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Mac purchase advice for PC user?
  
 
Haplo
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p.1 #1 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


Hi,

I have a laptop, a PC with 17" monitor that I'm reasonably happy with except for size and weight, and due to that I'm not bringing it along on trips. So I'm looking into getting something smaller and lighter and thought I'd look into Mac. Specifically I noticed the new MacBook Air, while being very small and light still having incredible battery life.

And at the same time I'm pondering if it would be possible to move all image activities (Lightroom/Photoshop) to that new Mac and dedicate it to that, but then I wonder if the 13" screen might not be a little small in the long run.

Does anyone here have experience with doing edits on a 13" screen over time? Is it too small to live with? Also, what would it be like to live with the Air for Lightroom and Photoshop? I mean, can the Air run Photoshop comfortably or will it be slow?
As for the MacBook Pro, is it preferable with or without the Retina display? The increased resolution sounds great, except it'll make everything appear smaller, won't it? And what is it like editing on the Retina display?

I'll go to a store and have a look at them, but it would be useful with input from someone here.

Thanks!

Best regards,

Jo



Aug 12, 2013 at 12:36 PM
camboman
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p.1 #2 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


IMHO, 13" is too small for photo editing - I've tried when traveling with my 13" MacBook Pro (pre-retina display). Everything goes better on my 27" iMac.

Processor speed is no problem though - just need that larger view!



Aug 12, 2013 at 01:14 PM
martines34
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p.1 #3 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


Size and weight are the key advantage.

I would purchase it with the idea that I can do some modest post processing and finish it at home.

Retina display is an advantage to see detail.



Aug 12, 2013 at 01:18 PM
howardm4
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p.1 #4 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


The new Air is great. For full-time PP use, you're gonna want an external monitor.


Aug 12, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Haplo
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p.1 #5 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


Thanks for the quick replies, everyone. I'm also thinking 13" will be too small to work with over time, but I hope it'll be enough when I'm at our cabin in the woods for instance.
I'm going on a trip later in the fall where I need to bring something to edit on, and my photo gear is already heavy enough so I would really prefer not to add +4kg laptop to that as well.

That 27" Thunderbolt display looks nice, but there is no external Retina display available yet? Though I dread what something like that might cost if larger than 15".

Fortunately I have something that works today, so I can wait a little with the external display, not to mention the need to save up for it.



Aug 12, 2013 at 02:28 PM
leftcoastlefty
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p.1 #6 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


I bought a 15-inch Macbook Pro is 2008. Over time, I have upgraded the RAM, the OS, and Photoshop. It is still chugging along great. I find the 15-inch screen to be perfectly useable and I use it for all my post processing.

I personally think the Macbook Air is too thin and lacking of features found on the full size models. When this one dies, I'll buy another "thick" Macbook.



Aug 15, 2013 at 05:20 AM
Haplo
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p.1 #7 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


leftcoastlefty wrote:
I personally think the Macbook Air is too thin and lacking of features found on the full size models. When this one dies, I'll buy another "thick" Macbook.

Can you please elaborate on this? I find it attractive that it's so thin, I imagine it will be easier to pack and carry with me, so I'm curious what your concern is. Does ergonomics suffer due to this? And what features are you missing on the Air?



Aug 15, 2013 at 12:23 PM
M635_Guy
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p.1 #8 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


I would check out a ThinkPad X1 Carbon - great power, very light (a hair under 3lb), nice 14" screen and keeps you in the PC world you're used to.


Aug 15, 2013 at 07:50 PM
leftcoastlefty
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p.1 #9 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


Haplo wrote:
Can you please elaborate on this? I find it attractive that it's so thin, I imagine it will be easier to pack and carry with me, so I'm curious what your concern is. Does ergonomics suffer due to this? And what features are you missing on the Air?


Here is the summary list of differences:

http://www.apple.com/why-mac/compare/notebooks.html

The Air looks really thin because it is tapered on the sides, but that same taper limits what ports and drives can be included. Comparing the 13.3-inch Air and Pro, the most obvious physical differences is that the Pro model gets a SuperDrive and Firewire and in general can get more horsepower, gigabytes, etc… On the downside, the display of the Pro model is slightly lower resolution. The Air is .68 inches thick, whereas the Pro is .95 inches. That's only a 1/4 inch difference. If you get the 13-inch Pro with Retina, it is only .07 inches thicker than the Air.

I see the Retina Macbooks have jettisoned the SuperDrive too. Apple obviously feels that DVD/CD drives are no longer needed. They ship new OSs on neat little half-thickness SD cards. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I do use my SuperDrive periodically.

Get whatever lights your fire. I was just saying that I always thought of the Air to somewhat of a gimmick, whereas the Pros are really good workhorses. But maybe I'm mistaken. The best thing to do is to go in an Apple store and play around with the different models. I've heard great things about the Retina displays.



Aug 17, 2013 at 02:29 PM
cputeq
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p.1 #10 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


Here's the deal -- I'm a fairly new Apple fan (note: not a fan-boy!). My wife owns the 2012 Macbook Air 13", and I just got this week the Macbook Pro 15" Retina.

