Here are the selected submissions grouped in one post. Read through them and place your votes in the newsletter poll.
To be honest about this, my PCs (there are 7 of them here) lock up or crash about once a year, and I believe that the whole idea that a quality PC is less stable than a Mac is a myth. The marketing side of me loves the Mac vs. PC commercials ... they are great commercials, well done, funny, and they do a good job of selling Macs ... but they present one very simplified and dumbed down side of a situation that is not nearly so simple as the commercials portray.
So let me first make a comment on Mac vs. PC: Macs are made, entirely, by one company, on whom you are almost totally dependent for everything. They are of generally high quality, but they are also generally quite expensive. PCs are made by .... well, by everyone including your neighbors teenage son in the garage or on the kitchen table, and both the price and quality can vary all over the place. A kit of haphazardly matched surplus last-generation ultra-parts obtained for $89 (after two dozen rebates) from JungleAnimalDirect and assembled by a high school student who is doing this for the second time and thinks he now knows it all is not going to have the same quality as a $2,000 Dell XPS system, but they are both PCs. So when we talk about the stability of a system and how often it crashes, I come back to the point that a quality PC is as good as a Mac.
Another point that is related here is that Macs now use Intel CPUs and chipsets, they use PCI, they use AGP and USB, they can actually run ... directly ... Microsoft Windows XP instead of the Mac OS. The Mac, in other words, IS a PC, just one that can use the Mac OS, which a non-Mac PC cannot. Mac hardware is, again, no more stable than quality PC hardware. Because, in fact, they are at this point pretty much the same thing, from a hardware perspective.
So lets talk about your primary interest, digital photography. There is nothing about any PC that is hardware specific to photography. And as to software, there are tons and tons of digital photography applications available for the PC, and tons for the Mac OS as well. Of course if you are really, really serious about doing professional level photography on a computer (Mac or PC), you are probably talking about using Adobe full-version Photoshop, which is available on both platforms (and, again, the Mac can run Windows XP if you want to go that route (although the Mac may well not be the best platform for XP)).
So the real issues with Mac vs. PC are going to come down to the following items:
If you buy a PC, you have to select a source for the PC, and all PCs are not created equal. The issue, from a quality, reliability, stability and cost perspective is not so much Mac vs. PC as PC vs. PC
You can run XP on a Mac, but a Mac is not the optimum Windows XP platform, and switching back and forth between different OS, while entirely possible, is a pain (Currently, you cant officially run Vista on a Mac as far as I know, but I am certain that this will change at some point)
While some products (including Photoshop) are available for both the Windows and the Mac platform, for the most part the two platforms have different software offerings. There is no argument that some of the Apple software for multimedia (photography and video) is very good, and you cant run the Apple software on a PC. So if you want to use the Apple software, your decision is pretty clear. But there is a lot more software (superb, good, bad and yes, ugly) for the PC, so determining the software that you want to use is a key element in making this decision
Unless you plan to use this computer only for your digital photography, there are probably two orders of magnitude more software, overall, for PCs vs. Macs. So keep in mind, also, the entire universe of what you will be using this computer for. Very few computers are used for only one single application.
The problems that people have with PCs come down to the fact that a typical PC system is made up of hardware and software from dozens or even hundreds of different firms, and that even with billions of PCs on the planet, the exact combination of both all of the hardware and all of the software found in any one PC is probably completely unique. On top of that, because PCs running Windows are 90% of the installed base of personal computers, they are the preferred target for virus and malware authors. It is the abundance and variety of both hardware and software offerings that gives PCs their versatility and low cost, but, at the same time, its that exact combination that also causes most of the problems that people have with PCs. You cant have the good without the bad ... they go together. If you go with a Mac, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that exist in the PC world, but at the same time you will be avoiding a lot of the benefits as well, and precluding yourself from running most of the software that is currently being written (at least without switching operating systems and converting the Mac back into what is probably a sub-optimal PC).
In the end, however, its an individual choice that only the person actually using the system can really make.
Submitted by: Watzman
A slight lean towards Mac (yes, I have one)
You'll probably assume Adobe Photoshop as a necessity. Either platform for that.
Need much compatible communication with the e-world in general? A slight lean towards a PC.
Maximum flexibility? Mac provides/allows dual platform use. I use Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac (to be upgraded later this year.)
I lean towards Mac programs for stability & plug & play being the norm. I had to use MS at work for years before getting a Mac. At something like 85% market penetration, MS is the norm. I prefer a few of their features over Mac. Beyond that point of stupidity years back when the then Apple CEO signed off on the look & feel GUI in return for a measly 25 million loan during a cash crunch (whereas founders Steve & Steve politely asked Xerox for the privilege), it is obvious that now the two steal look & feel from one another.
