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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > 13" Mac Book Pro vs 15" for photographer

13" Mac Book Pro vs 15" for photographer
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baymig
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Mar 23, 2011, 03:28 PM
 
I am about to buy my first Mac book. I was looking at getting the 15" MBP because it had quad core processing, and also the separate video card with it's own memory. I can save quite a bit of money if i go instead with the 13" MBP, and i prefer the smaller size. I am concerned that the dual core and lesser video card will cause the photo files that i use to be slower when using programs like lightroom.
Also as a side note, i have Photoshop CS2 that was on my PC but it cant be used on a mac. Any thoughts on whether or not i need to purchase the mac version or just use the iphoto for that part of the job?
I'd appreciate any help that you can offer!
     
SierraDragon
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Mar 23, 2011, 03:58 PM
 
The 13" size has severe downsides for photogs:

• Having only a glossy display available makes it a nonstarter for most (not all) photo pros.

• Dramatically less pixels and screen real estate cripple photos images management. Photogs using a 13" really need to be connected to a large secondary display much of the time, further sucking power from the limiting integrated graphics.

• If you choose Aperture the lack of advanced graphics card is a substantial performance limiter. Probably less of a problem with Lightroom but I find an Aperture workflow far preferable to Lightroom.

Personally I prefer 17" and cannot imagine intentionally choosing to have the tiny screen real estate of the 13" size, but if I felt I really needed small I would wait to see what the upcoming version (Sandy Bridge chipset) of the Macbook Air looks like. Certainly there are photogs very happy with using a 13" size laptop as an in-the-field-only box.

Adobe Creative Suite apps so far fail to take advantage of advanced graphics so no worries today on that front. However CS6 will be out this year and maybe Adobe will finally move to the 21st century. Note that Adobe allows crossing from PC to Mac for a nominal fee, ~$20 I think.

Although so far CS3 works for me under 10.6.7, my understanding is that CS2/CS3 may not be fully supported under the latest Mac OS so you may want to do some homework and factor that into your decision. I will soon upgrade from the Design Premium Creative Suite 3 to CS5 only because once CS6 comes out the already-ridiculously-high $799 CS3->CS5 upgrade cost ($749 via Amazon) may get even higher.

HTH

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Mar 23, 2011 at 04:37 PM. )
     
imitchellg5
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Mar 23, 2011, 04:39 PM
 
If you're shooting in RAW and using Photoshop or Aperture, the 13" MacBook Pro is probably gonna be a pain in the butt.
     
abhic
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Mar 27, 2011, 04:59 PM
 
I had the same question as I was moving from a 2007 MacBook with over 50GB of RAW files in Aperture. I ended up choosing the 15" MacBook Pro 2.2 GHz i7 with 8GB RAM + SSD option. Ended up writing a small note on the various choices I made to get to the final spec - Meri Vritti 2011 15″ MacBook Pro i7 2.2GHz + SSD = Speed Demon
     
baymig  (op)
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Mar 28, 2011, 12:37 PM
 
I thank you all for your valuable input! The jury is still out, mostly for financial reasons. Your expertise and informative replies have certainly made me pause to think.

I'd also like to throw out a question and see if you are at all familiar with Photoshop vs aperature or just using the iphoto software that comes with it? I do have lightroom 2 to install which does many of the advanced changes and corrections on photos. Since i have lightroom, i don't know if i need either photoshop or aperature. I also am not personally familiar with aperature to know how useful it really is.

Any comments are welcome!
thanks,
stephanie
     
SierraDragon
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Mar 28, 2011, 01:09 PM
 
Stephanie-

• iPhoto (free beginner/intermediate app), Aperture and Lightroom are images management apps that also allow minor editing. Folks here prefer Aperture.

• Photogs and graphic artists also need a true image editing app like GIMP (free but still powerful), Pixelmator, Elements, or (very expensive) full Photoshop.

So we need one app from each of the two categories above. It is generally not appropriate to try to use two apps from one category concurrently because it just gets confusing.

I suggest using iPhoto and one of the editing apps until such time that you find iPhoto to be limiting to your workflow enough to justify buying Aperture.

I do not recommend Lightroom 2 in the images management category because LR is now at version 3 so going through the (extensive) learning curve for an old version does not make sense. LR 3 is a valid choice, however. Note that like Aperture, LR is not a full editing app.

HTH

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Mar 28, 2011 at 01:34 PM. )
     
rambo47
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Mar 29, 2011, 10:04 PM
 
I've always considered the 15" PowerBook and MacBook Pro to be the sweet spot in Apple's portable lineup. The 17" is awesome, but it's a battleship and unwieldy anywhere but on a desk. The 13" is a bit cramped for photography. And the 13" is not much easier to carry around than the 15" model.
     
SierraDragon
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Mar 29, 2011, 11:10 PM
 
The 15" size in many ways does present a sweet spot. Correct the 17" is unwieldy anywhere but on a decent flat surface or on one's lap. Carrying around, the weight cost adds about a pound.

Those are the costs. The benefit is the additional pixels and screen real estate. Dealing with images all the time (Aperture, Photoshop, NetFlix) I find the benefit of larger display and more pixels outweighs the cost by a huge margin - for me.

-Allen Wicks
     
mbp2011
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Apr 23, 2011, 08:02 PM
 
I just got the 15" MBP 2011, loaded with 8GB RAM and SSD will be a right configuration me.
     
   
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