I recently purchased a Mac Pro Duo Quad Core computer. I normally wouldn’t write about technology on my photo blog because honestly I don’t pay attention to technology news. However, as a life-long PC-user (since the late 80’s), I felt compelled to offer my reasons for switching to Mac since the photographers who read this blog might have considered doing the same at one point. I’m no expert on computers but my decision basically came down to the fact that I got fed up with Windows’ security flaws and excessive amount of software crashes.
Why PC’s Suck: The crashes weren’t just any random program crashing, I have also gotten Windows system errors straight out of the box and also upon fresh hard-drive formatting / re-installation of the operating system. That is unacceptable and says one thing; that Windows is a very flawed operating system and that there are too many variables out there when it comes to PC’s. Look at how many brands of PC’s and types of configurations out there on the market. How can you expect things to run smoothly when you have one operating system that is supposed to fit three million different types of computers? Not realistic.
If you have ever tried a fresh re-install of any Windows computer, I’m sure you can relate to stressing over finding the driver CD’s that came with your now-“obsolete” computer. If you can’t find those discs, then you won’t have sound and various other issues. And good luck finding the drivers on Dell’s website if your particular configuration is not listed in their database.
The Dell PC that I recently replaced was a Duo Core processor purchased in February 2008. Speed-wise I had no complaints but it has been a nightmare to try running a photography business while having that as my main digital photography workstation. That is what four crashes (blue screen of death) in 2009 will do for you. Most recently however, even re-formatting the hard-drive led to the blue screen of death within minutes which means that either the hard-drive is completely dead or my Symantec Windows XP restore got corrupted by a malware attack. I have a hard time believing that the hard drive is gone though because I was able to back up all of my files on Safe Mode prior to re-formatting the Dell.
I won’t even get into the topic of virus scanners. They are the bane of any computer-users existence.
Mac Skeptic: My former roommate, Brandon, has been bugging me about switching to Mac ever since the first day that I met him in 2002. He, along with several other people, can attest to how skeptical I was about switching. One of the reasons why I was so reluctant to do so was because the Dell I had at the time lasted from 2002 til 2008 with few of the problems that plague many other PC’s. It was dare I say, a fairly reliable PC! The hard-drive died after six years which wasn’t surprising and since the computer wasn’t up to speed anymore, I ended up purchasing the Duo Core, which is now sitting in a corner of my living room. I figured that if I got six years from the previous one, then maybe the joke was on Mac-users who were brainwashed into Apple’s branding scheme, because Dell’s only cost about $1,000. Well, half of that theory didn’t quite work out so here I am trying out a Mac Pro now. Considering the cost of the system I sure hope to at least get a few good years out of this computer. I probably won’t ever pay this much for a computer ever again (the price tag is ridiculous) but something clearly needed to change so I did it.
I won’t put my foot in my mouth by saying that Mac’s are perfect because I have used some pretty bad G4’s in the past at ad agency jobs but so far, I am really liking this new computer with Apple’s new Snow Leopard operating system. (Side story – when I first overheard two guys in passing referring to Snow Leopard a few months ago, I thought they were talking about Himalayan wildlife which caught my interest. I wondered if they knew who Galen Rowell was.Â A few days later, I realized via Twitter that it was computer-speak. Blah!) Anyway, so every piece of equipment I have plugged into the Mac has been compatible so far without having to install any drivers. The only hitches was that my version of Lightroom 2 wasn’t compatible with Snow Leopard straight out of the box so I did some research which led me to downloading the latest demo from Adobe’s website then entering in my serial number. I also use the NVU open source HTML editor to design my website which is just as buggy on the Mac as it is on Windows. But hey, it is free and does the same thing that Dreamweaver does minus the bank-breaking price tag.
Regarding Windows users concerned about their favorite programs not being compatible with the Mac OS – I purchased VMWare Fusion 2 for $20 which allowed me to install Windows Vista and run it as a program on my Mac on a separate partition. As a result, I’m able to run the Windows version of Microsoft Office on my computer and should be able to install AutoPano Pro and ProShow Gold eventually. Rumor has it that Mac’s run Windows better than PC’s but having never used Windows Vista on a PC, I have no way of verifying the validity to that claim.
Software I use to process my images and prepare them for distribution –
– Adobe Photoshop CS4 (fine-tuning/cleaning up files, prepping for publication, and meta data entry)
– Adobe Lightroom 2 (for editing photo shoots and processing RAW files)
– Noise Ninja (noise reduction Photoshop plug-in and standalone program)
– PT Lens (lens distortion correction Photoshop plug-in)
– NVU (open source HTML editor)
– fotoKeyword Harvester (stock photo keywording)
– AutoPano Pro (panoramic photo stitching)
Photoshop and Lightroom have been a dream to work on with this computer. No complaints at all. I haven’t tried installing Noise Ninja on this new computer yet so I’m not sure if I will need Mac or Windows to run it.
One of the worries I had was how would my Windows Explorer photo filing system fit in with the Mac filing system. I am happy to report that there have been no issues at all with migrating my files over.
I will conclude this Mac switch blog post with that any worries you might have about switching from PC to Mac should be laid to rest other than the price tag. I think what Apple fans are really trying to say is that a Mac gives you more peace of mind than a PC. So far that is what I have been experiencing on my new Mac Pro. It’s important to remember that Mac’s aren’t going to cure your father’s Parkinson’s Disease nor make girls want to marry you but as for running a photography business it is great.