Best Mac laptop for photography?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by fozy, Jun 27, 2006.

  1. fozy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Location:
    Aspen, CO
    #1
    Currently using a 1.5 12" powerbook with a 20" display. I understand this laptop has a less powerful video card than other powerbooks and it shows when connected to the 20" display.

    Having small (and light) computer is key but the new Macbooks don't look like they do well with graphics with the integrated vram.

    Can anyone recommend a good laptop for this application or should I just get a minimac to use with the display?

    Thanks
     
  2. tonyeck macrumors 6502

    tonyeck

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2004
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #2

    What software will you be using? Aperture? Photoshop CS2? iPhoto?
     
  3. fozy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Location:
    Aspen, CO
    #3
    Mainly photoshop. It get's really aggravating when you have to wait for thumbnail creation and stuff like that when editing 1200 images with bridge. I know it would go much faster on a dual processor G5 but that's not on the agenda right now. Just something small and economical?

    I don't mind waiting few extra seconds for sharpening a large file on a slower computer.
     
  4. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    #4
    MacBooks have good graphics cards. While not that amazingly powerful, and they obviously don't have a huge amount of VRAM (none at all actually) they render images very well. I've seen a readout (I'm not very up on this) which was a kind of frequency plot or something, and it was very flat for the MacBook (almost identical to the MBP). I was told it was good!

    MacBooks also support very high resolutions too...
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    Any current Intel based Apple computer will run Photoshop even slower then what you have now. The problem is not with the graphic card it is with the fact that CS2 is not a universal binary and must run under Rosetta. Once Adobe releases CS3 it will be universal and then the Intel Macs wil run it very fast. Ithink you have three options:

    1) Just live with this untill CS3 is released then buy an Intel mac of some kind.

    2) Buy a dual/quad G5 and watch CS2 fly. of buy a 20" G5 iMac and see a noticable jump in speed

    3) Buy an Intel Mac, install boot camp, run Windows XP and watch the Windows version of Photoshop fly.

    I can't see how running PS is Rosetta will give you bettr performance. Steve Jobs himself said that PS under Rosetta was only good enough for light usage, not good enough for full time use. Are you going to argue with Steve on that? If anyone in the world were motivated to say it would work I think it would be SJ and he said "no" in a very public way

    OK a fourth option... Find a Photoshop-like program that is a universal binary, buy an Intal mac and run that other Photoshop-like program. Gimp is one option (www.gimp.org) I have first hand experiance that tells me the gimp on a 2.4 Ghz Pentium IV is much, much faster then Photoshop CS2 on a 1.25 Ghz G4. Both with 1GB RAM. Gimp is about $600 cheaper too. A notebook based on a 2.0ghz Core Dual loaded with 2+ GB RAM should blow away my P4 based system.

    Back to the options: I'm sticking with #1. I will wait for CS3 to become available before I upgrade to an Intel Mac. I'm thinking Late 06 or early 07 timeframe. By then the Intel macs will all be in the next revision and even faster. I hope for a short-tower Powermac with a dual core 64 bit processer or a Core 2 Dual 20" iMac.
     
  6. macidiot macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    #6
    Macbooks don't actually have graphics cards. Neither do the minis. While acceptable for everyday tasks, I'd hardly call integrated intel graphics good. As for rendering images, I'd say that is more a function of the display.

    A MBP is pretty much going to be better across the board, except for size and weight. Faster processor, faster gpu, faster hard drive, etc. However, due to the lack of a universal binary for photoshop, your not going to see the best speeds on any of the intel macs. But, even in rosetta, it's probably going to be faster than a 12" pb. And when the native photoshop comes out, expect a 50-100% performance boost.
     
  7. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    Gone but not forgotten.
    #7
    The MacBooks are fine for photography, but if you're intending to do any 3D work or play games regularly, you'll want a MacBook Pro.

    If you're going to use a current version of Photoshop, you'll need plenty of RAM to make it work well since it has to be run using Rosetta.

    When I'm away from home, I find that the 15.2 PowerBook's 1280x854 is plenty since my other monitor is a 1280x768. The tools are neatly to the side in contrast to working on a 1024x768 display. I can work on the photos somewhat easier since less of each is covered.
     
  8. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    #8
    I don't think integrated graphics are that bad. I play Doom 3 on medium to high settings perfectly on my MB:)
     
  9. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    Gone but not forgotten.
    #9
    You're missing out on the eye candy, but I'm sure it's a better experience than those with a 1.8 GHz G5, even with a Radeon 9800.

