Your Photos Suck and Other Disappointments

We spent a lot of time together but my 2013 iMac has failed. Permanently. I ordered the new Mac Studio but I feel a sense of loss.

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.

Author: Khürt Williams

a human, an application security architect, avid photographer, nature lover, and formula 1 fan who drinks beer.

8 thoughts on “Your Photos Suck and Other Disappointments”

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  3. I'm curious about the new Mac Studio and Studio Display. The only thing I'm not happy about is the sticker shock. My iMac is a 2010 model and it is showing its age. I've been increasingly thinking about upgrading, but have been waiting because of all the changes taking place to their lineup. I've not decided yet whether I'll go the route you did or hold off a bit longer to see if anything else changes. I do prefer the computer and monitor separate, and that's the reason I held off so long getting the iMac. It was only when my PowerMac died that I made the decision to try one. My fear, though, is that the same will happen to me and the iMac will die before I take the time to upgrade.

    I share some of your feelings about computational photography. I think the technology is amazing and there are so many uses for it. But it will also be used as a crutch for some. One thing I look for is the composition of a photo because today's phones don't really take care of that aspect for you, so it gives a bit of insight into the person behind the phone. But with advances in AI that may one day change. Just point at a scene in general and the phone chooses what to shoot, how to shoot it, how to process it, and perhaps automatically switches in a "nicer" sky, deletes that trash at your feel, etc.

    And your mention of the removal of an aperture ring on the lens reminded me of having to get used to that when I bought my first DSLR and discovered the lenses no longer had aperture rings. I'm used to it now, but it did take a while. Every so often, though, I'll pull out my old 50mm and do everything manually. 🙂

    1. Hi Todd, Apple switching (starting in 2021) from a dependency on Intel CPUs to Apple ARM CPUs is the only significant change. Apple had been on Intel-based CPUs for almost two decades, so I don't see any significant changes soon.

      The base model Mac Studio with a 10-core CPU, 32GB of RAM and a 512GB hard drive is $2000. A similar spec computer (e.g. Dell Alienware Aurora R12 ) with Intel® Core™ i7 CPU and 32GB of RAM is $2100. Apple’s pricing is right in line with high performing machines. There is also value to Apple's tight integration between OS and hardware. The Mac is more likely to last me ten years. You don’t need the Studio Display if you already have a similar 4K display.

      You can compare the Geekbench scores here:

      … with advances in AI that may one day change. Just point at a scene in general and the phone chooses what to shoot, how to shoot it, how to process it, and perhaps automatically switches in a “nicer” sky, deletes that trash at your feel, etc.

      That makes me sad. I know some will use AI to take the “perfect” photograph but still expect a sticker for their “efforts”. 🙂

      It wasn’t until Fujifilm released their line-up of mirrorless cameras with actual shutter speed and ISO dials and aperture rings on lenses that I realised how much I disliked DSLRs meus. I use my Fuji X-T3 menus for just a few things - erasing the memory card, choosing a film simulation recipe, and activating wireless transfers. I have a few manual control film cameras, so switching between digital and film is effortless.

      1. Yeah, the sticker shock wasn't in comparing Mac to PC, but in what it would cost me to replace my iMac. Because that's what I have I'd need a monitor, so add another $1600 for that (if I get the Apple monitor) and I'm up to $3600, which for me is painful. What I was considering waiting for was whether they were going to start selling 27" iMac's again, or stick to just the smaller 24". I've gotten used to 27" so I don't think I'd want to go smaller. But as you said, this would be a computer I'd hopefully have for a long time (my current one is from 2010, 12 years isn't bad), so the cost really isn't that great if I spread it over that timeframe. It's just the upfront cost that makes me cringe. What can I say, I'm a cheapskate. 🙂 I do look forward to hearing what you think of the computer when you get it and start using it, if you write about that.

        1. My previous iMac cost me $3400 in 2013. That was a big gulp moment! I understand the feeling. I’m a value shopper and it took me almost a day of reading specifications and price comparisons on Amazon before I added the Studio Display to my cart.

          I don’t usually follow the rumours but the rumour sites called the Mac Studio correctly. The rumour is that the 24” iMac is the only iMac planned. The Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra CPU with the Studio Display is the replacement for the 27” iMac Pro.

  4. Personally I think Apple has made several mis-steps, including (I agree with you) the removal of slots and the memory card slot especially. It's one of the reasons I haven't upgraded so I'm happy they're bringing them back but am not willing to commit the $$ to upgrade at the moment. I also agree wholeheartedly with your discussion on computational photography vs true photographers but I like to think of them as two entirely different skillsets. Most point-and-shooters are typically capturing family moments or vacation memories versus doing serious photographic work. Those who know photography know the difference and don't begrudge those in the other camp for creating memories. To each his/her own!

  5. So sorry about your issues with your new display, but I thank you for your insightful comments about computational photography. I love the process of envisioning my photograph and using my equipment and the skills that I have learned and am constantly improving upon to create what's in my mind's eye.

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