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Thread: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

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    Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Good day, all.

    So I am off to spend my hard earned dough on a new computer. The old aging Early 2009 MacPro has starting to wear me down. Wait times are higher and frankly, I can't help feeling paranoid about when it will go bust.

    Question is this: MacPro (6 core, 32 GB Ram ) or iMac 5K ? Is there a clear advantage to the MacPro, considering that we folks routinely deal with 300MB - 2GB TIFFs (when you add luminosity masks , stitch and all that ) ?

    Price out of the way, is there any clear distinctive advantage of one over the other ? I should mention that I use a Eizo calibrated CG27 whatever screen.

    Thanks

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    No experience with a Mac as I stopped using one over 10-years ago. My current computer is a Dell Precision T7500 that maxs the RAM at 192 (I have 96GB RAM). It's a 6-core with dual native PCIe x16 Gen 2 graphic cards. I have every slot filled with a HD (5) along with 2-DVD burners and well over 24TB of external memory. In short, the lights in the neighborhood dim when I turn this on.

    I just upgraded from the IQ160 to a IQ180 and completed a 3-shot image where at 40x30 it's just a tad over 172 meg resolution with the print Tiff file at just short of 1GB. The actual working file before I flatten it was in excess of 2GB.

    So, where the hell am I going with all this? Get the fastest computer you can buy with as much memory you can stuff into it and can afford. Then begin looking at harddrives. Make certain that whatever you get you can crack it open and replace/upgrade as you move along. The current computer has been with me for just over a year and during that time I've upgraded/replaced the graphics card and burners. I added the RAM myself as it was cheaper to do at the time. The thing I like about the T7500 is that it's quite and fast and it has 2-fans to keep the heat down. I connect 2-30' Dell monitors that I've had longer than the computer.

    The computer of your choice will cost a bundle however you should be able to keep it running for over 5-years before technology out paces it. I'd also look at card space for addition USB-3 firewire etc.

    Not a direct answer regarding a Mac but I hope it helps.

    Don
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    32 GB RAM will become the limiting factor if you work with multiple psd files and multiple layers. Try to get 64 GB RAM if you can afford.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    RAM at least for PCs has gotten a lot cheaper than it use to.
    Don Libby
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I use a Mac Pro as fully equipped as they can come (Fall 2014). Capture One is virtually instantaneous - so fast at creating large TIFFS that I have to check the file to which they've been sent to see if the HAVE been created!

    Also a Mac Retina (Nov 2014) for laptop/travel use, also maxed out, also very quick though not up to Mac Pro speeds.

    I use an IQ180 and am completely satisfied with both computers.
    Last edited by Bill Caulfeild-Browne; 18th January 2015 at 11:45.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I use SSD for all of my C1 and Phocus image editing.
    Much faster than hard drives. I now have 6 SSD drives for my OS and programs.
    I use hard drives for back-ups and extra copies of Raw files.
    Blu-ray is also used for backup/archiving purposes.
    I am not getting into the Mac vs Intel wars. I stopped using Macs years ago because I have been building my own machines for years and I can cherry pick the best components and build my servers for much less than the cost of the Macs and name brand manufacturers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Caulfeild-Browne View Post
    I use a Mac Pro as fully equipped as they can come (Fall 1014). Capture One is virtually instantaneous - so fast at creating large TIFFS that I have to check the file to which they've been sent to see if the HAVE been created!

    Also a Mac Retina (Nov 2014) for laptop/travel use, also maxed out, also very quick though not up to Mac Pro speeds.

    I use an IQ180 and am completely satisfied with both computers.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I very quickly found years ago that the deeper I got into digital medium format the more dependent I became on a good computer. If we don't think about spending the money we have on our cameras, lenses and more importantly the digital backs we all have then we should be surprised when we spend a boat load of money on the very tool we need to tie it all together. Find the fastest computer you can afford then go out on a limb and get the next best. Likewise populate it with the most RAM you can stuff into it (minimum of 32) and also look for fast high capacity hard drives, a lot of them. In the end you end up spending north of $5k but you'll have a system that will provide service for many years and one you can actual grow with by adding more RAM, changing video cards and HHDs as you go. In the long run you'll save money and aggregation. Again, I stopped using a Mac over 40 years ago go I'm not that knowledgeable about cracking their cases for upgrades but I do remember it being close to a PC.

    I'm bowing out of this conversation as I feel I've hit the max of what I can contribute and in no way do I want to see this go the way of a Mac vs PC debate.

    Don
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    The Mac Pro, while an amazing machine and considering what it contains is priced pretty aggressively, is designed with 4K video editing in mind. Since most programs such as Photoshop don’t thread very well, going beyond 4-6 cores doesn’t buy a lot. (C1 I believe is an exception, it appears to utilize all cores including virtual ones pretty efficient ... C1 really does shine on the mac pro) In some tests the 5k iMac beats the Mac Pro, simply because the 5k has a faster CPU. Overall the Mac Pro is still king, and has the advantage of being able to load up with a lot of RAM which can help, but the additional cost to benefit ratio may be weak. That said, I have one, and I really do like the design, size, and using Thunderbolt 2 Raid 0’s has proven very reliable, fast and quite because they are 10 feet away from my desk

    The 5k Mac is pretty impressive, the screen is great, and it’s pretty snappy. To be honest, a new 2014 MacBook Pro attached to a good display will blow away your aging MacBook Pro. Currently my MacPro is undergoing some tests (seems a graphic card or two might be having issues), and I’m surprised how snappy my MacBook Pro is attached to my 2 30” NEC’s and about 40 TB of Thunderbolt storage. The mac Pro is still the winner, but I could live with the macbook pro if I had to.


