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Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!

  
 
EverLearning
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


(Pre-emptive comment: I know there have been many threads around the general topic of spec'ing systems for LR and/or PS, but I could not find any that discuss the mix of Mac or PC AND "everything" system vs still relying on a desktop system)

I find myself at a crossroad. My Windows laptop is a "luggable" and is about 7 years old (and the battery doesn't last long). My Macbook Air is very portable (just under 3lbs) but is ancient (2014; it was originally bought used only to run certain language-learning apps) and the battery is in early stages of failure (1177 cycle count, laptop won't work unplugged below about 40% battery charge). My Windows PC is about about 5 years old. I boosted the RAM from 16GB to 64GB for LR/PS but the graphics card is proving very inadequate for LR AI-based actions. I can probably live with its current challenge for a year or two if need be (I have decided putting a powerful (and thus expensive) graphics card in a system this old is not a path I will take).

I need to do something about the laptops but don't want to make that decision in a vacuum (that is, ignoring the looming desktop situation). Whatever I do, a Windows desktop will remain in some capacity because my wife is NOT into tech and there is no way she would learn a Mac system.

As I see it, I can:

1. Get a portable device for web browsing/reading; language apps, trip photo b/u and photo culling (with Fast Raw Viewer)
2. This plus occasional LR and PS work
3. For everything (all the above with no desktop reliance for all LR /PS work and creation of digital photo albums)

The impression I am getting is I can't have it all (portability and power to fulfill all needs) as the systems that meet Option 3 all seem to be in the 4.7lb to 5.1lb range (and very expensive - $3300CDN and up). When portable (say 3.5lbs and under), they don't *** seem to be *** reasonable options re power for full LR and PS work.

Question 1:
is anybody using a Mac or Windows laptop in the manner of Option 3 (your "everything" computer - travel (including airplane travel) and doing all LR and PS work)? If yes, a) what do you have and b) are you happy with this decision or have regrets?

Question 2:
Given that AI-driven actions are becoming more and more prominent in LR (and PS) and that the recommendation is to do these actions before any other image changes, it seems to me that it is not reasonable to plan on using a portable device to do non-AI actions on the road and finish the post-processing work (AI stuff) on a desktop at home. Is this a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound"? That is, either get a portable device that can do all LR work or don't worry about doing any LR work on the device (so, Options 3 or 1, but not 2)? Is this a fair assessment or am I overlooking/misunderstanding anything?

Your input is greatly appreciated!



Apr 01, 2024 at 11:24 AM
Abbott Schindl
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


I'm solely on Macs; currently an 16" M2 Max MBP and a M2 Studio Ultra. Both are fully capable of doing what you want, and I'm sure that both will be considered obsolete in a couple of years by some. You could get a M3 MacBook Pro or a discounted M2 Max MBP for all of your wants. The MacBook Pros are quite capable and, from my experience, may be more limited by application code (e.g. apps not taking full advantage of the available cores) than by hardware architecture. My MBP Max weighs a bit over 3 pounds; 14" models way less but are less able to keep cool. I use Pro's instead of Airs because I prefer the number of ports, cooling, and some other capabilities—but the new M3 MBA is quite a good machine.

Any of the MacBooks can be used in "clamshell mode", connected to at least one external display. So if you connect and external + dock, you've got a reasonable desktop machine. I went for the Studio Ultra because it's got almost twice the performance, quite a few ports, and better cooling than the laptop.

I worked exclusively on the laptop for ~8 months before getting the Studio and it was fine—a huge performance jump over my 2019 i7 MacBook Pro. You'll find quite a few comments about the compute capabilities of Apple's current machines.

I'm pretty sure that most of Apple's current machines will satisfy your #3 for at least several years. I tend to shy away from mixed compute environments: I'd suggest sticking with either Windows or Macintosh if at all possible. Even "the same program" might behave differently on the two OSes.

