keep in mind is that unless you're in a production environment (meaning you're using Photoshop for several hours each and every day), a 10-20% improvement in performance isn't going to make a big difference to you. And 20%'s about what a RAID array + the mid-tier iMac will get you over the low tier plus a fast FW800 scratch drive.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

I always have to wonder why nearly all Apple users have to be such fervid apostles. Inferiority complex ?

Anyway as Michael Dell said when asked about Apple as opposition. At 3% of the market they aren't even on the horizon.

I just want to clarify one point and throw out my opinion on another: Although Apple's margins on iPods etc may be higher than on computers, Apple enjoys among (if not the) highest margins on computers as well. No subsidy at all.

As for opinion, I *personally* think Mac OS X has been diluting true UI advantages by introducing increasing inconsistency over the past few releases, and Microsoft has actually been improving UI aspects of Windows. This says nothing at all about one being better, but I really think Apple has been losing the plot, interface-wise, which had long been it's clear advantage.


The last time I was at Best Buy I overheard the salesman telling a propspective customer that Macs have built in Google search (he was referring to Spotlight).

Honestly, I still think Macs are for people too lazy to learn how to use a computer, and yes, half the time when I get a message to update Leopard I have to reboot after every update otherwise it won't perform them all. Leopard has proven to be more frustrating to me than Vista 64 was, and my Mac Pro desktop (Quad 2.66 with 4gb of RAM) is less responsive than my girlfriend's AMD dual core PC which she threw together from stuff lying around the house.

I switched to the iMac 24" last year. For what it's worth, Chasseur d'Images top rated the 24" model for photographers. I would agree. I calibrated mine with Color Munki.

Photoshop is not bogging down on 5DMkII 14-bit files. These are 100 mb images. Enjoy!

Vista is better than Leopard, a Dell is all anybody needs, and you should stick to photography :)

I’ve slowly transitioned to Mac over the last three years with the Mac Pro being added last fall winter. But I still have a Dell workstation (XP) and a Dell 830 laptop (Vista). I have need for windows as some of my favorite DVD authoring software is windows only.

But now I’m running XP through VM Ware on the Pro and can’t believe how great it is to have the best of worlds. As far as I’m concerned an OS is an OS, like cameras you just need to spend enough time with them to learn their idiosyncrasies and workarounds. I actually find it quite funny to listen to the fanboys in any this vs. that debate...

Has Mac ever solved the issue of calibration with the glossy screens?

Marckus Spring wrote:
the only nitpick I have is that fruit company's really slouchy awareness of the environment impact they create. They simply seem to care quite a bit less than others in their field

Thanks mate! I about fell off my chair choking on my fair trade coffee :-)


Number three Mr Bond................

Chris (Mac lover)

Three things/thoughts er, thights?.....
So Geoff, don't you think that all we need is a 3 Megapixel camera?
My 20" imac just works intuitively, like a good camera does. Actually, it just works.
Wonder what it would be like if Apple made a camera?

My university photography department just upgraded all it's computers to 24" iMacs, and I have to say I find the size of the screen to be quite uncomfortable for viewing - I find myself moving my head from side to side etc much more than with the 20" screen I have at home. Anyone else find this or is it just me?

beware of new iMacs, I've read they no longer using good IPS matrices, but cheap 6bit TN.

Also LED backlight gives nicer colors, but..
is flickering like crazy (is not flickering only on maximum brightness), so you can wake up in nightmare...

Anyone out there put together a Hackintosh? Is it the sort of thing where you constantly have to find online help to keep it working as Apple releases patches that try to subvert it?

I'm a pretty clever guy but don't have the time to waste on a LINUX desktop machine (though I wouldn't run anything else on a server). I prefer Windows any day over the crippled Mac. But people enjoy shiny things and enjoy getting ripped off paying for them, so Apple will flourish no matter what they make. Oh, and their monitors do suck for photography. ;-)

I process 125 + mb files in Photoshop CS3 on my Macbook all the time. I am currently using my 18 month old MacBook as a desktop. Running 20" external monitor, external keyboard and mouse, external speakers, external audio amp, three external hard drives, a Wacom tablet, 13" wide inkjet printer, a laser printer for text, a flat bed scanner and a compact flash card reader as needed.. All running 12 or more hours per day with zero problems.

I'm sure you knew it when you started this Mike: All logical thinking is clearly gone once you introduce the subject of Macs vs. PCs. People say the most bizarre things as if it means anything. Even the PC magazines had to start paying attention to Macs, and have consistently acknowledged the gross miscalculation MS made with Vista, and have also consistently given Macs high ratings when they've reviewed them (and if Michael Dell thought Apple was a joke when it had 3% of the market, I guarantee you he doesn't think that anymore).

