13" MBP for photography, which one?

Empty_Quarter

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I never thought I'd actually do this, but time comes where it's time to update. As you can see from my specs below, I'm fairly outdated. The logical thing to do would be to upgrade the core components... but I don't game anymore, and whatever intensive tasks I do is covered with nicely specced machines at work.

So I'm seriously considering a mac. I love my music, I edit lots of photos with Lightroom, and do the usual surfing. I travel a lot too, so the portability aspect would be nice (hence why I'm not looking at the iMac). This will be my main go to machine plugged into my trusty 2408WFP when I'm at home.

Now here is the dilemma, do I get a weaker Mbp with small SSD and retina, or a better spec'd Mbp without the retina? Speaking from a purely photography point of view?

I speaking strictly a 13" Mbp, not considering a 15" whatsoever

I'm sure the retina would be better... But here's my concern, my photo archives alone would eat up the entire storage drive. I'm not sure I'm overly happy about using an external, because like I said... I travel a lot, don't want to drag around a hard drive.

Gadget wise, I prefer android tbh (though i do have an ipad), but I don't think there would be any compatibility issues with a Mac.

Suggestions?
 

UnknownSouljer

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I once used a 13" MBP for all of my photo work for a year. It worked decently well, but it wasn't ideal. It was a 2010, so a bit before the retina existed.

The most ideal setup for photographers (I am one) I personally believe is a 13" MBA and an iMac for all the heavy lifting at home. In lieu of this, the only 1 computer solution I can think of is the 15" Retina, since you'll need 1 machine that can do it all.

As for needing an external, no matter what you're going to get to the point where you will need it. As you shoot more photos, eventually no matter how large the HD, you're going to fill it. I don't consider my current archive to be particularly large, but I'm already in the 3TB range. Right now, laptops can't do that on a single internal storage drive. If you have a laptop bag, carrying around HDs in it isn't that big a deal. You're already carrying a camera, lenses, and a laptop... what's a single external HD really going to add in terms of complication? Going back to that year in which I only had a 13" MBP, I was using two external OWC bus powered externals with WD drives in them. Like I said, there isn't any way around it, other than trying to keep all your storage at home and constantly offloading any work you do.

So, now to answer your question, I would much rather have the SSD and the retina screen as you'll need an external at some point if you're active at all in photography. The retina displays gives you more pixels to play with so you can see and do more while editing, and the SSD will ensure that Photoshop loads up quick, and any action in Photoshop that requires caching won't take a lot of time. Photo editing is all about efficiency. Ideally you want to spend the least amount of time editing so you can spend the most amount of time behind the lens.
 

Archer1212

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I wouldn't even consider a 13" MBP for single machine photography. Sure it will work, but it wont be ideal. a spec'd out 15" non-retina would be the best option for you.
 

Empty_Quarter

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Hmmm... Interesting responses.

If a 13" won't be ideal, I'd rather get a 27" iMac to unload at home, and use the iPad on the go. Sure the iPad can't edit, but it's a fantastic portable machine, and I can import straight from an sd card.

Some food for thought indeed... I guess that rules out the MacBook Air :p
 

UnknownSouljer

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Hmmm... Interesting responses.

If a 13" won't be ideal, I'd rather get a 27" iMac to unload at home, and use the iPad on the go. Sure the iPad can't edit, but it's a fantastic portable machine, and I can import straight from an sd card.

Some food for thought indeed... I guess that rules out the MacBook Air :p

MBA is actually a great workhorse. Photoshop is primarily CPU intensive so it's lack of GPU power isn't that big a deal (if you buy a used older one with an HD3000 say). However if your ONLY machine is a 13" MBA, it's limiting. Like I mentioned I still think the best setup in general is a 11"/13" MBA on the go and a 27" iMac at home to do anything really intensive. The MBA will still be more than capable of doing your edits on the road or tethering as necessary. It just won't be a beast like an iMac or similar machine.


EDIT: I just read your user name, didn't realize who I was talking to... lol, hi Empty_Quarter...
 

PsycoGeek

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I would recommend the retina MBP. I have a 15" and work with scanned negatives (yeah, I still shoot film). It's absolutely fabulous for photo editing. The only limiter in the 13" for this purpose will be the dual core processor and 8Gb of RAM.

