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June 27, 2011 - Dave Hecei
I have a new ‘dream team’. With the introduction of the new Apple Final Cut Pro X, I was dreaming of creating a new photo/video workstation for myself. For about $3000, this system would be everything needed for producing great stills and video. Basically, a small video studio. I’m talking a fast computer, external storage, camera, lens, and software. Something that can handle HD and SD video, stills, graphics, and even motion graphics. Of course, it's got to be a Mac.
(Currently, I have two Core 2 Duo minis, a 15-inch MacBook Pro, Leopard and Snow Leopard, iLife 09 and 11, Buffalo Firewire drives, Final Cut Express, versions 2 thru 4, the new Adobe Elements 9 suite, and a Canon 30D outfit. This does plenty of media work, but a dedicated station is what I'm dreaming of here.)
I’d start with just the base iMac. With the new Sandy Bridge processor, which has four cores, it is plenty fast enough. Then add a bunch of new Apple software. The iMac comes with OS X Snow Leopard, which will be updated in a few weeks to the new Lion – OS X 10.7 (so might as well wait a few weeks). Add to that the new Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4, and Aperture 3. These titles alone would make for a media creation dream team.
Now we need some storage for working with video clips and digital photographs. Ideally, a very fast drive is called for here. Some sort of Firewire 800 based RAID array would work. The best drives for video work are the G-Raid series from G-Technologies. The G-Raid drive has many ports for connecting to a Mac - Firewire 400 and 800, eSata, and USB 2.0. I think something in the 2 to 4 Terabytes should work.
When working on video it would be great to preview it on an actual television. For this I’d pick a 27-inch Samsung LCD. It can be used either as a monitor to view HDMI based video or through DVI for computer video. This means that it would also work as a second monitor for the iMac.
My camera of choice is the Canon 5D mark II. But this would set me back almost $3000 just for the camera package alone. The new Canon T3i has the more common APS-C sized sensor. It has an 18MP sensor and shoots great stills plus full 1080 HD video. This new Digital Rebel model also features a flip-out LCD screen, which is ideal for shooting video. For what the T3i can do, it is a true bargain.
So, let’s see how broke this will all make me.
IMac 21-inch $1200
Samsung LCD $270
Final Cut Pro X $300
Motion 5 $50
Compressor 4 $50
Aperture 3 $80
RAID drive (2TB) $250
Canon T3i w/lens $850
Now I know there are those out there that are going to say that a Dell could do the same thing for less money. I beg to differ. It might be cheaper, but I’d rather go with the Mac. The newest iMac is super fast, has a fantastic screen, and an amazing OS. Combine all that with the latest versions of Apple’s media software and you have a package that is hard to beat at any price.
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