Previous 1 2 Next 23 Replies Latest reply: Aug 26, 2010 11:30 AM by Lou1492
Paradoxx Level 1 (20 points)
Hi all,

I've been a PC user for the last 15 years, and have been looking for a system to support my interest in photography and film-making.

Being an iPhone/iPad user, I would like to expand my 'appleification' to a new Mac. Whilst I can't afford a MacPro, would someone be as kind to suggest what iMac specification would be best suited to this use?

The video I would like to edit is 1080P 25fps (.MOV MPEG-4 AVC, H.264), I already have a ReadyNAS for storage, and would be looking at the 27" screen only. I need performance that will easily cope with the full HD video, without noticeable lag whilst editing. I'm assuming that if the system can handle this task, my RAW photo-editing, web-design etc.. will also be fine.

Many thanks for your help.
  • Porky997 Level 1 (0 points)
    I haven't tried the video editing yet but Aperture is notably quicker with less lag and spinning fan / beachball when editing RAW images ... and the 27" screen is a dream!!

    I used iMovie on my 13" MacBook CoreDuo and it worked ok - occasionally a little slow, so have every reason to believe it will zip along nicely on the i7.
  • Chris Lord Level 1 (15 points)
    I use a 27" 3.06 Intel Core Duo iMac with 4 Mb RAM running 10.5.8 to edit HD Video using Final Cut Pro 6.0.6 and have no problems editing. For storing media I have a Western Digital 1Tb external Firewire Hard Drive. Capturing the video is via a "Log & Transfer" procedure which can take a bit of time as the video is automatically transcoded into a codec that Final Cut Pro can use (I have it set to use ProRes 422). Once captured, editing is smooth and quick and actions are undertaken by the Mac almost instantaneously. Output is relatively easy as well. As with all HD Video the huge amount of data manipulation makes heavy demands on any system but I have no complaints. I would imagine that the latest iMacs and the latest versions of the Operating System and editing programs are even more efficient than my set up. For editing simple jobs I have found that Apple's iMovie is pretty effective and use it where I don't need all the bells and whistles of a high end editing program. I also run Adobe Photoshop CS4 which easily deals with RAW and of course Apple's iPhoto.

    Although I don't do any web design however, in view of the above, I expect that the iMac you are considering will handle anything you throw at it.

    If you can get to either an Apple Store or an authorised retailer tap their expertise to help you decide which programs you need as Final Cut Express and Photshop Elements (which are much cheaper) may be sufficient. There are I believe other non-apple/ non- adobe editing and photo manipulation programs which run on Macs but I have no experince of them so a little research might be advisable to see if any of them fit your requirements.

    I hope that helps.
  • Paradoxx Level 1 (20 points)
    Thank you for all the information. It's good to know that you are carrying out similar tasks on a similar machine.

    I think in terms of hardware I should go for the top option 27", with the i7 processor (as that's the bit should extend the life of the mac, performance wise). The memory I'll leave at 4GB, with the option to upgrade later on. Everything else I'll keep standard, and just add AppleCare warranty.

    I've read that many suggest keeping video/scratch files on a separate HDD from the OS and apps for performance. This would necessitate a 2nd HDD. IS this something I can add later on myself, without voiding the warranty?

    Again, many thanks.
  • Rick Lang Level 4 (1,230 points)
    You won’t go wrong getting the latest i7 machine for video work.

    You cannot add a second hard disk drive to the iMac. Therefore I recommend you order the 2 TB HDD rather than the 1 TB. You might want to consider going with 8 GB of memory from the get-go or add 4 GB (2x2GB sticks) memory later if you find you need it. I’m confident you’ll want the extra memory.

    The internal drives are likely still the fastest option for your video scratch files on an iMac. You can use an external drive but I think the gains you might see for file access are negated by the slower data transfer speeds using Firewire 800. I recommend partitioning the large internal hard disk and dedicating a partition to be used for scratch and temporary files. There are other posts on this topic so I won’t go into the details beyond saying your operating system and applications should reside on the first partition, the scratch partition defined next and a third partition for your relatively fixed content such as documents, music, videos, etc.
  • Paradoxx Level 1 (20 points)
    Thankyou Rick, just out of interest what software are you using for video editing? I notice your mac is similar spec with a shed load more ram, are there any apps/tasks that your setup struggles with

    Your help is really appreciated.
  • Chris Lord Level 1 (15 points)
    As Rick stated you cannot add a second internal hard drive to an iMac. However from my experience whilst there may be a slight theoretical penalty for utilising an external firewire hard drive as your "scratch" disk I have never found any practical difference in real life. The benefits of using a separate Hard drive are that:-

    a) The read write heads are only having to access the video data and consequently there is no conflict with the heads needing to access the program or system files at the same time. This partially or wholely eliminates any penalty with Firewire transfer rates.

    b) There is less wear on your one and only internal Hard Drive.

    c) You can get large external Hard Drive more cheaply than trying to get a similar capacity drive fitted internally.

    d) If your internal Hard Drive fails you will still have your video files secure on the external Hard Drive.