    One note, I think the MacPro may see a refresh in the next few months, it’s been over 18 months since it was introduced and it has been shipping over a year now. Apple has been slow to refresh the Mac Pro in the past, but this new one may see refreshes more often since it is now gained some respect in high end video departments as well as other places.

    digiloyd at macperformanceguide.com has a ton of info and comparison tests on the MacPro as well as the 5k iMac.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I have a relatively new MacBookPro (June 2014 I think) attached to an NEC wide-gamut display. I agree with Wayne. Sometimes I think I should get a home-based Mac Pro, but then I ask critically "why?" and the justification isn't there. I instead keep up to date with the fastest External SSD drives, and speed remains a non-issue for me. I process IQ180 images, often 2 stitched together, but rarely more than that. LR 80% and C1 20% of the time.

    Backups of images, catalogs and other files is so much simpler with one computer.

    Dave
    Last edited by dchew; 18th January 2015 at 06:16.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post
    RAM at least for PCs has gotten a lot cheaper than it use to.
    Not really, after the factory fires in Taiwan or wherever, prices have gone up quite a bit - right now 64GB of DDR4 costs around $1000! You could potentially spend more on RAM than the CPU. Even if you're looking at an older DDR3 based system, 64gigs is still around $700.

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    I have a relatively new MacBookPro (June 2014 I think) attached to an NEC wide-gamut display. I agree with Wayne. Sometimes I think I should get a home-based Mac Pro, but then I ask critical "why?" and the justification isn't there. I instead keep up to date with the fastest External SSD drives, and speed remains a non-issue for me. I process IQ180 images, often 2 stitched together, but rarely more than that. LR 80% and C1 20% of the time.

    Backups of images, catalogs and other files is so much simpler with one computer.

    Dave
    Indeed... I don't know when Apple will finally make an updated Mac Pro based on the new Haswell chips, but at this point I don't think it makes sense to buy one unless you really need all those TB ports or work with Final Cut for a living. The problem with the Mac Pro is that since it uses the Xeon platform, it can't compete with i7 on price, but it's also too compact and power-conscious to compete with real Xeon workstations on computing power and flexibility, so it gets stuck in a weird middle-ground.

    An 8-core, 64gb RAM, 1TB SSD and dual D700 Mac Pro will run you a toasty $8099. Alternatively, I can go to a custom PC builder like Puget and configure a Xeon workstation with a 14-core CPU, 64GB ECC RAM, GTX 980 and 1TB SSD all for under $7300. If you pick the XP941 SSD you'll even get the same drive speeds as the Mac Pro although it's limited to 512GB.

    If you believe that you don't need the stability features that Xeon workstations offer, you can build a system yourself based on the 5960x CPU for around $4000 (kitchen sink) and it'll really tear up anything you throw at it.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Tests in our studio between 2012 MacPro's (4,6,12core variants) and new 2014MacPro's (6core only tested) showed us that our money was best spent upgrading the existing line of 2012 MacPro 6-core Westmere's. The difference in file usage time was negligible and we produce some of the largest multilayered files you can imagine, so I feel your pain.
    One art repro job we did was a record 16GB!

    Our testing showed that Photoshop and to a lesser extent, C1 like clock speed 1st, RAM 2nd, HardDrive speed 3rd, and multicores up to 6 with diminishing returns after that.
    It took a while but we found USB3 cards that use a driver so they don't sleep. No need for thunderbolt yet.
    So, iow, best bang for your buck is to upgrade last generation MacPro. In our case we have over 6 main shooting stations in-studio and we use new MacBook Air's i7's for location capture. Real processing gets done back at studio so no need for beasts in the field.
    Hard drives for boot and initial storage are SSD or SSD R-0 arrays for speed, storage is traditional 3.5inch R-5 arrays in 16TB-30TB configurations.
    RAM delivers diminishing returns after 32GB but if it makes you feel better, get 64GB but it will cost you in power usage, boot time and money.

    Cost of typical workstation in studio:
    $3K
    2012 MacPro 6-core 3.43Ghz/32GB/1TB-boot(Sonnet Pro Card holds two 500GB SSD's in R-0 array + 2x eSATA 6GB/s) + eSATA 16TB external hardware R-5 Array

    This is buying time, I understand. I figure we have 2-3 years before we will have to upgrade to new cylindrical MacPro configs but net savings for us is over $40K which translates into more production capability in the near term.

