Old Mac pro/iMac/MacBook Pro
I am a bit of a freelance camera operator (so far just mostly working on small projects with DV, and HDV cameras) and I am getting a little more into editing and will be switching over to Final Cut Studio 3 and Mac. I have a tight budget right now to get advice on a machine that will suit my needs while I am learning and getting small work. Then upgrade in the future if it calls for it and I have more money.
I will still be shooting mostly with DV and HDV for now and will be traveling a bit around the state I live in doing small projects here and there.
I am still up in the air on weather it would be better to get:
1. Old Mac Pro (I can probably only afford an old vs 1,1) and upgraded it as needed. Limits, not sure how old is to old, I don't have a decent monitor at the moment (Unless my gf lets me hook it up to the tv), not very portable.
2. Get a refurbished iMac Quad core from Apple (Have a friend that can get me a discount) that would push my budget a little. Or any new/refurbished iMac more in my price range. Limits being only one fire wire no eSata with out voiding a warranty with the quad core 27" iMac. Not sure if I can use an external RAID system on an iMac so might have storage/backup limitations. Not sure if it will be long render times, all in one system so might overheat which will shorten the life span.
3. Get a newer MacBook Pro that is truly portable, can have a eSata card installed. Limitations: might over heat if using a lot and doing long renders, once again limited on the amount of storage/backup, might over heat with long renders meaning shorter life span.
I do have access to a broadcast school editing suite and systems. They have 2 Mac Pro workstations with deks,one Avid workstation, and plenty of iMacs that they used to teach students on. It is a good drive away and has limited hours it can be used. Which is why I am looking for a home system to gain experience on.
So would it be wise to get something newer that is in my price range now (iMac, MBP) and is portable (iMacs more portable then Mac Pro) while I learn and then upgrade to a Mac Pro when I have the need to do so and more money to buy a newer version?
If all you're using is DV or HDV, you don't need much horsepower to edit. Any of those solutions will work. Best bang for your buck IMHO would be a used Macbook Pro (I prefer the 17 inch). Don't worry about overheating. Don't worry about esata. BTW, you can daisy chain firewire, so having only one port is not a deal breaker. One advantage to using the laptop is being able to use Quicktime Pro to record straight from the camera to a hard drive (only useful for static locations). And if you would like to make people think you have a good grasp of the English language, it's "whether" not "weather".
A new MBP is a great option ... the latest 4 core releases are real workhorses that even run circles round earlier MacPro workstation releases. Add to that their immediate support for Thunderbolt, which looks set to be the connectivity option of choice over the next few years, and I think you're on to a winner. Brand new MBP all the way ... best of class, future resistant, and fully portable for your on location needs as well as on the desktop.
Hope that helps