It's been a rough few weeks.

On March 8th Apple announced a new Mac, the Mac Studio, and a new companion display, the Studio Display. I was so excited I ordered right away. This Mac Studio was not the Mac I was waiting for Apple to announce; it was even better than expected. The Mac Studio looks like a beefed-up Mac mini with a powerful new Apple M1 Max CPU. It has all the ports that Apple removed from the Mac lineup over the years, including regular USB Type-A ports but, more importantly, an SD card slot for photographers.

When Apple removed the SD card slot and Type-A ports from the MacBook Pro and iMac, I said it was a wrong move. Some of my friends said that only a few people would care or notice. But the new Mac Studio has them. "I told you so".

I compared the geek bench performance benchmarks for the base model Mac Studio to my late 2013 [27” 3.5GHz Core i7 iMac] and the late 2017 iMac Pro. My iMac has a 3.5GHz Core i7 CPU with 32GB of memory and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4 GB of dedicated memory. The base model Mac Studio has a 3.2 GHz Apple M1 Max CPU with 32GB of memory and an integrated Apple GPU with 24-cores. The Mac Studio is a beast compared to my iMac Pro and the base model iMac Pro! It's 150% faster than my old iMac!

Mac Studio vs iMac (27-inch Late 2013)
Base model Mac Studio vs Khurt’s iMac (27-inch Late 2013)
Base model Mac Studio vs base model iMac Pro (Late 2017)
Base model Mac Studio vs base model iMac Pro (Late 2017)

I love the performance and display in the iMac, but one downside of the all in one design is that each time I upgrade to a new iMac, I am effectively paying for a new CPU and display. Another downside is that the 27" display in the iMac can't be used as a display for another computer. With the new Mac design, the CPU and display are separate. I can connect any 4k, 5K, or better display to the Mac Studio. The Studio Display is a beautiful 27” 5K "Retina Display” display with a built-in 12-megapixel video camera and integrated six-speaker stereo system. It's gorgeous and powerful and a perfect companion for the Mac Studio, Mac mini, or any computer.

On March 8th, I placed my order, and Apple provided me with an expected delivery date of March 24th. Apple allowed me to trade in my old but functional 2013 27" iMac for $200. I was so excited.

On March 18th, my iMac stopped booting. After a full day of troubleshooting, I determined that the internal SSD had failed. The iMac could boot from the external Time Machine disk, but the performance was terrible. I unplugged the iMac and set it aside. I told myself, "your new Mac will be here soon".

On March 24th, I received an email from Apple that there was a problem with my credit card, and they could not ship my order. I called the credit card company, but they said the problem was that Apple wasn't sending them the pertinent information (the card verification code) to complete the order. I had placed the order using Apple Pay, so I called Apple Pay support. They couldn't explain why the card verification code was not being sent and refused to take the number over the phone. They recommended I cancel the original order and place a new one using their website and regular checkout. That put me at the back of the order list. Apple will ship my new Mac Studio and Studio display around April 18th. Argh!!

My Adobe Lightroom catalogue is on an external hard drive, but my wife's 2013 MacBook Air is not powerful enough to run the software. We purchased the MacBook Air for light-duty tasks such as email, calendar and web browsing. I can't do any photo editing. I feel a sense of loss and lots of anger. I hope my new Mac Studio and Studio Display will arrive before April 18th.

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler | Sunday 19 May, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR | 1400 sec at f/5.6

Earth Day is still a few weeks away on 22 April. However, the Lens-Artists are celebrating early.

There is an old saying with disputed attribution.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.

Prothonatary Warbler, Warbler, Bird, Yellow
FujiFilm X-T2 + XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ (400 mm, 3/1000 sec at f/5.6, ISO8000), © Khürt L. Williams

Riccardo Mori posted a commentary on a recent New York Times article on computational photography.

... it’s clear that computational photography is polarising: people who want to be more in control of their photographic process loathe the computational pre-packaging of the resulting photos.

The problem, as far as I’m concerned, is the approach of those who happily take advantage of all the capabilities of computational photography but want to pass the resulting photos as a product of their creative process.

Not long ago, a photographer friend of mine has succinctly remarked, All the photos taken with current flagship phones look like stock photos to me. And stock photos are great, are perfect for their purposes, but you won’t find them hanging in an art gallery.

As I read the middle paragraph, I nodded my head vigorously in agreement. I know people who fancy themselves good photographers simply because they can push a button and have a computer algorithm make a photograph.