My take on the decision? Back to the slight lean towards Mac. Yes, a lot less freezing/crashing. Minimize MS use to avoid focused exposure to the many bad guys.
I would never attempt to cram the decision on anyone. There are certainly many more MS gurus around than Mac. A recent demo swayed you? Stop back in an Apple store & let those guys earn their pay. Be politely demanding. Your time is not to be wasted on seeing what games teens like. Ask specifically for demo of iPhoto type features. They hire only relatively speaking, experts. Any should be familiar with Photoshop if not the creative suite in general. You deserve to take some of their time, not just parents with the kids (not sure who dragged whom along.)
Just encouraging an open mind. Best of luck as to both some semi-pro photo income & the platform you will us (not the mention all today's varying camera resources.)
Submitted by: NM_Bill
Best of all worlds with a Mac
In terms of pure hardware a mac is relatively close in price to an equally powerful PC (keep in mind that this knocks out the $500 PC's and most sub-$1000 laptops). Now that Apple has moved to Intel processors virtualization has become much easier, so if you did find a program you couldn't do without that was only available for Windows you could either install Windows on your Mac via Boot Camp (currently in beta, but will be a part of the soon to be released Mac OS 10.5) to literally turn your mac into a windows machine, or use parallels to run windows as a virtual OS (ie you run Windows or linux or whatever x86-based OS on top of Mac OS X). PCWorld has an article this month about choosing the right OS, and surprisingly Mac OSX was recommended over Windows Vista, XP, and Linux! ( http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,129284-page,1/article.html )
Most mac fanatics will say that Macs do graphics better than PC's. Speaking as a PC and Mac user, I think that at this point in time the playing field is more level than either side will admit. Photoshop works as well on a PC as it does on a Mac, although CS3 is supposed to be a big performance boost for Mac users (currently Photoshop CS2 only runs using Apple's Rosetta software on Intel Macs, sort of like running Windows on a Mac with Parallels). Both platforms have plenty of software available on the market for the semi-pro photographer. That being said, I still prefer the Mac. For Photo Software you would need to purchase there's Adobe's Lightroom, Apple's Aperature, and Foto Magico (for basic slide shows). Mac's come with iPhoto, which I like better than the Microsoft equivalent that I used before (I forget the name of the program because I only used it a few times and it was a while ago). Since there is this much software available for the Mac, I'm sure there is even more for the PC but it may be more difficult to sort out the good from the bad.
Behind the software you buy for your computer, there is the OS you have to navigate through to make things run. In my opinion there is much less of a learning curve to a Mac than there is to a PC, which is what I think is the big difference between the two these days. Apple tightly controls the hardware that it's software runs on, so things "just work." Meanwhile PC's are much more upgradable if you buy a desktop tower. However, how many users make many upgrades to their systems, other than additional ram? And if you need more hard drive space you can always get an external hard drive, which you probably should do anyways if you're seriously going to get into digital photography.
So if you want to open the innards of your computer, upgrade the motherboard, overclock the processor, etc, then get a PC.
If you just want to enjoy working on your computer to review and enhance your digital photos, then buy a Mac.
Oh, Microsoft Office is available for the Mac, and I prefer it over MS Office 2003 for PC's. When I look at the Mac version now, I see how they took ideas from that and used them in the new MS Office 2007 for PC's. A new version of MS Office that is a universal binary should be out sometime soon, which means a faster working version of Office on Macs.
Also, the last refresh of the iMac line was quite some time ago, so if you're willing to wait a month or two, there should be a new release of iMacs (faster processors, bigger hard drives, more ram standard, etc), and apple almost always keeps the same price points for their models; although the rummors I've read recently imply a major change for the current iMac form factor since there was very little change to the desktop design when Apple switched from PowerPC to Intel. Once you seriously get going with photography, definitely invest in a good RAM upgrade for whatever computer you purchase; it will make everything run more quickly.
I hope my advice has been helpful. Happy shopping.
Submitted by: URTido
PC or MAC
Ok, I know this question is going to start some heated debates about the pros and cons of Mac vs. PC and I think you will find that the major differences between the two platforms has disappeared over the years. And just so you know where I am coming from, I am a PC user with little to no experience with Mac. Who knows, if it were not for the iPod, maybe Mac would be gone today. Look what happened to Betamax. It is fairly common knowledge that Mac is the standard platform for the arts. Most anyone who is involved professionally with publishing, photography, video and music is probably using a Mac. Having said that, all the Mac professionals that I know, for some reason, also have a PC or two hanging around, I guess for file conversions and compatibility issues between Mac and PC. Anyway, I dont know how old you are or how many years you have until you plan to retire, but keep in mind that regardless of which platform you decide to use, the average computer only lasts about 5 years. So you will probably be purchasing a few more new computers in the future.
