Why PC’s Suck: Mac Switch – My New Digital Photography Darkroom

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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.  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.


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36 thoughts

  1. Your experience us similar to mine Richard. It took a series of crashes, hours upon hours dealing with driver issues, blue screens, etc., until I finally had enough. I was switching no matter what the cost. If you compare the same quality hardware and software packages, combined with the improved resale value, and of course your time and peace of mind…I don’t find macs that overpriced.

    I switched in Jan 2008 as a birthday present to myself. ( I see you have the same timing!). It was the best decision I ever made. I don’t mean to sound like some gushing fanboy – but it really has been a lot less stress.

    Noise ninja will work fine. Many companies will give u mac license codes for your current software if a mac version exists.
    Noise ninja will work fine. Congrats!

  2. As a Mac user since 1984 let me welcome you to the wonderful world of Apple computers LOL. It’s been an incredibly great place to be since they launched OS X. HIt me up with any questions if you get tripped up on anything.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mark. I do agree that top of the line PC’s like Alien Ware or those other custom machines do have quite a hefty price tag as well but they are still running Windows at the end of the day which is the main problem. Keyword Harvester sent me the Mac version of their software which runs on the same serial number so I’ll likely try the same with the other programs.

    Hey Jim, did you buy after seeing the Super Bowl commercial? I remember Mac when I was in 4th grade because it was the only computer in class that had a color monitor.

  4. Welcome to the new religion Richard! I made the cut fully about 2 years ago and hope to rid my home of the last PC later this year (wife’s laptop). Also, VMware released Fusion 3 today, which I would highly recommend upgrading to (should be free if you bought your version in last month).

    Let me know if you need any help on the Mac or Fusion fronts…

  5. It seems to me that your comparison isn’t really between a Mac and a PC. It’s more between Mac OS and Windows.
    You have better alternatives for an operative systems for PCs than Windows, which may solve all those problems (believe me, I’ve passed for the same).

    Nevertheless, it seems that you’ve made a good change!
    Nice computer!
    🙂

  6. It seems to me that your comparison isn’t really between a Mac and a PC. It’s more between Mac OS and Windows.
    You have better alternatives for an operative systems for PCs than Windows, which may solve all those problems (believe me, I’ve passed for the same).

    Nevertheless, it seems that you’ve made a good change!
    Nice computer!
    🙂

  7. Interesting article Dolan. Good point. I’m pretty sure the savvier computer users could find a workaround to anything but for the average photographer the path of least resistance is probably the most efficient way to go.

  8. Hi!

    @Richard yes, you’re right. There are differences in terms of hardware. But not necessarily in terms of electronic components. You can have a PC with the same graphics chipset, hard drive, memory, even the processor, …
    But there are differences in terms of design, quality of materials, construction, etc etc etc.

    But, what I wanted to say is that most of the complains about PCs are related with quality, stability, simplicity, … of Windows operative system.

    Nevertheless, I think Apple sells very good computers.

    @Donlan yes, you’re right. Many applications commonly used by designers, photographers, film makers, and others, are not available for linux.
    However, in most of the cases there are nice free alternatives available. For instance, Richard mentioned NVU for web pages editing.
    I normally use GIMP (for both linux and windows) instead of Photoshop, and I find it very good for my needs (but, I agree that professionals or maybe serious amateur photographers may think it is not enough for their work).

    I’ll leave here the address of a blog titled “Linux for Designers”. The author talks about solutions for several designer needs that are available for linux users.
    http://my.opera.com/area42/blog/

    Regards

  9. Hi!

    @Richard yes, you’re right. There are differences in terms of hardware. But not necessarily in terms of electronic components. You can have a PC with the same graphics chipset, hard drive, memory, even the processor, …
    But there are differences in terms of design, quality of materials, construction, etc etc etc.

    But, what I wanted to say is that most of the complains about PCs are related with quality, stability, simplicity, … of Windows operative system.

    Nevertheless, I think Apple sells very good computers.

    @Donlan yes, you’re right. Many applications commonly used by designers, photographers, film makers, and others, are not available for linux.
    However, in most of the cases there are nice free alternatives available. For instance, Richard mentioned NVU for web pages editing.
    I normally use GIMP (for both linux and windows) instead of Photoshop, and I find it very good for my needs (but, I agree that professionals or maybe serious amateur photographers may think it is not enough for their work).

