MacBook Pro recommendation for photographer

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ghostbuster, May 22, 2011.

  1. ghostbuster macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    Hello! It would be great to have a couple of opinions on the following:

    A friend of mine, photographer, really needs a new laptop. Her old 13" Macbook (2007 - white plastic with bulging battery) is slow and her battery won't hold even half a charge.

    She uses it for the following:
    • Heavy use of Photoshop for retouching portraits and full body shots.
    • Photos are usually 3-4 megabytes in size and some RAW images are up to 10 megabytes in size. (I suppose she will get a more expensive camera at some point = bigger images)
    • Editing videos (less frequently)
    I was suggesting the 15" to her but she's a little concerned with mobility. She actually moves it only twice per day. From her home to work and back, so I don't think it's that bad and the bigger screen (especially when retouching photos) and more power (CPU) will come in handy.

    Which model would you pick? (taking into account the use it would be given)

    • Is the difference in power/performance between the 13 and 15 big? Is it worth it for the use she will give to the machine?
    • Would you pick the 15 over the 13? If yes, would you pick the 2.2/1GB VRAM over the 2.0 256MB VRAM?
    • Would the Anti-glare be worth it if she picks a 15? She has little glare on her current Macbook (white, 2007) but it's not as glossy and "bad" as the current ones.
    Thank you very much for your help!
  2. Karr271 macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2011
    13 pro

    I recommend the MBP13. Seems as if she's used to the 13" size. The processor upgrade is tremendous from the 2007 macbook. Also, the graphics are much better. It's $600 cheaper than the 15 and seems like it'll be great for her. Also, the i7 MBP13 doesn't offer a significant upgrade from the 13 base model so the $1200 plus maybe an upgraded hard drive will serve hr greatly
  3. Karr271 macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2011
    Additionally, the anti glare might give her a better representation of colors since she's a photographer.
  4. zeiter macrumors 6502

    Jan 19, 2008
    the 13inch model doesn't have the anti-glare option.
  5. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2010
    Consider a 17" ?

    Personally, I like lots of pixels and have, and would get another, high-res 17". But, I admit I'm a big guy. I understand that people of slighter build prefer smaller. So, were I smaller, I would get the max CPU/graphics performance 15" with 8 GB memory--including 2.3 GHz quadcore -- we are talking PhotoShop here-- more is better. (And, I would get antiglare-- but, that's me.) The 13" doesn't have the AMD graphics option-- the integrated Intel graphics are not going to be satisfying for this application.
  6. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    13" with a separate monitor or a 15" by itself. I think editing photos on a 13" screen is rather painful, she doesn't know what she's missing by not having a larger screen to play with, especially if the camera she has shoots 10MP+ sized photos.
  7. hakuryuu macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2007
    Lomita, CA
    The 15 inch with anti glare is the minimum I would recommend. Upping the memory to 8GB and the HD to at the very least the 7200 RPM drive would help a lot as well, but an SSD would make a huge difference. My 17 inch came with a 7200 rpm drive but the SSD I put in made it much quicker.
  8. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    If you don't want to use an external display, get the 15". 15" is too small for photo editing IMO, and 13" is waaay too small.

    Any differences between the standard 15" screen and the hi-res anti-glare would be better spent on a proper external screen. Dell has some affordable IPS displays that would do a better job for photo editing than the standard screen.

    For photo editing, I would take all the power I can get.
  9. ghostbuster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    Thanks for all the suggestions! I think we are going to the Apple Store here in Barcelona and we will have a look at the different machines. I personally also like the idea with the external monitor. There's a nice 23" from Dell which is only 205 Euros -> Dell UltraSharp U2311H Monitor

    Just to make sure, would any of you pick the lower end 15" over the high-end 15"? I'm not sure if the 256MB VRam would be "enough" for image editing. From the post I've been reading here, 95% of users would pick the high-end 15", but mostly because of gaming and she's not into gaming and won't use it for that.

  10. pedrofan, May 23, 2011
    Last edited: May 23, 2011

    pedrofan macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2008
    As a photographer I recommend you any of the macbook pros, with antiglare screen, 8 gibytes of ram, and if it is possible a good ssd drive, as the biggest lags when using photoshop are when you have to wait to open big files or many big files and saving them. Any of the quad proccesors are incredible, so even the worse will work flawlessly for you.
    Newer photoshops are starting to use the faster video memory combined with ram memory, so if you choose the 1gb ATI version it will increase the performance a little, but I have been using a 256mb video card for many years and the issue with photoshop is always the ram memory and the HDD lags. So It all depends on the money you can spend.
  11. Vudoo macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2008
    Dallas Metroplex
    I picked up the 15" 2.2 MBP for my photo editing and I photograph and edit in RAW. I would recommend saving the money from the anti-glare and investing it in an external monitor. An NEC, LaCie or Eizo LCD would do nicely.

