Best computer for picture/video editing?

Outdoors24

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Its kind of BCP related, but not at the same time. Pretty soon I will be in the market for a new computer. I am looking for a decent desktop or laptop that can do both photo and video editing relatively easy. I don't mind spending a little more if the computer will last longer. I figured I would ask everyone here for their thoughts, seeing as how quite a few people on here do both photo and video editing. So which computer do you enjoy using?
 

Titans

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Rick likes the Apple Retina 5K with a solid state drive, 27" screen.
He does a huge amount of photo editing on that computer (business/ personal).
He likes the Luminar 2018 software for photos (instead of Adobe).
Lmk if you need more info.
 
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regehr

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In terms of bang for the buck it's very hard to beat one of the reputable but non-glamorous PC vendors. I recommend looking at desktop PCs at a site like this: https://www.newegg.com/
I've bought several ASUS PCs in recent years and all of them have been good. Make sure to get enough memory if you're processing high-megapixel images (16 GB is minimum).
If you're thinking about Apple make sure to check out this site so you don't go and buy something like a Mac pro that they're still selling but haven't updated the internals of since 2013!
https://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#Mac
 

andyjaggy

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Video editing takes quite a bit of power. I honestly can't recommend an Apple, most of them are woefully under powered compared to up to date PC's and you pay more for that lack of power. You are also left in limbo land with very limited options for upgrading your hardware. Apple has all but abandoned the professional market for content creators and most of their powerful machines haven't been updated in years. When I started my career 10+ years ago most content creators and video people were using Apple and FCP, but these days almost everyone has moved to using a PC.
 

Nick

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I'll be the pro-Mac guy on the subject....

First off, in the Mac vs. Windows thing, you should get what you like best. They both have pros and cons but ultimately if you prefer one or are used to using one, that's probably the best. You can get suitable hardware in either.

How much power you need really depends on how much you're going to be doing with it. You can get a woefully underpowered PC just as easily as a Mac system. Yes, the Mac system will tend to cost more up front, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a worse value. There are other factors like resale value, how long they last and how well they'll work for you and what you're used to. The Mac ecosystem alone is a huge selling point if you already use Apple devices like an iPhone.

I've been doing video editing and heavy photo editing on a Mac for years. I've owned everything from a low end MacBook to the high end pro machines like the current iMac Pro and old Mac Pro tower. I currently have a high end MacBook Pro and a base 27" retina iMac. At work I use a more loaded 27" retina iMac. One of the most important things to consider is plenty of RAM. If your processor and video card aren't at the high end of things, you'll still be okay for most things, but if you don't have enough RAM things can really grind to a halt. The better processors affect the speed at which it encodes video and how hard it has to work to do it. If you're not doing that day in and day out, it's probably not a huge deal if it takes a little longer when you finally go to export that video you've been piecing together. The actual process of editing it, splicing things together and what not, does not require a super computer.

As for photo editing, software like Lightroom is much more pleasant with a powerful processor and a good video card. The biggest benefit I see is the speed of loading previews when you're just flipping through things. The actual editing of the photo, not so much. Unless you're low on RAM, then it's a different story.

Back to the price/value equation for a minute. Take the current iMac 27" retina base model. It retails for $1699. I just bought one for $1563 with no sales tax via the University of Utah bookstore. Comparably, just to get a 27" 5k monitor of similar quality, you'll spend $1500. The next best option is still $1200-$1300. Just for the monitor. Yes, you can get a 4k monitor for $300, but you get what you pay for. Now get that $1500 monitor and go buy a similarly equipped PC and it turns out the 27" iMac is a phenomenal value. There are exceptions to this in their lineup, but when you really compare apples to apples (no pun intended) and factor in everything, they are not the notoriously overpriced machines that non-Apple users like to label them. Even the $5,000 iMac Pro cannot be built for less with the same PC components. This has been well documented online.