    I am pretty practical about these things but standardized on MacOS a long long time ago for various reasons; mostly because that is what my clients use and what most pro photographers I hire use. PC's will give you more bang for the buck, so we use them for video work when these numbers get dizzying
    Last edited by Egor; 18th January 2015 at 08:00. Reason: forgot to include cost of typical sys
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    The one thing the new Mac Pro is really good at is SSD throughput. The built-in blade screams along at more than 1000 Mbps. Get a 1TB version.
    Brad Husick
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    The one thing the new Mac Pro is really good at is SSD throughput. The built-in blade screams along at more than 1000 Mbps. Get a 1TB version.
    It used to have that as an advantage, but now there are a lot of places selling XP941 sticks and motherboards that support them as boot drives, what it does still hold as an advantage is that Samsung produces the 1TB variant for Apple only, while the largest version you can buy and install yourself is 512GB.

    If you absolutely must have a 1TB or larger boot SSD with more than 1000MB/s throughput for some reason, there are always PCI-E socket SSDs like the OCZ Revo 350, or one of Intel's enterprise SSDs. Either way, I believe you need a new motherboard with native boot support for x4 m.2 to use these drives, although some PCI-E boards have their own boot firmware to allow older systems to work.

    Speaking of which, Samsung has already announced a successor to the XP941 that's twice as fast at up to 2000MB/s, and similarly, it won't be immediately available to buy except from OEMs. I expect RAMcity to start selling these in due time.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    We use this: Sonnett Pro SSD

    cost id about $600 including 2x 512GB SSD's

    Same as the blades, just easier and more cost effective

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Of course any solution that relies on RAID 0 drives is subject to complete failure if any one of the drives fails. Something to keep in mind.
    Brad Husick
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I've had some recent experience:

    I built a PC with two Xeon CPU 2.7g 8 core, with 64G of ram. 1TB of SSD (Crucial has one that's affordable), and a Nvidia GT580 3Gb graphics. 1200W power

    This machine is very fast at handling photo and video editing, much faster than any current generation Mac Pros. However the machine consumed so much power for the little time I use it (I am a prosumer photographer at best) and that it was not adequate for an occasion need to play some games.

    I downgraded that machine to a more top of the line prosumer build: 4.0G Intel extreme CPU, 32G ram, same SSD, and 290x radeon graphics.

    The results? Games and normal windows operations run much faster on the new machine, but Photo and Video editing time suffered.
    The most important components for a photo edition machine will be CPU speed (as many core as you can afford, preferably two cpu setup), then Ram, then SSD. Graphic card is marginal.

    the IMAC 5k looks awesome, but it's slower. Also it's not possible to have a dual monitor setup with the same monitor. Get the Dell 2715q 4k IPS monitors instead (they are $700 a pop, best 4k PC display at a reasonable budget)

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Many thanks for the replies. Seems that Dante has got me by the balls once again !!

    So I am about to set up a storage and back-up system as well, currently working on mac-pro (2009) with 3x 1TB drives that are almost full. ( backup up twice to portable Lacie drives )
    With me upgrading to the new MacPro, I am also contemplating a more robust / automated backup and storage solution.
    Must mention that I work with MF files that can sometimes be upto 3GB each ( focus stacks, luminosity layers etc ) so its a processing speed as well as read-write intensive workflow.
    What RAID array (0, 1-0, 5 ,etc ) would people generally advise in this situation ? Any particular software recommendation ?

    Many thanks

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Yes, R-0 config is subject to catastrophic failure at any given time. (benefit being raw speed and thru put)
    That is why everything is backed up both sequential and periodically cloned to 16TB R-5 array partitions or on the central servers, R-1+0 (sometimes referred to as R10 (2x R-0 arrays that mirror. Then the whole kit and caboodle backs up every night to a 3rd R5 array in as we like to say " a safe, undisclosed location"
    I have been doing this a long time, on a small biz budget. Every decision is thought thru.
    In any case, I will use the money saved by not buying new machines this year to purchase more MFD gear (a 2nd IQ250 most likely) and give my employees some raise $$
    Yes I would like to shave 10mins off my day with the newest latest greatest or bleeding edge workhorse beast Windows/UNIX boxes, but just not cost effective.
    Last edited by Egor; 19th January 2015 at 07:32.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    My setup is a Mac Pro 6-core with 1TB internal SSD (fast!) backed up in real time (foldersync) to one HD and two RAID arrays (one RAID 1 and one RAID 5) that are backed up to CrashPlan online every night. Belt and suspenders.
    Brad Husick

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I've used all types of backup systems I'm been very pleased with my current one. I've been using a combination of G-Technology systems including a 16TB G-Speed ( set at RAID 5)l; a 2TB G-Safe (set at RAID 1) for less important storage backup and a smaller 2TB G-RAID Mini for travel. Then again because I'm anal I also have 5-drives in the box which includes one drive whose sole purpose is to act as a scratch disk. One-OS disk, and two more drives that house working files and backups. I used to use a DROBO setup until I ran into a problem/concern and switched to the G-Tech; I'm still using the Drobo backup software as I have it and it works and hadn't found anything else as good.

    c: = 557GB
    d: = 150GB (fast scratch)
    e: = 1.50GB (main working)
    f: = 700GB (secondary working/primary backup)
    g: = 2.75TB (primary working)
    h: = G-Safe 1TB secondary backup used to be my travel drive (2-drives)
    i: = G-speed 8TB backup never leave the studio (4-drives)
    j: = G-Raid Mini 2-TB no RAID used as light backup to the backup and travel

    I now have a WD USB3 My Passport Ultra 1TB for travel and all the above remain at home. I'm interested in the new rugged G-Drives and waiting to see more about them.

