I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for iMac

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been using the same laptop for over seven years now. We met on my first day of college and she’s been everywhere with me, including Australia, upstate New York, Explo, and the smaller journeys in between. The good thing about this is despite the mileage (both literal and figurative), it still works well. The bad thing about this is that I can’t upload new, great programs like Photoshop CS5 (or CS for that matter, I tried) because it will most likely give my laptop the equivalent of a stroke. What’s a budding digital photographer to do?

While working at Explo I had constant access to a 27″ iMac. “Drool” is one word that comes to mind when describing this piece of machinery. The other word that comes to mind is “broke”, which is something I could have been if I bought this $2,000 computer. I’ve also been bitten by the Photoshop bug, which was bound to happen (read All I Want for Christmas is Photoshop in case you missed that story). I debated my options for the past few months, Mac or PC, desktop or laptop, over and over again. I was beginning to sound like a broken record and was no closer to making a decision. I had heard that Macs are better with photo editing because of their screen’s ability to be more closely aligned to the colors of a printer, but I also listened to my bank account and was wondering for a bit if I should just buy a PC as it’s cheaper.

Fortunately for me, I’ve made the greatest discovery since fire: the Refurbished department in the Apple Store. Ok, I’m being a little dramatic, but my tax return wasn’t exactly what I hoped for. By purchasing the refurbished version of the iMac, I saved $300+ dollars which means I’ll be using that extra money to buy Photoshop, or Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac or Apple’s equivalent, iWork. Both have decent reviews, although it sounds like Microsoft Office 2011 isn’t all that’s cracked up to be. Many reviews complained of bugs galore, like poor running time, frozen programs, and lost data. But I’m not here to talk about word document programs…

The computer I went with was the iMac 27-inch 2.8GHz Intel Quad-Core i5 processor. If you’re looking at what I just typed and are completely lost, have no fear. I did a bit of research:

  • 27-inch = the size of the screen (obvious yes, but I’m all about transparency)
  • 2.8 GHz  refers to the speed at which the processor does its job. The more gigahertz, the faster things are processed on your computer. Great for multi-taskers.
  • On quad-core and more, take a look at this article. It speaks well to the average Joe about what makes the difference in your computer, and for Photoshop users, “… less than 1% of all popular software applications [can] handle the second core. The ones that could, like Adobe Photoshop, would absolutely fly! On a 3 GHz per side dual core, Photoshop performs like it was accessing a 6 GHz single core or even better than that!” A.k.a., good 🙂

There is no tower with the iMac, which makes it more compact (laptop-esque), and the keyboard and mouse are wireless, making it an overall clean and compact set-up. As “cool” as wireless is, I think it’s a waste of money and resources buying batteries. Luckily the Apple Store was flexible with me and allowed me to trade my wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse for the Apple Keyboard with the Numeric Keys and the Apple Mouse. I don’t even have to use two USB outlets on the back of the iMac as the keyboard itself houses two more USB ports. Now THAT’S cool.

Two things popped up during my switch from PC to Mac. At the moment, I am Photoshop-less, and was looking forward to becoming acquainted with iPhoto. If you’re like me, you have a system for organizing and saving all of your files. iPhoto really isn’t ok with that. It will let you upload and bring pictures into its library, but if you start messing with the library (for example, naming a folder “02 Dad’s Birthday” rather than “983239543”), it suddenly doesn’t know where the pictures are and cannot access the folder. I like my method of organizing (by year, then season, then event in chronological order), and like being able to easily find and access the folder of photographs I’m creating, which was really hard to do with all the photos tucked away in the iPhoto Library. The iPhoto Library’s storage method is awful; it takes all of your photos and puts them in the same folder, making them hard to find. Really, really hard to find. Therefore, I uploaded Picasa for Mac. Rather than me dragging photographs into the program’s special library folder, it searches your computer for the files. That means I can keep everything nice and neat the way I like to be able to access it.

My second Mac roadblock came with my external hard drive. I own a Seagate 250 GB Portable External Drive. I love it. It’s been really helpful in allowing me to keep my computer relatively free of unnecessary clutter, like seven years of digital photographs, without losing anything. Switching from PC to Mac isn’t so easy for my little friend. I found out I can’t save to it from my Mac without first reformatting it. Unfortunately, reformatting means EVERYTHING on it will be deleted. Yes, I can probably move everything over to my Mac, format the Seagate, and move it back once I’ve finished, but my number one fear of that is JPEGs and their ability to become of poorer and poorer quality every time you make a copy of it. I’m debating purchasing a new hard drive rather than reformatting the old one so as to not lose the current quality my photographs have.

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2 thoughts on “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for iMac

  1. I was going to suggest picasa until I kept reading and you already got it! Also, you’re mixing up saving a jpeg and copying a file. Every time you save a file as a jpeg, it gets compressed (how much depends on your settings, but even the highest quality has some compression). If you keep saving the same file over and over as a jpeg, you will easily notice a loss of quality. Copying a file is not the same. If you copy your photos back and forth from your external to the mac and back 5724385234 times, there will be no difference in the quality; it’s an exact copy.

    1. Part of me believes you. The other part of me doesn’t want to take the chance, no matter how remote, of accidentally leaving something behind on that hard drive and losing it to reformatting. It’s likely I’ll probably do as I’ve planned despite your sound knowledge.

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