Just how good is MacBook Pro for photo editing?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by sierra 18, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. sierra 18 macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    Hello all:

    A new member here, and I'm looking to make the jump from PC to Mac. I've used/am using Dell desktop and laptop now, but my laptop is having more difficulty working basic PS programs like Elements 9 for example.I looking at a laptop as opposed to desktop in order to do tethered shooting on location and for the general mobility (my photo studio is portable too). I use Lightroom 3 for my post production.

    I was looking at the MBP in the flesh recently, and was gobsmacked by the quality of the display and the (to me) intuitive OS of the MBP. Still and all, its a considerable purchase, so I want to sound out people who most likely have experience doing photo editing with the MBP (non-retina display model).

    My requirements:

    1. Portability;
    2. Power and speed; did I say speed and power? Lots of both!
    3. Accurate color rendition on screen.

    I've tried pricing out comparable PC laptops (Dell XPS, Lenovo workpad) with i7 processors and SSD hard drives, and the price differences are there, but once you start building a PC to have the comperable specs as the MBP (without the retinal display), the PCs aren't exactly free either.

    So, I'm leaning to the Mac Book Pro. Are there any photographers out there who have experience with photo editing on both PC and MBP? I'd be very interested in your views and opinions,


  2. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    I don't photo-edit as a profession or anything but I have been using Photoshop for basically my entire life across multiple versions and platforms.

    If you are doing client work and the like, you are going to want to go with the 15'' cMBP. I would recommend the base model with the Anti-Glare upgrade and then upgrade the RAM (8GB or 16GB) and HDD to SSD via aftermarket - that will give you a solid and accurate machine that still offers a nice portability to screen real estate ratio.
  3. sierra 18 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    Yep, I'm looking at the 15" with the anti-glare option right now as a choice. I was looking at the upgrades at the point of purchase, I was under the impression that macs are harder to configure aftermarket.

    I'm in conversation with a friend of a friend overseas who does professional video editing, and he endorses the MBP for my choice. I do photo editing for clients, but its not my main job as it were. Mostly portraiture work for clients and then just a lot of editing in photoshop programs after shooting landscapes and still life.

    Any other comments or suggestions, please keep them coming!



  4. theuserjohnny macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    The software is the same on either system it just comes down to how well you know the software and if you have a computer that can run it.

    I do editing on either my current rMBP or on the PCs that are at school and I jump between the two systems and there isn't anything different other than I'm working on a PC or Mac.
  5. csista macrumors member

    Mar 26, 2007
    I actually just got a 15" Macbook Pro (Non-retina) last week for photo editing. Speed is great, since I was coming from a 2007 Mac Pro. Working from a external G-Raid, FW800, which can also be used as esata with a cheap esata-USB3 connector for even faster speed. Definitely get the anti-glare screen, but I have to warn you that you will have to use a calibrator to get the colors right. It was driving me crazy for the first few days, couldn't get rid of the blue/turqoise tint, so yesterday I broke down and bought a Spyder4. Now it looks great.

    Oh, and you can get 16GB Ram from Crucial for $82. Not sure if that's a sale or their regular price, but it's definitely the cheapest of the highly recommended brands. Haven't installed mine yet, but it seems easy to do, and that should add to the speed.
  6. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Of course when u switch platform, all brand new software suite. Hope u budget for that.

    But no, every artists person know, Mac is it.
  7. nontroppo macrumors 6502


    Mar 11, 2009
    Is the reason not to consider the retina MBP one of cost?

    Because the 220DPI IPS display is such a step up from the non-retina; I use Lightroom 4 and editing a RAW photo at 220DPI, being able to see the majority of my image at 1:1 while sharpening and pushing curves close to print resolution is honestly a huge technological revolution. One that really benefits photographers / videographers.

    Anyway, either a cMBP or rMBP is an excellent machine, limited more by the software than anything hardware based for the time being. But the retina display really does push image editing in a significantly positive way.

