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Wednesday, 09 March 2022


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Of course, as I have said for a long time, the iMacs (or laptops for that matter) are fine for *most* photo people, and a lot cheaper than this new toy which while very shiny and zippy is also pretty pricy ($3K to $4K in most normal configs, I imagine). Because that's what it ends up costing to make enough margin.

I'm sure Apple will sell a lot of these, but IMHO it's not a great value for money move for most people. Even the cheaper hardware is faster than you could possibly have imagined 5-10 years ago.

I am sort of curious about the fate of the 27" iMac, given this machine.

Great news.

You don't mention the price, but I don't think these products will be mid-range in any sense of the word. I know that time is money, but unless you're a pro photographer I don't see how having the bestest/biggest/fastest computer offers a return on investment. Definitely not for a hobby photographer.

I don't want to start any sort of Mac war. I've used them in the past (when provided by my work) and they were OK, but I personally can not justify buying a computer that will cost more than my car (and it's not a junk car), and which I can never upgrade should my needs change.

FYI, Thom Hogan posted about this system today as well. He doesn't argue against it, but does make the point that many folks will be better served by picking up the remaining stock of the Intel processor iMacs at a lower cost.

How people can get excited by a new desktop computer today I find extraordinary. To me they all work and do the same thing and all competently. "White goods", like cookers or toasters. But then I think the only Apple product really worth having is the iPad.

[I always say the iPad is my "least necessary but favorite" device. --Mike]

Agree on your list. Accessible SD slot. For some reason I have two add-on USB-A docs; so yes to ports. For what: USB back-up drive, charger cord for mouse, cord for mini-USB, wired mouse for when wireless mouse won't connect, etc.

I'm not ready to buy but was reviewing Mini M1 vs. M1 Studio Max and was wondering if the Mini wouldn't be good enough for photography.

Upgradeability is still a negative. But I would have bought one of these instead of an iMac five years ago. I hate to give up on the iMac monitor to upgrade.

Mike...you could have avoided all the gripes, irritations, problems and frustations, AND saved lots of money, had you just bought a windows PC..
The Apple/PC, Nikon/Canon etc wars are utterly stupid imo, but most of the 'fanboys' defend their camp willfully ignoring the downsides of their choice. You..for years defended your choice while acknowledging the obvious idiosyncrasies of Apple. Strange;-) Anyway, hope you have the possibility to acquire one of the new models. In the meantime, I'll just spend a couple of hundred dollars to upgrade my pc to state-of-the-art;-)
Keep up the good work!

That looks just like my next desktop...

And it only took them about 17 years!

When Apple got rid of the card slot on the Macbook Pro, they said at the time something along the lines of "all cameras have wi-fi now, so no one needs a card slot. Just download via wi-fi."

Right. When I get back from an assignment, I'll just let my three cameras download 60 or 80 gigs of raw files over the wi-fi. Uh huh. That shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks.

Of course I'm using external fast readers, but the internal slot is a good backup, and it's often convenient. I'm glad it's back on my new Macbook Pro, and I'm glad it's on the front of the Studio.

I'll need to think about the Studio, whether it makes sense to have one master photo editing station permanently in my, well, studio, and have the laptop for travel and remote editing.


Nitpicky Spelling Note: It's "terabytes," not "terrabytes."

These do look like terrific new desktops for photographers, Mike! I spent a bit of time reading the specs this morning. If it was last year I'd have one already on pre-order!

But last year I faced the obsolescence of my gorgeous-but-dead-end Mac Pro tower and my NEC monitor. Both were a decade old. So I made a radical (for me) update to using a brawny 16" Mac Book Pro (M1 Pro) as my sole working computer. I also updated my monitor to the latest NEC. Life has never been better. The new M1 platform absolutely screams. Not even my toughest tasks make it breathe hard. (In contrast, the old Intel processor on my previous system would sound like a 737 taxiing for take-off after a few minutes of PS.) So these new "Studio" boxes with even newer M1 chips should really shine!

It does make you wonder what the future of Apple's current Intel-based Mac Pro tower might be, if any.

Not that I necessarily recommend getting a $400 econobox. But it has been a long time since even cheap computers have been "good enough" for photography. Sure, this sits in the "middle" of Apple's lineup, but it is supposed to outperform the last generation's "pro" desktop. Do you really need it? If the last time you bought a desktop was 5 years ago or more, maybe it is time to get the Mac Mini, and deal with dongle life. And buy a nice lens with the leftover money.

[Well, perhaps it depends...for example if you shoot with a ~50 or more MP camera now, and use 128GB UHS-II SD cards, and do processor-intensive tasks semi-regularly and so forth, it could make a big difference. You can also say that you can easily be a photographer with a 2-generations old Micro 4/3 camera and a couple of inexpensive primes, and you can, but, having options is good. There's also the possibility that you wanted last generation's pro computer but couldn't afford it. Now maybe you can. --Mike]

I'd love a Mac Studio with the base M1 Max chip. I'm assuming 32GB would be enough RAM. The only upgrade I'd go for is a full TB on the SSD. That's still $2199 without monitor. Like others who have posted above, I have to wonder whether an optioned out M1 Mac Mini would be enough - especially after upgraded versions are introduced this summer or fall.

