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Can you recommend an on location capture machine


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Hello Damien and team.

I have a 2009 Macbook Pro that i use for location shoots that is starting to show it's age and is pretty sluggish when starting up, opening / closing lightroom, etc.

I want to know what you recommend as a replacement. My studio is all Mac, so ideally a Mac, but am open to a more powerful machine for a lower price as long as the screen can be calibrated using my i1 Display Pro.

I was thinking of another macbook, but a more entry level machine, or a 21" iMac. Bigger screen, lower price and not too difficult to lug around.

I would appreciate your input.


Thanks as always.

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This is one of the very few times you will see me recommend a current 21.5" iMac. Compared to a MBP, it is more than half the cost of a tricked out MBP, which seems to be around the $3600+ range. Things like shooting tethered become a nice reality, especially for commercial work and having an Art Director standing next to you.

The biggest drawback is upgradeability; with the 21.5" iMac models, you NEED to purchase the extra options, like increasing the RAM to 16GB at the time of purchase. There aren't any access panels to upgrade the RAM after the fact and with Apple, their RAM is EXTREMELY over-priced. All for a little Apple Logo sticker, you'll pay 400% more. (Conversationally speaking, I'm too lazy to do real maths.) So my advice is to start with the $1299 (US Price) iMac and upgrade the RAM to 16GB. That will put you to $1499 and please purchase AppleCare. You are going to be lugging this around, so don't skip on the extra protection. Oh, stick with the traditional hard drive. Yes, it is a bit slower than a Fusion Drive, but if your Mac ever fell and hit the ground killing the hard drive, it's much easier to get data back off a traditional hard drive instead of a SSD or Fusion Drive. Remember, I'm configuring this to be a portable iMac, not a power-house for photo-editing. If that's what you are after, then start with the $1499 iMac, increase the RAM to 32GB and choose the 1TB Fusion Drive. That will be around $2099, which is 27" iMac money and that model has better / faster components, and you can upgrade the RAM yourself to save money.

To summarize, for portability without breaking the bank start with the middle 21.5" iMac and bump up the RAM and purchase AppleCare:

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 2.41.37 PM.png

Speaking of portability, now it's time for the transport case. If you are going to lug a 21.5" iMac around, you will need something to carry it in. Of course, you could use the box that it came in, but let's face it, cardboard boxes wear out. The Apple Box is only meant to transport it to the warehouse, then ride on a truck to the store, then to your home. Maybe if you have to transport it to a repair-shop if needed and that's about it. So I HIGHLY RECOMMEND getting a more durable solution that will protect your investment for the long haul. Pelican cases come to mind, as they are built tough, but there doesn't seem to be a 21.5" option, on a 27". I found another case, which should work well, the Tenba Transport Air Case for Apple 21.5" iMac. Of course, that adds around $500 to the total cost, though it will protect your investment and make you look a bit more professional, if that's what you are after.

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Hi Brian, thanks for the email.

How would your opinion change if it was a more entry level macbook / macbook air.

I should have mentioned i am not in the mac book pro market - it is waaay to expensive for what this machine needs to be.
It really just needs to run Capture One / Lightroom on location or in the studio as a capture machine.
So open the RAW file without too much lag, open / close the applications without the lag i am getting on my 2009 MBP.

My current MBP is a mid 2010 macbook pro running sierra 10.12.1.
It currently has 4gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 and it can go to 8gb.

Do you think it is an option to upgrade the current MBP to an SSD drive as well as to 8gb ram?
Would it provide a dramatic increase in speed?


Thank you.


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11 hours ago, Quintin said:

Do you think it is an option to upgrade the current MBP to an SSD drive as well as to 8gb ram?
Would it provide a dramatic increase in speed?


Night and day difference!! Huge performance boost going from 4GB to 8GB of RAM. Combine that with a SSD HD, it will run like a new machine. 

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I'd also get a MacBook Air with 512GB of storage. Start with the $1199 MacBook Air and upgrade the HD. You could also update the CPU but that will bump up the price to $1549. 

Unforunately, when it comes to Macs these days, Apple wants you to "Go Big or Go Home." 

You could get a MacBook and upgrade the RAM to 16GB, and it comes with a 512GB SSD drive for just a few hundred more @1799.00. Basically, start with the most expensive model and add things. Either way a MacBook Air or a MacBook will be fine as a tethering machine. In either case, I would always get at least a 500GB main HD. 

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