    I’ll leave here the address of a blog titled “Linux for Designers”. The author talks about solutions for several designer needs that are available for linux users.
    http://my.opera.com/area42/blog/

    Regards

  10. Good to know Joao. I have tried GIMP before but it wasn’t user-friendly in my opinion especially for someone that is accustomed to Photoshop. I do agree that if someone really is determine to find a solution to anything then they can make it work.

  11. hey Richard

    Good to hear you’ve moved on from the PC world.

    The other benefit you neglected to mention, of course, is the “cool factor”. I’m actually WAY cooler now than I was before I had a mac.

    It’s a fact, Mac.

    Cheers

    Carl

  12. You guys are hilarious! I’ve been using a PC forever and have never, ever run into any of the problems described here. The only big problem I ever had was centered on my iPod, and I swore I’d get a PC-based music player in the future. And get this — I’ve even been running Vista for over a year without a single glitch. I’ve got a great PC that cost $1,600. How cool is that? 😉

  13. 5 reasons why Macs are inferior to PCs:

    1- Service packs dont cost $199 Since Mac OS X was launched in 2001, there have been several new versions of the operating system Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard. Each costing a princely $199 racking up a total bill of close to $1000 for anyone whos bought every version. And they say Windows is expensive.

    2- There isnt a PC maker on the planet that can hold a candle stick to Apple when it comes to product design. But not everyone needs a computer that looks like a shiny little box. The cheapest Mac you can buy, the Mac mini, costs $949 and comes with a tiny 60GB hard drive, a meager 512MB of RAM and no screen. Pop over to Dell, and you can find a Dell Inspiron with a 320gb hard drive, 3gb RAM, and a 19in flat panel display.

    3- Yes, we know Macs are meant to be so simple your Grandma could partition the hard disk while solving the Countdown conundrum, but do they really need to be dumbed down to use only one mouse button? A monkey with Attention Deficit Disorder could master two buttons, but Apples mouse resorts to a single mouse click by default. How idiotic do they think we are?

    4- While having one company controlling both the hardware and operating system undoubtedly has its advantages, it also leaves Mac fans with all their eggs in one basket. Apple could, for example, decide to drop Mac OS X at any time. What would happen to Mac OS devotees and developers then? It also leaves Apple remarkably vulnerable when innovations go wrong.

    5- You could pay $5,000 for an absolute top-of-the-range Mac Pro or $950 for a Mac mini, and youre still lumbered with Apples standard warranty, which lasts a pitiful 90 days. You can, naturally, pay extra for Apples three-year protection plan, which costs $230 for Mac minis, right through to a ridiculous $420 for the MacBook Pro. By comparison, a Dell Latitude laptop includes a three-year warranty as standard.

    Mac OSX: Made by retards, for retards

  14. richard,
    i am still trying to find out….with pc software licensing, with my owning Adobe Photoshop cs3, Lightroom 2, elements, etc…
    do i have to re-purchase these, or just install and run on the Mac I am looking at, via another program?

    thanks
    dc

  15. Hey Dan. Lightroom 2 is compatible on both PC and Mac so you are good there. As for Photoshop I think you would need to contact someone there to ask if you could swap licenses. Not sure if that is possible though because the Mac version of CS4 costs more than the Photoshop version. I had luck with getting a new license for other software though so it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

    The other option is to install Windows via VM Ware Fusion on your Mac then run your existing PC software on there.

  16. @Max

    (1) As you say, moving from tiger to leopard is a new version of the operating system. It is not a service pack which is primarily bug fixes so you are comparing apples and oranges. Also, your prices are way off, I think I paid $50 for the snow leopard family pack.

    (2) When I went to price out my 8 core mac pro versus a similar dell, the Dell actually cost more. The reason dell appears cheaper is that you can get some very low end machines and apple doesn’t cater to this market. If you want the low end machine, don’t go to apple.

    (3) I’ve been using right click on my macs for as long as i can remember. Your point is a non issue.

    (4) And a black hole could swallow up the sun tomorrow. The risk you take with apple dropping OS X is no different than the risk of MS dropping windows. Both are proprietary OSes.

    (5) Interestingly, consumer reports finds that Macs have fewer hardware problems than any other manufacturer.