    I agree with Rick - add as much RAM as you can afford - for my needs 4 GBs has been enough but the more special effects and compositing that you undertake the greater the demands on the system and that is when extra RAM is useful.

    Of course attaching an external Firewire Hard Drive has no effect on the warranty.
  • Rick Lang Level 4 (1,230 points)
    Paradoxx wrote:
    Thankyou Rick, just out of interest what software are you using for video editing? I notice your mac is similar spec with a shed load more ram, are there any apps/tasks that your setup struggles with

    I use the old Final Cut Express HD (version 3.5) suite supporting my Canon HV20 (HDV tape) camcorder. I may upgrade to the next release of FCE but was not impressed with the simplifications introduced with Final Cut Express 4 so I passed on that without regrets. As long as I can buy HDV tape, I think I’ll stick with what I have for my video since that Canon camcorder is actually quite good for an amateur.
  • Lou1492 Level 1 (5 points)
    I'm a videographer and just purchased a new 27" iMac for video editing. All good info you've received here. I definitely suggest the most RAM you can afford. One other thing; if you are using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, as I am, there is a slight negative to the Mac. CS5 offers GPU assisted rendering in Premiere Pro, but only for certain NVIDIA cards. Unfortunately Macs use ATI cards, so we can't benefit from this boost. I edited my first piece on my new Mac last night and am still very pleased with the purchase though. Hopefully Apple will come out with an update to FCP soon, then I'll probably switch to that.
  • Paradoxx Level 1 (20 points)
    Thanks for taking the time to reply Lou,
    I subscribe to lynda video tutorials so hope to try out both cs5 premiere and fcp (hopefully a new version) and see what I think.

    RAM wise, it's a relatively cheap upgrade, so I'll be doing that with 3rd party memory, once vie ran the system in standard config for a short while.

    Just out of Interest, what input device are you using for premiere, and did you have any issues with yellowing screen or noisy HD on your Mac?
  • Lou1492 Level 1 (5 points)
    Not sure what you mean by input device? I shoot with a Canon XH-A1 HDV camera, that uses Mini DV tapes and capture directly through firewire. The Apple Magic Mouse works great, if that's what you were referring to.

    No issues with my iMac after about 1 week. The screen is a thing of beauty. My only concern is that it runs very hot, so I'm looking for a small fan to place behind it and aid in cooling. I have a couple friends who have owned their iMacs for over 2 years with no issues, hoping to have the same experience.
  • Paradoxx Level 1 (20 points)
    Thanks for the reply, yes I wondered if you were using thematic mouse or the new trackpad, (or even a wacomm tablet).

    Glad you are getting on well with it, it can be a little unnerving reading these forums as you're typically reading problems and more problems, rather than about the things that work great.

    Could you give me an example render time out of premiere on your machine?
  • MartinR Level 6 (14,870 points)
    +" ... You cannot add a second hard disk drive to the iMac ..."+

    Actually, you can add a second drive in the new 27" iMacs. There is an option to add an SSD drive as a BTO option when you purchase the iMac, and there are aftermarket kits to do likewise. OWC has kits available to do this, and of course they also sell drives.

    OWC also offer a kit to add an external eSATA drive to these 27" iMacs (that's what I find especially interesting ...).

    It would also be possible to install a second internal SATA drive (2.5") instead of the SSD drive but at present there are no ready-made mounting brackets that fit the space. Someone will soon design & market brackets to mount a 2.5" SATA drive in these iMacs, I'm sure.
  • MartinR Level 6 (14,870 points)
    All of the current 27" iMacs can easily handle your HD video.

    Just be aware that video is very demanding on I/O and for that reason, NAS storage is not ideal for online work such as capturing/editing/rendering/exporting (static storage & backup are ok). (The network connection is the gating factor, even if you have gigabit network.) You will be better off with an external FireWire or eSATA drive for operational editing.

    Final Cut and iMovie support editing with internal drives and external FireWire drives, formatted as Mac OS Extended. Some users have reported success using external USB drives, however I do not recommend that, as USB cannot support the sustained throughput demands of digital video.
  • joan2404 Level 1 (15 points)
    With one of the new iMacs you'll do it without problems, I can do it on my iMac 2,8 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM 800Mhz, 1,07 GHz Bus. So with a core i3 or i5, you can do it.
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