BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Karim Abiali
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/8/2005
 

Laptop for Editing Photos?


Hi
Is a MacBook good for photography? I am on a tight budget and can't afford a MacBook Pro.


To love this question, log in above
1/3/2011 2:33:57 AM

 
Lynn R. Powers   In general, laptops are not recommended for photography. I used one for over four years, and when I went to an iMac, I saw the difference immediately. If you do choose to use a laptop, I suggest that you get a large quality screen to go with it. The screen size makes a huge difference. Both Apple and Dell make excellent large monitors. I only went from a 17" laptop to the 21" iMac, and the difference is phenomenal.


To love this comment, log in above
1/3/2011 11:46:40 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
 
 
 
Hi Karim,
I have a 15" Macbook Pro and a 24" IMAC. I only use the Macbook Pro for downloading images and emails while traveling. I don't use it for photo editing (although it does have Photoshop CS5 loaded), because a laptop is so inconsistent as far as colors and calibration. Every time you move a laptop into a different light, the calibration has changed.
A few years ago, I used a laptop with a calibrated 19" monitor that I would edit images on since the monitor always stayed in the same room with consistent ambient lighting and was constantly calibrated with Spyder2 Pro. Even a slight tilt of the screen will affect the colors and clarity on a laptop screen.
In my current setup, I wait til I get home and use my 24" IMAC to do all of my editing. If I could have only one (24" IMAC or 15" MacBook Pro), I would definitely keep my IMAC over my MBP.
my .02m


To love this comment, log in above
1/3/2011 9:58:31 PM

 
Karim Abiali
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/8/2005
  Hi Carlton,
Thank you for your answer. I am considering the IMAC 21.5" since I already have new PC Laptop (calibrated with Spyder express) that I can use when I am away. Having two laptops does seem pratical. I disagree with you slighty for not using a your MacBookPro for editing, the margin of a laptop for inconsistancy is not high or significant to affect my decision not use it for editing. A second option I am considering is to sell my Laptop PC and get a MacBook Pro 15". I was considering the 13", but it guess the screen is too small for editing photos.

Cheers, Karim.


To love this comment, log in above
1/4/2011 11:07:54 PM

 
Karen Poelmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/8/2006
  Hi I use an Imac 27 inch for editing and calibrated it with Spyder Pro software.
Furthermore I have a macbook but I don't do any editing on that.


To love this comment, log in above
1/11/2011 11:27:14 AM

 
Karim Abiali
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/8/2005
  Is Spdyer Pro better then Spyder express?


To love this comment, log in above
1/11/2011 7:51:44 PM

 
Kevin Kopchynski   Karim,

I have experience with Spyder 2 and 3, on Macs and Windows. I use them because I have multiple monitors and projectors for myself and one of my photo groups. If you don't need those abilities the express product should be fine. It looks like they give you the same sensor as the pro, but that should be verified if possible.

Kevin


To love this comment, log in above
1/12/2011 4:38:57 AM

 
Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
chrisbudny.com
  Just to chime in... I changed jobs 2 years ago, and became a traveling consultant, trekking to my client's location out of state, every single week, and back on weekends. I quickly lost time and availability to edit photos (my employer-issued laptop was a joke, screen-wise) since my home machine was the only place to do it, and my weekends at home were naturally highly compressed due to the travel schedule...

I figured a new laptop would allow me to edit while on the road and go a long ways towards restoring my photography hobby and happiness... (it did!) And my home computer (older Windows laptop with external monitor for photo editing) was dying anyway! So I took the opportunity to get a new computer, left Windows and went with the MacBook Pro 15".

The screen is easily the best laptop screen I've ever encountered, and I've done all my photo editing on it for the last year and half, very contentedly. (I finally quit that job last fall, but still use the MacBook as my only home computer.) Carlton's comments are valid, about screen angle changes, and ambient light, but at home I now edit in the same location/setup, and with work travel removed, I seldom move the laptop around the house.

