A few things for digital photographers to consider before upgrading a Mac to Snow Leopard

If you use a Mac, the chances are that you’ve heard about a new release of the Mac operating system – OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”.  I haven’t bought a copy yet, largely because I can’t really see any “must-have” features (increased security and improved performance is not enough – even at a low price), but mainly because I use my Macs for digital media work – primarily my digital photography workflow on the MacBook – and upgrading to a new operating system brings with it the risk that applications will fail to work (I already have problems with NikonScan on MacOS X 10.5 and 10.6 is likely to introduce some more issues).

If you are, like me, primarily using your Mac for digital photography then there are a few things, that it might be useful to know before upgrading to Snow Leopard:

I’m sure that I will move to Snow Leopard in time; however these notes may well be useful if you’re a photographer first and foremost and the whole idea about using a Mac was simplicity.  Don’t be fooled by the glossy cover – Snow Leopard may bite you – and, like all operating system upgrades, it needs to be handled with care.

6 thoughts on “A few things for digital photographers to consider before upgrading a Mac to Snow Leopard

  1. I can’t really see any “must-have” features (increased security and improved performance is not enough – even at a low price)

    In fairness to Apple there are a small number of new features and interface tweaks too, in addition to the security and improved performance. I accept that you may consider this still not worth the upgrade price, but I wonder if you feel the same way about Windows 7? Particularly as Amazon currently lists Windows 7, which consists of mostly security and performance tweaks, as more than seven times more expensive than Snow Leopard.


  2. @Alex, I thought long before making that statement, and I still think it’s valid.

    Whilst it could be argued that Windows 7 is just a big update for Vista (actually, the performance and security tweaks were Vista SP1 and SP2 – which are free, as in cost you nothing…), most people didn’t buy Vista and 7 is a bloody big leap forward from XP. With my corporate hat on it also has a load of new stuff in there – far more than in Snow Leopard. On the other hand, even Mac Fanboys (Leo Laporte, Gina Trapani – ok, she’s a Fangirl) are commenting that there’s not much new in Snow Leopard but, for $29 they will upgrade anyway (just as many Tiger users updated to Leopard, which I also commented wasn’t as big a deal as Apple were making it out to be).

    As for the 7x multiplier… shop around – that’s what you can do when an OS is available from multiple vendors, rather than the heavily-controlled Apple approach ;-) You can currently get Windows 7 Home Premium from Tesco for £45 whereas Apple OS X 10.6 is £22.99 on Amazon (yes, you can pay more for other versions of Winodws 7, but Home Premium is the edition that’s aimed at consumers and directly comparable to OS X).


  3. The Tesco price is actually £70, although this is for the full version. Tesco don’t seem to stock the upgrade, but Amazon do and it’s £65, still more than twice the price of Snow Leopard.

    Even though most people didn’t buy Vista, it’s been “sold” installed on new PCs for the last two and a half years, and now holds nearly a 20 per cent market share. If the performance and security tweaks were in Vista SP1 and SP2, what do those 20 per cent of users get for their £65 for Windows 7?

    I have actually searched for an answer to this, and found very little evidence, in the Windows 7 reviews, of anything more than interface refinement. Obviously you’ve not written much yourself because of the pesky NDA, but perhaps now you could put your corporate hat on and tell me about the “load of new stuff”?


  4. Firstly, I may have been a little harsh on Ms. Trapani by calling her a fangirl… she does at least try and cover a variety of OS platforms in her work.

    Now, RTFM – the £45 for Windows 7 at Tesco took into account an offer code in the link I gave you in the comment above. If you read the post, you’ll see it’s no longer available but I’m sure there will be other offers. Even so, “more than twice” as much is very different to the “7 times more expensive” you originally quoted.

    The point is that bugfixes and performance enhancements should be free (that’s what a service pack/point release is for) and even those who are normally favourable towards Apple are reporting Snow Leopard doesn’t have much new in it (or that it’s badly broken… although Merlin Mann does seem to have had a particularly hard time with his upgrades). Getting back to the point of this post, some less technical users might want to think twice before jumping in with both feet, even if they do eventually upgrade later.

