M1 Ultra vs M1 Max for photo editing

M1 Ultra vs M1 Max for photo editing

For most photographers, the Mac Studio is probably overkill, but there are real advantages with the front facing I/O, 10 gig ethernet, and the M1 ultra chip.

Let’s say you are editing 1500 images. If you spend 1 second for each of those images, that’s 25 minutes. Do you see why every second counts in photo editing?

You may have wondered how the Mac Studio with the M1 ultra chip compares with the M1 Max, so here are a few comparisons.

Most of these comparisons where gathered from Tyler Stalman video you can check out below.

Mac Studio: Do Creatives Need the M1 Ultra?

Importing to lightroom

Importing 100 raw files with the Canon R5 (49mb files) to Lightroom using the built in SD card reader.

M1 Ultra48 Seconds
M1 Max49 Seconds

Lightroom Clonestamp

Next up, clone stamp test. Clone stamps are notorious for slowing Lightroom and it appears to have the same issue with the M1 ultra. No big change between this and previous tests as this is clearly a Lightroom issue.

Stitching a Panorama in Lightroom

Here are the time differences of stitching a 15 image panorama in Lightroom (128 MP file).

M1 Ultra38 seconds
M1 Max48 seconds

If you do a lot of stitching in Lightroom you won’t save a significant amount of time with the M1 ultra.

Exporting in Lightroom

Here is a comparison of the time it took to Export 100 raw images to jpeg.

M1 Ultra53 seconds
M1 Max1:29
Intel I7 MacBook Pro 5:10

Iris Blur in Photoshop

Blurring a 128mb file in photoshop with 50 pixels and 20% grain

M1 Ultra11 seconds
M1 Max11 seconds

Tethering with Capture One

The M1 Max and M1 ultra are the best computers to use for tethering because the delay is much less prominent that intel-based computers. Both the M1 Max and Ultra tether speeds are about the same, but here’s a video clip if want to know how they compared.

Exporting photos with Capture One

Here are the times after exporting 100 jpeg files (49mb) on capture one. Looks like Lightroom is still faster at exports than capture one, but capture one is currently working on an update for the M1 chips.

M1 Ultra1:33
M1 Max1:41
Intel I7 MacBook Pro 4:14

How much memory do you need?

A good way to know how much memory you need is by checking the activity monitor’s memory pressure. You can check it at the end of the day to use how you’re doing. If it’s green, you’re doing great and don’t need more memory.

As you can see below, I’m in the orange range. That means that I should probably upgrade my memory for my usage. For most of us, 16 gigs is usually best.

How much memory do you need for the M1 Mac


I think the biggest takeaway here has to do with exporting. With the M1 Ultra you’ll gain 36 seconds with every 100 files you export to jpeg. That’s 6 minutes you’ll save after exporting 1000 images.

If exporting will speed up your workflow and every second counts, definitely take advantage of the M1 ultra, but most of us can get by with the performance of the M1 Max or even M1 Pro.

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