Macbook Pro 13" or Macbook Air 13" for Lightroom

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by astormsau, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. astormsau, Jun 14, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012

    astormsau macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Hi everyone,
    As much as I hate to do this, this is another one of those ' what would be suitable' threads.

    I currently have a 2010 11" Macbook Air 128gb, 1.6ghz C2D with 4GB ram. It is without doubt, one of the most flexible, fantastic little machines I have ever owned. I purchased this machine before I got into photography. I regularly take the machine out of home on holidays or visiting people and its great until I load Lighroom.

    I use Lightroom 4 and shoot 16megabit RAW files with a Nikon D7000 - about 20mb in size. I found the C2D Air excruciatingly slow in Lightroom 3 (and now LR4) and the 128gb space is a problem, I like to keep my recent shots on the machine and like keeping raw files. I had a Dell u2711 (wasnt a fan of the anti-glare) and sold it a few weeks ago and plan to upgrade the air and get a new thunderbolt display to go with whatever machine I buy.

    I was all set to buy a 13" Macbook Pro 2.9 8gb ram and drop in an after-market SSD. After doing some reading am now wondering if I should get the 13" Air 2.0ghz 8gb and 512SSD so that I keep my portability which I love - I had kinda come to the conclusion that I wasnt going to get a suitable machine for my photo needs from an Air.

    I know the Air uses a ULV processor and its 2ghz boosting to 3.2 whereas the Pro is 2.9 boosting to 3.6. In geekbench my 11" air benchmarks at around 2000 whereas the new Air 13 is around 7500 and the Pro around 8500... both of these are significantly faster than what I have now.

    Does anyone use Lightroom with similar sized Raw files with a 13' i7 Air or Pro, any comparison between the two? is the extra processing of the Pro going to make a huge difference or should LR4 with my 16megapixel files be perfectly ok on a ne i7 machine, any suggestions?

  2. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    Yikes. That's not good to hear.
  3. astormsau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    I mean the existing 11" 2010 C2D air...
  4. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    Oh, oh... sorry, didn't catch that! :)
  5. dlbmacfan macrumors regular

    Jul 20, 2011
    My preliminary impression of the new 13" ultimate is that it's substantially faster than the 2011 13" ultimate when running LR 4. I also found the last Air to be agonizingly slow. I am processing Canon 5D Mark III image files of about 25 MB in size. I'll be doing quite a bit of image processing this weekend, so I'll have a better idea of how my new MBA ultimate handles LR4 on Sunday.
  6. arbitrage macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2009
    Please come back and update this thread after testing a bit more. I've just ordered the top of the line 2012 11" to replace my top of the line 2010 11" as I agree the C2D is just too slow in LR4 and Aperture to generate 1:1 previews. I also use 5D3 Raw files (along with 5D2 and 7D). I'm hoping that by waiting 2 generations from my 2010 that I will get a considerable upgrade in speed. I tried a friends 2011 13"Air and it was already noticeably faster than my 2010 so I'm fairly confident that this 2012 will do the trick for travel.

    I also ordered a fully speced 15"RMBP to run most of my work at home on.
  7. xopher macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2012
    Tagged for interest:) im in the same boat

    I would like to know how turbo boost holds up and the battery consumption
  8. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert

    My 5d2 caps were fast enough. The problem with the last gen was ram.
  9. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    Def let us know. How's the 5d3. I'm considering upgrading for a second full frame body. I have a wedding coming up.
  10. astormsau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Dbl when you say the l'last air which model are you referring to? The 2010 c2d or one of the I series? If you can give some feedback about LR4 on a new air it would be much appreciated. Ta
  11. dlbmacfan macrumors regular

    Jul 20, 2011
    I had the first unibody MBA: 13" with maxed out RAM and SSD (the ultimate version, just like the new one that I just bought).
  12. difo macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2012
    Please let us know your impression about the new MBA. I am very interested in this topic since I am considering to buy a new MBA 13' for photo editing with Lightroom and photoshop.
    Thank you!
  13. funkysmurf macrumors member

    Sep 11, 2006
    I used a 13" 2011 MBA with 4Gb of ram for Photoshop and Lightroom without major issues (D700 NEFs). I also played around with a base model 2012 MBA loaded with 12 NEFs at around 15Mb each the other day.