As far as storage goes you can always use SDXC cards. I am using some old cards (4 8Gb and 3 4Gb SDHC cards) for data storage. I'm only storing documents, not photo's, but a few 128Gb cards will double/triple/quadruple your storage, and only weigh a few ounces. The only drawback there is cost. They may not be quite as fast as an external USB3 HD enclosure with an SSD, but they are much more portable. You can save the external drives for storage and backup at home.

I believe you can also upgrade the SSD in the 13" with an after market drive. OWC has been marketing them for a while now.

Can I ask why a 15" machine is not under consideration?
 

Absentee

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Hmmm... Interesting responses.

If a 13" won't be ideal, I'd rather get a 27" iMac to unload at home, and use the iPad on the go. Sure the iPad can't edit, but it's a fantastic portable machine, and I can import straight from an sd card.

Some food for thought indeed... I guess that rules out the MacBook Air :p

This is what I will end up doing. I already have the iPad and camera connection kit, now I just need the 27" iMac. :D

My iPad has replaced my MBP for mobile purposes. Get the largest iPad you can afford, or at least the LTE version. With higher quality photos, it was painful waiting for some to FTP to my server via 3G tethering, while I had others to download.


I've also looked in to getting an EyeFi and a battery powered raspberry pi w/huge thumb drive, and wifi adapter. Id have it running an FTP server, to automatically and wirelessly transfer photos taken from the EyeFi to Raspberry pi, then have the iPad connect to the raspberry pi to view files. Imagine being able to setup a tv and have the pi play a slideshow of photos being taken at the event, and instead of showing a review of the image to someone on the camera, you pull out the ipad as your viewing device. An alternative to this is running an FTP program on the iPad, but then that needs an external wifi access point. (I'm sure there are a few apps that run an FTP server, but to have one run in the background requires jailbreaking, not a problem for me, but may be for you)

Adobe photoshop express is great for simple color and contrast touch ups on the iPad, and adobe photoshop touch with a stylus is good for simple edits such as the healing brush.
 
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Grentz

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Retina by far. The Res on the non-retina 13" is too small of a workspace on the go for photo work IMO.

Also, don't store all your photos on the drive. Eventually that just does not work (you get too many photos) and it overall speaks to a poor data management strategy.
 

Empty_Quarter

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The only thing I see negative about the 15" is the lack of value. I'm sure it's a great machinery, but I dont feel like dropping $2k+ for a 15" laptop. If that's the direction I'm headed, I might as well stick to my work's laptop (W530), which I dont really use for personal use, but I could.

I'd be far more content with spending $1800 and getting a nice large pretty screen while I'm at it. The new thin imacs are impressive too.

I've used photoshop express, but I'll never use it to edit photos, simply because I always have the feeling that the editting is "unfinished", and end up using lightroom regardless. I dont use photoshop either, I stick to lightroom.


While we are on this topic, I use lightroom to edit, and picasa to browse, I like this arrangement, and I've used it for years.

Can I still use this arrangement on a mac? I've used a mac briefly in the past, and the ultimate turn-off was iphoto. I do not want to use iphoto, if I could remove it, I would. I want to manage my library on my own, 100% under my control, without the use of iphoto whatsoever. Please tell me this is possible.
 

UnknownSouljer

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iPhoto isn't necessary at all. You can choose to delete it if you'd like.

I've gone through many photo workflows. My current one is using Photo Mechanic = > Photoshop. But in the past I've used: Aperture, Digital Photo Professional, and some other various RAW converters.

You can manage photos however you'd like.
 

jmilcher

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I never thought I'd actually do this, but time comes where it's time to update. As you can see from my specs below, I'm fairly outdated. The logical thing to do would be to upgrade the core components... but I don't game anymore, and whatever intensive tasks I do is covered with nicely specced machines at work.

So I'm seriously considering a mac. I love my music, I edit lots of photos with Lightroom, and do the usual surfing. I travel a lot too, so the portability aspect would be nice (hence why I'm not looking at the iMac). This will be my main go to machine plugged into my trusty 2408WFP when I'm at home.

