Photography / Buying Guide

Apple Desktops For Photographers

If you are looking for a desktop computer that packs advanced technology and performance into a single, high-performance machine, the iMac offers a solid option. The incorporation of computer and monitor into a slim and striking design characterizes the iMac line. For photographers looking for a powerful machine and capable monitor, the iMac offers an easy solution.

The professional workhorse in Apple’s arsenal, the Mac Pro, is a performance-oriented machine capable of handling the most intensive photo-editing tasks, as well as the most demanding video, audio, and design workflows. Separating itself from the rest of the pack in both aesthetics and design, the Mac Pro is a modular workstation that allows you to select various processing, storage, and memory components to suit your personal needs. Where other Macs are characterized by their smooth, silver-aluminum enclosures, the Mac Pro has a distinct cylindrical shape and a black, polished aluminum housing that not only looks good but improves performance.


A big concern for most photographers is the size and quality of the monitor. The iMac’s monitor is its calling card. iMacs are identified by their monitor sizes, 21.5" and 27". Users will be able to pick the best fit for their space and needs. The 27" is a large Retina display that produces 5K-resolution images, while the 21.5" is available with a Retina 4K display or a 1920 x 1080 sRGB display. These screens are perfect for photographers for whom critical color viewing makes a huge impact when producing final images for print and the Web. Also, they are exceptionally thin, contributing to the overall compactness of the iMac.

Powering these displays are robust graphics engines that provide fast refresh rates and the ability to load your photographs in no time at all. When choosing a size, you should consider your graphical needs. The 21.5" has Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics, which will handle your day-to-day tasks without issue. Moving up to the 27" model, you will find a discrete AMD-powered graphics card, which will handle the workload of demanding professionals. If you are a photographer who occasionally dabbles in video, the fast AMD graphics card will prevent the stutter caused by dropped frames when editing high-resolution video.

The iMac is configurable in terms of processor, RAM, storage type, and capacity, among other options that will help you create a computer that is just right for your needs and will expedite the processing of large image files, editing of movies, and more. A variety of Intel Core™ processors are available to handle key tasks, ensuring that everyone from the weekend photographer to the daily professional will find what they need. Adding RAM makes working on multiple projects simultaneously a snap.

For storage, the iMac supports multiple setups, whether that involves numerous external storage drives to hold and back up your files or having a large internal drive to hold your libraries. Internally, the iMac has options for massive spinning hard drives, speedy SSD flash storage, or even Fusion Drives, which blend the best features of both options.

As expected, the iMacs are built with two Thunderbolt 2 ports, which are among the fastest interfaces available today. These are ideal for linking external drives that you’ll be working from or backing up to. The Thunderbolt ports can also serve as display connections, allowing you to add a second monitor to your desktop.

iMacs feature USB 3.0 ports , an Ethernet connector, a headphone jack, and an SD card slot. These provide more options for connecting additional peripherals, input devices, and more. Furthering the iMac’s connectivity is built-in wireless functionality. Wi-Fi will allow you to connect to your network with ease and work with devices such as the Apple AirPort Time Capsule, for wireless backup and storage. Along with this, Bluetooth will let you hook up the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2, as well as the optional Magic Trackpad 2 with Force Touch.

Mac Pro

At the core of the Mac Pro is an Intel Xeon™ processor, which is available in a variety of different core and speed configurations, with the base models still providing exceptional power for image editing. More powerful units are available to speed up multi-tasking or processor-heavy applications and tools; for example, the stitching of giga-pixel panoramas or rendering 4K video. RAM will back this up with capacities that will dwarf those of your standard desktop and make handling large stills and multiple layered images no problem at all. RAM becomes increasingly important as megapixel counts continue to go up and up and file sizes grow exponentially.

The Mac Pro is distinct in how compact it is, yet it contains a wealth of processing capabilities. To ensure smooth operation, the cylindrical design efficiently keeps air flowing to draw heat away from the CPUs and GPUs. Expansion is achieved through six Thunderbolt 2 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two RJ-45 connectors, and an HDMI port. External displays are supported via this system, and the Mac Pro can power up to six Thunderbolt or DisplayPort monitors or up to three 4K- or 5K-capable monitors.

Powering these displays are dual AMD graphics cards with a selection of different VRAM options. You should determine the size you select based upon how many monitors and the resolutions you choose, as well as your applications and needs. In general, the more VRAM your machine has, the better. One-monitor setups will likely be fine with the base option, but if you start expanding or upgrading to 4K and 5K displays, more memory will result in smoother performance. Also, if you do want to move from stills into video of 4K and higher-resolution, video memory will become a key component as you render Ultra-High-Definition footage.

Rounding out the internal configuration of the Mac Pro is its storage capacity. The internal drive is a flash-memory-based SSD storage system that is exceptionally fast for loading your operating system, as well as applications with minimal wait time. The six Thunderbolt 2 ports provide ample connectivity for nearly unlimited storage solutions. Daisy-chainable, adaptable, and supporting card chassis, its ports support almost any input device, from film scanners to video and audio capture cards.