    You're probably already aware of the screen on the MBA not being particularly good for photo work (the colours are washed out, viewing angles are pretty bad). The 11" model fares better. You mention that you'd use it with an external monitor, so you should be fine in terms of colour accuracy etc. if you can calibrate it.

    One example of when I would notice a difference between my quad core 2.4GHz i7 MBP and the MBA, and where the MBA would stutter slightly, is when applying a filter such as lens correction.

    If you happen to have a lot of photos open at the same time and you use expose to switch between them, the MBA would again stutter slightly (where the animation isn't completely smooth). This was usually when connected to an external display. I tried this with the base model 2012 MBA to see whether the new integrated graphics card handles this better, but it doesn't appear to be the case.

    Having said all that, this doesn't by any means reduce your ability to edit photos effectively, it's just that it's not always a buttery smooth experience.

    I find it annoying, but that's because I like everything to run and appear smooth and I was also able to compare it to a machine with more grunt - otherwise I probably wouldn't know the difference.

    If you're going to edit your photos on the road without an access to a good external monitor, in my opinion, you should give the MBP more serious consideration. It's very easy to overcook the colours on the air. It's only when you open the same file on a MBP or a decent monitor that you realise that it's over saturated :)

    If the minor annoyances I mentioned aren't an issue for you, then you'll have no problems with using LR4 on the new MBA.
  14. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Unless you're using more than 4gb of ram, the speed difference between the 2011/2012 ultimate in terms of pure CPU power isn't going to be that much. If you're working with 20+ MP DSLR RAW images you really should be looking a the MBP 15/rMBP 15, their quads are much better for processing images. I use a modified 2011 MBP 15 with the optical drive removed for a 1TB rpm regular HDD in tandem with a Crucial M4 256gb SSD, it crunches D800 36MP RAW files MUCH MUCH better than my 2011 MBA ultimate.
  15. bit density macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2004

    You're asking which would suck less. Neither is suitable.

    If your serious about design work, and it has to be on a portable, seriously consider the rMBP. Even the base model is going to be MASSIVELY better than the most tricked out air.

    This is precisely why there are different versions.
  16. astormsau thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012
    Hi everyone, bit of an update.
    I ended up getting a 13" Air ultimate (i7, 8gb ram, 512 SSD)
    So far it is working very well with LightRoom compared to my old 1.6C2D Air, it is much quicker to load Lightroom, previews load quicker and adjusting images is almost instant. When I really get cranking with adjustments the CPU gets going up nar 100% and the fans speed up but that is to be expected.

    Based on the benchmarks released recently for the 2012 13" Pro, I assume it would be a better choice for the work I am doing although I think as with everything, its a bit of a compromise. I dont do photography professionally and I only ever edit images. This years 13" i7 Air benchmarks the same as the late 2011 i7 Air so the performance isn't bad at all.

    The trade off is that I cant see myself lugging a 13" Pro around Europe with me when I go on holidays the 13" Air would be perfectly ok so I think I will just accept Lightroom for what it is at the moment.

    Anyone else's experiences would be of interest.

  17. arbitrage macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2009
    An update from me also. My 2012 11" Air 2.0Ghz, 8GB, 256SSD is friggin fast compared to my 2010 Ultimate 11" Air. LR and Aperture are running smooth, 100% previews are being generated very fast so it is not annoyingly slow like on my C2D 2010 model.

    Actually I'm getting speeds equal or better (based off of first impressions) than my desktop late 2009, 27" iMac with 2.7Ghz i7, 8GB of Ram.

    Next I'm waiting for my Retina MBP maxed out (except for the SSD size) and that will probably become my at home image processor with the 27" iMac used as an external display!! Hasn't shipped yet but I can't wait to try it out.
  18. Richard Peters macrumors regular

    Richard Peters

    Jul 18, 2010
    Surrey, UK
    I've got an 11" i7 with 8gb RAM on the way which will be used for light photo editing when I travel. I'm glad I held off the 2011 model which I almost picked up a month or so ago, as it sounds like the 2012 will be much much more capable of handling D800 RAW files + USB 3 makes it much better for file transfer from camera to computer with the camera (+ when using a XQD card reader with D4 files).

    The 2012 certainly seems on paper to be the ultimate travel laptop for photographers!

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