You say that you have gotten very interested in photography, I dont know at what point you are in this process, but might I suggest that you use the PCs that you currently have to learn the process, experiment with photo editing, sorting, slide show making and whatever else you plan or want to do. There are all kinds of free or trial programs that you can experiment with before having to commit to costly software such as Adobe Photoshop. This will give you a much better idea of what features and capabilities are most important to you so that you can pick out the ideal system later on. Now if you just have money to burn, well you get the idea.
It is similar to picking out your first digital camera. I often suggest to customers to just go out and purchase any $100 camera, use it for a month, discover your likes and dislikes and then give it to one of your kids (or save as a backup or travel camera or sell it on ebay) and then go out and get the camera that you really want. Then and only then do you know what features are the most important to you. Maybe you never realized how slow some digital cameras can be, or that you really want more zoom or maybe the size of the display screen is too small or even that fact that you really want something smaller to fit in you pocket. You might never know any of this without some prior experience.
Quick Story: My 26 year old son has been using PCs for years to create DVD photo slide shows for fun, work and occasionally for profit. He was thinking of taking it to the next level and turning it into a part time business. Everyone told him that he should be using a Mac, so he went out and bought himself a new iMac. He sold it on Craigs list a month later. Now after last weeks question about photo slide shows, he just ordered ProShow by Photodex to try on his PC.
Submitted by: waytron
Computers for Photography - answer to Chaz
Chaz, people tend to get too involved and make a big deal out of Windows and Mac, but in the end, they are all personal computers, PCs if you will. For your particular needs, both a Windows PC and Macintosh PC would be potentially useful; however, there are a few pros and cons to consider.
Macs are great machines, powerful technology, aesthetically pleasing, and do not need too much tinkering to make it functional. There are also some great softwares written for Macs that you can use, and many of them are available right at the Apple website. And it is a fact that Macs do not crash as much, though with your intended heavy graphics use, the system specs need to optimal. Macs seem to be the machines of choice of many graphic designers and desktop publishing people all over the world. From some of my friends among them, I have heard stories of woe, but those incidents are quite infrequent.
Personally, the main problem I would have with Macs is rather different. They cost a pretty penny, everything about them. The cost to get an optimal configuration, the cost of the service contracts (essential because you don't want to mess with the insides of a Mac, the way you can with a windows PC), the cost of getting additional Mac compatible software (because the bundled softwares may not suit your needs completely), along with the relative lack of flexibility of options - everything adds up to a big dollar amount. If you feel you can afford this investment, by all means, get a Mac. If I were you, I would go with an intel-based 2+ GHz, RAMmed up MacBook Pro, or a desktop, and *not* an iMac.
Windows PCs, on the other hand, are certainly crash-prone, as experience has shown us. However, these crash events can be kept to a minimum if you take regular care of the machine, and not allow junk to come in or build up. Between my home and work, I manage about 11-12 Windows PCs, and touch wood, I have not had a major crash in a long, long time. The currently available configurations are pretty powerful, too. From several manufacturers, you can customize the machine to what you need, and if you are handy with the innards of a computer, you can build yourself one, too! It would possibly end up being less costly than a Mac, and would be quite as powerful, spec-wise. There are lots of available softwares, giving you a large breadth of options, and from the internet, you can get feature-specific tools, plugins etc. You can also find very useful softwares from the Open Source movement. The software purchases for your Windows PC would probably also end up being less costly.
The money that you save should rather be spent in procuring one costly program - essential for a photographer, comes in both Windows and Mac flavors - Adobe Photoshop CS2 (CS3 is due out soon, I think). There is none quite like it. It is a very processor-intensive program (which is why you would need a powerful machine to run it), but the output that it produces - defies description! I have used many others, commercial and free, proprietary and open-source, but as a creative tool, Photoshop is really the crme de la crme.
Hope this helps. I am sure you would also get great advices from other knowledgeable people in this forum.
Submitted by: suirauqa
iMac...is a computer?
So, you have been told that by switching over to a Mac product, you will not crash? Did they also try to tell you that they don't have viruses, malware or any security issues to worry about? If not, I am surprised! This is often told by the people selling the iMacs.
As a system designer and computer security consultant, I can tell you straight up that "ALL COMPUTERS HAVE THESE ISSUES TO CONTEND WITH, EVEN a iMac!" Apple puts out regular updates (just like Microsoft), Apple's O.S. needs regular maintenance (just like Windows), and yes, your new iMac will need security software to Lockdown the system from attack (just like Windows).