But the people here will tell how wonderful Vista is (why then after spending the money it did on developing Vista is MS rushing out a new OS?), how much better than OSX it is and how "their Macs" are always freezing, falling apart, etc. Oh please, give it up. I work with both too. One can like the "style" of one better than they do the other. No argument there. And yes, if you are a spec-meister, I'm sure you can produce a Frankenstein PC with as good or better specs than a a Mac for less money. So what? At the end of the day the Mac is far from perfect, but it works consistently, is far more intuitive, and you can perform tasks much faster. And the free programs that ship with its far less expensive OS that allow you to simply engage in any number of creative pursuits and find out if you really like it before spending much larger bucks on a "pro" level program, just puts Vista to shame. And no mind numbing options of "home edition," "business edition," super-holy-crap edition. And it cost MS how much to develop Vista? (reportedly well over a billion) and how many years? You've got to be kidding. It's frankly embarrassing. MS itself is embarrassed and, yet, some here find it just terrific?



Couldn't agree more about iMacs and the Mac in general. I've been a Mac user since a couple of months before they were introduced to the public. I currently use an iMac as my home machine and work on older but still serviceable Macs at my job at the local weekly paper.

But for email, web surfing and backing up memory cards to a hard drive when traveling, I'm happily using an ASUS netbook running Linux. Cost $200 and works perfectly. Using Linux (Xandros distribution) has proven to be no problem.


if i were rich, i'd have one of the new imacs in a flash. as is, i've got the previous generation 24" imac, the white plastic one, & never liked a computer more. full disclosure: hard core geek, sun/solaris system administration expert.

and of course the best operating system money can buy

...rolls eyes...

This is more true than most people would admit.

D.C Reiger: Thanks for the link to David Brooks blog. I found his article on change to be relevant to several recent discussions on T.O.P.

Someone once told me, when Apple launched its first glossy-screen MacBooks to the outrage of photographers and designers everywhere, that no serious colour-sensitive work could be done on a matt or glossy screen when unreflected light was hitting that screen directly from a light source. What he said was that anyone who'd never noticed the reflections on a matt display and was noticing them now, with a glossy screen, was being told that his or her working environment was unsuited to serious colour work. I've come to think that he might be right.

Dear Jerry,

It's doable, but only if you really like rolling your own for the sake of that, or you're VERY good at system design.

From the Photoshopper's perspective, I'd say the problem is less one of compatibility (lots of online resources for that) than performance. Macs are pretty well optimized for what they do. If you assemble a random assortment of components that are individually specced similar to a Mac's, you'll end up with a machine that substantially underperforms a Mac (although it will be cheaper). If you throw absolute top-end components at the design, you can get a machine that will outperform any Mac you can buy, but will cost you more than a Mac.

There's a lot of personal satisfaction in doing that, like restoring a vintage sports car, but it's gotta be 'cause you love doing that at least as much as you love making photographs.

I would say right now is NOT a good time to begin such a project. OS 10.6 is likely to appear in a matter of months. I'd wait until at least 10.6.1 was released. The reason is that 10.6 is to Leopard is kind of like Windows 7 is to Vista-- it's much less about piling new features onto existing code as rewriting the existing stuff to make it work WELL this time around. Lots of changes under the hood, and if anything would 'break' your Hackintosh, that'd be likely to be it.


Dear Marek,

Your first point is very unlikely to be true. Your second one is demonstrably hogwash. I'm using an LED-lit Mc screen right now. It's less 'flickery' than my CRT running at 120 Hz refresh rate.

Further LED screens *will* be what you can get in the future, because they can provide much better color and contrast characteristics than fluorescent-lit displays. NEC's full-AdobeRGB gamut monitors are LED lit, and they're massively better than the standard gamut ones. (And they're relatively affordable!)

pax / Ctein

The only disappointment with this machine, and it's minor, is that they didn't use the same LED-backlit display that the 24" Cinema uses (the iMac still uses a fluorescent backlight).

My wife just got the 24" Cinema display to use with her unibody Macbook, and it is simply awesome. And with speakers, microphone, webcam, usb ports and Macbook power supply built in, it's really more of a docking station and not just a display. For people that need to move around with their computer, the Macbook/24" Cinema combo is a good alternative (though more expensive).

On the topic of good monitors, Dell sells the e-IPS panel 2209WA (note the suffix) in Canada and Australia. I couldn't find it on the US site.

I feel a PVA or IPS panel monitor is a must for photographic work.

I think I'm a prime candidate for this machine. I've been bitchin' all week about the fact that everytime I sit down at the computer to check the email or download my pictures, I end up having to spend a half hour fixing something that's gone haywire since the last time I used it.

Somebody posted that iMacs are made for people who don't want to learn how to properly use a computer. That's me. I don't care how they work or how to make them work better (and don't even think about trying to give me advice on the subject!). I just want the stupid thing to work when I want to use it.