    I also have 2-DVD RW burners and will be changing one of them out for Blu Ray burner.

    Welcome to my world!

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Used Macs for a long time, but switched to Windows after the last Mac Pro was released. Just did not fit my storage needs. Still continue to use a Macbook Pro as a laptop.

    PC - This thing just flies through CS/PS/LR/C1:

    i7 4930K
    64GB RAM
    Dual AMD R9290X
    2 NEC PA27
    1 Dell 4K 3214Q

    OS Drive - 2 striped SSDs - about 900MBps R/W speeds
    Images - 24 SSDs on adaptec RAID Controller, total approx 5TB - about 3GBps to 4GBs R/W (yes this part is nuts)
    Primary Backup - RAID 10 External Mini-SAS (I do this near real-time after a few disasters)
    Secondary Backup - RAID 10 on separate server with Mini-SAS
    Off-site - Just copy my disks every month and keep them elsewhere.


    Windows has it's own issues. It is fast, and I can upgrade it easily. It also can heat my office quite well if needed The Mac was certainly nicer in some aspects.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    satybhat, you will want to work with R-0 configs of SSD drives for day2day work, and then have it backed up/transferred to a large inexpensive R-5 config using either carbon copy cloner, Super Duper!, or CrashPlan. If you need real time incremental, then Apple TimeMachine, crash plan or even retrospect work well for that purpose. On some machines that are working on critical files I have written a script that just auto-copies all data as it is saved to a remote R-5 array, but that is overkill, imo. Never in over 10 years has it been an issue. I even have some R-0 configs dating back to SCSI drives that have never crashed in over 12 years...still running strong and stable!

    Interesting afternote: All multi-platter hard drives (which is all hard drives) are R-0 configs within their enclosures. Just food for thought.
    Last edited by Egor; 19th January 2015 at 20:09.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    If you go with RAID it's imperative that you also buy RAID certified drives when building your own. It's not a case of if a raid drive will fail, it's a case of when. Also, make sure that whatever you use, make sure that it has a very robust power supply - I had a raid 5 4x drive setup die a while back when the power supply browned out and two drives dropped. That was he end of that array - luckily it was a working raid and backed up elsewhere but it took a LONG time to rebuild it.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    +1 on what Graham said on RAID. RAID is not a backup solution, always make sure you have proper backups.

    HDD are so cheap now that it doesn't make sense to not do it, or use anything else.
    The new cloud based stuff is OK, but I am not sure performance an security are there yet for me.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Here is an article I wrote about Computer Specs for Capture One.

    And an article about Capture One v8 vs Capture One v7 which contain some useful tidbits.

    Most of this info is specific to working with raw files in Capture One, but should be generally applicable.

    Bottom line (if you want to skip the articles)
    - newer versions of C1 are faster than older versions
    - video card (GPU) is more important now than in the past
    - only the D700 graphics card (on the mac side) supports dual-GPU use in C1, as a result it's much faster than the D500 card version of the mac pro
    - SSD is much faster than HD, especially within C1
    - more CPU cores are mostly useful for batch processing to TIFF, not for working with raws in raw form where clock speed of the CPU, and the power of the GPU is most important
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    Most of this info is specific to working with raw files in Capture One, but should be generally applicable.

    Bottom line (if you want to skip the articles)
    - newer versions of C1 are faster than older versions
    - video card (GPU) is more important now than in the past
    - only the D700 graphics card (on the mac side) supports dual-GPU use in C1, as a result it's much faster than the D500 card version of the mac pro
    - SSD is much faster than HD, especially within C1
    - more CPU cores are mostly useful for batch processing to TIFF, not for working with raws in raw form where clock speed of the CPU, and the power of the GPU is most important
    Good breakdown. On a more general image processing level:
    - a faster CPU will aid in image processing and conversion speed
    - a faster storage system will aid in opening/saving/moving files and generating previews or cache data
    - a faster video card will enhance realtime photo manipulation and auxiliary processing (depending on program)
    - larger amounts of memory let you have larger/more files and programs open at once without the OS having to page memory to disk

    Don't know about anyone else, but I have a tendency to have like half the Adobe creative suit open at once along with other stuff... never gauge how fast a computer you need based on one application, because you'll eventually want to see if you can get away with running all of them at once.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    as one who just experienced a catastrophic failure of a raid 5 “backup” I would offer that rendundant copies using raid 0’s is probably more reliable. The odds of a second drive failing in a raid 5 while rebuilding one that has failed grows dramatically as drive sizes increase, and in fact most data centers have/are moving to raid 6 for that reason - and predicting that within a few years even raid 6 will be problematic. While theoretical estimates probably overstate the problem, it is a problem. A raid 6 can lose 2 drives, so if another fails during the rebuild you are OK. The main advantage of a raid 5 is the data can still be accessed while it rebuilds and it is cheaper than the same amount of storage setup as a raid 1 or using full duplicate/cloned backups. Other than data centers or large corporate servers, most don’t need that feature, and raid 5 is not a backup solution. Another problem with raid 5 is rebuild times are very long ... we’re talking many days. Lower priced raids take 24-36 hours per terabyte of data to rebuild. (here is one article discussing these issues with raid 5 )