You will have all of the things to deal with, that you have with your Windows based machine. In my opinion, none of these reasons are valid for switching to a completely new operating system. If you have a computer rental store in your town, check a iMac out for a few days and see if you really like the differences. When you go to the computer stores, look at the hardware & software that you like, and see if it is offered in a version for the iMac. Talk to the companies and clients that you will be interacting with and see if they are using Mac compatible software or will they want you to convert your files over to Windows before submitting them. Consider the tasks you will be performing on a regular basis and see how they fit with the Mac. To some, a iMac is PERFECT, and to others, it simply does not fit into their lifestyle.
As for performance, price, features and company service - they both are pretty equal.
Oh, did I mention that no computer should crash...ever? This is a problem that can be avoided, MOST OF THE TIME, by regular maintenance & updates. 98% of the time, it is related to malware infections and a lack of maintenance. When these are not the 'main' cause (they still have a part in it) - registry errors, system resources (ram memory, etc.) being too low or incompatibility issue with installed software or hardware are at fault. Once you remove all of these factors, your machine SHOULD NEVER CRASH - but it can!
Research, research and more research will point 'YOU' in the right direction!
Submitted by: micaman
Get the Mac and don't look back
I have been an serious hobbyist in photography for over 30 years. I have shot Nikons for years and the past 7 years a Leica M6. Since I have four children I shot MOSTLY slides. I primarily am a "street photographer" so I wanted a quiet stealthy unobtrusive camera. Naturally, I get a lot of interesting people, places, and family shots.
I show my slides on a relatively large pull down screen that I own through my Leica slide projector. If you ever really wanted to see your photography POP! showing them on a slide puts you right in the picture! Needless to say I have thousands of these treasures in storage.
I have now begun the process of scanning these slides in with a Nikon 8000 (top of the line) scanner with Firewire on a MAXXED out PC. I even have Vista with 2 gigs of Rambus (very expensive).
I have owned Macs too, (but prior to the recent Intel processor versions). I ABSOLUTELY LOVED MAC's. But, like a fool I maxed out a custom PC since I need certain "Windows only" for my work. WHAT A MISTAKE. Here are the main reasons I will be buying a MAXED out Mac next.
1. One of most important issues to me is the built in ColorSync with Apple's O/S. After all you want the image on the screen to match your prints or other outputs. PC's suck at color matching without special software and a spider device to read the screen. It seems to never end with the hardware and software you need to add to get just this critical area correct.
By the way I own a 24" Sony Trinitron GDM-FW900 which is a full CRT Flat screen that is still recognized by many as the finest in it's category. So it's not the monitor. Oh, I use the SAME video card (nVidia Geforce 7300) as the Mac does.
2. Scanning slides in even with with a high end PC at high resolutions is so aweful slow that you're ready to pull your hair out after the first batch. The MAC's architecture is such that they are "geared" for multimedia. Incredibly, a Mac Pro with 1/2 the ram as mine will scan almost twice as fast. This is a form of video streaming actually and is the MOST demanding multimedia application that you can test any computer on. The MAC wins hands down.
3. BUT, what's worse is using Photoshop on the PC's. Again, SLOWWWWW, compared to a Mac. All you have to do is compare them side by side (providing the software is optimized for the Mac) and you'll see your screens fly by with a MAC but NOT on a PC. If you like stuttering and stalls you'll like a PC.
4. The elegance of the Apple O/S can't be overemphasized. It's lean mean and super fast because it's NOT reliant on some old DOS remnants from 1988 for God's sake. Even Vista still has some of this junk. The Apple O/S is the bomb because it's a true 64 bit system. Do you really want to use Vista 64 to try to get this?
Lastly, GET A QUAD XEON from Apple. I wouldn't consider anything else but APPLE'S FASTEST MAC PRO. Get at least 2 to 4 gigs of Ram and the best graphics card you can afford. This outfit should cost you around $6,200. BELIEVE ME you'll spend that and probably more to outfit a PC with Xeons etc.etc.
The biggest lie out there IMHO is that Apple cost more. I just don't buy that anymore. Go to Dell and price out a similiar PC, you'll be shocked.
The Mac was built to satisfy the MOST demanding professionals in multimedia today. Now, you and I can own that same technology. I figure that I'll just add more RAM on the MAC and add a PC emulator like Parallels or something for the few occasions that I'll need "windows only" software. The bonus is that I'll have more ram for less cost than a PC.
Submitted by: dslagter