    Certainly the graphics hardware is just fine for Photoshop.
     
  10. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    #10
    Why does my friend's 20" imac core duo, with 128MB VRAM, and 1.5GB play Doom 3 on ultra setting PERFECTLY, and my MB with the same processor, and half the VRAM and 2GB RAM struggle sometimes to run it on high, and is unplayable on ultra? Also, my dad's last rev iMac G5, with a 2.1Ghz G5 processor, and 128MB VRAM and 1.5GB RAM struggles run it even on high? The iMac G5 has the same amount of VRAM, RAM, and slightly slower processor.
     
  11. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #11
    Right now I'm running a G5 rev B iMac, a 15" rev E PowerBook and a 15" MacBook Pro. The MBP and the G5 iMac both run CS2 and Aperture significantly faster than the PB, although all three machines have 2 GB RAM and the two notebooks each have the 7200 rpm 100 GB hard drive. I actually have the MBP hooked up to a 30" ACD (just got that yesterday!) and will be using that for my image processing (primarily in Aperture), while using the iMac for web surfing, email, etc. For portability I'll continue to use the PB. This setup is to serve in the interim until Apple releases their intel versions of the PMs and until the PMs have had a chance to get through the initial period....

    The MBP is very frisky with processing images in Aperture; not quite as much with CS2, but that is to be expected. I took this step because I really needed a larger screen with which to work while processing images; although I had not purchased the MBP with this in mind it will certainly work out very nicely for the next few months until I can at last hook up a Mac Pro to this ACD....
     
  12. wmmk macrumors 68020

    wmmk

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Location:
    The Library.
    #12
    sounds like a great question to ask in the gaming forum;)
     
  13. JackSYi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    #13
    I also switched from a 12" PB to a MacBook. The video card seems faster than my old PB.
     
  14. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #14
    WTF are you guys talking about? The GPU isn't doing diddley squat for image editing!! At least in photoshop, in aperture, which is core image, you need a good video card.

    If your plan is to use Photoshop, then a Macbook will be fine, the GPU won't matter, and CS3 (universal) will be out in less than a year, so I wouldn't buy till then. Just get the highest end Macbook either now, or then and throw 2GB of ram in it.

    The weak spot on both the macbook and MBP's are their slow hard drives. Which you can always upgrade later, especially on the macbooks with their easily accessible hard drives.
     
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #15

    I have to agree. I always wonder if people who complain about "integrated graphic" can expain the functions that a GPU performs.

    Also it is hard to ignore Jobs' comments early this year where he was sitting in from of a 20" Intel iMac and said on camera that Photoshop does not run well enough for profesional use. How much more of a definitive statment do we need. Gosh we have an on-the-record direct comment from SJ himself. He basically said "wait" or buy a G5. I'd say if it don't work on the iMac it wont on the MBP as the two computers are really the same inside except the iMac was a biger LCD and disk but no battery but otherwise the same.
     
  16. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    Gone but not forgotten.
    #16
    1) The MacBook has the integrated graphics hardware

    2) The iMac G5 has a single core to its processor.

    3) What does this have to do with photography? ;)
     
  17. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #17
    With the MBP there is the option of the 7200 rpm 100 GB HD; add 2 GB RAM and one has a pretty speedy little machine....sure, it's not going to match a Quad or even one of the other PMs with 4, 6, 8 or more GB RAM but it certainly will do the job just fine for basic all-around computing and does very well with Aperture. Yes, CS2 is a bit slower than it would be on a Quad, but that's understandable....for basic, not heavy professional day-in and day-out use of CS2 I think that a MBP is up to the job. And, Chris, the operative word here is "PROFESSIONAL." IMHO THAT's what Steve Jobs was saying: he was letting us know that if one is a creative professional who depends upon using CS2 for a living and is doing extensive work in it on a daily basis, then, yes, it's better to wait for Adobe to issue a universal binary version, but for the average amateur photographer, the hobbyist, the person who uses CS2 maybe a few times a week, it really isn't that big of a deal. It works. Sure, if you're doing complex things with lots of layers and lots of filters and such, yes, it's going to be much slower than a native version, but for the average person doing a quick-and-dirty cleanup and resizing on his/her images, it really is quite acceptable.
     
  18. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #18
    Yeah, but having an option doesn't mean he needs to pony up the price for a MBP, you can put in a new drive to the macbook by simply taking off the battery.
     