The air she has is awesome. It's only 128GB flash and 4GB RAM, but it runs so nicely. It's perfect for what she uses it for (blogging and running her web site and general light usage). She also runs Lightroom for some light editing.


I had started to get this for myself, having my 27" iMac being stolen all the time by my children but instead I bit the bullet and got a refurb Macbook Pro 15" retina 2012 model.


The Macbook Air is nice, but the rMBP is awesome. I got the base 15" model, with 8GB RAM and 256GB internal drive. I picked it up from the Apple refurbished store for a little under $1700 after tax. This is outstanding, seeing as the newer 2013 in my configuration starts at $2100 and really isn't much of a step up.

Compare this to the 13" MBA with locked at like 1440x900 or something. It's not bad resolution, but hard to compare with rMBP.



Let me be clear - the laptop is not perfect. First, Apple doesn't really let you "see" the real resolutions of the screen, one must get a utility for that (I'm using the excellent SwitchResX).

But, open switching the laptop to full resolution (around 5MP or so which is huge for a monitor), one's photos look absolutely amazing. This has really changed my outlook on how I use the laptop. I have a simple shot of some leaves, which is sharp already. I output the file to native resolution of the rMBP, set my screen resolution to the 1:1 and then set the image as a background and it looks outstanding. The 3-D ness of the shot is simply incredible, and it's very hard to convey the difference but it's certainly there.

For normal reading and stunning gorgeous text, I use the "retina" resolution which is basically a super-scaled 1400x900.

For heavy photo editing, I go to "native 1:1". The screen is absolutely gorgeous, text is tiny but sharp and I have plenty of room for editing.

For other productivity, I either use 1680x scaled or 1920x scaled.


Another important point - While the Macbook Air screens are good, don't get me wrong, the IPS on the Macbook pro is just better.

Also, for storage - I know I'm going to need it soon. OWC (otherworldcomputing), a big 3rd party Mac site, sells a nice 480GB upgrade for about $570 USD. This includes a fast 480GB SSD that one replaces the internal 256gB drive with, and then a very nice USB 3.0 enclosure matched to the look and feel of the MBP to place one's old apple drive in for an "extra" 256GB.

Also - Apple's image handling can be a bit strange. Looking at fm, for example, sometimes photos are just too darn big because Safari (and other browsers) attempt to scale the images to make them look relative to their posted resolution. If I drop down to native 1:1 resolution, they look amazing but so tiny So it's a bit of a hassle but still worth the trouble (usually I can just keep the resolution at around 1680 equivalent and zoom in or out)

So, I would really suggest at least considering the rMBP. Oh also, it's only about 4.5 lb. My wife's 13" air is 3.0lb or so. So yes, I can notice a difference, but still it's not heavy at all for a laptop, especially at such high performance.


So far I've been using Lightroom and CS 5.1 no problems. Do note - it's not the fastest computer in the world. Purely computational, my iMac 2010 version will beat it (my iMac is the quad core i7 2.93Ghz, this rMBP is 2.3Ghz i7), but the rMBP is definitely no slouch.

Also, because everything is flash-based, the rMBP just feels so much faster than my iMac, and the screen has ruined me for life because it's so good. Now, any other monitor (including my excellent iMac's) is just sub-par.

Battery life is rated around 7 hours or so compared to 12 on the MBA. So yeah, for all-day stuff, the MBA is the better choice. But for still-respectable 7 hours with much higher actual computing power, the rMBP is outstanding. Also, I can game with my Nvidia discreet graphics if I wish


Here are some sample photos.

First, my wife's 13" MBA with Lightroom open at the Library module (oops sorry it's Develop module but you get the idea). This is what she's "stuck" with.

Second shot is my rMBP in typical "Retina" resolution (which is like 1440 x 900). It looks more clear than the MBA by far but otherwise no more usable space.

Third shot is now that same screen but using native 1:1 resolution. The improvement to usability is great. Photos now look like they're almost printed on paper...the difference is truly remarkable (hard to convey here)









View of LR from MBA 13







View of rMBP 15







View of rMBP 15




Aug 17, 2013 at 05:54 PM
 

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Michael White
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p.1 #11 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


You would have to buy another copy of ps since most ps packages are either for the pc or the Mac not both. But you can buy a package direct from Adobe that allows both platform under the same license I know because I was using a Mac mini and a pc laptop when I had to purchase mine. Now I'm not sure how it works under the creative cloud system.


Aug 18, 2013 at 05:14 PM
glassartist
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p.1 #12 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


I have Mac Air 1.8Ghz I5, 8GB memory and 128G flash. I'm running LR5 and processing 24mb D7100 files. It's light and small and easy to travel with. I got it specifically for traveling on several long trips last year and have continued to use it for the past year. It works fine - editing files is reasonably fast (not speedy, but tolerable and certainly better than the Dell I had before). If I was to replace this system right now, I'd get a Mac Pro, 15" I7 16gb with retina display.

Macs take some getting used to coming from a PC, but they are nice systems and I have no regrets.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/925651-REG/apple_me665ll_a_15_4_macbook_pro_notebook.html

For outboard storage, make sure you get a USB 3.0 or thunderbolt compatible drive.