With time effort, and perseverance, experienced photographers develop their skills with a camera. With interchangeable lens film and digital cameras, when a photographer pushes the shutter button, they have already considered the scene, the lighting conditions, and the composition and used their experience to adjust the camera aperture, shutter speed, and other settings. The photographer takes the place of the algorithm. I am concerned that many of the people using computational photography do not have an appreciation for that skill.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) | Wednesday 1 April, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Fuji announced a few new lenses in the spring of 2021, one of which was the XF27mmF2.8 R WR, an update to the XF27mmF2.8, which I already owned. The new lens has a focus ring and is weather sealed. The previous lens did not.

I developed some muscle memory for aperture changes using the Fujinon XF16-55mm R LM WR lens. Without an aperture ring on the XF27mmF2.8, I must use one of the function buttons on the camera body to change the aperture. I was annoyed and found the arrangement inconvenient and ran counter to why I switched to Fuji.

I waited several months until after reviews were posted online before deciding to place my order. The lens was hard to find. Fuji stated that they were challenged to produce enough lenses due to demand for the lens and supply chain issues. None of the big box stores or online retailers had the lens in stock. Amazon stopped taking orders, but Adorama and B&H Photo took orders and put you on a waiting list. Last week my XF27mmF2.8 R WR lens finally arrived after placing it with Adorama several months ago.

The XF27mmF2.8 R WR lens is imperceptibly larger and heavier than the XF27mmF2.8 but remains light and compact. The aperture ring is silky smooth. At the 41mm full-frame equivalent on the Fuji X-T3 APS-C sensor, the 27mm focal length is close to the "perfect normal" focal length.

My 2013 iMac is showing its age. The Intel-based desktop does not support Monterey, the latest version of macOS (version 12). Neither did it support Big Sur, the previous version of macOS (version 11). I have encountered some software on the Mac App Store that won’t install because macOS X (Catalina) is not supported.

While I can still use and get updates for all my existing software and Apple has been diligent in providing security updates and bug fixes for macOS Catalina, I know it’s just a matter of time before this becomes a problem. So what am I waiting for? I am waiting for Apple. I will share a little bit of my personal computing history.

My first Mac was a 2005 Mac mini with an IBM PowerPC G4 based CPU running OS X Tiger. It cost me $500. I loved it. I soon had the Mac mini running all the software (mostly open-source) I needed. Soon after Apple switched to Intel™, I bought a MacBook (2006). But after a few years, tired of the MacBook. I felt that laptop CPUs, GPUs, displays, keyboards and trackpads were too much of a compromise, and I seldom needed "computing on the go". In 2009 I bought a 20" iMac for my kids. It came with Apple Magic Keyboard and Apple Magic Mouse. I bought my current 2013 iMac ($3200) to upgrade to the 27" display.

The iMac has been my prefered Mac ever since. The iMac offers faster CPUs and GPUs and bigger hard drives, and of course, that gorgeous large display.

Last year, Apple switched over to using their in-house developed ARM-based CPUs and GPUs. They are based on similar ones used in the iPhone and iPad. They are faster and more capable than anything Intel™ offers. I want to upgrade to take advantage of all that power. Apple’s ARM-based iMac’s have a 24" display, have set high-performance benchmarks and come in a variety of colours. But I want a 27" display and 16GB of memory. I am anxiously waiting for an announcement of a 27" version, maybe with an even faster CPU and 32GB of memory.

But what if they do not announce anything this year? How long do I wait? There are other options, but what if I decide on that option and then Apple announce new 27" iMacs?

My daughter, Shaan, bought a new ARM-based Mac mini ($600) to replace her deceased 2017 MacBook ($1100). Apple wanted nearly $450 to replace the mainboard of the barely five-year-old MacBook. Last year Shaan bought a pre-owned 27" display. We did some math, and I convinced her that the Mac mini was a smarter replacement for her MacBook.

While the Mac mini is powerful, Apple does not offer an ARM-based Mac mini configuration with more than 16GB of memory. I want 32GB. That’s what I have now, and that’s what I want from now on. But the Mac mini can be attached to any display, including the 30" display I bought last year to use with the company laptop.

So my options are:
1. Buy a 24" M1 iMac
2. Buy an M1 Mac mini and connect to a 30" display.
3. Wait.

I’m not too fond of any of the options.