You may have seen on TV shows or movies someone, usually law enforcement or spies of some kind, viewing an image or video on a computer and saying to the voice controller something like, “Enhance” and seeing the computer do unbelievable things.
As a photographer, I always think about processor speed, memory, and graphics interface and how much I could do with photos and video as an art with a computer for photographers like that.
Well, we’re not at NCIS:LA or Blade Runner level yet, but the new M1 Mac chips from Apple are a leap ahead for users needing pure processing power, such as photographers and videographers.
What Is the M1?
The M1 is a new chip set from Apple introduced in 2020 (the year that didn’t exist) that is being used in several updated and brand new computers. As of this writing, the models incorporating the M1 Mac chip now or very soon are MacBook Pro (shown above), MacBook Air, Mac Mini, M1 iPad Pro, and M1 iMac.
As a computer for photographers, it’s already hard to beat a Mac, using an M1 Mac for photographers is going to be great. Way back in ancient times, 1990s, there was a huge gap between Windows PCs and Macs in terms of being optimized for graphics and photography. So, many of us dove right into the Mac world immediately.
While many fine Windows PCs currently exist for photographers and videographers, I still prefer a Mac for my creative work.
What Sets M1 Mac Chips Apart?
photo by MARHARYTA MARKO via iStock
The making of computers is full of options for how to put together CPUs on a motherboard with memory options, graphics controllers, and other electronics. For years, Intel has been one of the leaders for fast CPUs that can run the massive programs used in photo and video editing. Many fine Apple machines have used Intel processors.
The M1 Mac chips are the first chips designed and made wholly by Apple for their larger computers other than iPhones, so right away we can understand how this chip will be optimized for running a Mac. M1 Mac chips are a complete system on a chip (SoC) that integrates CPU, GPU, signal processing, RAM, security, SSD controller, and several other operations.
This full scale integration makes the M1 Mac chip faster and more efficient, which means that it will be better for editing video and images. The operations will be smoother, faster, and easier to handle. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!
Take Full Advantage
In order to take full advantage of everything provided by the M1 Mac for photographers, like the MacBook Air shown above, you'll also want to upgrade your monitor for photo editing. That’s the one disadvantage of fantastic upgrades to one part of your system. You need to upgrade other components, too.
Think of the M1 Mac as the Number 1 draft pick QB for your editing team. What good is a superstar passer without receivers that can get open and catch the ball? Same with getting an upgrade to a computer that improves performance, an upgraded monitor for photography is also a good investment.
Together, the upgrade will greatly increase your editing performance. Like Joe Montana to Jerry Rice or Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swan, the two paired together, M1 Mac and upgraded monitor, are a winning combo.
My Editing Studio Upgrade
I’ve already upgraded my photo and video editing studio to a dual monitor set up using the new ultra widescreen curved monitors from ViewSonic. Immersive viewing makes large, curved screen monitors my first choice as a monitor for photographers.
Since I already upgraded monitors, I checked to see if the ViewSonic VP3881 and VP3481 I’m using are compatible with the M1 Mac upgrade in my near future and they are. Here are a couple of pics of how I’m using them right now:
This first image shows how much bigger both the 34 inch VP3481 and 38 inch VP3881 monitors are than the native screen on the laptop next to them.
This second pic shows how I get an immersive view when editing either photos or video due to the curved screens. Immersive viewing is a benefit as it is, paired with the improved performance of the M1 Mac it will be outstanding.
These ViewSonic monitors provide the immersive viewing I’ve detailed in other reviews, are incredibly sharp, have outstanding color, and will accept the output from high end devices such as an M1 Mac for photographers.
I know, we’re not at Star Trek level yet, not even at NCIS:LA level yet. But did you notice that Scotty was using a Mac to work out that future formula? Using the new M1 Mac chips in whatever Apple Mac computer we opt for is going to be a major upgrade for many of us.
The speed alone will be a workflow improvement for us using these wonderful new cameras we have with 4K video and ultra high resolution still image files as we process them with our high tech programs.
The improvements in digital photography and videography in the last couple of years alone are impressive. An M1 Mac with a ViewSonic monitor to process our 4K video and 45MP image captures will feel like a form of science fiction come to life.
Yes, I’m going to play with my M1 Mac when I get it, but then I will get to work using all of its features, which will feel like getting paid to play. Our jobs as photographers and videographers are the best!