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Old Jun 11, 2013, 01:31 AM   #1
butch10x
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New 2013 Macbook Air thoughts....

Any thoughts on the 11" or 13" Macbook Air for photo editing using Lightroom 4/5 and Photoshop CS5/6?

I am freelance photographer shooting sports, weddings, interiors/ exteriors, and families mostly. For weddings the volume can run high as say 3-4 thousand images.

I'm currently using a Mac Pro Xeon quad core as my main work station with a 27" screen. I also have a macbook pro late 2011 ( 2.4 quad i7) as a portable machine which i hardly take with me nowadays since I edit the vast majority on the Mac Pro. Both machines run flawlessly for photo editing. My intention is to simplify my workflow. I'd like to use one machine for ALL my photo editing.

Is there anyone out there using the current MBA as a primary workstation? I'd love to hear input. Maybe even the 13 rMBP maybe in my sights.

Thanks for any insight.

Last edited by butch10x; Jun 25, 2013 at 07:26 PM.
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Old Jun 11, 2013, 04:46 AM   #2
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The Air is a great little laptop for most uses but I ruled out the last one and this new one because of the limited memory. 8GB just isn't enough for heavy image editing work where time is important to your bottom line. Even if today it is just about enough, tomorrow's software will be more hungry and file resolutions greater.
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Old Jun 11, 2013, 12:21 PM   #3
Laird Knox
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That is my main concern as well. Currently I'm running 16GB on the laptop and 32GB on the desktop.

On the other hand I'm really interested in the air for carry around, light duty use. The new SSD is screaming and the whole thing should fly. I typically only take an iPad when I'm out shooting. This might be a nice middle ground.
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Old Jun 11, 2013, 02:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by butch10x View Post
Any thoughts on the 11" or 13" Macbook Air for photo editing using Lightroom 4/5 and Photoshop CS5/6?

I am freelance photographer shooting sports, weddings, interiors/ exteriors, and families mostly. For weddings the volume can run high as say 3-4 thousand images....

Take some RAM out of your MBP. Try using 8MP and see if it works. If the MBP swaps like cazzy then so would a MacBook Air with 8MP RAM.

My guess is that if you are using only one computer, dumpping the mac Pro. Yu'd want the MBP with a full 16MB, Apple's 27" mojito and a good external RAID, maybe even Thunderbolt RAID and then a cheaper NAS (or two) for backups
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Old Jun 11, 2013, 02:30 PM   #5
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Sounds like the Mac Pro is doing everything you need now. Keeping a portables screen calibrated would be a concern. And you'd need an external drive for backup if you're not already using one for your Pro. I do edit photos on an older MBP and using the trackpad vs a mouse can be annoying at times.

If your camera uses SD cards how about an iPad for a quick review of keepers and to show a portfolio to prospective customers?
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Old Jun 11, 2013, 03:01 PM   #6
butch10x
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Take some RAM out of your MBP. Try using 8MP and see if it works. If the MBP swaps like cazzy then so would a MacBook Air with 8MP RAM.

My guess is that if you are using only one computer, dumpping the mac Pro. Yu'd want the MBP with a full 16MB, Apple's 27" mojito and a good external RAID, maybe even Thunderbolt RAID and then a cheaper NAS (or two) for backups

My MBP has 8gb ram currently. It runs great with both Lightroom and Photoshop running simultaneously. And yes, I'm using an OWC bought raid setup ( 2x 2TB ) as back for now. The ideal setup I was thinking about was a notebook powerful as my current MBP for out and about, and powerful as the MPro desktop in the office paired with my 27" Nec. The more I'm reading posts, the more I'm leaning towards making my current MBP as the solution. I has a SSD with 8gb ram a the moment. I could just up the ram at this point. I was really excited to see if I could get the smaller form factor with Air, but it seems as though it really isn't practical. It it were, APPLE wouldnt be able to sell MBP's then, haha.

thanks for the insights guyz....keep'em coming.

here's my work if any are curious: www.bpatelphoto.com
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Old Jun 11, 2013, 04:01 PM   #7
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Yes, the display on the MBA is not great. A lower-end 13" Retina MacBook Pro would be nice for on-the-go editing; a high-ed 15" Retina MacBook Pro could in all likelihood replace your Mac Pro from a processing standpoint.

