Microsoft’s Surface Studio PC – An iMac Killer for Photographers?


Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably heard about Microsoft's latest “next big thing” – the Surface Studio PC – a piece of gear that is very obviously trying to put a dent in the market for creative types who currently use 27′ iMacs. (And let's be honest, even that link above looks like the Apple website for the iMac).

This new beast is a 28′ behemoth that does a lot of pretty cool things. But does it do enough to convince photographers to make a switch?

The promo video will certainly get you thinking about a few things to do with your photography workflow (like how you might use that nifty pick thingy – the Surface Dial – with a stylus – or “Surface Pen” – in Photoshop). The puck let's you change things like colour, brush size etc for the stylus. Could be quite handy once you get used to it.

Surface Studio Specs

So what have these things got under the hood? At the moment they come in three flavours with the following specs.

Screen: 28” PixelSense™ Display
Resolution: 4500 x 3000 (192 PPI)
Memory: 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB RAM
Processor: 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
Storage: Rapid Hybrid Drive options: 1TB or 2TB
Graphics: i5 Intel 8GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 memory
i7 Intel 16GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 memory
i7 Intel 32GB: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5 memory

In general terms, that isn't going to worry its corresponding iMac counterparts too much, but the functionality is the element to watch for. If people love it, then we have a serious bit of competition.

The Puck!

What Type of Photographers Would Use This

Let's be honest here, certain categories of photographers are going to be more attracted to the Surface Studio than others. If you use a lot of Photoshop (we're thinking commercial, landscape and possibly portrait shooters or people who stylise their shots a lot) then this might excite you a bit more than folks whose workflow might usually involve fairly minimal edits in Lightroom.

Your threshold will really depend on your style and workflow.

Personally, I wouldn't mind at least playing with this with some of my landscape shots. In reality, there will probably be more graphic designers excited by the Studio Surface than photographers.

About that Price

Ok, so even the most basic Surface Studio is going to set you back $2999 (and that only includes a Surface Dial for free during presales – you will have to buy that separately if you wait).


My Reaction When I Saw the Price

By comparison, you can get the most basic iMac 27′ for $1,799 at the time of writing.

That is a fair chunk of difference and it's certainly going to be a factor for a lot of photographers. On the other hand, if you're already a PC person and are looking for a serious upgrade then this might be very attractive.


No doubt this looks like a very nice machine with lot of very cool functionality (and a flash marketing campaign to boot!), but is that functionality something that is going to excite photographers enough to make the purchase? Microsoft's first foray into the comprehensive desktop is certainly throwing down the gauntlet to Apple.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

About Author

Rob is the founder of Light Stalking. His love for photography started as a child with a Kodak Instamatic and pushed him into building this fantastic place all these years later, and you can get to know him better here.
Rob's Gear
Camera: Nikon D810
Lenses: Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Mac snobs will never be persuaded to switch because by their very nature, they believe that all Macs and themselves are superior to anything and anyone. The condescension is nauseating and humorous. For the record, I’m a graphic designer at a large commercial printer and use BOTH all day.

I am an Apple user.
Apple products have been getting so bad
The hardware of my last 3 units had seriously flaws that demanded recalls.
The OS is decling also.

I’m looking to switch
And this looks like the unit that will make me do that.

Apple doesn’t innovate anymore.
They just sell toys

You seem to be the snob, with that attitude you have about Mac users – which I am NOT one of. Pull that ” Know it all” stick out of your butt, and learn that grouping people together as you seem to like doing, is an idiotic way to view the world, Mr. Trump.

No matter what spec microsoft produce there will always be the endless security updates that hold you up! Mac’s just work! Simples

What you’re saying makes no sense. Both platforms just works. Mac has security updates all the time and it bugs me every day for it. I always tell it to remind me tomorrow. So no idea what you’re talking about. I have both platforms, while mac os is easier for workflow imo, but speed and app stability, pc wins.

It’s brave of Microsoft to launch a new machine for the pro market. This Will give us users better products. Only the pricestrategy is an odd one. Everywhere we get more for less. Strange.

Heres betting the price is where it is because they are trying to appeal to MAC users that are used to pay exorbitant prices (i.e. perceived value). Price it to low and serious mac users wont even look at it. Put it in a price range that they are used to seeing for “quality”….

If is going to increase the speed and the workflow then I believe for the better. But I am Window Android user and everything I have heard apple is still the best for lightroom etc and the price is another point of difference. I guess I will have to wait and see what others have tosay about it .

What about After Effects and Premier? How well does it work with those two. I am startup video / motion graphics company about to buy a iMac, but this product caught my eye. Any thoughts?

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