    The one significant advantage of PCs for photography however is 10bit support for external displays, Apple has failed to support this for some inexplicable reason for years, and for example forces some users with 10bit displays to stay with PCs.
  8. tcphoto macrumors 6502a


    Feb 23, 2005
    Madison, GA
    I use my Late 2008 MBP as my main machine for my photo business. Unfortunately, Apple did not offer a matte or non glare option when I bought but my display is pretty accurate. The newer machines should have no problem with most any RAW files but the Mac Pro is still King but at a price.
  9. sierra 18 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    No, the retina display cost was not the issue, my concern was based on reports I have read that the retina display is not playing well with programs (such as LR and PS) that I use, since those programs are not written for display on the the rMBP.

    I'm looking at the Dell XPS 15 in comparison to the MBP; and yes, I know if I go Mac, I'll have to buy new versions of the software I've been using.



    I should also ask, I'm wondering if its best to add memory yourself after purchase or to buy as you customize before purchase? I'm handy, but are MBP customizable in the real world for non-computer engineers?
  10. rrm998 macrumors regular


    Jun 15, 2012
    Houston, TX USA
    If your versions are current, Adobe will let you swap platforms from Windows to Mac on their Pro Products. Consumer products like Premiere Elements you can just uninstall from Windows and install the same license key on the Mac version.

    If you are not current, you have to upgrade first.

    I just did this myself. Took several emails and phone calls (Adobe charges a fee for Photoshop swaps) but they are nice enough about it.
  11. chriscl macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2008
    Stuttgart, Germany
    One thing that you will gain in OS X, coming from Windows, is Spaces.

    This is Mac OS X' multiple virtual desktop feature; allowing a number of virtual desktops running programs, that you can quickly and easily swipe between.

    Why is this relevant on a Mac? It means that, if you are a Photoshop Elements user, you can have (as I do!) the Elements Editor open in one space, and then the Elements Organiser open in another space, and quickly and easily swipe between the two.

    Moving between spaces is much quicker, and cleaner, than ALT+Tab on Windows.

    But as a very happy MBP user and keen photographer, my primary use of my MBP is photo-editing, and for that, it's the best laptop I've found; powerful and very easy to use, plenty of disk space, and robust and portable enough to put into my camera bag when I need to take it on a shoot.
  12. stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    this is hardly a gain, as there are tons of windows programs that do 'spaces' type window management.

    as for OSX vs windows for photo editing, both are the same. there is no real performance gain over the other seeing as they share the exact same hardware now. if anything, windows had the advantage for a long time because it had 64-bit support for adobe apps. macs didn't have this till way later.

    photoshop currently looks like ass on the RMBP.
  13. nontroppo macrumors 6502


    Mar 11, 2009
    That is incorrect, the to-be-updated versions of LR and Photoshop display identically to a classic MBP, here is a Photoshop screenshot comparing my 2010MBP and 2012rMBP, they are effectively pixel-identical. Actually Lightroom is better because UI text is rendered at 220DPI, it is already partly retina-aware. For 1:1 pixel editing I toggle resolution. This gets you the benefit of 220DPI editing even before they are updated. In summary:

    1. Photoshop and Lightroom canvas displays identically comparing classic and retina MBP at default resolution, you lose nothing running on retina.
    2. Lightroom already displays UI text retina aware.
    3. Both apps can run at 2880, where you can edit at 1:1 pixel resolutions and take advantage of the retina DPI. The caveat is small UI, the advantage is editing close to print resolution on an IPS panel.
    4. They will be updated soon, but even before the update, at worst they are as good or better than a cMBP resolution wise, and handily beat the 6bit twisted nematic with an 8bit IPS panel.


    People who tell you otherwise are simply being perceptually misled by the higher DPI elsewhere on the screen, and the pixel border aberrations of the cMBP
  14. sierra 18 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    Now if I only had that in English :D . Just kidding and I appreciate the time you took to illustrate this point, thank you,




    And I should ask, there must be a capability to shoot tethered wirelessly? Shooting with a Canon 7D right now.

  15. PORN PRINCE01, Oct 15, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012

    PORN PRINCE01 macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2012
  16. FuNGi macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2010
    If you've decided to go with the non-retina to save yourself potential hassles of the 1st gen adopters and software-issues related to your programs then definitely do not buy Apple's upgrades. You can save $500 by getting an aftermarket SSD and installing it yourself (M4, Samsung 830, etc.). 16GB of 1600Mhz RAM will be cheaper if you install it yourself too. It is very easy. Go to ifixit.com for a manual and to determine what screw drivers you need for the SSD.

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