Apparently the two small vertical slots on the front are USB-C or Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The fate of the 27" iMac is known. It's done. It's dead. Same as the Norwegian blue. I could go on.

Now, if you want a larger than 24" monitor in an Apple product, the Studio probably is the logical (if expensive) basis.

I'm a computer programmer at work. If you've ever run a program called "Docker" and a program called "Slack" (especially for screen shares) on a Mac at the same time, you are in some very processor intensive territory.

Yes, modern 50 megapixel cameras require more computer than a decade old laptop. But I still think this is a videographer's computer, not a photographer's computer. Which is what you're asserting this is. What makes an M1 Mac Mini not a photographer's computer? The lack of forward facing SD card?

Also, until the M1 chips (so not since 2014), Apples and Oranges had the same Intel chips, so it is not like switchers were going from underpowered PCs to dominant Apple hardware. Dollar for dollar, you could get much better chips in Orange land. It was only since the M1 chips that Apples clearly had better hardware, and that was only the last couple years.

I mean, have a Mac Studio if you want, I guess. But in that case, I stand by my old point, that Apple is a jewelry company specializing in brushed aluminum.

And who says I have a 2 generation old m43 camera? That thing is at least 3 generations old. =P You know me too well, Mike.

I bought one of the last-generation 27 inch iMacs back in November, because I have Windows 10 running in a Parallels VM to run Nikon Scan for my CoolScan V. There are things Nikon Scan can do that neither SilverFast or VueScan can do at all, or do well.

It replaced a similar iMac from 2014, which was falling off the software support cliff.

But I have also setup an old MacBook running the last OS X version with Rosetta so that it can run the PowerPC version of Nikon Scan, for the day when I don't have a Mac that can run x86 Windows in a VM. Tested it, working fine.

I also have an M1 MacBook Air, which I love dearly. Typing this on it.

Yes, Apple Mac computers are much more expensive than Windows. But I'm paying for much better software, reliable, with attention to detail. I'm also paying for superb integrated backup software that's easy to use. My data on the machine is far more valuable than paying $1000 more every 5-7 years for a computer.

You still may have one major bottle neck with these new Mac Studios and that is the speed of the SD card reader itself. There is no standard. So if you are, say, a wedding photographer you just may be going on an extended coffee break while the Studio reads the thousands of photos you took on all those SD cards.

What is really needed is the CF Express cards. They may even have faster card readers.

Any experts out there why can provide some good info on the subject of SD and CF card readers?

Would have ordered it yesterday, except for one thing - no option for the M1 Pro. The M1 Max is more CPU than I see me needing for at least five years, for more than I want to pay. The Mac Studio with an M1 Pro and 32GB RAM and 512GB SSD for $1500 was what I was hoping for. Yes, it's one additional SKU for Apple to manage, but only one. Releasing the Mac Studio with only the M1 Max and M1 Ultra, and the accompanying price points, reminds me of when they released the updated iPad Mini a few years ago - greater capabilities than most (but not all) folks were looking for at a correspondingly higher price.

The M1 in the Mac Mini is probably more than adequate for my needs, but it is limited to 16GB of RAM, and I really want to future-proof my purchase with 32GB. I REALLY don't want to spend $2000 on the M1 Max Mac Studio. In a frustrated quandary...

The frugal photographer: I bought one of the Intel i3 Mac Minis at (possibly) a close-out price from B&H, and I am amazed how well it works. I never have any issue with processor speed or memory restrictions when using Photoshop CS6, DxO FilmPack, XNViewMP, or Silverfast with my scanner. I sometimes scan files that end up as 400 mb TIFF files. I wanted an Intel model because of older software; no complaints at all. I do not process any video and cannot comment on that.

Those who use an Apple iMac display don't really have to tolerate those irksome rear-mounted USB ports. Simply move (some of them) to the front! Buy a couple of these gadgets from OWC…https://eshop.macsales.com/item/Bluelounge/JMUSB01/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_campaign=googlebase&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvqyN4v-M8AIVIppbCh2F9wHVEAEYASABEgJ0B_D_BwE

The Mac Studio does look very good, but it's more computer than I'll ever need - very much for professionals, especially the versions with the Ultra chip. (They were a bit quiet about the fact that the entry level versions 'only' come with the M1 Max processor, I thought.) And even those cheaper versions quickly go up in price by $/£400 if you opt take the first processor upgrade and increase storage to 1 TB. So not for me.

In fact after agonising for several months I bought a 14" MacBook Pro in February, It's just the base-level machine but it will do me for a long time - possibly forever. I'm reassured that I've bought into the latest technology, both processor and display. Depending on how the finances look, I may make that my 'do everything' computer - connect it to a display when at home, but also take it with me on trips. And it has an SD card slot! On the side rather than the front, but at least it's there.