I recently sold my iMac Pro in favor of using my MacBook Pro with an external display when at home. I just don't do a ton of video editing and photography work at home anymore so having a $5k machine on my desk didn't make sense anymore. I bought a $600 LG 4k display to use with my MBP and it sucked. The image quality was okay, I guess, but not nearly as good as the one in the base 27" 5k iMac. And it was just kind of janky and really unattractive (yeah, that matters to me). I could no longer do a lot of the things that an all-in-one Mac does. Little things like easily adjusting volume and brightness from my keyboard. It required a bunch of other crap plugged in to get some of that functionality back. I looked at buying that high end $1500 5k display and I was just like "why not just buy another iMac??". So I did. The only thing I need to do to it is buy some aftermarket RAM and drop it in and it does the job fine. Is it my first choice for a video editing machine? No. Will it do the job for most people? Yep. Can you sell it in 3 or 5 years for WAY more than a comparable PC? Yep. I just sold my old MacBook that was made in 2012. It was still working great.
 

gnwatts

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I just broke my 2015 Macbook Pro's screen (I loved that machine) so I just ordered a 27" iMac with the Retina 5K Display, SSD drive, AMD Radeon grapics card, for under $2k. This is pretty much the base model (except the SSD), so I will be upgrading in the near future. The monitor is truly spectacular. The CPU as tested is quick, but not super quick. I have had Eizo & NEC monitors, none come close to the Mac monitors I have seen and used. I use a fairly up to date Dell for CAD work, Apple has not really embraced that market. The Dell is a fine computer for sure, but not for me. I will post some observations after I have spent some time with the Imac.
Apple has "all but abandoned the professional market"? In my experience, all of the graphic designer/photographers I know are on a Mac.

Edit: What Nick said.
 

Nick

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Greg, the new AppleCare+ covers accidental damage as well as other issues for 3 years. The iMac is obviously not as likely to get damaged as a MacBook, but for the price, it's worth it, IMO. It was only $119 to add to my iMac with education discount. More spendy on the MacBook but nice to know I can drop it off a cliff and pay a fee to get a replacement.

Apple has "all but abandoned the professional market"? In my experience, all of the graphic designer/photographers I know are on a Mac.

Me too. I run a marketing department and we run Macs. We could accomplish the same work with PC's though and I don't think less of friends and colleagues that use them. I just feel a little sorry for them not being able to appreciate the Apple ecosystem. :)
 

Nick

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One more thing though. I will say that it sometimes disappoints me that Apple does favor form over function at times. My MacBook Pro is a good example. It is a seriously sexy piece of hardware, but I'd probably be happy with it being 6mm thicker for better cooling. When it starts working hard, you hear those fans firing up. It took a lot of heavy lifting to make my iMac Pro start huffing and puffing.
 

Nick

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If you're thinking about Apple make sure to check out this site so you don't go and buy something like a Mac pro that they're still selling but haven't updated the internals of since 2013!
https://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#Mac

Totally agree with this. I would normally never buy an iMac right now but for what I needed it for, I just needed it and it didn't really matter. But usually I would consult the buyers guide and hold off until it's closer to an update.
 

gnwatts

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Greg, the new AppleCare+ covers accidental damage as well as other issues for 3 years. The iMac is obviously not as likely to get damaged as a MacBook, but for the price, it's worth it, IMO. It was only $119 to add to my iMac with education discount. More spendy on the MacBook but nice to know I can drop it off a cliff and pay a fee to get a replacement.



Me too. I run a marketing department and we run Macs. We could accomplish the same work with PC's though and I don't think less of friends and colleagues that use them. I just feel a little sorry for them not being able to appreciate the Apple ecosystem. :)


Got the AppleCare +, it seemed pretty cheap.
 

Brendan S

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I have a 2015 5k iMac and love it. The screen is just gorgeous...I’m not sure it’s still the case now but when I bought it a couple years ago, for the base model you were basically getting a free computer when you compared a comparable monitor. For me photography is about enjoying the process and viewing images on the 5k retina is a joy. I use both windows and Mac machines and have no interested in brand warz but the iMac i have is my fav computer I’ve used, and especially for photography.

Whatever you do, splurge for the biggest SSD you can for your main drive.