    Additionally, hardware raids while they sound great, also have caveats (an “error” of a single block on a raid 0 on one of the drives can mark the entire drive as bad, resulting in total loss). A software raid seems to handle this better. There is a slight speed hit and possibly a little extra processor overhead, but neither are noticeable. Certainly there are downsides, but after some experience I have opted for software raids. (as an example, see this article)

    I had a 4 drive raid 5, and one drive failed. Fortunately I learned long ago that raid 5’s and their redundancy is not intended as a backup method but as a keep the data available solution, so that raid 5 was cloned to a second raid 5 each night. Anyway, a new drive was inserted and somewhere during the rebuild a second drive failed, because the unit now is stuck in rebuild mode, and it doesn’t appear as the drive will be recoverable.

    I already had a LaCie Big 5 unit, so I bought 2 OWC JBOD thunderbolt 2 cabinets along with eight 4 TB HGST(Hitachi) 7200 RPM drives configured each box using OS X soft raid as a set of raid 0’s. (some more research I did seems to show the hitachi/HGST drives are the most reliable, see this.)I debated on doing a raid 10 so that all changes are reflected to both drives, but decided an issue with that could be a corruption which gets mirrored. I opted instead to set the system up as a daisy chain backup, my main raid 0 is cloned over to the backup #1 at 3:00 am using Carbon Copy Cloner, when that finishes it triggers a clone from backup 1 to backup 2 using carbon copy cloner. So each day I start with 3 identical copies of the same data, and by changing a few symlinks on the SSD startup volume which maps some of my home folders over to the raid, I can start up with any 3 of the drives if necessary . The downside is if my main raid goes down during the day I lose anything I have done that day. Normally that isn’t that much, since I’m working at a second location with clones of various folders, which are then cloned over to the main drive when I get to my Mac Pro workstation.

    The OWC thunderbolt 2 JBOD box is about $100 less than the one with the raid hardware built in. I’m much more comfortable with my setup now, although I may move the 3rd backup to another site, and try to setup my own internet backup scheme to keep it current. Haven’t decided if that is practical or not yet. (also looking at various cloud/online options to backup just some critical folders). I’m also planning on setting up a backup to an SSD of all my critical data which can be stored at a second location. I believe SSD’s which see very little data change offer the best long term backup solution, since they have no moving parts. And as SSD’s get cheaper I may look at creating a SSD raid 0 volume which can be a main work volume (which of course would be cloned to my main raid 0, and so on ). But right now I’m seeing 600MB/sec throughput on my 4 disk raid 0 ... I’m not sure I would see any really improvement in LR or PS with this.

    So this may be beyond the budget of most, but the basic idea to me is raid 0’s when you need speed, redundant copies rather than parity raids (5 or 6) is probably more reliable and less troublesome if the data doesn’t have to stay live 24/7.
    wayne
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    - only the D700 graphics card (on the mac side) supports dual-GPU use in C1, as a result it's much faster than the D500 card version of the mac pro
    I find this puzzling, wondering why all 3 versions of the GPU’s can’t boost the processing.

    I’ve been told the GPU’s sort of work as “parallel” processors, which implies some of the load should be automatically shared. Maybe this is only for video output. I do know that only GPU2 drives any attached displays, and GPU 1’s role is to boost GPU processing.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Wayne, it is likely that the GPU's in the MP are setup as SLI, or in AMD world Crossfire. This would mean a couple of things.

    Firstly, as far as I understand from the PC side, the support needs to be from the application, and NOT at the OS level. Phase could simply have decided to go for what they felt was the most common configuration for their users.

    Secondly, the memory is essentially mirrored, so you get 1/2 of the total memory in both cards. The larger capacity of the 700 series may be better suited for this. On the 300/500, it could be memory limited before any performance improvements are scene, but this is just a guess.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    The limit on simultaneous use of the dual GPUs is at the OSX level. On the D300 and D500 the appropriate hooks are not provided for concurrent use. The cynic in me assumes this is a purposeful limit by Apple to sell more of their high-end configuration.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    The limit on simultaneous use of the dual GPUs is at the OSX level. On the D300 and D500 the appropriate hooks are not provided for concurrent use. The cynic in me assumes this is a purposeful limit by Apple to sell more of their high-end configuration.
    The Apple realist in me says that's almost certainly why it is so ... it wouldn't be the first or last time.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    RAID is for uptime, not backup.

    A good backup system protects against:
    - user error (accidental erasure, overwriting a folder, restoring a previous state accidentally etc)
    - software/OS error
    - hardware failure of the disk platter (e.g. data rot)
    - hardware failure of the enclosure
    - catastrophic loss of the environment (e.g. flood, fire, hurricane etc)

    RAID5 protects against exactly one of those (hardware failure of the disk platter)
    RAID0 protects against two of those (hardware failure of the enclosure or disk platter)

    Hardware failure definitely gets the most attention in discussions about backups, but in my experience it's a less likely culprit for significant data loss among individual photographers than user error.