Aug 19, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Wobble
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p.1 #13 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


If you go for the retina display, be aware that the memory is soldered in place. Buy all the memory the machine will take when you order it. The SSD needs to be the largest available and do not overlook which ports you want on the machine. Retina will not take a DVD, so it has to be external.


Aug 20, 2013 at 01:41 AM
sjms
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p.1 #14 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


an external DVD is about $25. which is nothing compared to what you will spend


Aug 20, 2013 at 02:47 AM
cputeq
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p.1 #15 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


Wobble wrote:
If you go for the retina display, be aware that the memory is soldered in place. Buy all the memory the machine will take when you order it. The SSD needs to be the largest available and do not overlook which ports you want on the machine. Retina will not take a DVD, so it has to be external.


Very true the memory is soldered into place, unfortunately. Had I the option, I would have gone for the extra 8GB, but since I was buying a refurb that option didn't exist for me.

Honestly, though, so far the 8GB is working out just fine, but of course I'm not doing any insanely heavy editing on the machine.

I would argue, though, the SSD doesn't need to be the largest, and if one *did* want a larger SSD, OWC's upgrade would be the more economical option by far.

As for me, I went ahead and just got an external Western Digital USB 3.0 2 TB portable drive for $130. I had my doubts about it at first (being small and USB-powered), but so far it's turning out to be a champ and rather speedy for what I use it for (mass storage / LR catalog). I may upgrade to the OWC drives later for more applications, but so far I think I'm actually set for the most part.



Aug 21, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #16 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


Very recent MAC convert . And I'm a very happy one .

I had NEVER used a mac before I bought my imac 27 . And in theory it should be only just better than the win machine I replaced it with . Yes it cost me a bomb but it runs flawlessly . I figure I would upgrade the standard 8gig of ram as soon as I got it but I just don't see that for my use I have a need for more .

I love the screen on the 27 . I was quite worried as before I got it I was getting all sorts of advice saying the screens were not great in light and that I will just get tons of reflections . Well this 'shiny' screen is better at handling reflections than the old matt screen I was using before . Where my PC is located has a skylight above and behind me and for a couple of hours a day if it was sunny I couldn't use the PC (was going put a blind up) but its not an issue with the imac .

I was also worried about learning the OS but its so dam easy . Yes I'm finding the odd new thing (usually look online for mac tips) but nothing has really stumped me .

I'm liking the experience so much that I'm now seriously considering a new MBA (probably the 11inch )as a travel companion .

If the MBA did the screen trick that the lenovo YOGA 13inch does that we bought my wife as a new laptop I would be jumping on it now and selling the iPad. I love the yoga but just hate win8 . As a windows user since I started using computers it really shouldn't be that I can learn to use OSX in minutes but still can't work out how to do even the simplest tasks in WIN8 when asked to sort something out for the wife .



Aug 22, 2013 at 03:00 PM
cputeq
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p.1 #17 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


^ Funny, that's what partially drove me to my rMBP. I mean, I had the 27" iMac already but wanted a laptop. Most new laptops come with Win 8, which I really, really tried to like but instead it completely repulses me (who the hell wants to constantly touch their computer screen?! Not me! Being in computers over 21 years, one would imagine it would take just a few seconds to learn Win 8 but nope, I was stumped for 10 minutes and gave up - a sign of old age?)

After looking at the online options for Win 7 laptops, but then seeing how nicely my wife's 13" MBA worked, I said 'screw it" and bit the bullet for the rMBP - no regrets...well, I wish I had 16GB instead of 8, but so far 8's flying just fine, and hitting the virtual memory (if I have, unsure) is much less painful with a flash drive.


^ If you want to really get into OS X, get a book on Applescript I'm learning it myself and it's pretty freaking awesome.



Aug 23, 2013 at 02:24 AM
jimmy462
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p.1 #18 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


FWIW, those not interested in the newer Haswell chip iMacs can find some great inventory clearance prices of the current pre-refresh line-up over the next few weeks...

Apple trimming iMac inventory ahead of Haswell models while resellers cut prices:
http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/08/22/apple-trimming-imac-inventory-ahead-of-haswell-models-while-resellers-cut-prices






Aug 23, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #19 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


camboman wrote:
IMHO, 13" is too small for photo editing - I've tried when traveling with my 13" MacBook Pro (pre-retina display). Everything goes better on my 27" iMac.


So you want him to take a 27" iMac with him on his trips



Aug 26, 2013 at 01:33 AM
cputeq
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p.1 #20 · Mac purchase advice for PC user?


Imagemaster wrote:
So you want him to take a 27" iMac with him on his trips



Haha, depends on what sort of trips I still have the shipping box for my iMac 27" and before I got my rMBP, I would take it on longer car trips -- it was just part of my luggage

That said, I would agree that a Mac 13" non-retina display is going to be a bit difficult to edit photos on, as the resolution to me just isn't there (see my first screenshot above for usable working area). Granted, in that shot I could have gotten rid of the left and bottom and top LR panels to make for more room, so it's not unusable but not the best, either.

A retina 13" would probably work better (and more color accurate / better screen anyway).



Aug 26, 2013 at 12:30 PM
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