New Design Gear for 2016

Eizo CG318-4K Dsiplay

You may have seen my previous post Houston, the Pencil has Landed where I wrote about my first few days with the new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

I must confess: I’ve been holding back on writing about ALL my new gear. Being the end of the year, its a good time tax-wise to purchase or lease some new equipment. I made two other big acquisitions:

  1. MacBook Pro 15″ with Retina Screen – This MacBook Pro was upgraded with the discreet AMD video card and a full 16GB of RAM. This is the top-end configuration of the current MacBook Pro line. My 2012 MacBook Pro (the same one I dumped coffee into a while back) was unable to run #2 on this list, not to mention the Bluetooth had failed.
  2. Eizo 4K DCI 30″ display – This is even higher res than the 4K UHD displays you see around. DCI 4K has an extra 256 pixels in the horizontal dimension. This display also sports a 10 bit per channel data stream, allowing the Mac to send higher-fidelity color per pixel, which is then processed through the hardware calibration of the display itself.

I love my Macs and all, but…

The new MacBook Pro is really nice, but it was really laying the groundwork to support the true upgrade: a hardware calibrated Eizo display. This is a DCI 4K display that has a built-in calibration device that swings down when needed to measure the color performance of the screen and adjust the way it renders images. It’s the best display I was able to find that was intended to be used on a desktop. My old 2012 MacBook Pro was incapable of running such a high resolution display, in fact the only MacBook Pro capable of running such a setup is the current 15″ Retina MacBook Pro with the optional discreet AMD video card upgrade.

I’ve been using a similar NEC hardware calibrated display at a customer’s site and it has been a huge improvement in my color correcting and photocomposition work.

The Eizo has been nothing short of incredible. While any good color corrector knows they can’t always trust their eyes, and it is safest to use color readings from Photoshop’s Eyedropper tool to evaluate color precisely, having a display this accurate inspires far greater confidence in what my eyes tell me. If a color looks neutral on-screen, it most likely is neutral by the numbers measured in Photoshop. With such tight hardware calibration, the display can be quickly adapted to use standard color profile rendering for specific workflows. I can set it for Print work, with a 5000°K white point or set it to sRGB simulation for Web work with a 6500°K white point. With such accurate control of white point and color profile it is possible to view a physical object under controlled light (like a small 5000°K light booth) and visually judge color on-screen. This is anecdotal, of course, but there seems to have been less color cast feedback in my work performed on this display than typical.
MacBook Pro Retina 15"

Why another MacBook Pro?

My strategy on choosing to upgrade the 2012 MacBook Pro rather than my 2009 iMac 27″ was based on my thought that my next desktop Mac is going to be a Mac Pro. The current Mac Pro is a 2+ year-old design. The next Mac Pro is clearly going to bring with it some pretty significant improvements and it seems that Mac Pro update may be happening reasonably soon. My guess is the next Mac Pro sports at least six Thunderbolt 3 plugs which will probably sport a new physical connector based on the USB-C plug. It will also undoubtably feature much more advanced GPU hardware which creative software has begun using to power some of the newest and most compelling features of their software. As long as the current MacBook Pro can drive the Eizo 4K display (which it can, just barely) I’d rather wait for the new MacPro than buy in at the end of the life cycle of the current model.

The other reason to upgrade my MacBook Pro is that the bulk of my client work still happens on-site. Thus my MacBook Pro is the Mac I usually use during the day. A big-shooter Mac Pro would not see nearly as much use based on my current workflow.

2015 Wrap Up

I’m not likely to post another blog entry this year, so here is a quick wrap up.

2015 has been a great year for the me. I had a successful year both financially and professionally. I’ve been able to offer new capabilities to my customers and make some changes to my business that set me up to focus on my core strengths going forward. I’ve been able to focus more on creative projects that I find super fulfilling.

I’m a lucky guy to do the work I do with the people I work with. Thanks to all my customers, colleagues and everyone else who supports me!

Here’s to a great 2016!