  19. Caitlyn macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    #19
    I think if you get an Intel Mac, whether it be a MBP or just a MacBook, if you up the RAM to a good amount, than Rosetta will be able to draw from that and it won't be too bad. :)
     
  20. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #20
    That won't do anything about the fact that the MacBooks have integrated graphics instead of a separate graphics card. One is paying the extra money for more features in the MBP, too, beyond the possibility of the different hard drive. For instance, the top-of-the-iine 15" MBP and the 17" MBP are both capable of successfully driving the 30" ACD; I don't know whether or not the MacBooks can. ??

    And, yes, Caitlyn, it is very important to have as much RAM as one can afford. Maxing out either the MBP or the MacBook to 2 GB is important if one can do that.
     
  21. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #21
    At the risk or repeating what has already been said: You know that thumbnail creation has nothing to do with the graphics processor, right? It is CPU-bound, together with a limitation on the speed of the hard drive.

    Do you know what Photoshop's requirements are, per Adobe? 1024 x 768 video with 16 Mb VRAM. That's it. Nowhere in their 5 pages of performance enhancement tips does Adobe actually mention the graphics processor as something that can speed up Photoshop.

    The order of priority on your decision remains"
    1) Get lots of RAM
    2) Look at the CPU of the machine -- can you live with Core Duo performance now in exchange for blazing speed later when PS goes UB? If not, go G4 for now.
    3) Hard drive speed and data management. This is where a notebook machine will always be less performance than a desktop -- a 7200 RPM 2.5" drive will always be slower than a 7200 RPM 3.5" drive. A tower machine gives you the option of dividing your System/Applications and Data onto two separate spindles at full bandwidth. Consider your strategies for external storage, a MBP Gives you the option of a ExpressCard/34 SATA or Firewire drive buss, Powerbook 15" and 17" have the same option in CardBus, the MB, iBook and 12" PB offer only the built in Firewire.
     
  22. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #22
    There are only 3 types of people who need a MBP with a "real" graphics card.

    1) Gamers
    2) People who do lots of 3D stuff
    3) People who own 23", 24", or 30" external LCDs.

    I'm don't fit any of these 3 categories, and I love love love my new MacBook. :) My laptop is the best laptop for photography because it's small, and yet the screen has a high enough resolution, and is physically large enough to still be useful.
     
  23. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #23
    You should have added the all-important qualifier: "IMHO." "In My Honest Opinion."

    Until very recently I didn't fit into any of these categories either...and I loveloveLOVE my new 15" 72rpm 100 GB HD 2 GB MacBook Pro.

    Abstract, I respectfully disagree with your declaration, however heartfelt it might be, that your MB is "the best laptop for photography." Any of them, whether they be MB, PB or MBP, is still going to be somewhat of a compromise in terms of speed and RAM, since it is not possible to exceed 2 GB RAM in one of these machines.

    I bought my MBP about a month or so ago....purely on impulse. At the time i had the intention of using it for pretty much everything I'd been using my PB for, and putting the PB up for sale. I did indeed use the MBP on a trip and it performed flawlessly. Well.... it occurred to me this past week that I could buy a 30" ACD, for which I'd been yearning a long time, and hook that up to the MBP.....temporarily use that for all my photo imaging tasks until the intel Mac Pro or whatever they name the replacement for the PMs comes along.... This frees up the iMac for day-to-day emailing, web-surfing, whatever, tasks. It also meant that I would be pressing the PB back into service for use out on my deck (which is where I am right now with it) or around town....not a bad thing; I'm getting value for my money from all three machines at this point. Spreads out the expenditures, too, so that at some point in the future when I'm plunking out the big bucks for the Mac Pro or whatever, at least I'll have already made the investment in the monitor.

    Are any of these notebook machines, regardless of how wonderful they may be, the "ideal" or "the best" for photo processing? No. For that, you've got to look at a much more powerful processor and a motherboard capable of accepting a lot more than 2 GB RAM. Does this mean that none of these notebook machines is capable of handling photo processing? No. For the most part any of them will do an acceptable job for those of us who are not in this professionally, those who are not trying to make a living from photography.
     
  24. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #24
    I am more than happy with the same PB config that you have, though I did max out the RAM.

    For travel I like the 12" PB. But if you are wanting and ready to spend the money a new iMac and and CS3 (later this year we hope) will be the answer.
     
  25. fozy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Location:
    Aspen, CO
    #25
    Not the first time I've heard that. Only running 768mb ram.
     

Share This Page