  17. you have to be kidding first off all your dell didnt have a duo core processors in 2002 there was only the pentium dual core which in itself was a horrible processor i guarantee that if you had a mac running that even it would be compelled to blue screen. secondly you bought core 2 quad on a mac… if i could even explain to you the unfair advantages for performance in words i would, but unfortunately there are no words powerful enought to state my point. you cant compare a pentium dual core to a core 2 quad you just cannot do it third you probably spent around 2000 on your mac the only thing mac does better is ram and even that isnt reason enough to switch anyways i hate to say it.. you overpaid big time and despite not trying to be brainwashed your will has been broken i am truly sorry.

  18. @PCBuilder I think you misinterpreted what I wrote. I bought the Duo Core in 2008, not 2002. The 2008 Dell Duo Core was the Dell that was giving me all those problems.

    Secondly, I had no complaints about the speed back then. The problem was reliability.

    Maybe I have been brainwashed or not but to date, I have had no problems with my Mac. If it took an expensive computer to get to this point then I’m fine with it.

  19. Richard,

    I’ve been on a Windows machine forever and I’ve had no issues. I stayed with XP Pro until Windows 7 Pro was released, skipping Vista, and I can say that I’m very pleased. I run the Adobe Creative Suite “Production Premium” CS 5.5 and InDesign CS 5.5. This includes full HD video production. The difference is that my systems are custom built with all the best components, this includes my custom Dell Precision M4300 mobile workstation. I’ve never purchased a pre-built unit. Price is about the same as a comparable Mac. The only difference in the two systems is the OS so if you build comparable units you’ll get comparable performance.

  20. That is a good point, Jerry. The only time I’ve had a custom-built PC was back in the 90’s when my dad spent $3k to build one. Perhaps Windows is better now than when I last owned one but a major problem I had was with malware and trojans popping up all the time even from doing routine web work.

  21. I moved to Microsoft Security Essentials when it was first released and it has not let me down. Also, a pro photog friend purchased a Macbook Pro the same time I ordered my mobile work station and by the 13th month his Mac had been back to service for keyboard replacement, logic board replacement, USB controller replacement, and the battery nearly exploded. During that same time I made 1 call to Pro Service for a DVD issue and the next day I received a new one by FedEx.

  22. When you buy a Dell from their business services you buy it and then they build it. NEVER buy from a big box store with all of the trialware preloaded! This is how they sell a laptop for $350. They are junk! You get what you pay for and it doesn’t matter, Windows or Mac. Drives me nuts when someone buys a $300 laptop that’s junk then purchases a $2,500 Macbook Pro and proclaims that Apple is the greatest built.

  23. If there is one thing that is clear is that cheap computers are junk. I guess that’s why most Mac’s are so expensive. 😉

    I paid $1200 for my last Dell, and I’d consider that to be some chunk of change for a piece of junk, though obviously it wasn’t the most expensive PC out there. For that much money, I’d expect the manufacturer to put a little effort into it.

  24. Richard, what I’m really saying here is this. If a consumer purchases a Windows based computer like they would a Mac they would get comparable systems. This is one of the reasons Apple has done so well! They do not give the consumer the chance to buy low end which gives them their elitist image. Now that Mac is Intel based they are virtually the same except for the OS and a couple of other small changes on the mother/logic board. As with Dell, you can purchase a standard computer, laptop or desktop, or you can purchase a workstation. Workstations are nearly double the cost of a standard version. They look the same until you compare more than just the CPU. Dell workstations are built more in line with Profession Macs and they are comparable in price also. They do just as Apple, more stringent tests on hardware resulting in better performance and service. They just do a TERRIBLE job at selling these features. Did anyone at Dell explain to you that you needed to purchase a workstation? Of course not. http://www.dell.com/precision

  25. Thanks for the input, Jerry. I actually do agree with you. The key point is that Apple doesn’t make a lot of low-end shitty computers that compromise their image. With most PC manufacturers that is the opposite unless you are a savvy buyer that knows exactly what they need like yourself. The whole thing that drove me to buy a really expensive computer was because I was fed up with the whole experience buying a mass-marketed computer, but of course Dell was happy to keep selling these types of computers without making it known what it is that I should have been buying all along.

    P.S., I’m glad that you were able to build the right computer for your needs and haven’t had all the problems that I had.

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