Edit: Nick touched on it above, but especially if you are reasonably serious about photo/video stuff a legit monitor and some kind of color management/calibration is a must, and 4K resolution doesn’t mean much wrt quality. The IMacs are really surprisingly great out of the box. I still use a ColorMunki but it’s mostly for my second monitor (a Dell). Again, if you look at stricltly numbers I’m sure a Windows machine is cheaper but that doesn’t tell the whole story of convenience/usability.
 
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Outdoors24

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It retails for $1699. I just bought one for $1563 with no sales tax via the University of Utah bookstore.

Do most college bookstores have deals like this? Or do you have to be a student?

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I will also have to keep an eye on those websites that @regehr mentioned, because that is the first time I have heard of either one of those.
 

Nick

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Do most college bookstores have deals like this? Or do you have to be a student?

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I will also have to keep an eye on those websites that @regehr mentioned, because that is the first time I have heard of either one of those.

You have to be a student or faculty/employee. At the U, they always have a tax free deal. Once or twice a year they do an even better sale where you get a little more off. Apple offers education discounts directly but you have to pay sales tax.
 

ImNotDedYet

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I would recommend a desktop from the last year or two, don't skimp on RAM, (16 - 32 GB) a good monitor and monitor calibration. This _should_ ensure your computer isn't coming to a crawl in a couple of years with software updates.

I personally have a custom-built desktop built for digital music making, so I can't speak to which to buy.
 

Wanderlust073

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Another Mac user, but to be honest the only thing that keeps me in their camp anymore is the software pricing and the lack of exposure to virus/malware. Pricing on their new hardware is just obscene at this point.

While Adobe will bleed you month after month forever for Premiere, you can purchase a copy Final Cut Pro from Apple which you can then install on as many machines as you own. I grind my teeth every time my 'rent' payment for Photoshop hits the credit card bill as it is, and the thought of getting subscribed to death over every piece of software I need kills me. If you factor that in to the overall amount of money you're investing in to the machine+software, it doesn't take long for the numbers to even out (pricey hardware + cheap software = cheap hardware + pricey software).

And while Macs are overpriced they also appear to last forever with few exceptions (which are then blasted all over the Internet). My iMac is going on 6 years old and hasn't ever suffered a hardware or software issue, no problems with viruses, no problems with malware, etc. I have nine year old apple laptops that run as well as the day they were purchased.

But yes I could build or buy a machine probably 4x as powerful for less than I paid for the Apple box, and I'd also be able to upgrade it from time to time rather than be forced to replace the whole thing when modern software/my needs outrun its capabilities.

Pick your poison...
 

gnwatts

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Another Mac user, but to be honest the only thing that keeps me in their camp anymore is the software pricing and the lack of exposure to virus/malware.

Well, I thought there was no exposure to virus/malware on a mac. Not so! Last year I got hit with some malware on my Macbook pro. My internet server shut me down. I had to install ant-virus software, and then wait 3 days to use my email and internet.
 

fossana

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I used to be a diehard PC user (as in build your own desktop from computer show parts), then ended up switching over to Apple for portables. At the time I first looked the Macbooks were not a ton more. I heard from friends that the Touch Bar was problematic, so when I upgraded a year ago I tracked down a Macbook without one.

If you get a Mac look in SquareTrade's warranty, which I think is better than Apple's. Apple's default policy is to replace the motherboard ($700+) if there's any evidence of a spill so even with AppleCare+ you'll have to cough up another $400+. The after market has gotten better, so you can now get peripherals without the Apple markup.

Whatever you get make sure you get enough RAM.
 

Nick

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Apple's default policy is to replace the motherboard ($700+) if there's any evidence of a spill so even with AppleCare+ you'll have to cough up another $400+.

With AppleCare+ you don't pay more than $300 for even the worst incident of any type of accidental damage. Quite different than the old AppleCare that didn't cover accidental damage at all. From their website:

AppleCare+ for Mac
Every Mac comes with one year of hardware repair coverage through its limited warranty and up to 90 days of complimentary support. AppleCare+ for Mac extends your coverage to three years from your AppleCare+ purchase date and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $99 for screen damage or external enclosure damage, or $299 for other damage, plus applicable tax. In addition, you’ll get 24/7 priority access to Apple experts by chat or phone.
 
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