    By the way, I'm still using the stock 4 GB 1300 Mhz of RAM and 5400 RPM hard drive and it works fine. Although I do plan to upgrade to 8 GB of 1600 Mhz RAM and a SATA 3 SSD.
  12. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    Ditto. If you're spending a lot of time at home, external monitor will be a lot better to use than upgrading the MBP itself. I'd look into the 27" ACD if you can afford it. It complements an MBP very well.
  13. ViviUO macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2009
    If she works with several images at once, get the 15 inch. Not only will you have more CPU power, but more pixels.

    Additionally, I really just don't understand how people can consider the 15 inch a hindrance to carry around. It's really not that much bigger. I notice absolutely no difference between my 15 inch and my previous 13 inch.
  14. ghostbuster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    Hey, thanks for all the replies.

    We went to the Apple store yesterday and my friend really likes the anti-glare 15". But she can't afford the 2.2Ghz with 1024mb VRAM. The resulting question is:

    • Will she be able to use Photoshop with the 256MB VRAM? Or is that too little VRAM? She will also be editing more videos soon with Adobe Premiere.

  15. thunng8 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 8, 2006
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    VRAM will not make any difference for photoshop.
  16. ghostbuster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    Will it make a difference for video editing with Adobe Premiere and Final Cut?

    Thank you!
  17. akdj macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008

    Not with Premier...there are a very few select nVidia 'Cuda cards that'll improve performance with a few tasks in Premier CS5.

    FCP, it will make NO difference....right now. We don't know what's around the corner (next month) with the release of FCP X. There's a new Final Cut being released....64 bit and more goodies that I'm suspecting will take advantage of more of our multi core systems, and possibly GPU partnership. However, in their introduction to the new program, they also talked about it being "scalable" for use on all (or most, we don't know exactly) Mac platforms on the market...most likely of recent vintage. We'll see. However...even if it does, the 256 card will be more than fine as long as she's not driving a bunch of big 4k monitors with the MBP. That's where the extra VRAM helps. In fact, in a lot of recent "Gaming" benchmarking of the two cards in the high end iMacs; the 1gig vs. the 2gig, there was negligible, if any performance differences.

    So the point being, today's video and photography software won't benefit with the increase in vRAM on those two choices of 15".

    However...someone mentioned it earlier, I would also add the possibility of the 17", especially if she was just fine with the 15. It's only about a pound more, but almost twice the screen area and better resolution. It's a phenomenal difference I've found. I, too, make my living doing video production...and about 20% of my income is from still photography gigs. I switched from a 15" Santa Rosa (I think, circa 2007) to the next year's 17"....I just upgraded to the latest 17" MBP a couple weeks ago and I'm BLOWN away using if for BOTH video and photography...It's just Awesome!!! Get her to give it a gander. It's not much bigger...width-wise or weight wise. It truly isn't...however, the difference is significant in actual use.

    Good Luck:)

  18. SpaceDoc macrumors member

    May 18, 2011
    Concerning screens of MacBook(Pros) for serious photo editing:
    - only non-glare [=> 13" is no option!]
    - only high-resolution

    The new Core-i MBP make a big difference concerning tests I read! Faster, much faster!

    VRAM: don't know ... but get at least 8 GB of RAM! [cheaper at 3rd party dealers!]

    Concerning external monitors: no Dell! And certainly no cheapo Dell! Safe that money!

    Does your friend need a DVD-drive? The Unibay may be a great oportunity to add a second - fast (7200 rpm) - harddisk! :) Or transfer the original HDD into it but by a 3rd party SSD for the main disk! (but check SATA-III compatibiliy first!!!)

    SpaceDoc [owning glary :( MacBook 13" Unibody Late2008 but Eizo 24" 1920*1200 TFT :) - non-glare, of course!]
  19. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 27, 2011
    Harrisburg, PA
    My guess is she does her editing at home or in an office--not on set, so the Anti Glare isn't that big an issue. She can use an external display if absolutely necessary. The AG is a nice upgrade, but upgrading everything else just to get it is kind of silly.

    The 13" is a great size. It's thin, light and gets great performance from the battery. Upgrading the RAM (either herself or through Apple) is a cheap and effective option, but from my experience the base model seems to work well. for what she'll be doing and I do a bit of myself.

    I think portability sounds like it's important to her--as it is to me. I use a base model 13" 2011 MBP (up to 8GB RAM) for off-site audio recording with Pro-Tools. I wouldn't want to run a bunch of plug-ins on it, but it's got plenty of firepower. We can just dump everything to the main system for post work.

    On it's own a 15" or larger laptop isn't particularly bulky, but when you combine it with all the other gear that needs to be carried it makes a difference. I'm sure she's thinking along the same lines.
  20. ghostbuster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2010
    Hey there. Thanks for all the useful comments again.

    In the end she ordered the smaller of the 15" with the anti-glare option because she really wanted that. When we went to the Apple store she even said to me "You shouldn't have shown me the AG... now I want it."

    And that was the maximum she could spend as well. The bigger 15" was too expensive and in the end she did pay a little more than planned because of the AG screen but it's still cheaper than the more powerful 15" with glare. She didn't care so much for the VRAM after reading your comments. Photoshop should run well.

    Thanks again to everybody. You helped a lot with the decision!

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