Apple Macbook Pro prices are almost triple when it comes to comparing them to windows PC Laptops and this was always a deal breaker for me. I was very much into online gaming when I was younger and always built my own PC’s from the ground up, selecting my components online and heading to warehouse type stores to purchase them individually. I’d then have a wonderful time constructing them into a system which was the best bang for my buck, in terms of power and performance specs. I liked that I wasn’t stuck in a box and could customise every component to suit my needs from the RAM to the Hard Drives to what software I could install. What turned out to be a lucky coincidence was that High End Graphics PC’s were also great for editing photographic imagery and this made my transition into photography much easier, hardware aside I had also done a lot photography study at Uni so I was up to speed with editing technique in a darkroom and on an Apple. I’d always not taken the leap to the apple side personally because I could get everything I needed on a PC that apple had at a fraction of the cost, this was based on the fact that I didn’t need to be mobile back then and now I do.
My first apple product was something small, a 1GB silver ipod and then I moved up to the 4GB slim green iPod with a small colour LCD screen, which was great for playing music ! It also had an accelerometer in it which meant you could play games that involved moving the iPod around in various orientations something we take for granted now but at the time it was special. The screen was only just over an inch long and way too small to keep my attention for very long. It wasn’t until I saw the amazing features of my brothers 4inch iPhone and the power of Apps that I understood what the potential of Apple was and I ordered myself an iPhone a couple of weeks later.
What I liked about the early iPhone series was the power of knowledge at your fingertips. If I was grasping at a fact or theory I could instantly jump onto the web and search the millions of websites within seconds. I suddenly didn’t have to file away a mental note like ‘next time I’m at computer look up such and such fact’. Sure companies like Samsung, HTC and sony were there along side apple, but Apple did it first and in a way that had them well ahead of the curve.
After my photography became a more important art practice to me then my painting it became clear that I was going to need to travel to expand my portfolio. I’ve been to some amazing locations since my photographic journey began like Wineglass Bay Tasmania, Luna Park Sydney Harbour, Surfer’s Paradise, the remote wilderness Cradle Mountain Tasmania, Tokyo & Kyoto Japan, as well as the snow monkey park in the mountains west of Nagano Japan.
Even so, what I was having to do was just use my Laptop as a storage device rather than being able to properly edit photos on it. I was coming home to the Hotel’s each night after a long days shooting and just copying all the files from my SD storage cards onto the Hard drive of the Laptop. The issue had to do with the screen not being able to reproduce sRGB or AdobeRGB colour ranges, which are 2 professional colour profiles used by graphic artists and also the ones my Pro Print Lab uses. If I went ahead and edited the images on that laptop the results coming out of the printer and to my customers was going to be completely different. So the perfectionist, and maybe a little OCD haha, in me was having to wait till I was back at my desktop PC and Photography monitor, which has 100% sRGB and AdobeRGB modes, to confidently edit my photos.
I made it a priority to take the ability to edit my photo’s mobile and searched high and low for a windows Laptop I could confidently edit my photos in sRGB and Adobe RGB colour profiles. Alas my search fell short and the reason is that the Windows side of the Laptop technology is sadly behind apple when it comes to screens and we are just on the cusp of seeing them catch up. They are well ahead in terms of price, hard drive size, ram options and even CPU speeds but not the thing I needed most colour profiles. Google has just released a small Laptop called the Chromebook Pixel and its monitor is a sign of things to come on the PC side but alas it has many things holding it back too in terms of being good enough to use as my main photography editing laptop when out on adventures. For example it uses cloud storage rather than local storage, which is terrible if I want to upload my 32MB files from my Nikon D800… it would take an eternity ! plus I would always have to be near a high speed wireless connection. Not to mention it’s a Chrome OS, as I said the Chromebook Pixel is a sign of good things to come but it’s not quite there yet in terms of photo editing.
So committing to a $3,000 Apple Laptop was not an easy decision to make as that kind of money can be used on a plethora of things towards furthering my progress along in my photographic journey. For example, I could have purchased a round the world Flight and a small windows laptop as well, all for $3k ! but I would be right back here again after that trip having to edit photos on my desktop, and the smartest option moving forward is to purchase a machine I can be mobile on for years to come.
What I chose
Early 2013 15in Macbook Pro with Retina display, 2.7GHz Intel Core i7, 256GB SSD, 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, with OS X Version 10.8.3
So far I couldn’t be happier with the purchase, it’s like every little detail of the computer has been thought over for years from the magnet in the power chord to the light weight materials in the power chord itself. With the retina display I love the small things now like reading text haha. The thickness and weight of the machine is also incredible, you can’t explain how light and thin they are until you hold one of them, just stunning! I can’t wait to hit the road with this Laptop and start editing images where ever I am. I already got stuck into an image of Luna Park yesterday and enjoyed the level clarity. I could go on and on about great things about this computer but I will let this video explain a little more…
Some options I didn’t go with
Add $320 – 2.8GHz Intel Core i7- The price increase here is just asking way too much for such a small increase in speed.
Add $1,199 – 27in Thunderbolt Display. These are incredible displays and one day I would like one but the 27in iMac’s are $1,999 so thats a computer for $800. Seems better to get an iMac first before the thunderbolt display.
Add $340 – 512GB Flash Storage – too much for just an extra 256GB
Add $820 – 768GB Flash Storage – again almost $1,000 for just another 512GB memory…. hmmmm ?!? no thanks
Add $1,199 – Promise Pegasus R4 4TB (4x1TB) RAIS system. These would be great for someone working from a studio all the time like a commercial photography but too heavy to cart around for a Landscape photographer.
I decided to go with a 256GB SSD and not upgrade to the 512 and 768GB SSD’s because of the cost of it. I had already upgraded the CPU from 2.4 > 2.7GHz and the RAM from 8 > 16GB. If I chose to also go for the 768GB Disk Drive, which was much more suited to my needs, my computer was fast approaching $4,000. Instead I will use my Macbook Pro as the core of my editing and store my photography on external Hard Drives. The new retina Macbook Pro’s have USB 3.0 which is actually faster than Firewire 800 as well as 3x as fast as USB 2.0.
I have already purchased one of these LaCie 1TB mini rugged external Hard drives and they are slightly bulkier than the slim Western Digital’s but look ! you can run over them with a car !!! and they are drop proof up to 1.2 meters which is great for travel like when your bag might get thrown around at airports or if you just accidentally drop the drive. Another reason I went for LaCie over the WD Passport is that lots of people have complained that the slightest bump will disconnect the cable from the slot, giving you an error with what ever file you were working on. I had this problem with an old WD essentials and I was willing to pay the slightly increased price of the LaCie to not have that issue. I also wanted to point out that going thunderbolt is an option on these early 2013 15in Macbook Pro’s but again the price is very steep and sometimes we need to be realistic about things and say NO ! haha even though I would love to go thunderbolt I think USB 3.0 is going to be all I need at speeds of 5Gb/s. Here is a small video on all the cool specs of the Lacie mini rugged.
Also to be able to use this 1TB USB 3.0 Hard Drive on both MAC & PC I used the ‘Disk Utitlity’ Manager on my macbook and formatted it in MSDOS (fat) with a GUID partition which could be chosen underneath the partition section. This means it will be a little bit slower when using it on the mac as opposed to a straight out Mac file system but I will be able to shuffle files to-and-fro between the two systems (PC & MAC), so its a trade off.
It remains to be seen if I will completely go over to the dark side, Apple , with my Desktop work as well but I do still like all the freedoms I have over on the light, PC, side of things. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones who is able to enjoy the best of both worlds and only time will tell.
Author, Luke Zeme