Oh So Sweet, the iMac Pro

When companies want to send me their products, I mostly say no. I am not a reviewer — never have been. I say yes, only when I can incorporate these products into my daily flow and use them with a regular cadence. And I don’t really form an opinion — up until I have used the product for about six weeks. The new iMac Pro is one of those products that came for review and is going back today. I have not experienced sadness about sending something back, as I have with this iMac Pro.

Why am I sad? Well, as an amateur photographer, who spends a lot of time in front of the screen trying to manage his photo library, and editing photos, this baseline iMac Pro was the perfect digital darkroom. (Mind you, the baseline model costs a whopping five grand for some pretty off-the-hook specifications.) From the screen, to the speed of the machine, the CPU and the ultra-powerful graphics processors and ample storage space — this thing is a photographer’s dream.

My workflow is pretty simple. I shoot film and send it to one of the two labs I like for developing and scanning. They send me a link to download my files — usually in tiff format — which are big and take up a lot of space. I upload the files to my network attached storage device, and from there they are backed up to the cloud. Having given up on Lightroom Classic altogether, I import those folders into Lightroom CC. I then use Lightroom CC (on iPhone) to export and share photos to Instagram. (For my iPhoneX photos, I use Halide App for capturing RAW and Darkroom App for editing those photos. I am waiting for Darkroom for iPad.)

There are some photos that qualify for a lack of better word, my special photo collection. These are artistic interpretations of my photos, many abstract and minimal in nature. I don’t think they are fine art, but they represent the image I see in my mind when I am making a photo. For this series, I end up using a combination of Adobe Camera RAW (aka ACR) and Adobe Photoshop. For rest of my photos, I use Lightroom CC with my custom presets. This is a compute-intensive workflow, where I have often found myself using anywhere between 15-40 layers in Photoshop. Layers allow me precision editing — which is why I create a layer for every tiny edit.

My circa 2017, MacBook Pro, started to groan harder then my grunts on a treadmill after 10 minutes. It is one of the main reasons why I switched to the newer models with high-end GPU. Much as I love using it, I shouldn’t have upgrade to the MBP 2018 — and instead spent that money on the iMac Pro. I use my iPad Pro for all non-photo editing tasks so this turned out to be the wrong path.

Even without color calibration, the iMac monitor was really great for looking at the photos expanded to full screen, stepping back and quickly figuring out which part of the image was drawing the most amount of attention, so as to then start my edits. I fear, we look at images way too closely — iPhone, iPad and laptops and never let the image get the proper perspective. This screen allows you to see the image in context of a room and the walls it might adorn one day.

I don’t have a particular desire to write a review of the iMac Pro, except to say — as a photographer who spends a lot of time and money making photos, it is indubitably a worthy device for your digital darkroom.

A letter from Om

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