I can't wait for the new Haswell rMBPs to come out.
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Old Jun 12, 2013, 02:27 PM   #8
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Don't take a leap backward from quad core to dual core and max 8GB memory. Get an rMBP. The 2.7 maxed config is now $1000 less than at launch. See price list at www.appleincider.com
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Old Jun 12, 2013, 02:40 PM   #9
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Don't take a leap backward from quad core to dual core and max 8GB memory. Get an rMBP. The 2.7 maxed config is now $1000 less than at launch. See price list at www.appleincider.com
I think it's http://appleinsider.com/
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Old Jun 14, 2013, 08:17 PM   #10
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I've actually just switched from a Mid-2010 2.4Ghz i5 MacBook Pro to a new 1.7Ghz 13" MacBook Air for my photography. For me the battery life and portability were big factors in the switch.

Having used it for 2 days now though I can say it is definitely faster than my previous MBP and the size/weight savings are amazing. Working primarily in Aperture 3 with 36+ Megapixel RAW files is instant and snappy. I only ever keep my current files on the internal 512GB SSD anyway so space isn't an issue and the 8GB of RAM is fine. The SSd's read/write speeds of 700/730MB/s make loading files and paging out the RAM, which happens no more than before, instant and a non-issue.

Battery life is in the range of 6-10 hours with 60% of that editing photos and the screen at 80% brightness. It's just incredible coming from a MBP which barely got 2 hours!

Issues? The screen, but not the size physical. Retina didn't interest me for a couple reasons. First, battery life would have been reduced and second the available power of the GPU would have been much less as well. The colour gamut in the Air is reduced to sRGB though and it is noticeable in the clipped blacks and whites, even with a fully calibrated display. In regards to the resolution, the current 1440x900 resolution is actually perfect as it's the same as the 15" and allows ample working space, especially over the 13".

I should mention that I will be purchasing a Thunderbolt Display to increase the screen working space and port expandability, specifically FireWire daisy chaining along side Thunderbolt drives. I'll also use the increased colour gamut for colour critical work.

Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend it over the 13" rMBP or even 15" unless you REALLY need those extra clock speeds. For video work though, maybe not, but thats a path that doesn't affect me yet.
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Old Jun 15, 2013, 06:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by cosmokanga2 View Post
I've actually just switched from a Mid-2010 2.4Ghz i5 MacBook Pro to a new 1.7Ghz 13" MacBook Air for my photography. For me the battery life and portability were big factors in the switch.

Having used it for 2 days now though I can say it is definitely faster than my previous MBP and the size/weight savings are amazing. Working primarily in Aperture 3 with 36+ Megapixel RAW files is instant and snappy. I only ever keep my current files on the internal 512GB SSD anyway so space isn't an issue and the 8GB of RAM is fine. The SSd's read/write speeds of 700/730MB/s make loading files and paging out the RAM, which happens no more than before, instant and a non-issue.

Battery life is in the range of 6-10 hours with 60% of that editing photos and the screen at 80% brightness. It's just incredible coming from a MBP which barely got 2 hours!

Issues? The screen, but not the size physical. Retina didn't interest me for a couple reasons. First, battery life would have been reduced and second the available power of the GPU would have been much less as well. The colour gamut in the Air is reduced to sRGB though and it is noticeable in the clipped blacks and whites, even with a fully calibrated display. In regards to the resolution, the current 1440x900 resolution is actually perfect as it's the same as the 15" and allows ample working space, especially over the 13".

I should mention that I will be purchasing a Thunderbolt Display to increase the screen working space and port expandability, specifically FireWire daisy chaining along side Thunderbolt drives. I'll also use the increased colour gamut for colour critical work.

Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend it over the 13" rMBP or even 15" unless you REALLY need those extra clock speeds. For video work though, maybe not, but thats a path that doesn't affect me yet.
Great write up. Thanks.

How do you think it would handle being tethered to a Nikon D800 running Capture One? Since that's the quickest and most viable solution to shoot tethered to a D800.
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Old Jun 15, 2013, 11:33 PM   #12
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Great write up. Thanks.