Now here is the dilemma, do I get a weaker Mbp with small SSD and retina, or a better spec'd Mbp without the retina? Speaking from a purely photography point of view?

I speaking strictly a 13" Mbp, not considering a 15" whatsoever

I'm sure the retina would be better... But here's my concern, my photo archives alone would eat up the entire storage drive. I'm not sure I'm overly happy about using an external, because like I said... I travel a lot, don't want to drag around a hard drive.

Gadget wise, I prefer android tbh (though i do have an ipad), but I don't think there would be any compatibility issues with a Mac.

Suggestions?
Editing photography on a 13" would suck.
 

Absentee

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Editing photography on a 13" would suck.

QFT. For photos, maximum screen size and resolution should be your first priority, lots of RAM second to avoid using the scratch disk.



My workflow has always been with Aperture, but its expensive and if you already have Lightroom, that would be the way to go. For browsing adobe bridge is better than Picasa IMO, if only because it integrates with other adobe products better.
 

AQ_OC

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For storage, consider a wifi drive. Something like an AirStash+ will let you use large SDXC cards and you can transfer images to/from a laptop or an iPad.

I honestly would never consider doing any photo work on a 13-inch screen. One needs 27" or greater!
 

Empty_Quarter

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Just to clarify, if I went the 13" route, I'd have used a 24" screen for the most part. It's only when I'm portable and can't wait where I'd edit on the laptops screen.

K, to simplify the matter, if you were in my shoes, mbp 15 base or imac 27?

I do realize that I'll have to do some major storage reorganizing by switching platforms regardless as I do have a large movie/tv library.

Bridge is great, but it doesn't come with lightroom unfortunately
 

!@#$%^&*()

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How often do you plan to edit on the go?

You could spec/equip a Mac Mini to use with that monitor for less money than a 27" iMac.
 

Empty_Quarter

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A weekend or two a month or so? I tend to take off one 1 week trips pretty often though.

I have used a mac mini (base model) in the past, it was a bad experience, didnt feel like it was responsive enough. Would upgrading it be worthwhile?
 

voklskier4452

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I just bought a return myself and I have to say it was totally worth it. It came in new condition and has been working flawlessly. You get a full warranty and you are eligible to buy applecare. I use mine for school work on osx and then I dual boot win 8 for my c programming work and solidworks modeling.

The screen is ridiculously good and the laptop is very thin and light as well as quiet with the new cooling setup. It seems to run solidworks just as well as my 3570k based desktop so it has a lot of horsepower.
 

Empty_Quarter

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I guess that settles it. I'm off for vacation in a couple of weeks, but when I'm back, I'll pick up the MBP 15" retina refurb. All birds with one stone :)

Thanks all!
 

Empty_Quarter

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Sorry to bump up this thread, but I figured it was better than starting a fresh one.


So I've decided to get an iMac instead. I've bounced the idea between a 15 rMBP retina, or a 27 iMac, and decided to get the iMac. Because my iPad can save the day when I'm travelling, I'd like to go big at home, and so... iMac. My 2408 feels dated.

Now that that's settled, I'll be getting the imac in 3 weeks time. In the meantime, I'm starting to prep my storage/information data for the shift. Before I bash $2k on this, and end up with something I don't like, a few questions....


1) It's been established that I can go through my photo workflow (w/ lightroom and picasa) entirely independent of iPhoto. Which is fantastic, just looking for confirmation (Dont want to have to buy the thing, and then be disappointed).

___

2) I see no way around using iTunes, and I practically have to as I use an iPad anyway. But what I would like is for me to maintain and control my music directory. I've spent years organizing and tagging my collection, and the last thing I want is for itunes to go in and organizes it the way it sees fit. Hell naw.

I have quite a bit of Flac in my collection. Ideally, I'd like to maintain that, run a program that could play FLAC. I'd rather not convert to apple lossless because my SII can play flac. Some suggestions? To give you an idea of a player I like, I used Mediamonkey for years on a PC before switching to Musicbee

___

3) I'll be limited on storage no matter how I slice the cake. On my PC, I get away with this by using a crapload of drives, which I can't do on a mac. Fortunately, with 4TB drives now being readily available and cheap, and with cloud storage taking over (which I use for the important stuff), the solution is simple, a couple of 4TB external drives.

