For years, I've been the biggest supporter of everyone using a Mac, except gamers. Especially if you are a photographer or graphic designer, it just makes sense and it always has. But as current events unfold it's becoming harder and harder to stick with the platform, no matter how great it actually is.
The Good About Apple
The Mac operating system is what makes it so great. It's not so much the hardware, although it is very nice high-quality hardware. That said it's still commodity hardware and they are using Intel processors just like PC. It's not about the hardware really for the "user" anymore. The operating system (when you know how to use it as a power user) is what makes things so efficient and effective for graphics professionals in general, and especially photographers.
The MacOS Finder is truly incredible and as I mentioned before in my Mac tips. Little things like right-clicking the header of an open document to open that file's containing folder (or anywhere in its tree with ease) is vastly superior to Windows.
The reliability of MacOS is probably a decade ahead of Windows, no joke. There's no comparison on reliability.
I won't just make a statement like that without explaining why. The reason is Apple licenses the OS to work with their own hardware built computers. Meaning they know exactly what configurations of Apple computers are running their OS, since they manufactured them all. Windows, in contrast, has to "generalize" many things to be able to work on an infinite amount of different hardware configurations. On PC Part Picker alone you could configure a PC with thousands of different setups and the one operating system Windows, has to try and work with all those different configurations. That is a lot more difficult than making an OS work with your own handful of specifically built hardware, therefore the reliability of the Mac by that alone is very solid before even getting into the BSD derivative base system that MacOS runs on.
Apple Versus Windows: The Pros and Cons
Either operating system, Windows or MacOS, is capable of running the programs and getting the job done. They differ greatly in workflow, but they do run the same programs with relatively the same capabilities. Windows even has a few little things that are better than Mac, such as the ability to customize extra mouse buttons if you have say, a seven-button mouse. Mac has never been able to utilize those buttons and that's a real shame because that one little thing can make a tremendous difference in efficiency when utilized. As cool as that feature is, it doesn't make up for all the benefits MacOS provides, but it's something.
Bottom line, a capable computer user who has above novice level computer skills can use either operating system and get your work done.
Why Apple Is Making a Grave Mistake
Here's the scenario: I have one of my workstations that's a 2006-2008-era Mac Pro and when it was new it was leading edge quad-core with 32 GB RAM, 512 MB GPU. Now the Apple operating system is designed well unlike Windows which I believe is planned obsolescence the way the registry is structured, Windows actually slows down the longer you use it. MacOS will stay the exact same speed, however the perceived speed will change as software continues to develop and become more demanding. Cameras get higher megapixels, software has new features that are more processor and GPU intensive; those are the things that are making my 06-08 Mac Pro not work as well as it once did. It's the same speed it was in 08, but that's not good by today's demanding standards.
Apple's Mac Pro releases are few and far in between and the last release was the 2013 MacPro, and it was absolutely cutting edge with the 2nd Gen PCI-e SSD, good GPU, fast RAM, Thunderbolt, etc., but it's now four years old already and in computer terms that is an eternity.
So, my options for the 06-08 workstation Mac Pro? I could buy a used 2013 Mac Pro for still close to $2,000. That's a lot of money for an already four-year-old technology, and while they are fast and work well they still are much behind the current curve of fast processors and hardware architecture, such as the i7 7700. For example, for less money than a used 2013 Mac Pro costs, one could buy this. The 8 GB GPU, i7 at 4.2 GHz, DDR4 RAM, SSD. That computer, performance wise, will run circles around a 2013 Mac Pro. You can back a few of those specs down and be around $1,000 for a really fast modern-architecture computer system.
This makes it very difficult to buy a four-year-old used computer that has half or maybe less the performance specs for twice the money. Yes, MacOS is ideal for what I do, but at some point hardware that is 20x faster has to make a difference. Yes, there will be some negatives about the Windows OS to deal with (such as having to deal with some kind of anti-virus), as well as a few positive little things like the mouse button customization.
Further doubling down on Apple's mishandling of the pro market, they announced at the keynote that there won't be a new Mac Pro desktop built, rather a new iMac Pro which does boast some nice specs, but I hate iMac's for professional use. They are a great home or family computer, but I require more customization than that. What if I don't like the screen size? What if I want extra HDs or a different GPU? With the Windows build if I want a different GPU I can just pop out the existing and add a new one, no big deal.
Then there's the cost of this new iMac Pro at a rumored whopping $5,500 or more.
So Apple is leaving a certain market of professionals behind with the path they are headed down, a really expensive high-end iMac which I don't want anyway, or pay a lot of money for really old technology and there's no in-between. That's a rough place to be in because I truly love MacOS and what it gives me for my workflow. Windows will definitely be cumbersome but the speed of the computer is so much farther advanced, that it is appearing to now be the lesser of two evils.
Apple is essentially forcing my hand and likely many others. There will be a few markets left for them as professionals, since some folks may like and be ok with an iMac Pro and have the $5,000-plus to buy one. The rest of us are left with a tough choice. In the past, I have been happy to live with four-year-old hardware to not have to deal with Windows, but the gap now is only growing in performance due to the lack of Mac Pro production, so at some point it makes more sense to deal with the hassle of using Windows for the performance while saving a bunch of money and increasing future upgrade options without having to go out and buy into a whole new system.
It seems Apple is gearing heavily toward the consumer market and as a business decision that makes sense since there are a lot more regular consumers than graphics professionals. But it also seems like a huge mistake to abandon the original customer base that made the Apple computer so strong and good, evolving into what it is today.
What do you think? Is this really the end of the line for feasibly using Apple computers for professional photography?