    As for new features in 7, I’m tempted to swear at you now but know you’re just trying to wind me up… I have better things to do than write yet another “this is what’s new in Windows 7” post for you to criticise and leave me responding to at gone midnight after a 15 hour day at work. I seem to recall you actually quite liked it, until you realised that it actually enforced Windows Media DRM… so instead I’ll suggest you go and read the work of people like Paul Thurrott and Ed Bott, who actually write this stuff for a living.

    Now, I have a train to catch in 6 hours… and I was half way through buying the tickets before I saw your comments. How on earth did you manage to turn a blog post that deliberately avoided mentioning Windows into yet another bloody Mac vs. PC debate?


  5. I’m sure that, if Gina Trapani reads your blog, she would not have been offended by your slur. It’s a comment you seem to make about anyone who favours Apple more than you.

    RTFM? I went to the site you linked to, and found it was not the Tesco site you quoted but a third party site with an article two days old and an offer that had expired.

    I did read Paul Thurrott’s reviews and what it amounted to was basically Vista-but-better:

    Windows 7 is the sum of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tiny tweaks, none of which would be particularly interesting in isolation. But taken as a whole, the result is astonishing. Where Vista felt incomplete and scattered, Windows 7 seems polished. Like an Apple product, it appears to be the result of a singular vision…

    Sounds equivalent to what Snow Leopard offers Leopard users, to me.

    I did like Windows 7, very much. I have no problem admitting that, I enjoyed using it, it ran really well on my netbook and I loved the visual effects. I wish I could have kept it. I’m not trying to wind you up. If I’m honest, I recognise it’s a possibility and I’ll admit to a little glee, but it’s not the focus of my comments. The point of my comment was not to compare Windows windows with Mac OS X, but rather “Mark’s comments on Windows” against “Mark’s comments on Mac”.

    I use Mac OS X Tiger, Mac OS X Leopard and Ubuntu Linux on a daily basis, together with one or more of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows Server 2003. I consider myself OS agnostic; they’re all good at what they do.

    Although you also use operating systems from different vendors, your professional bias still leaks though on many of your posts. A quick search through your blog indicates that, on the rare occasions you criticise Microsoft (or Windows PCs), you have to point out that Apple, or Macs are nearly as bad, as bad, or worse.

    Also, from your twitter feed:
    Apparently Apple is anti-competitive. No mention of Microsoft anywhere. Maybe the EU were looking the other way…
    Apple has become what Microsoft used to be. “Used to be”? And isn’t the Mac OS X SDK bundled with the OS? And the Windows SDK is… erm…
    You say that Jason Calcanis talks some sense in his Case Against Apple. He also talks some naive bobbins too, but you apparently missed that…
    Microsoft saved Apple. That makes Microsoft better than Apple, in case you were wondering.

    I’m tempted to wait until the morning to submit this comment, so that I don’t make you late for anything else. But, where would be the fun in that? You could always not publish it!


  6. @Alex, if yours wasn’t a comment from a friend, I would probably have deleted it but, because it is, you get one response – then no more of this Mac vs. PC nonsense. If I did decide not to publish, it would be a shame, because it would be the first non-spam comment that I have knowingly rejected in almost six years of blogging.

    First up, the title of this post is “A few things for digital photographers to consider before upgrading a Mac to Snow Leopard”. It’s a post about things that might trip you up if you rely on your Mac for your photographic workflow and that you might want to be aware of. It’s not a Mac vs. PC debate… unlike the comments you leave almost every time I write anything that even hints at being negative towards Apple – although in this case I don’t think that I was.

    I could spend time rebuffing each of your comments, but I won’t – because it’s a waste of my time and I’m tired, after another very long day at work.

    I will respond to one though. The professional bias statement: Yes, I make my living from working with Microsoft products and that’s why I feel qualified to comment when people make comparisons based on a narrow, consumer-focused, view of a product without taking the time to understand the various options or even the needs of the majority of customers. But, in this case I’d like to see where that bias shows because the post (not the comments, which have gone off on some weird tangent) simply states a few facts about Snow Leopard and one opinion that I don’t see any “must have” new features. It doesn’t even try to draw any comparisons with Windows, other to point out that all new operating systems include an element of risk when upgrading.

    If you like, we can discuss the points you raise in person next time we meet but I doubt that you really care that much.

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