Now the question is... Do I have to get an external HDD that's formatted to work for a mac? I have no experience in this regard, so pardon the rather dumb question, but I remember reading a while back, that HDDs need to be formatted differently, is this true? For example, I have a 2TB WD external drive, do I have to reformat this differently? (I only ask because I'll have to prepare my storage and move stuff around if this is the case).
 

UnknownSouljer

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Sorry to bump up this thread, but I figured it was better than starting a fresh one.

Bah, it's fine.


1) It's been established that I can go through my photo workflow (w/ lightroom and picasa) entirely independent of iPhoto. Which is fantastic, just looking for confirmation (Dont want to have to buy the thing, and then be disappointed).

I literally do not use iPhoto at all. You don't even have to install it. It's on the "optional" second install disk of OSX (back when they still had disks) and I literally do not have it installed on my computer. For general viewing of images etc, Apple uses a program called "Preview" which doesn't create or use a library and is just used for viewing. That program technically isn't "necessary" either, but it's lightweight and unobtrusive. I do use that. But to reiterate again, iPhoto isn't necessary to do anything with images on a Mac.


2) I see no way around using iTunes, and I practically have to as I use an iPad anyway. But what I would like is for me to maintain and control my music directory. I've spent years organizing and tagging my collection, and the last thing I want is for itunes to go in and organizes it the way it sees fit. Hell naw.

I have quite a bit of Flac in my collection. Ideally, I'd like to maintain that, run a program that could play FLAC. I'd rather not convert to apple lossless because my SII can play flac. Some suggestions? To give you an idea of a player I like, I used Mediamonkey for years on a PC before switching to Musicbee

In iTunes there is a series of checkboxes to avoid iTunes from messing with anything.
Open the preferences and go to advanced. And make sure that "Copy Files to iTunes Media Folder" is unchecked. As long as that is unchecked then it doesn't matter if "Keep iTunes Media Folder" is unchecked as that folder will have nothing in it. However if you're paranoid, you can uncheck both of them. I've been using iTunes since my switch to Mac, and although it's not my favorite, it does what I need it to adequately.

Additionally, iTunes does not retag anything. It leaves all your tags alone, tagged or untagged, or anything in between.

The best program I have found to play Flac files that I personally think is far and away the best is Cog. Cog is most similar to Foobar2000, which is personally why I like it. It was under Zombieware for a while (you'll notice that they haven't updated their news in a long while, but if you go into their forum, the Development section has activity), but recently it has had renewed interest and further development. It's lightweight, not-resource heavy, minimalistic, and plays everything. Right up my alley.



3) I'll be limited on storage no matter how I slice the cake. On my PC, I get away with this by using a crapload of drives, which I can't do on a mac. Fortunately, with 4TB drives now being readily available and cheap, and with cloud storage taking over (which I use for the important stuff), the solution is simple, a couple of 4TB external drives.

Now the question is... Do I have to get an external HDD that's formatted to work for a mac? I have no experience in this regard, so pardon the rather dumb question, but I remember reading a while back, that HDDs need to be formatted differently, is this true? For example, I have a 2TB WD external drive, do I have to reformat this differently? (I only ask because I'll have to prepare my storage and move stuff around if this is the case).

The answer is yes, the file system on Mac is different than PC. It uses a file format called HFS+. So yes, you will have to format whatever drives you want to use with your iMac. There are ways around this. OSX can read/write to Fat32 and it can read NTFS. There is also software that allows OSX to write to NTFS (like Paragon), but it comes with many warnings, mostly involving things like possible data loss. As a result, it's much better to use HFS if you're trying to work in OSX with any data that is critical.


==========


I hope this adequately answers your questions.
 
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Empty_Quarter

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Wow, thank you for the adequate response! Satisfied with the music/photo aspect of it :)

The HDD format will pose a bit of a problem... But if it can read NTFS, I suppose that's okay. That's enough to transfer files over, and then reformat after.
 

dhappy

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I've handled both the 15'' and the 13'' MBP, and there is a noticeable difference just carrying it around in my backpack. Go with the normal 13" MBP because its more portable and will be plenty for what you're doing
 

mope54

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You might consider buying the 13" MBP and a 27" lightning display
 
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