    Notably with either RAID, if you as the user do something stupid, the stupidity is copied across all disks immediately.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    The limit on simultaneous use of the dual GPUs is at the OSX level. On the D300 and D500 the appropriate hooks are not provided for concurrent use. The cynic in me assumes this is a purposeful limit by Apple to sell more of their high-end configuration.
    My wrong assumption then, as in Windows, the app needs to support Crossfire.

    Makes sense for Apple....been paying the Apple tax for some time now, but heck, can still pretty much have any Mac for the price of a good tech lens

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Several years ago I lost my PODAS raw images. It was the first time I used C1 and the images landed in the Pictures folder. Two years later, long after the RAWS were processed and output images placed in my master catalog, I got rid of all the backups associated with that old computer.

    I have a robust backup system, but I am still the weakest link in the chain.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    RAID is for uptime, not backup.

    Notably with either RAID, if you as the user do something stupid, the stupidity is copied across all disks immediately.
    sort of my logic. Raid 0 is simply for speed and large disk size. Instead of raid 10 (probably better called a raid 1+0) I opted for redundancy and backup by automated backup software. I debated on whether to use raid 0’s for those backups to get enough capacity, or whether to use a simple span of multiple drives to get the backups large enough. Since loss of any drive in either system kills the whole thing, and because I had another raid, i decided that double redundant backups would be a good option, and by using raid 0’s it also allowed me to get back up and running in a few minutes.

    Because the backups only occur nightly, if I do something stupid on the main raid I can use the backup to fix it. Additionally, the backup raids use Carbon Copy Cloner with a safety net, so any file that is modified on my main raid doesn’t just copy over the same file on the backup ... that file is moved to an archive and kept for a period of time.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    The limit on simultaneous use of the dual GPUs is at the OSX level. On the D300 and D500 the appropriate hooks are not provided for concurrent use. The cynic in me assumes this is a purposeful limit by Apple to sell more of their high-end configuration.
    So if there are no hooks to the second GPU, what exactly is it doing?
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Thanks for the information Wayne, Doug and everyone.
    I think the high end dual GPUs were put in with scalability in perspective. Agreed that OSX will limit their utility ( as well as being limited by individual software efficiency ), however they do remain available for future versions of OSX ( and software upgrades ).
    Even assuming planned dehiscence in mind, there is speculation that apple is actually not making any money on the AMD chips. See here.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Fox View Post
    So if there are no hooks to the second GPU, what exactly is it doing?
    Only Apple knows. The Mac Pro is clearly aimed at Final Cut users, and to my knowledge Final Cut can use all the processing that's on offer, so they could just be keeping the secret sauce to themselves unless you buy the top-end configuration.

    As a side note - a Crossfire/SLI link is NOT required for multi-GPU processing, because modern GPUs are fully virtualized devices that may be treated as separate resources for GPU compute, meaning you can even have a rack of GPUs on a network and still utilize them for processing from a central system; this is how modern supercomputers are now built. Having the SLI/CF bridge attached to your cards while doing GPU compute may even incur a performance penalty if the software accidentally treats both cards as "one" card the way videogames do. Data between graphics RAM is only cloned when two or more cards are working on the same data set, but not when the two cards are applied for different purposes, for example in FCPX one card could be handling the real time playback and effect rendering while the second card does transcoding, assuming the application is threaded in a way to allow that.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    R-5 arrays use parity striped across all drives in the set. Therefore, its the best compromise between speed and span size. Yes, you can lose 2 drives or more (depending on R5 config) simultaneously and not lose any data. Yes, a new drive(s) must be inserted and it takes time to rebuild, but its the best compromise between speed and size and is why I choose it for most uptime and backup configs.
    Even if they made a 32TB single platter drive (they don't), I doubt it would be a cost effective solution.
    R-0 I use for speed, size after 1TB is not as important to us, because any given day's work is transferred to the big arrays every night, and the R-0's wiped clean for the next day's work. We only need SSD R-0 to shave an hour or so off each day's post work on large quantities of BAF (BiggAssFiles).
    Boot drives are also SSD but not R-0, just not necessary.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    The 5K screen is just awesome, looked at some of my images on the 5K mac last weekend. My old 100ppi screen looks very blocky now. I want 200ppi. On the other hand great screens tend to survive one or two computers, so I don't really like the concept of having computer and screen in the same unit. I also like the 16:10 format better than 16:9, so I hope a 30 inch 16:10 200ppi screen will come out soon(ish) and not cost too much.

    I'm quite patient when it comes to a computer being a bit slow -- as long as it doesn't run out of RAM. Therefore I like computers that can hold lots of RAM, it prolongs the life of the machine. I have 64 gig in my box now. As far as I know Apple boxes can be a bit limited concerning RAM though, as it seems to be one of the main things they use to differentiate their products.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    The 5K screen is just awesome, looked at some of my images on the 5K mac last weekend. My old 100ppi screen looks very blocky now. I want 200ppi.
    I experienced the 5K iMac display at a friends place after I bought my 645Z and while first impressions were good, looking at my photos again at home on my 1440p display, I was actually disappointed at the fact that higher PPI at 5K made pixel-peeping harder and made the images appear sharper than they were!

