Lucas Gilman Mac Pro SM

During Apple’s next-generation Mac Pro portion of its iPad event earlier today, the company took some time to present first impressions from a few professionals that have been using the machine. While the public won’t officially get its hands on it until December, Apple noted that three professionals had been testing the new Mac Pro. One of those pros was award-winning extreme sports photographer Lucas Gilman pictured above next to his Mac Pro setup with a 4K Sharp display. We thought it would be interesting to have a chat with one of the only people in the world currently using the new Mac Pro, so we’ve reached out to Gilman to get his first impressions and learn more about his experience with Apple’s completely redesigned professional Mac line.

Head below for the full interview.

Hi Mr. Gilman. Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions.

Q: Can you talk a little about how you’ve been using the new Mac Pro and your first impressions?  How has your hardware setup/workflow changed due to the performance of the new machine?

A: I was really surprised at how small the form factor was and I really liked the solid feel and finish of the unit.

I used Mac Pro and Aperture primarily to import and process Nikon D800 Files which are about 75+ megabytes each and are 230+  megabytes once exported as 16 bit TIFFS. I download images in the field to the G-TECH G-Dock and EV drives. The Mac Pro I was using had a one Terabyte SSD so I relied on external G-TECH Thunderbolt drives to store the images in the studio. I use two G-TECH G-SPEED Q’s with USB 3. One to store my raw archive and one to store finished TIFF files.  My working driving is a G-drive Pro with Thunderbolt, which I like because I’m getting speeds of around 480 megabytes/second which is great for the stills and video I shoot.

Q: Were you using a previous generation Mac Pro before moving to the new Mac Pro? What advantages does the new Mac Pro have over your old setup?

A: I was using the fastest fully loaded  27inch iMac with Fusion drive and 36 GB’s of ram. The advantages of the new Mac Pro for me are 4k display support, blazing fast speeds and unmatched processing power allowing me to get back in the field and continue to produce content quicker than ever before. I travel 200+ days a year and the less time I can spend in the office and the more time I can spend in the field the better my bottom line is. Or, maybe I even get to spend a little extra time with my family!

Q: Is Thunderbolt a noticeable step up in performance vs your old setup? We’re you using Thunderbolt 1.0 in your workflow previously?

A: I’ll be excited when Thunderbolt 2 drives hit the streets, but I was really happy with the G -Drive Pro with Thunderbolt and the speeds of around 480 megabytes a second  – The transfers, exports and workflow were smooth and seamless.

I didn’t do any benchmarks regarding internal vs external storage save/open times and put it through the paces as I would in my everyday workflow, but everything seemed noticeably faster than any computer I’ve ever been on before.

Q: Have you taken advantage of the Mac Pro’s 4k display support?

A: I got to try the Mac Pro unit with a Sharp 4K display and it was amazing at the amount of depth and clarity I could see in my 36.2 megapixel Nikon D800 images.

Q: How has your workflow improved with the new Mac Pro using the latest version of Aperture? Has the new support for iCloud Photo Sharing in Aperture 3.5 come into play?

A: The new 3.5 version of Aperture and Mac Pro seem to be really tuned to work together. It was a noticeable improvement on speeds and allowed me to really plow through a LOT of content in a really short amount of time – Really cutting the import and export time down as well as streaming though and editing tons of images. I’m excited about the SmugMug integration for building galleries for clients and selling prints online.

Q: How long have you been using the new Mac Pro and when did Apple approach you to test the new machine?

A: I got to test drive the new Mac Pro about a week ago.

Q: Are there any applications that were pain points before that were fixed with the new Mac Pro and Thunderbolt?

A: I shoot video as well as still images and the multicore processors and dual graphics cards really supercharged my Final Cut X experience – I’m excited to try it out on a new project.

Q: Do you ever find the need to use a PCI card but can’t?

A: There are so many Thunderbolt accessories and chassis in the works these days I think that you’ll be able to find an external box for whatever card you need very soon.

Q: Lastly, what was the most surprising aspect of your experience with the new Mac Pro?

A: I was really surprised that so much power could come in such a small package – it really boggles the mind.

Apple’s new Mac Pro features an all-new cylinder design, completely new internals, and will be assembled in the USA when it officially begins shipping sometime in December. The base model with a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon processor, 12GB of DRAM, Dual FirePro D300 graphics and a 256GB 22D starts at $2999 and Apple will also have a $3999 configuration and a number of built-to-order options. Full details on specs for the new Mac Pro are here.

Gilman added that he thinks “Apple really hit a home run with the performance on the new Mac Pro.”