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Author Topic: Macbook Air or Pro for Photoshop editing?  (Read 15253 times)
MrSmith27
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« on: August 27, 2013, 09:14:56 AM »
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Hi,

I'm about to upgrade to a new Mac which I will use mostly for Photoshop. My pictures are generally large composites - for example I would stitch 10 tiffs with 80MB each together and then edit then heavily in Photoshop. (No HDR, relax.)

I could either buy a 13" MacBook Air (tech specs here or I could pay about $500 more to get a MacBook Pro (tech specs here.

Considering what I'm using the computer for, do you think the Pro is considerably faster? Or are talking a split second here and I could save $500?

Thanks for you help!

S
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Paul2660
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 11:52:12 AM »
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Last time I checked the sur only supports 4gb of total ram.  You will need more than that for photoshop work on any modern digital file.  The pro supports 16gb.  Make sure you get memory right as there is no upgrading.


Paul Caldwell
« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 10:30:36 PM by Paul2660 » Logged

Paul Caldwell
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Photography > http://photosofarkansas.com
Blog> http://paulcaldwellphotography.com
JayWPage
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 02:18:37 PM »
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I have the MacBook Air 11" so my comments may not be entirely relevant to the MB Air 13" but operationally I think they are similar. I bought mine in December, 2012 and I think it is still the current model (1.7 GHz dual-core processor, 4GB Ram, 128GB flash storage).

It is a fantastic, very light weight computer with 2 USB ports (USB 3.0). It's great for down loading cards to, backing up to external drives, sorting images, email, etc. BUT the screen is too small for any detailed work.

I don't have my copy of PS CS6 loaded on it; I use an older PS elements program and that's just for cropping and resizing JPEGs for emailing.  I think with 4GB ram PS would be fairly slow. I also need a mouse to do anything with any speed or accuracy.

I wouldn't consider using PS CS6 on an MB Air, even if it was the 13" with a bit bigger screen.
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dbolt
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 02:40:28 PM »
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I have a 13" MBA.  It is a great machine for travel, but comes up short/weak for photo editing.  I got mine for travel, but in retrospect I should have bought a MBP with max memory.  Granted, it would be a little heavier, but the horsepower would be more welcome than the lighter weight.  That said, I run LR5 and CC on the MPA.  It manages well for first run throughs.  I don't do much final processing while traveling, but if I had a maxed out MBP, I'd probably retire my PC desktop.  YMMV
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Doug Bolt
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2013, 03:07:55 PM »
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The use of a MBA for photo editing comes up regularly on the Apple Aperture Support Community (I post frequently there).  I have _never_ seen anyone vouch for it.  The minimum Mac configuration I would recommend is the 15" MBP with the Retina screen and 16 GB RAM.  (IMHO the Retina display is revolutionary and will change how you see images on-line.)  I don't recommend buying with less than 512 GB SSD.

13" is too small for photo editing.
Non-Retina is a non-starter (as stated)
256 GB SSD is enough for the OS and your program files and a scratch area -- you'll need external drives for your data.

I don't see anywhere in there to trim the cost and have the machine be useful out-of-the-box and for the medium-term future for photo editing.
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k bennett
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2013, 04:03:38 PM »
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I think it really depends on what your specific needs are. I am a staff photographer at a small university, shooting tens of thousands of photos a year, and my primary computer is an 11.6 inch Macbook Air. Mine is the version released last summer, so it has 8GB of RAM and the processor upgrade to the 2.0gHz Ivy Bridge processor. I process raw files from 16- and 21-megapixel cameras using Lightroom, and I occasionally edit multi-frame stitched panoramics using PTGui, etc. In my office I have the computer hooked to a calibrated 26 inch NEC monitor, along with an external keyboard, mouse, that sort of thing.

My greatest need is for portability, and the 11 inch MBA has that in spades. Can I get a faster computer? Sure, but it won't fit in my little camera bag. And I don't feel constrained in any way when editing or processing photos (except for the obvious issues with the small screen when editing on the road.) This computer handles a 10- or 12-frame pano of 16-bit TIFFs, though this is not my primary sort of photography and I might not be happy if it were.

If performance were my primary goal, then I would get a desktop computer. The current 27inch iMac has an available 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, which provide better performance than either of the 13 inch laptop choices.

(I see that this year's Macbook Air models have a 1.7gHz i7 processor as their upgrade option. I also see that Apple is claiming longer battery life. I suppose the two are related -- most people want more battery life and won't ever need the extra processing speed. Oh well.)
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Benny Profane
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2013, 06:46:49 AM »
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Buy an IMac. Get serious. (Well, actually, a Mac Pro is serious, but, I'm compromising here.)
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kenoli
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2013, 01:32:17 PM »
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Hi,

I'm about to upgrade to a new Mac which I will use mostly for Photoshop. My pictures are generally large composites - for example I would stitch 10 tiffs with 80MB each together and then edit then heavily in Photoshop. (No HDR, relax.)

I could either buy a 13" MacBook Air (tech specs here or I could pay about $500 more to get a MacBook Pro (tech specs here.

Considering what I'm using the computer for, do you think the Pro is considerably faster? Or are talking a split second here and I could save $500?

Thanks for you help!

S

I just bought a new iMac and paid extra for higher cpu speed and for a lot more video ram.  The machine also holds more memory than previous iMacs.  I upgraded it to 24GB of memory.  It leave my old iMac (somewhat slower process with 16GB ram and a quarter the video ram) in the dust, in all ways.  It doesn't hiccup in processing the kinds of images you describe.  I bought the extra video ram (2048MB) as I was told that Photoshop makes use of this ram in processing images.

I can't comment on the two machines you are referring to, but my 2010 macbook pro was already left in the dust by my old iMac (about the same vintage) when it came to image process.  In addition, I have a 27 inch screen to work with on my iMacs, which is a huge boon when using Photoshop.

I am convinced that RAM is the critical factor in the speed of image processing.  I hear that the video RAM has quite significant effect as well.  Not sure what is available in the Air or macbook pro.

--Kenoli
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2013, 02:43:53 PM »
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The minimum Mac configuration I would recommend is the 15" MBP with the Retina screen and 16 GB RAM.

Actually I do a lot of shooting in difficult locations where I don't want to risk having an expensive notebook stolen. (Nobody cares for cameras, unless they say "Nikon" or "Canon" on it, so I'm safe.)

For this reason I often bring an old 2008 Macbook. 4 Gigs of Ram. From 2008. It's probably a quarter as fast as any new Macbook and while it's obviously slow it's perfectly possible to even edit large images on it. Sure, I won't do final versions on it, I guess I could. Is Retina 15" 16 GB Ram (much) more convenient. Duh! But in no way it's a "minimum" configuration.
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2013, 03:02:26 PM »
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Is Retina 15" 16 GB Ram (much) more convenient. Duh! But in no way it's a "minimum" configuration.

I didn't say it was a minimum configuration.  I said it was the minimum configuration I would recommend to someone buying a new machine to run Photoshop who regularly merges ten 80MB TIFFs and edits them into publication form.

Are you suggesting the OP purchase a used six-year-old machine with 4 GB RAM for the specified task?
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MrSmith27
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2013, 04:08:10 PM »
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I didn't say it was a minimum configuration.  I said it was the minimum configuration I would recommend to someone buying a new machine to run Photoshop who regularly merges ten 80MB TIFFs and edits them into publication form.

Are you suggesting the OP purchase a used six-year-old machine with 4 GB RAM for the specified task?

Me being the OP: No, probably not.
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