I bought my iMac about a month ago after trying to buy a $700 ZT brand PC from Staples. I increased the memory and it turns out Crucial is "having some problems" with its chips.
I returned the computer and went straight to Best Buy and bought the iMac. Adobe transferred my Photoshop program from PC to Apple for the price of an upgrade to CS4 and a signed statement that I have destroyed my PC Photoshop. That took about three weeks although the first Adobe guy threatened to take five weeks.
The iMac updated itself as fast as it could after I turned it on, leaving me little to do. When it came time to set up my existing e-mail account it asked a couple of questions and I was done. The HP laptop PC I bought at the same time required me to call Comcast to get all sorts of strange account types and numbers.
I bought a pocket external hard drive (make sure you get one especially listed as Apple friendly because it has Apple software) and plugged it in. The iMac asked, "Do you want to use this for backups?" I said yes and it said "Is it ok if I back up every hour?" I thought why not and checked yes. I never heard from it again and backups have occurred automatically. I bought the same brand of pocket external drive for the HP laptop PC and as you might guess it was far more difficult to set up.

This computer is fine if you're married to Apple- if you're willing to consider Windows machines, it's overpriced by at least 100%. If you're wealthy, that's nice, but if you're looking out for your money, I don't think Mac OSX is worth a 100% upcharge. Sorry.


For the same money you can get a White MacBook (still has a FireWire output, unlike the alu MacBooks) and a 20" cinema display. With this set-up you get a much better non-glossy monitor and the portability of a laptop.

"...a 20" cinema display. With this set-up you get a much better non-glossy monitor..."

I'm no expert, but all I'm seeing at the Apple Store is a glossy 24" and non-glossy 30" display. Where do you see the 20" non-glossy cinema display?


I have one of these, but mostly I use the Mac Pro and a 30-inch Cinema screen. But a friend of mine who is a pro photographer and videographer uses the 24-inch iMac, and he is highly pleased with it. So I guess it really can handle the most demanding tasks (which was not really true for the former (G5) iMac).

Apple discontinued the 20" Cinema (non-glossy) sometime earlier this year. I expected it to be replaced by a new 20" glossy version similar to the 24", but nothing has appeared and I doubt it will now. I expect that the 30" non-glossy will be on the chopping block soon too, since it has a fluorescent backlight and has a DVI (not mini-displayport) connector. You can still find a 20" on eBay pretty easily.

I got my 20" Cinema just before Christmas and run it on a white Macbook, and it's a great combo if you need portability.

FWIW, as I said above my wife uses a new 24" Cinema (glossy) with her alu Macbook. Every time I walk into her office I go into a mini trance staring at her screen from about a foot away because her display is that much sharper than mine. And the older Cinema displays are plenty nice, but the new LED-backlit model is in a class by itself.

I've got one of the new 24" iMacs, next to a 24" Dell 2407WFPHC. It's a nice machine, I've got a few quibbles with it, and I wish that it was a quadcore, (but ultimately, it's memory capacity that makes me replace machines).

I'm disappointed by the color _after_ calibration with a huey. Granted it's a low end calibrator, and I know it had trouble on my glossy screened macbook, but it just looks off. With both monitors calibrated to the same target, the Dell is warmer, less saturated, and most of all, consistent from side to side. The iMac is cooler, with a slight warm to cool cast from the center to the sides of the screen.

Does this newest 24" Mac come with an IPS (In Plane Switching) LCD panel? If not, I'm not so impressed by the price.

Dear Mani,

I *think* the 24" iMac display is one of these. But I won't swear to it. A specific question posted in one of Apple's users' forums should get a firm and believable answer (those folks are quite sharp).


Dear Eric,

Sorry to hear you're having calibration grief. FWIW, I had trouble using my Profile Mechanic Monitor with my 23" Apple Cinema Display-- got lousy-looking profiles. Profiled beautifully with ColorMunki. (Please don't anyone ask me about other profiling hardware-- I ain't used it.) It does seem like some of the pucks have been designed with CRTs in mind, even if they're supposed to be able to do LCDs, so ya gotta find the right tool for the job.

And avoid the cheapo LCD's

pax / Ctein

That is a heck of a dull machine. Anonimous, at least [I always wandered why anybody wants a computer to be an aesthetic piece of equipment].

Boooring [alas, AstonMartins, german cars, and high-end audio equipment are right there bordering the "this is as bad as it comes"].

There is only one problem I see to Apple practicality, though [being platform agnostic, that is]. Their periferalls just suck, big time.

Still, I´m waiting for a good operating system on a computer. The ones we do use nowadays are still too clunky. So no Mac, no Vista, no Linux, no Solaris.

Dear Michael Eckstein:
Which is exactly what you can do with a 4 year old Packard-Bell laptop.

Thing is, it is more important how you use your laptop than the hardware it comes with.

As a matter of fact, though, Asus has done for quite some time Apple hardware.

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