    I guess that problem can be fixed just by remembering to zoom into 200% when you want the equivalent magnification as on a 1440p display. God forbid I stop counting pixels and start concentrating on the aesthetics instead
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I'm a little late to the party here, but another thing that is nice about the 2013 Mac Pros compared to the iMacs is that if you opt for a Mac Pro, you can also upgrade the processor to a degree in the future.

    I have a Mac Pro (6core/64gb RAM/1tb/D700) that I'm relatively happy with. I'm currently using it with a 27" apple thunderbolt display, 27" NEC PA272, and Wacom Cintiq 13hd. I went with a Mac Pro over the iMac because I like the idea of the displays and computer being separate. It also is more expandable/upgradeable than the iMac (although not as much as some PC setups). The D700s came in handy this summer when I decided to rip and transcode my whole blu ray/dvd collection, so you might want to ask if you'll only use computer for photography or for other things too. I also use my mac pro to record music with Logic Pro and as a Plex media server, and it streams blu ray rips nicely too. Now if only Apple would release that 5k display as a standalone display....

    Regarding storage, I think a lot about RAID has been answered earlier. Personally I work off a RAID 5 Promise Pegasus 2 (R4) that I clone weekly (I don't take many pics) to a separate RAID 1+0 array. With the RAID 1+0 array, I ordered the 4 identical drives from different vendors to try and get drives from different lots to try and minimize the chance that multiple drives would fail at the same time. I also clone the Pegasus monthly to a giant 6tb enterprise drive that I keep in a pelican case offsite. I was in a house fire once. I was lucky and didn't lose any data (or you know other more important things...), but that made me realize you can never be too redundant and can never ever have too many backups. I use Carbon Copy Cloner and do clones with checksums (in the newest version the name for that is safety net or something?). The only thing I think I would add to my current setup regarding data would be a RAID 0 with SSDs as a scratch drive.

    Both the 5k iMac and 6-core Mac Pro would be able to handle your large photoshop files just fine though imho. Hell even my 2012 Macbook Pro (2.7ghz i7/16gb RAM/750 sata SSD/Nvidia GT 650M) handles 1-2 gb TIFF stitches in Photoshop pretty well, so either of those would be a step up from your 2009 MBP. Good luck with your decision and happy computing!
    Todd
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by tcdeveau View Post
    I use Carbon Copy Cloner and do clones with checksums (in the newest version the name for that is safety net or something?).
    Todd
    The safetynet means CCC will move any changed file to an archive folder and keep it until a specified condition is met, and then write a new copy of that file to the cloned drive. This also means any file you delete from the original gets moved to the archive and kept until the condition has been met ... which has saved me on more than one occasion when I want to revert an image back to a previous version. Not as slick as time machine, but helpful.

    You can set the program to keep the file based on available space, or a length of time. If set based on available space it’s pretty important to enable CCC to do a deletion run first (which means it takes a little more time), it will calculate how much space it needs and if there isn’t enough room will purge files from the safteynet based on oldest files first. I’ve set mine up to keep the files for 14 days.

    The newest version of Carbon Copy Cloner may use checksum by default, at least I can’t find a setting for it anywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by tcdeveau View Post
    I went with a Mac Pro over the iMac because I like the idea of the displays and computer being separate. It also is more expandable/upgradeable than the iMac (although not as much as some PC setups).
    I also like my displays separate (I use 2 matching 30” NEC displays). I know the Mac Pro has been criticized because it isn’t as expandable as a PC ... I think that’s false. Thunderbolt 2 is basically the PCIe bus multiplexed with the display port data. This means an external PCI cabinet or any external devices operate just as well as if they were internal to the machine. Anything you can plug into a PC can also be used on the new Mac Pro. Yes you may have to buy a cabinet to use a card, but 95% of those that use a mac pro never add a card to it, and what the new Mac Pro does is get rid of all that space and create in incredibly efficient cooling system so the computer can be tiny and extremely quiet.

    My drive cabinets are sitting 10 feet a way so I can’t really even hear the drives spin up or fans. And if I wanted to I could buy a 33 foot optical TB cable and move them into the next room. (and I may do that some day).
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by tcdeveau View Post
    I'm a little late to the party here, but another thing that is nice about the 2013 Mac Pros compared to the iMacs is that if you opt for a Mac Pro, you can also upgrade the processor to a degree in the future.
    You can upgrade the RAM and flash drive, but everything else is soldered to the board... and even it weren't, the only upgrade to the V2 Xeon series are the new V3 versions, which use a different socket with a different number of pins.

    I really do wonder when Apple will finally announce a 2015 Mac Pro - the new processors are here, new V-NAND SSDs are here along with the NVME protocol, the USA factory is finally running up to speed, and there are many improvements with which Apple can still wow people with; imagine a "double-height" Mac Pro with dual processors, an extra bank of RAM sockets for up to 128GB or 64GB of cheaper RAM sticks, and support for two SSDs.

    Also, I would suggest they drop AMD cards in favor of Nvidia Maxwell cards, which are just as fast, but generate considerably less heat and use less power than anything else. With two cards in a system this isn't an insignificant consideration (up to 300w difference), and could easily open up enough of a power budget to use faster/more components elsewhere.

