Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is the new iMac a pro machine?


My pal Laurie Jeffery is a bit of a gear-head and a busy professional photographer. He knows what's good. This guy is now using one of the new aluminium iMacs for his main machine (The 24-inch model I'm sure.), and he loves it. *

And Laurie is not the only one to be in doubt about the alleged "amateur" status of the new iMacs.

*I once told him I almost bought him an Apple Cinema monitor for Christmas, but I decided that he "would just be embarrassed by such a display".

TTL said:
I am not sure I understand the question. But clearly Apple sees the iMac as a consumer product. That's why they have a separate Mac Pro line.

Whether you can use an iMac in a profession successfully is a different matter. It's certainly very usable for writing software -- even if not in the specific field and style of programming Alex is involved in.

On the other hand, in the field of music production it's generally not considered "pro" because there's no PCI expansion slots. But you could still use it for many music production tasks in a professional manner.

When it comes to editing and retouching of photos it's probably not considered pro because you can't change the monitor (as I understand, current LCDs still are lacking in gamut compared to high end CRTs). Of course you could always add an external secondary monitor for colour proofing.

The difference between an iMac and a Mac Pro is the same as that of a compact camera and a DSLR. Your question therefore is like asking whether a compact camera, say Nikon Coolpix P5100, is a pro camera?

I beg to differ. I the (meant to be rhetorical) question is more kind to asking whether the Nikon D300 is a pro camera. Which I tend to think it is. And interestingly, it is descended in a direct line from Nikon D100, which was definitely an amateur camera.

Of course there are no final answers to these questions, since it all depends on where you set the lines. But the lines are clearly moving up continually.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Wednesday, November 21, 2007   5 comments links to this post

5 Comments:

At 22 Nov 2007 02:16:00, Blogger Alex said...

Freescale does not support Codewarrior for Mac, so I would have to say NO.

 
At 22 Nov 2007 19:37:00, Anonymous ttl said...

I am not sure I understand the question. But clearly Apple sees the iMac as a consumer product. That's why they have a separate Mac Pro line.

Whether you can use an iMac in a profession successfully is a different matter. It's certainly very usable for writing software -- even if not in the specific field and style of programming Alex is involved in.

On the other hand, in the field of music production it's generally not considered "pro" because there's no PCI expansion slots. But you could still use it for many music production tasks in a professional manner.

When it comes to editing and retouching of photos it's probably not considered pro because you can't change the monitor (as I understand, current LCDs still are lacking in gamut compared to high end CRTs). Of course you could always add an external secondary monitor for colour proofing.

The difference between an iMac and a Mac Pro is the same as that of a compact camera and a DSLR. Your question therefore is like asking whether a compact camera, say Nikon Coolpix P5100, is a pro camera?

 
At 22 Nov 2007 21:59:00, Blogger eolake said...

I beg to differ. I the (rhetorical) question is more kind to asking whether the Nikon D300 is a pro camera. Which I tend to think it is. And interestingly, it is descended in a direct line from Nikon D100, which was definitely an amateur cameras.

Of course there are no final answers to these questions, since it all depends on where you set the lines.

 
At 23 Nov 2007 00:59:00, Blogger Alex said...

I think a professional writer would be happy with an iMac. That is if they are simply composing, and not performing DTP functionality, where they may benefit from some pro-upgrade.

With USB2.0 MIDI controllers, is there an audible latency issue? I've been looking at theatrical lighting controllers and finding that they are often hanging off a box which is USB controlled. As well as the DMX (or whatever) there seems to be a Midi show protocol on top of the audio protocol.

Or is the issue in lack of actually high quality 7.1 sound cards?

But yes, I have professionally programmed on Macs, though we typically had the top end machines, were they Centra's, for development, even when the target was a Performa or Quadra.

Are pin-hole cameras not professional cameras?

 
At 24 Nov 2007 05:13:00, Anonymous ttl said...

"Or is the issue in lack of actually high quality 7.1 sound cards?"

Yes, multichannel support is the main reason. In professional use, digital audio is transferred using AES/EBU. The Mac is equipped with a PCI card that provides the AES/EBU connectors on the back panel. Signal is then routed using high quality balanced cables to external AD/DA converters, typically installed in a rack.

It's not just about 7.1, but 4, 8, 16, 24, etc too. Also, even for 2-channel audio the Mac inbuilt converters are not considered high quality enough. Especially for input. For monitoring (output) they may in some cases be adequate.

As a rule of thumb, the Mac (or PC) chassis is not a good place to house the AD/DA (the analog side it) due to interference noise from the computer motherboard etc.

MIDI is easier since it's just a control protocol (transfering note-on/note-off events) and does not carry an audio signal. Yes, latency is sometimes tricky, but Macs are good in this. Also, MIDI interfaces don't require a PCI card. They interface through USB or Firewire.

 

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