Is the 2013 MacBook Air good for photographers?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ImageGabriel, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. ImageGabriel macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2013
    I'm an amateur photographer. I do contracts from time to time and travel a lot. I manage and edit my photos in Lightroom 5 on a PC. I currently shoot with a T2i (around 20mb per photo).

    I want a computer that runs Lightroom smoothly. I don't need large internal storage since I prefer to backup to external hard drive.

    I think of switching the new MacBook Air simply because of the hardware (small, lightweight, powerful). I'm not sure about OS10 but I could try. It would have: Intel i7 processor, 8G of RAM and a SSD. It would cost around 1300$.

    Will it run Lightroom smoothly?

    Any help will be appreciated! Thanks

    (I shoot with a CanonT2i but could maybe upgrade to a full frame body. Would the MacBook Air still handle well the larger files? around 70mb i think)
  2. Doublea6 macrumors regular


    Aug 3, 2013
    I'm pretty sure the air would be great for you. There's not as many ports which might make you have to get an adaptor for showcasing your photos and what not. But yeah it should be a great computer for you.
  3. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

    Sep 2, 2008
    Metro Kansas City
    Just be aware that the TN panel on the MBA (and all TN panels in general) have viewing angle issues and usually smaller color gamut compared to IPS panels. They also lack the contrast and punch that IPS panels have. If excellent color calibration and great viewing angles are critical to you, the rMBP may be a better fit.

    Having said that, the MBA panel is no slouch. It just isn't up there like the retina displays are.

    I use one with Aperture and have been happy with how it compares to my iMac.
  4. Doublea6 macrumors regular


    Aug 3, 2013
    Oh yeah completely forgot, I'd go to a store and look at the retina screen and see if you like it. It's important for looking and editing photos.
  5. ImageGabriel thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2013
    I didn't know that, thanks. I'll have a larger external monitor when I'll be working from home. This should help.


    I'll do that. Thanks
  6. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    If you're really serious about Lightroom work I highly suggest you get a quad core machine. My rMBP 15 is much faster than my dual core rMBP 13 and MBA's. at the the very least get the i7 CPU.

  7. esskay macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Also, don't forget the MBA 13 has an SD slot but the 11" does not.
  8. ImageGabriel thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2013
  9. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    A $2200 machine is faster than a $1300 machine? Cool, you learn something new everyday here. :D
  10. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Buh but, my $1500 MBA is faster than my rMBP when booting up and loading apps courtesy of the superior SSD. Just telling the OP to try to hold out and see how Apple prices the upcoming Haswell rMBP as there may be a serious price reduction with the presumed dropping of the dGPU on the rMBP 15.

    For the OP, I'd seriously consider the 256gb SSD. Yes, you can use externals, but after installing LR5 and CS6, your 128gb ssd will be almost 50% full. Not to mention that ssds are faster and and last much longer if not filled over 80% of capacity. I also like to do my editing on the SSD and then transfer out afterwards. Makes the workflow much faster. A 256gb ssd is perfect for this.
  11. imjoee macrumors 6502


    Jun 12, 2012
    Hi, I have a i5/4GB/128GB SSD 13" MBA. 2013.
    I, myself am a pretty big photographer too, I use a Nikon d5100 and shoot with my iPhone, I also have Instagram @imjoee if you want to see some of my images!

    With Lightroom 5 and it runs very smooth.

    I also run Lightroom 5, Final Cut Pro X, iPhoto AND safari all at the same time and they all cooperate without any noticeable lag.

    Hope this helps!
  12. DisplacedMic macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2009
  13. esskay macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Btw you mentioned going to a full frame body. If you get a used 5D2, iirc they're CF only so you'll need a reader. 6D is SD and 5D3 has both IIRC.
  14. AXs macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009


    The sharpness, clarity depth, and color vividness isn't exemplary on the Air's TN panel.

    But that being said, it is amazing for low power consumption, working with low level brightness in sunlit areas due to being less glossy...

    But it's up to what you need from it. If it is with photographs - You surely would want to consider a Retina Pro... especially with the refresh coming in about a month.

    and PS - if you're keen to stick to your 1300usd budget, I recommend opting for the 256Gb SSD over going i5->i7 on the Air (13")

    Good day.
  15. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Yup, if your budget is inflexible, I'd go for the 8gb ram and 256gb ssd upgrade over the i7. Editing pics on an external drive with an i7 will be multiple times SLOWER than an i5 editing a pic on the super fast internal ssd.
  16. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    That’s the case for most Windows laptops as well. TN Panels on laptops isn’t a deficiency unique to Macs.

    In portability terms there’s little practical difference to be found between an 11 and a 13. I had an 11 before my 13.
  17. flynz4, Aug 29, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I am not so positive about the portability issue. I've had plenty of both 11" and 13".

    2009 - 13"
    2010 - 11"
    2011 - 11"
    2012 - 13"
    2013 - 13"

    I replace my MBA every year, and then hand down my 1 year old machine to family members. Hence, each machine lasts for ~5 to 6 years.

    As you can see, I have a 40/60 split on 11" vas 13"... and every year, I am torn which one that I want to buy.

    Without any doubt (for my usage)... the 11" is much more "portable" than the 13". It doesn't matter much when I am "carrying" it (ex: in a backpack)... but it does make a difference when I am "using" it. Sitting on a couch, laying in bed, etc... I tend to move it from side to side, from my lap to couch next to me... from the couch to the coffee table etc. I almost always grab it with two fingers + thumb from the front right corner... and the increase in moment (lever effect) of the 13" vs 11" is quite noticeable. When I am using it on my desk, there is zero difference.

    So... you can see that I have gravitated slightly toward the 13"... but I have always contemplated both at time of purchase. I just bought a second 2013 MBA (my daughter broke her 11" 2010 hand-me-down)... and she wanted an 11" for portability. I use mine a lot for photography, and if the 11" had a built in SD card reader, I would probably be more inclined to go to the 11". There have been times when I have forgotten my SD card reader behind... when in remote locations... leaving me unable to import my photos to my older 11" MBA for a couple of days. Nothing fatal... yet inconvenient.

    Also... as far as screen quality (retina vs non-retina). I VASTLY prefer the portability of an MBA over a MBP despite the higher screen quality of retina. I do nearly 100% of my more critical work back at home on a pair of 27" displays (iMac + ATD) that are color calibrated. In the field, I primarily use my MBA to capture the photos daily into Aperture project(s)... and begin my organization work (rating, geotagging, stacking, key wording, etc). These do not benefit significantly from a retina display. I occasionally will do some image processing using Aperture, Nik Software, or (rarely) CS6... but realistically... that is generally for use in online sharing and blogging... and any more critical work for publication or printing would be re-done back at home.

    Hence for me... I have abandoned using MBPs (I've owned two 15" MBPs) and have standardized on MBAs (I've owned 5). Once I switched to a MBA, there was no turning back to a MBP.

  18. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Great post flynz4. :) I'm on my second MBA now, coming from previous MacBook Pros and Powerbooks before that. I went from a 13" 2011 MBA to an 11" 2013 MBA and think your comments are right on the money.

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