While I'd love the screen real estate of the iMac for sure, I can't justify getting one now, with my perfectly useable laptop. It does come in super handy on vacations now, since I can review/edit the day's photos back at the hotel, or while staying with family, etc. Undoubtedly, if I was facing the decision to buy a new computer today, without that old work-travel requirement, I would very likely go iMac, or Mac Pro tower with one of the large displays.


To love this comment, log in above
1/12/2011 5:54:26 AM

 
Kevin Kopchynski   Christopher,

Very nice to hear of you positive experience. The Mac Pro is probably overkill, unless your time frees up and you have to get lots of photo editing done and doing it faster makes/saves you money.
Both you and Karim might consider a second LCD monitor, not high end, and run it without mirroring. Then you can slide all your tool bars over or any window where color quality is not critical. This leaves more room for you on the main screen.

Best regards,
Kevin


To love this comment, log in above
1/12/2011 10:44:32 AM

 
Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
chrisbudny.com
  Hmm... I still have the old monitor (not LCD alas, a big clunky CRT!) so I may have to explore the dual monitor situation you describe... who doesn't like more screen space to work in?!
Anything I need to do, to enable that? Are you saying I could put all my Photoshop toolbars on the external monitor, and leave the photo editing workspace on the laptop monitor?
(I think at a minimum, I gotta get a new cable to do the video output, in this test case...)


To love this comment, log in above
1/12/2011 11:14:46 AM

 
Kevin Kopchynski   Christopher,

I haven't worked with one of those in a while. You will need a VGA adapter for the macbookpro. You can get it from Apple but a great 3rd part source is OtherWorld Computers. I just got a bunch of the adapters from them for my job (I run computing operations at a boarding school).

Does the monitor still have a video cable attached? If not, yes you will need a new one. If yes, it will plug into the adapter you will get. It *should* work.

In your system preferences for display adapter, you will need to find and uncheck a box that says "mirror displays". You can then slide the mouse from one screen to another. You can fuss with settings to decide which screen your system menus appear on. I will not be able to describe that well in a text message.

I don't use photoshop, but from what I have seen all the toolbars and the pallettes can detach or float and be moved to the other screen.

Good luck,
Kevin


To love this comment, log in above
1/12/2011 1:39:23 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Hi Karim & you are correct Kevin,
With a seperate monitor I would use the laptop screen for bridge to flip through the thumbnails and when I double-clicked to open in Photoshop, it would launch on the other 19" calibrated monitor.
A MacBook Pro with a 27" Cinema Display ($999) would be a great way to go. This link says they now have a simple connection cable and it looks very sleek. I do love the Apple monitors and unless you get like an Eizo or other top line monitor, I dont think this can be beat :) I love my 27" IMAC screen - its the best I have ever had and is a real joy to work with.

27" Cinema Display

Cheers,
Carlton


To love this comment, log in above
1/12/2011 1:58:49 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
 
http://www.apple.com/displays/

27 inch Cinema Display


To love this comment, log in above
1/12/2011 2:02:05 PM

 
Dan W. Dooley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2005
  I was thinking about starting a topic to ask very much the same question. I see it has been well covered here but I'd like some clarification if possible. I currently use a IBM ThinkPad (Lenovo) T60 with a wider aspect screen as my work/general purpose do everything laptop. Yes, I have a very good desktop system with a calibrated monitor but I travel and thus the need for the laptop.

The Laptop has what I consider the ideal resolution for me. 1680x1050 which is the same as my destop. The desktop is 22" and the laptop is only 15.5. Ok, my eyes are still good enough so the small detail and small print at that resolution is no problem at all.

In the next year or so I will be retiring and thus losing this laptop and will need to come up with one of my own. Obviously photo editing is a high priority so coming up with a good solution is what I'm looking for. What is the screen resolution on the Mac? I've not previously considered that as an option but I'm flexible and willing to look at that end. Carrying an external monitor is not going to be an option. I often do my final edits on critical images when I'm back in my office (at home) but spending time on the road and out in the family room at home in the evenings requries a laptop.

