QUESTION: My main photography computer is an early-2008 vintage Mac Pro. I've beefed it up as much as I can, upgrading the graphics card, increasing the memory to 10GB and adding fast hard drives. I run Aperture 3.x and the Nik plug-ins for post processing. Since upgrading to the Nikon D800, I'm starting to notice speed becoming an issue for me in Aperture.
So here's my question. I am contemplating replacing my Mac Pro. I know that new versions of the MacBook Pro and the Mac Pro are due out this fall. What do you think about a high-spec MacBook Pro serving as a main photography computer? Any tips on configuration options? Thanks for your help. Tom.
ANSWER: You do have a real choice here, Tom. The new Mac Pro is going scream. Apple is really pulling out the stops on their pro desktop machine. The Intel Xeon E5 processor will be twice as fast as the current Mac Pro, plus two AMD FirePro GPU cards, super fast Flash storage, and expansion galore. What a machine! But also at a premium price.
The next generation MacBook Pro with Retina Display, however, will be a hot rod in its own right. In terms of processor and GPU, I think your D800 Raw files will certainly be tamed.
Plus, the display comes with the computer. You're giving up some expandability and horse power, but gaining flexibility. I love photo editing on the couch with my MacBook Pro on my lap. "May I have another refreshing drink, please?"
My advice is that a maxed-out MacBook Pro with a complementary Thunderbolt storage system will serve still photographers and casual videographers just fine. Add an external monitor, and you're really set.
I'm using the current generation stock MacBook Pro with Retina Display and loving it. I didn't even soup it up. But then again, I only shoot with a 5D Mark II, 70D, OM-D, and a parade of compact cameras. And I'm having a blast!