A 5K display is 14.7 megapixels, whereas 4K UltraHD is only 8.2 megapixels. The 27-inch iMac 5K display is also at a much higher density, a plus for viewing pleasure, a minus for seeing slight image faults such as less than perfect sharpness.
See also: iMac 5K for Stunning Black and White Images.
In previous posts I’ve mentioned how impressive it is to view images on the late 2015 iMac 5K. My photographic publications include sizes up to 24 megapixels (6048 pixels wide), but the 4320 size fits the iMac 5K display nearly perfectly in a jaw-dropping hyper reality image.
The contrast and color of the late 2015 iMac 5K are stunning (hyper realistic), so good that I stick with my advice of using a standard-res NEC PA302W when preparing images for prints: reflective media cannot deliver the same effect as transmissive. The iMac 5K color gamut is excellent, but the visual impact goes way beyond gamut.
James K, a NYC pro photographer, writes:
Images on my late 2015 iMac 5k Late are just fabulous. You don’t want to view prints after seeing illuminated photos on the 5K.
I always loved looking at 8x10 chromes on my light box. Hopefully some of the new OLED panels will be priced within reach in a couple of years. I would love a large, thin , high quality electronic view screen for my images.
The iMac 5K display shows the way forward: I am eagerly anticipating 6K and 8K displays. An 8K display would allow the entire image from a Nikon D810 or Sony A7R II to be displayed at once—every pixel. Which will be an incredible viewing experience.
One has to question the appeal of shooting a camera to fill 1/3 of the screen, which will be the case with an 8K display—future displays will make 16 and even 24-megapixel images look positively tiny. While 24-megapixels is a defensible low-end, APS-C cameras like Fujifilm X already do not fill the iMac 5K display horizontally(4896 X 3264 images vs 5120 X 2880 screen). If I’m going to shoot for viewing enjoyment for what will be available in just a few years, a low-res 16MP sensor doesn’t cut it. And 24 megapixels is the bottom-end.
Is the iMac 5K a display, or a computer?
The iMac 5K can be thought of in two ways:
- iMac 5K as an awesome display that includes a free computer [Observe that the HP Z27Q costs $1299 or $1999 for a display only, yet the base iMac 5K is only $1649].
- iMac 5K as the fastest Mac money can buy (for many though not all purposes)
As noted in iMac 5K (Late 2015) with 64GB: the Key to Professional Usage, the late 2015 iMac 5K changes the game by accepting up to 64GB memory, which makes it viable for professional photographers, videographers, etc*. But it’s more than just 64GB memory, as discussed here in two articles. One covers the advantages and limitations of the late 2015 iMac 5K vs 2013 Mac Pro, the other discusses how to build a high performance workstation based on the iMac 5K.
- iMac 5K: Bridges the Gap to the Mac Pro
- iMac 5K: Building a High-Performance Configuration
- iMac 5K (Late 2015): Color Gamut
- Apple iMac 5K: 8GB and 16GB Configurations can *ADD* Memory While Keeping the Two Modules You Already Paid For
How I use the iMac 5K
For my work here at diglloyd.com, the iMac 5K display (5120 X 2880) is a time-saving (and enjoyable) way to proof images for my photographic publications, which are up to 24 megapixels.
I also use it as a slave workstation with Thunderbolt networking to free up my Mac Pro while it runs 2-10 minute jobs.