How do you think it would handle being tethered to a Nikon D800 running Capture One? Since that's the quickest and most viable solution to shoot tethered to a D800.
Unfortunately I don't do a lot of tethering, but with the new Air and the D800 both having USB3, transfers speeds should really quick. I don't for see any issues.
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Old Jun 16, 2013, 06:05 AM   #13
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The wife and I do multiweek photo trips. We want the 15" retina screen for initial culling and editing each evening. Also the 768GB SSD gives us each around 500GB for photo storage in each of the rMBPs. When we come home the final edits are done on calibrated ATDs and photos are stored in our respective LR libraries on external RAID 1 arrays. The RAID 1 arrays also have our iTunes libraries, My Documents..etc. The RAID arrays are included in Time Machine backups to other drives. We only keep OS, apps, and email on the internal SSD. The rBMP gives us the resources to be in the field during multweek trips and be our desktop machines at home connected to ATDs.
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Old Jun 16, 2013, 08:51 PM   #14
butch10x
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Originally Posted by cosmokanga2 View Post
I've actually just switched from a Mid-2010 2.4Ghz i5 MacBook Pro to a new 1.7Ghz 13" MacBook Air for my photography. For me the battery life and portability were big factors in the switch.

Having used it for 2 days now though I can say it is definitely faster than my previous MBP and the size/weight savings are amazing. Working primarily in Aperture 3 with 36+ Megapixel RAW files is instant and snappy. I only ever keep my current files on the internal 512GB SSD anyway so space isn't an issue and the 8GB of RAM is fine. The SSd's read/write speeds of 700/730MB/s make loading files and paging out the RAM, which happens no more than before, instant and a non-issue.

Battery life is in the range of 6-10 hours with 60% of that editing photos and the screen at 80% brightness. It's just incredible coming from a MBP which barely got 2 hours!

Issues? The screen, but not the size physical. Retina didn't interest me for a couple reasons. First, battery life would have been reduced and second the available power of the GPU would have been much less as well. The colour gamut in the Air is reduced to sRGB though and it is noticeable in the clipped blacks and whites, even with a fully calibrated display. In regards to the resolution, the current 1440x900 resolution is actually perfect as it's the same as the 15" and allows ample working space, especially over the 13".

I should mention that I will be purchasing a Thunderbolt Display to increase the screen working space and port expandability, specifically FireWire daisy chaining along side Thunderbolt drives. I'll also use the increased colour gamut for colour critical work.

Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend it over the 13" rMBP or even 15" unless you REALLY need those extra clock speeds. For video work though, maybe not, but thats a path that doesn't affect me yet.
This is awesome! Thanks for a super write up. I plan on using a NAS storage for backing up and archiving of my images. The Synology system to be specific. I've ordered the 13" i5 with 8gb ram and 512 storage. I'm very eager to have such a light weight notebook to review and edit images in my photo bag. I will be posting a review of my experience once I go on a photo job with it.
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Old Jun 16, 2013, 09:09 PM   #15
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Congrats, you will not be sorry. Especially the new super-fast SSDs (faster than any desktop SATA SSD you can buy!) will make the machine significantly faster.
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Old Jun 17, 2013, 02:08 PM   #16
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If I could ask a question... I plan on buying an Air and have been torn between the 11" and 13"..

Do you think a 11" would work ok for initial sorting through in Lightroom? saving any heavy editing for the desktop..

I really like the 11" but the short vertical space worries me as far as this application goes..
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Old Jun 17, 2013, 03:46 PM   #17
butch10x
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If I could ask a question... I plan on buying an Air and have been torn between the 11" and 13"..

Do you think a 11" would work ok for initial sorting through in Lightroom? saving any heavy editing for the desktop..

I really like the 11" but the short vertical space worries me as far as this application goes..
I played with both the 11" and 13" at the store. I decided that the 11" version is too close to an iPad size screen. Id rather have the larger 13" screen for culling anyway. With the side toolbars of Lightroom, images would be too small for me on an 11".

just my .02

Last edited by butch10x; Jun 17, 2013 at 06:45 PM.
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Old Jun 17, 2013, 04:18 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by deblewis View Post
If I could ask a question... I plan on buying an Air and have been torn between the 11" and 13"..

