I’ve used everything from Sony, HP, Dell, and Compaq to Apple, Gateway, and Samsung. I’ve had towers heavier than me and laptops lighter than a notebook (an actual paper notebook… you know, those things we used before the iPad). You may be on the fence right now about which computer you should get for your photography but lets not forget, this computer needs to be able to do everything else too. I’m going to assume that most people don’t hate their money and we are shopping for a computer that will be able to be our primary computer as well as a work horse when it comes to photography. So which laptop is the best?
Apple MacBook Air (Mid 2013 Version)
Now before you roll your eyes and hit the back button on your trusty, comfortable, familiar, and slow Windows machine hear me out. The argument I hear most before others switch to the Mac is “PC’s are 3/4 the cost and all my programs will only run on Windows”. False and false. If we compare apples to Apples then you’d need to spend just as much on a PC to get the quality hardware-wise as you’d get from a Mac (things like solid state drives and 12 hour batteries).
The old software argument is also going by way of pay phones, anyone that’s anyone is writing programs for Mac as well as Microsoft. All of your photography programs are already written for Mac since Macs have been the computer of choice for artists for years. Instead of boring you with statistics (I’ve got plenty) I’ll just sum it up like this… Mac is eating PC’s lunch and has been for the past three years.
The battery life on the Air, at 12 hours, is unbelievable. I’m typing this on an Air from 2012 and my battery life is 6 hours… I thought that was impressive. The size of this laptop is perfect. The laptop is small enough to fit inside of the front pocket of my LowePro camera backpack. The computer only weights 2.96 pounds, you don’t even notice it’s in your bag.
A computer that travels well is essential if your hobby or profession is photography. The size and weight of the Air make it the perfect travel companion as well as the SD card slot built into the side of it. Sure other computers have SD card slots but none of them are the same size and have a 12 hour battery.
Solid State Drive deserves its own paragraph. If you’ve never used one before I’ll just summarize the benefits in 3 words: FAST and TOUGH. Solid state drives are light years faster than a traditional hard drive and because there are no moving parts inside you don’t have to worry about a bump ruining your hard drive. When you click on Photoshop or Lightroom they will open instantly. Click on them a year after you’ve owned your Air and they will still open instantly… two years later and they will still open instantly. Try that on your PC (he says with a smug smile).
The 13.3″ Macbook Air comes in either 128GB ($1,099) or 256GB ($1,299) and I’d highly recommend the 256GB so you don’t hit your storage ceiling. You can easily find a 1TB external SSD drive for less than $100 and for $109 you can get your hands on a WD My Passport Studio 1TB Mac Portable drive with firewire (which means it will transfer data very quickly).
Do a little research on the Google machine and you’ll figure out how to connect your external drive to your WiFi router and simultaneously transfer images from your SD card to Lightroom (or photoshop) and your external drive at the same time. You should be backing up your images anyways so why not do so quickly and efficiently.
[easyreview title=”MacBook Air” cat1title=”Battery Life” cat1detail=”The battery is rated for 12 long hours.” cat1rating=”5″ cat2title=”Size” cat2detail=”The Air is very small and light, you’ll be able to travel just about anywhere with it.” cat2rating=”5″ cat3title=”Ease of Use” cat3detail=”There is a slight learning curve if you’re migrating from Windows but after that it’s the easiest computer out there.” cat3rating=”4.5″ cat4title=”Value” cat4detail=”Though more expensive that some PC’s it’s worth the quality improvement.” cat4rating=”4.5″ summary=”If you want an all around computer that is fast (stays fast) and tough then you should seriously consider the MacBook Air.”]
Why not the MacBook Pro?
Price. It’s too damn expensive if you want to buy one with a solid state drive and all the bells and whistles (upwards of $2000). I’ve used the new MacBook Pro with the retina display and I just don’t see the difference in image quality, even as a photographer, worth spending the extra cash.