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What’s the Best Way to Enjoy Images at their Finest?

See my computer gear wish list.

I've been using the late 2015 iMac 5K for about 6 weeks now, as both a compute station (script-driven jobs) but mainly as a viewing station, since my reviews include a variety of images sizes up to 24 megapixel images. I reiterate my enthusiasm for the late 2015 iMac 5K as a powerful workstation.

But the compelling and game changing feature of the iMac 5K is its unrivalled ability to display photos that look like 23.5 X 13.125 'chromes'. Nothing else even come close; no print can deliver the contrast or the perceptual impact: 14.7 megapixels (217 ppi) with per pixel contrast that 'pops' ultra fine details. Transmissive vs boring reflective media, just like a 'chrome' and with amazing contrast and 10-bit color with a wide gamut. Images are stunning on the iMac 5K.

If you enjoy viewing images, then the iMac 5K is your most important photographic accessory. Since there is no point to making images if they are not viewed, why not view them at their best? If all you want to do is buy the iMac 5K as if it were a gorgeous display, B&H has discounted late 2015 iMac 5K models.

I’m looking forward to an iMac 6K and eventually an iMac 8K, though I'd like to see the display go to at least 30" if not 32". And eventually a wall-size 16K OLED style thing, say 8 feet wide or so: digital display is the FUTURE of display photography for prime enjoyment (immersive, lifelike contrast and dynamic range). My main gripe is the screen ratio: 5120 X 2880 is an aspect ratio of 1.77:1 (more like 1.8:1 with the menu bar and window title bar), so its shape doesn’t fit a 3:2 (1.5:1) image all that well. It would sure be nice to have the same aspect ratio as my 2560 X 1600 NEC PA302W (e.g., 5120 X 3200), though I deem that unlikely.

See also:

If the iMac 5K display were offered as a display only, say at $1629, it would be worth it. So why not get one, and with a free iMac computer included? But that computer just happens to trounce the fastest 8-core Mac Pro in many tests (the high-end model at least).

Recommended with iMac 5K: OWC memory upgrades, OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock, TRIPP LITE USB3 hub, OWC Mercury Elite Pro external drives for backup, OWC Thunderbay for storage and/or backup.

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.

How I use the iMac 5K

For daily work I use it as a slave workstation with Thunderbolt networking to free up my Mac Pro while it runs 2-10 minute scripted jobs (preparing high-res image size variants for my publications).

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 since reflective media (print) cannot deliver the same feel as transmissive media. The iMac 5K color gamut is excellent (and 10 bits for the display), but the visual impact goes way beyond gamut.

Viewing a 4320-pixel image on the iMac 5K display
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