Do you think a 11" would work ok for initial sorting through in Lightroom? saving any heavy editing for the desktop..

I really like the 11" but the short vertical space worries me as far as this application goes..
I'd suggest getting a 13" as the 11" screen resolution of 1366-by-768 is too small for many applications to be displayed properly. Aperture for example leaves hardly any room to view photos.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 01:59 PM   #19
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Ended up ordering the 13... hopefully it'll come in Friday so I have the weekend to play!

Thanks everyone for your input..
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 03:21 PM   #20
butch10x
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Ended up ordering the 13... hopefully it'll come in Friday so I have the weekend to play!

Thanks everyone for your input..
Awesome! Congrats! Please share your photo workflow experiences with it. Mine is delivering tomorrow, and will share my photo related experience within the next few days.
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Old Jun 24, 2013, 11:48 AM   #21
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Hi guyz,

I've been playing with the 13" 8gb 512gb Air over the last 3 days. I've tried covering my basic uses over that the weekend.

First initial thoughts: Man do I love the smell of new Apple products!! Anyway, back to my initial impressions. The startup and setup were cake mode. I installed LR4 and Photoshop cs5 and WoW (gaming) with ease. LR4 runs great for editing, however I found exporting to cs5 wasn't as fast as my 15' 2011 mbp 2.4 i7 quad. I actually wasn't surprised by the marginal slower export times.


I shoot with a Canon 5dmk3 @ full res RAW.
Photoshop cs5 ran great with only one setback which is major at this time. Adding layers, adjusting curves, brightness, contrast, sharpening, and blurring ran good. The tools that I ran into major issues were burn, dodge, healing (spot), eraser, brush tools. When hovering the curser over the image, he display flickers wildly at brush sizes larger than 700px I'd say. It is a huge disappointment. I'm trying to tell myself that Apple or Adobe will address this issue b4 my 14 day "trial" is up. It's been 3 days, and after talking to Apple, they said it's an issue Adobe hasn't addressed yet with maybe the new graphics and cpu in the Airs. I've paid over 2k (with applecare) and I just can't think of waiting any longer for this to continue with the 14 day coming up soon.

On a side note, WoW ran great!! I raided in a 10man without any hiccups at all. Fps was around 40-60 on avg on fair - good settings.

Is there anyone else experiencing the photoshop glitch that I've written about? I'd love to hear about any solution.

Thanks
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Old Jun 24, 2013, 12:29 PM   #22
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How's the built in monitor for editing? In regard to gamut, contrast, and calibration accuracy?

Cheers!
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Old Jun 24, 2013, 01:05 PM   #23
butch10x
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How's the built in monitor for editing? In regard to gamut, contrast, and calibration accuracy?

Cheers!
I haven't tried calibrating the display as I'm trying to figure out a solution to the flicker issue. The colors don't seem to pop when put up against my 2011 non retina mbp. Again, not surprised as this isn't an ips screen. I'm still getting used to the glossy screen on this thing too.
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Old Jun 24, 2013, 05:45 PM   #24
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Just got off the phone again with Apple in hopes another tech would be able to help but came out with no solution, except them saying it's an issue with your software, meaning Adobe Photoshop.

I did however, find one poster in the Adobe and Apple support forums claiming that the bug disappeared when he installed Mavericks Beta OS on his machine.

I still have a few more days to decide if I really want to return it. I gotta say, it's gonna be tough for me to part with this after coming from a "heavy" late 2011 MBP 15".

In the end, I could always sell it if the problem cannot be resolved down the road, opening a path to the new 13" retina with Haswell.
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Old Aug 4, 2013, 11:26 PM   #25
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Hey OP

Do you still have your MBA? If yes, are you using it as your primary machine? And how instant are slider adjustments when you are working in the develop module of LR with your 36mp RAW files? I'm basically wondering if the MBA has enough grunt for LR and 12mp or bigger RAW files?

My personal situation is similiar to yours: I have a 27" iMac (Mid 2011) and an iPad 4. I also use LR 4 to work on 12mp RAW files.

I'm considering to get the new 13" Haswell MBA with 8GB RAM and the i7 CPU as my primary machine. I'd sell the iMac and iPad but also get a TBD so I'd still have a proper screen for editing.

Any input would be very welcome.
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