Apple 27" iMac: The Best Computer for Photographers

A few weeks ago I wrote about my plans to order a new 27" iMac. You can read all of those details here. But a few things have changed since that post and I want to update you on what I've found. 

First of all, it's official, I've ordered my iMac. But it's a bit different than I originally imagined. Here are the changes:

1. Go with Fusion: You can see in my original post that I ignored the Fusion drive because I felt like it was only relevant for a general consumer who wanted a little SSD (Solid State Drive) on top of raw storage. Turns out I was wrong. It has broader appeal which I'll explain in the next paragraph. I went with the 1TB Fusion drive instead of the 3TB. My bulk storage will still reside on the external Drobo 5D which is filled with 20TB's of drive space so there's zero reason for me to spring for a 3TB Fusion drive.

2. Speedy: I originally thought the Fusion drive would suffer speed problems compared to a straight solid state drive. In fact my discussions with Apple told me as much. But the benchmark tests are out and the difference between the Fusion and a SSD is negligible. For my photography workflow I won't notice any drop at all and in some areas it's faster. The Fusion drive is a genius piece of hardware because you really do get all of the benefits of a full SSD drive without the cost. 

3. The Cost Savings: Apple is only offering a 768GB solid state drive configuration in the 27" iMac. I didn't know that at the time. I assumed they'd offer up a variety of options, perhaps starting at 256GB. The cost is significant for the 768GB configuration, a whopping $1,300 more than the 1TB Fusion drive. No thanks. After reading all the benchmark tests the decision was an easy one for me.

4. Extra RAM: I didn't mention it at the time but decided to spring for the extra RAM. You can grab 8, 16, or 32GB of RAM. With the savings on the SSD I decided to go for the big boy and grab the 32GB of RAM. This will let me run a whole slew of apps with speed and efficiency. 

In the end here is my configuration:

  • Processor: 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
  • Memory: 32GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x8GB
  • Storage: 1TB Fusion Drive + external Drobo 5D expandable up to 20TB
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5

I'm convinced this is the best possible configuration for photographers.

How to Shoot Concert Photography

I've always been impressed with professional concert photographers. You know the type of person, the guy who can catch Sting mid-jump while he's pounding out 'Roxanne' on his bass. 

For years my idea of concert photography had me bringing a point and shoot camera from the 70th row. I'd return home with blurry dots on a stage. Or in more recent years I'd come armed with a cell phone camera. Horrible.

Last night my pal and I went to a Monkees concert. Yes those Monkees. We've been fans since we were kids and I was determined to grab a few photos of the band. We had nice seats but I wasn't too close to the stage. I really wanted to get a few guitar playing photos of Mike Nesmith, our favorite Monkee. 

I did quite a bit of research before the show to nail down some techniques that work well with stage lighting and darkness. Here's what I did:

I flipped my camera to Manual mode for the entire evening. You really need total control of your camera. I set my ISO to 1600 but found myself cranking it or lowering it as needed. I started out with a shutter speed of 1/160th. I made the mistake of bringing only the kit lens for my Sony NEX-7 so I couldn't get as tight as I'd wanted. I opted to bring the Sony because I wanted to go small so that security wouldn't throw me out. 

I would have also set my camera to spot metering to grab the face of the performer but I was too far back to worry about it. Now I know for next time.

I got a few nice shots. Much better than a cell phone camera or a point and shoot!





The Monkees, 2012 Keswick Theater, PA

Mike Nesmith

Photo of the Day

'm finally starting to edit some of my Germany photos. The first batch that I'm going through I shot with HDR in mind.

I took this inside a moderately small church in Heidelberg. I was fond of the peach hue as the afternoon light came in. I used a Sony NEX-7 for most of the trip. I'm a little upset at some of the ghosting I missed in the painting in the ceiling but live and learn.

Once I was done I used a new piece of software called Snapheal, more on that in another post. But it was great, it managed to remove two women who were meandering through my shot. It took roughly two clicks to do it. Again, more on that later.

hat do you think of the church?

A church in Heidelberg, German

Photo of the Day

It was a surprisingly hot first day of Fall when we decided to go apple picking.  I shot this photo as we were making our way into a massive New Jersey farm. They had a hay bail climbing area that didn't seem all that safe to me but the kids seemed to love it.

I like this photo because there's a 1950's-style farm land feeling for me. Something about the threatening sky, the dusty need for rain, and the kids that would joyfully stand out there in a lightning storm just so they could keep playing.

I shot this with a Sony NEX-7 using the kit lens with ISO 100 and f/22. What do you think? How would you improve it?