I’ve used Mac workstations since the early 1990s. As a professional photographer, it’s important to have a computer that is not only fast, but also scalable. For me, that meant being able to add internal hard drives, PCI expansion cards, and plenty of RAM. By having a computer that I could incrementally upgrade, I am able to extend the useful life of that machine. As a working professional, I consider upgrading my computer system every 3-5 years, depending on my needs.
In 2013, Apple radically redesigned the Mac Pro line to include internal PCI-based solid-state drives and dual video cards. Despite the performance benefits, the new form-factor no longer supported internal expansion of any kind (other than RAM). Although I was not in the market for a new Mac at that time, the immediate consequence of the new form-factor became clear. From now on, any hard drives that lived inside my existing computer would have to be moved to external enclosures. Continue reading Should Photographers Consider an iMac?→
I won’t be the first one to tell you that fast cameras need fast memory cards. However, even the fastest cards differ in their read/write speeds between the theoretical and the actual achieved speeds. Read/write times not only depend on the tech specs of your card, but also your camera and transfer devices.
In the field, card read/write speed affects not only how fast the camera’s buffer can clear, but also how fast you can copy images to your computer. When transferring your images to a computer, the following factors are important to consider:
Reader Interface (eg. USB/Firewire)
D810 Performance with CF Cards
I compared download speeds for 27 images (14-bit, lossless compressed) from the Nikon D810 using two different cards:
I tested each card using the Hoodman Raw Steel reader via USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 interfaces. I downloaded my images to my computer using Photo Mechanic 5 and my typical settings. These settings included file renaming and adding IPTC data to each image as it was copied.
I tested the buffer performance by setting the D810 to capture 14-bit lossless compressed full-size raw images (NEF format) in continuous high-speed release mode (5fps). I determined the number of images I could capture before the buffer was full, and I timed how long it took for the buffer to clear. With these settings, the buffer count shows 19 frames. Continue reading Why Fast Cards Matter: Nikon D810 Performance→
After a long wait, Apple has finally produced a new Mac Pro workstation. While these machines are no-doubt awesome, they are clearly designed for hard-core video production. They offer not only the fastest processors, but dual GPU graphics cards. The most significant feature of the new Mac Pros is its size. They are very small. Gone are any internal storage or expansion options. There is one internal drive, which is flash-based (SSD). There are no PCIe expansion ports. This machine is tiny, but it means you’ll need to utilize external storage options for your data; either via USB 3 or Thunderbolt (there are no eSATA ports on the new Mac Pro).
Despite delivering what I’m sure is a fantastic machine, I’m not quite ready to drop $3500-$4000 into a new computer and then have to spend additional money to migrate my existing internal drives into external enclosures. My 2010 Mac Pro is a robust machine, and one reason why I got it was its expansion options. I’m able to add PCI cards and more memory into my existing machine. With that in mind, here are a few upgrades I did that significantly improved my overall computing experience using Lightroom and Photoshop. Continue reading Making that older Mac Pro zippy→