    One can order up a PC that has all of the above today, and perhaps even make it a Hackintosh, making the only difference a pretty exterior and six native thunderbolt ports, although you can buy an add-in card for that as well, so Apple really have to step up their game. Building a closed workstation system is a pretty risky proposition as-is, considering that just about every other company (Dell, HP, Lenovo) only talk about how expandable their systems are. Lenovo in particular has developed an interesting mezzanine connector for the P series that lets you add multiple special adapters internally to their workstations that don't take up any PCI-E slots, yet offer the ability to add m.2 SSDs, RAID controllers and other things, for as many as you need (depending on base model). Also I believe it's one of the most gorgeous PCs ever designed, but that's just my opinion:

    Last edited by Kolor-Pikker; 22nd January 2015 at 02:30.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Concerning storage, I think having an off-site backup is crucial to cover the cases of fire or theft. I have mirrored disks on the local workstation, and then a local backup disk, and then an off-site data centre backup service, which in itself is backed up there. With 100 megabit internet connection and only about 60 gig of data per year, which I think is quite small (as an enthusiast tech cam shooter I don't make that many pictures a year) makes the backup service feasible. If it wouldn't be feasible I'd have external disks stored in some off-site location in a safe and make periodic backups there.

    I'm too a PC user, you get better hardware that can live longer at lower prices, but it requires more computer knowledge and more messing around, so I think Mac is the best choice if you want something that "just works". Actually I run Linux most of the time, and run Windows in a virtual machine to access windows only software. Unfortunately Apple doesn't allow virtual machine other than on Apple hosts. My profession is within software development so I have a Mac too for that reason but it's not my main workstation when it comes to photography.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I don't think the processor is soldered to the board. There's a video on Youtube from OWC on upgrading the processor that doesn't say a soldering iron is necessary. Thermal paste is however. OWC will also perform the upgrade service for you:

    OWC Processor Upgrade Program options for Apple Mac Pro 2013

    The only reason processor upgrades peaked my interest because there are a couple v2 8-core options with clock speeds faster than that you can get from Apple directly. However, whether it's worth ~$2300 and shipping my computer to OWC to move from a 6-core 3.5 ghz to an 8-core 3.3 ghz (Apple only offers a 3.0 ghz 8-core) I'm not so sure...but the option is there.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by tcdeveau View Post
    I don't think the processor is soldered to the board. There's a video on Youtube from OWC on upgrading the processor that doesn't say a soldering iron is necessary. Thermal paste is however. OWC will also perform the upgrade service for you:

    The only reason processor upgrades peaked my interest because there are a couple v2 8-core options with clock speeds faster than that you can get from Apple directly. However, whether it's worth ~$2300 and shipping my computer to OWC to move from a 6-core 3.5 ghz to an 8-core 3.3 ghz (Apple only offers a 3.0 ghz 8-core) I'm not so sure...but the option is there.
    Ok, that's interesting... the 2667 v2 is a very nice CPU, since it has a high turbo clock, I believe it goes up to around ~4GHz when utilizing 4 cores or less, which is the highest among Xeon processors (aside from the 2687w V2 which has a higher base clock but runs hotter).
    Considering the E5 2667 V2 used to cost around $2200 new, their price isn't too out of line, with the rebate they basically charge a $100 service fee, but I'm sure you can find many used ones now for less, since a lot of IT companies will be moving to V3 chips now that they're out.

    That said - $2300 is enough to build you a complete PC based on the 8-core 5960x which you can turbo up to 4.5GHz, here's a quick system I configured as an example - http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ybj7dC

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    Quote Originally Posted by tcdeveau View Post
    However, whether it's worth ~$2300 and shipping my computer to OWC to move from a 6-core 3.5 ghz to an 8-core 3.3 ghz (Apple only offers a 3.0 ghz 8-core) I'm not so sure...but the option is there.
    If you’ve ever monitored the CPU/core usages while using Lightroom or Photoshop, they don’t really take advantage of all the cores. Often you see none of the virtual cores getting hit at all. C1 on the other hand is pretty efficient at using all the cores and I’ve C1 max out all cores including virtual ones frequently when doing certain tasks.

    So I guess if you spend most of your time in C1, a slightly slower clock speed but 2 more cores might be beneficial, (although it seems the cost/benefit ratio probably isn’t there as you mentioned).

    If on the other hand if you spend most of your time in LR/PS, the faster CPU speed is probably the better option. the new 5k iMac wins many tests in Photoshop against the Mac Pro simply because it’s running at 4ghz.
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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    cores would matter in an intensiive operation like multi imaging stitching, HDR rendering, or 3d rendering. Your regular C1 editing on a small image file will not utlize all the cores at 100%. But if you shoot medium format and do stithcing, then the speed diference is huge.

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    Re: Computer question for Medium Format photography only

    I agree.
    Although when it comes to C1, do most folks here do the catalog on the SSD, with masters and output files on the RAIDs ?
    As in, whether using sessions or catalogs, does it degrade performance if you reference the files (my new preferred method to be adopted ) vs having the catalog ingest the files ?

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