Dan,


To love this comment, log in above
2/12/2011 1:20:58 PM

 
Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
chrisbudny.com
  My 15" Macbook is 1440 x 900, but they may now have higher-resolution models; I haven't kept up with the stats since I bought mine (and there's a 17" version as well, which obviously would have bigger screen pixel dimensions.)


To love this comment, log in above
2/12/2011 2:17:08 PM

 
Dan W. Dooley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2005
  Because of my familiarity and experience with Dell laptops, I figured I'd look to see what they had to offer. The max resolution I was is 1600 x 900. Seems that many laptops are geared toward the movie watcher and game player. I would like something at least equivilant to my Lenovo's 1680 x 1050. A larger screen would be nice too but I've done ok with this 15.5. I would certainly presume that Mac offers higher resolution options.


To love this comment, log in above
2/12/2011 2:24:57 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Hi Dan,
I have used NEC's (CRT & Flatscreen), Dells & Gateway monitors and I have to tell you that the resolution on the IMACs are fantastic (1920x1200 resolution). It is such a joy to edit photos on my 24" IMAC and you will smile everytime you look at an image on it. Eizo's & other $1500+ monitors are very good monitors and used by many Pros but the IMAC looks just as good (and are also used by many Pros) and you can get the whole computer for just a little more than you would pay for an Eizo monitor.
I have had my 24" IMAC for 3 years and I still smile everytime I open an image.
You really cant tell that much looking at them in a store but believe me when I tell you that when you get it home and open an image, you too will be smiling :)
Cheers,
Carlton


To love this comment, log in above
2/12/2011 7:20:30 PM

 
Kevin Kopchynski   Dan,

My 15" Macbook pro is also 1440x900. According to the web site, the 17" will go to 1920x1200, so your goal of 1680x1050 *should* be attainable.

However, at 17" you are losing some portability. These mac laptops are not light.

You might try changing your current laptop to 14490x900 to see if it gives enough real estate for what you are likely to be doing on the LT.

By the way, you also need to consider the software you like to use and if a Mac version is available. I use and support both platforms, and while I think people should consider Macs, you have to be practical as well. My main editing desktop is a Vista 64bit OS machine, so I either don't need my favorite Widows only programs, or can use Parallels. But that is not for everyone.

Another common question I ask folks is "who is your support?" Will they help you with your mac or blame you for getting a computer they don't understand?

Best regards,
Kevin


To love this comment, log in above
2/13/2011 9:51:25 AM

 
Dan W. Dooley
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2005
  Kevin, at 17" the laptop would be perfectly portable for me. I've always hated the small so-called "notebook" sized laptops. I know 1400x900 would not be adaquate for me at all. I see 1680x1050 as minimum and would opt for more if available.

Yes, software would be a consideration. My main desktop is Windows 7 64 bit and of course my consideration would never to move away from that platform but to add to it. What I would need on a Mac beyond the common basics and a good photo editing program, probably not much.

As to "support" I've always found myself my best resource for that. :-) Since I've built every computer I've ever owned from scratch, with the exception of laptops, and for those I've done everything from replace system boards to replacing individual componets on their boards, programmed, installed and upgraded all OS's and anything else needed, I think I could learn to work with a Mac in short order. Guess I'm the teenage tech geek in a 65 year old body, LOL

Dan,


To love this comment, log in above
2/13/2011 11:29:42 AM

 
Kevin Kopchynski   Dan,

Sounds like you are set if you want to make the switch. I agree, you will find OS X easy to work with. OS X will open the world of UNIX scripting to you at the command prompt, if that teenage geek so desires :-)

As for the photo editing program, depending on your definition of "good", I believe your choices are Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator, or Gimp for native Mac apps - oh, and Picassa. The 3rd party/open source options are not as great on the Mac, but they do continue to improve.

Best of luck to you,
Kevin


To love this comment, log in above
2/14/2011 3:04:27 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.