Show me the difference between a TOP comment made on an M1 Mac and one made on a Google Chromebook.

I rest my case.

Following Rob de Loe's comment about SD cards getting forgotten in the back of the machine, I've done this a few times.

I try to check before I go out, but still carry a spare SD card in my wallet, in case I get the dreaded "no card in the camera" message again, miles from home.

$2k isn't cheap, but as my son is waiting to get my current 27in iMac from me when I get a a Mac Studio so he can stop using his 2011 iMac - it's the old Mercedes ad again - 'The cheapest car you'll ever buy' - IF you keep it long enough. A Studio even at it's entry level is pricey, and overpowered for today - but it will continue to be good without needing additional investment for a lot longer than most options.

It really is the elegant descendant of my beloved Cube, tho - i'm seriously excited to finally get the computer I've wanted for a very long time.

I have an eight core iMac Pro with 1T SSD and 32 G of memory and to tell you the truth, it is to much for photography alone. The new Mac Studio would be just an expesive overkill.

Mike, You might want to give a shout-out to Thom Hogan who just posted a nice overview of the new Macs from the photographer’s perspective.

Like Larry Angier, my first Mac was purchased for US$2,500. I got it on April 18, 1984! 400K single sided disks, no externals. My first external drive was a 20 megabyte, not terabyte drive that cost hundreds! It always seemed to me that one spent the same $2,500 every few years, but got a lot more computer power.

I had a 2013 Mac Pro, the trashcan, not one of Apple's best products. Sold it last summer to purchase a tricked out i9 iMac 27 with a 4TB SSD and 64GB of OWC memory. I didn't really need the lovely 5K monitor since I had a lovely calibrated NEC 27. Maybe I should have waited but now I think I'll sit tight with the Intel iMac for a while. Speed is nice but it's expensive.

The Studio is the machine Apple should have produced a long time ago. There was too great a gap between the underpowered and spec's Mini and the beautiful but obscenely priced 2019 Mac Pro.

Mike, regarding your "Fat Mac" mentioned in the featured comments reply to Eric Brody - 512K would be half a megabyte rather than half a gigabyte.

I recently traded in my 2018 Mac Mini (which was always a lemon) for a new 2021 14" MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip. The new machine is a wonder inside and out. Outside, it's a wonder because it's a throwback to the 2015 model, with an HDMI port, three Thunderbolt/USB3 ports, and an SD card slot. This is a total turnaround of the design choices over the past half decade or so. The only downside is the return of the boxy shape; an unfortunate but inevitable departure from the previous generation MacBook Pro, which was almost as thin and sleek as the MacBook Air.

The Mac Studio and Studio Display had me swooning for a few days.

However, the Mac Studio cannot be upgraded so one has to anticipate future RAM and storage needs and make that payment up front. I'm old school about that. I purchased a MacPro tower in 2010 with basic CPU, RAM, and storage. Over the years I have upgraded the CPU, GPU, RAM, and replaced small spinning drives with fast SSDs.

I don't know how much I have spent on the upgrades. Those, plus the original purchase price might even be more expensive than the current 2019 MacPro ($6k and up).

On the other hand, I keep computers (and cars and cameras) for a very long time so the total cost of ownership over these years is quite low.

In any case, my 2010 MacPro does a fine job running Lightroom, Photoshop, DaVinci Resolve, several scientific apps, Office, email, and browsers.

The bottleneck in my workflow is not the computer; it's me.

There is no way that a Mac from the 80s could have a half a gig of memory. That would have been supercomputer territory, if it was even _possible_. Even if it was storage, that would not have come in a consumer accessible machine.

Half a meg of memory sounds about right for a generous amount then.

Also, that 2TB is of storage, not memory. 2TB of memory is possible today, but probably out of reach. That is, again, supercomputer territory. Amazon will rent you servers with that kind of memory, but they do not say what the price is. If you have to ask, it's too much.

[Sorry! Yr. Hmbl. Ed. is innumerate. Fixed now. --Mike]

Mac mini” is the one true authorised name name, according to the Mothership.

I just love the Point-Counterpoint! Had to get my my popcorn ready for those comments. Never fails to amuse me: Apple v PC, Nikon v Canon, Ford v Chevy, EVs v ICE… (for me: Apple, Canon, and Tesla). Neither side ever convinces anyone on “the other side” to convert, but the comments are fun to read. Thanks, Mike, for writing a lively topic to get it going. (I have a very useable late 2014 27” iMac that I plan on keeping for a bit longer.)

No 27" IMAC what do I upgrade my current 27"imac to?

Maybe just wait until they add a new 27" imac after they sell lots of STUDIOs in the the next 6 months!

Devious marketing and sucking as much money out of you as possible.

I did change the macmini back to front but it could be noisy for my intel mac mini.

Understand so happy about the Sd card. My nikon Z do not use Sd card.

I agree you really just want 32 or 64 gb with m1 pro for photography. And killing iMac 27 is sad.

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