Also, IMO, "AI" is a pretty broad catch-all term that Marketing groups toss out pretty liberally. You're really looking at newer algorithms for making your editing job [potentially] easier—be they "AI", improved coding to make better use of the machine's compute resources, or other things. At the end of my day, I'm more concerned with how well I could achieve the results I'm after rather than shaving a bit off the time it takes to process my images (and sometimes I work on fairly large groups of images).



Apr 01, 2024 at 11:46 AM
EverLearning
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


Thanks for the reply Abbott.

I ask this question not in an argumentative manner, but one of curiosity. Why did you add the M2 Studio Ultra to the mix if the M2 Max MBP had met all your LR/PS needs for about 8 months? As a side note, your combination costs over $10,500CDN (including taxes); definitely more than I was looking to spend (and a clear and present danger with my better half, !).

I am wondering about the weight of your 16" M2 Max MBP. The only specs I could find for this device indicated it was 4.7lbs for the 2022 edition and 4.8lbs for the 2023 edition. Portability for trips is a big consideration for me and this weight presents a problem; both for the back/shoulder and for strict airlines that have started weighing tote bags.

When you were running solely on the MBP, did you have the catalog on the laptop and your photos on an external drive? If no, how big is the internal drive on your laptop? If yes, did you carry this external drive with you on all your trips, or did you use internal storage on trips and then move the photos to external storage upon returning home (which, if I understand correctly, would involve a process to update all the file location info inside the catalog)?

Regarding my AI reference, I understand that the new DeNoise action is AI-driven, as are some of the clone actions. Perhaps a better way to have worded it though would have been to say GPU-intensive actions, which would have covered those bases and more.



Apr 01, 2024 at 12:25 PM
Abbott Schindl
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


I didn't read your question as argumentative; it's a reasonable query. Nor was I suggesting that you add a Studio; just telling what I have.

I was really happy with the laptop, but its ergonomics for extended use didn't work for me. When on a desk, I needed to elevate it several inches to place the display at a comfortable height. That meant adding a keyboard and mouse as the built-in stuff isn't practical (for me) when the machine's not on the desk. I could have used the laptop in clamshell mode, but other things kick in—mostly because of the way I prefer to work.

I added the Studio because I prefer the ergonomics of working on a desktop machine (I have dual monitors, Stream Deck, Intuos tablet and other goodies). In addition, I have more Thunderbolt/USB-C peripherals than I felt like connecting to a laptop (I would have needed 2 docks/hubs/etc.). The Studio's ports combined with one dock connect to everything I regularly use, including a Blu-ray burner, several SDDs, and so on. The Studio also has an Ethernet port, which I use (I know...a lot of docks, including mine, also have them).

One thing I do, which I think is atypical and now is partly driven by Apple's non-removable internal drives and partly to protect my data in case something goes wrong with the boot drive, is that I keep almost all of my documents on a separate volume from the boot volume. On the MBP, that means having a dedicated APFS container or partition—but my data's still on the sealed-in drive, so it "leaves the house" if I send the computer in for repair, and is at-risk of total loss if the board the drive sits on gets replaced or is reformatted as part of the repair.

On the Studio, I keep my documents on a removable SSD, which separates "my stuff" from the actual machine. I then use ChronoSync to keep my docs synchronized between both machines, and Carbon Copy Cloner to run full backups on both machines regularly to protect data on the boot volume.

The result is that even if one machine's unavailable, I can get at all of my data on the other machine, except for very minor amounts that may not yet have been synchronized across the machines.

If I was going to use only a MBP (which I seriously thought about doing), I'd still partition the internal drive and regularly backup the entire machine to an external drive. I'd also have a bit more hassle connecting/disconnecting it from my peripherals (not hugely difficult, but a PITA). I'd have been more likely to work that way if I had fewer peripherals and was able to attend to all connectivity with a single dock and one connector to the machine.

Long-winded, but that's the essence. For what you said, I really think a MBP (Pro or Max chip) would be fine. If you were going to use it at home with external displays, a 14" might work. I edit a lot on the road, so wanted the 16".

Another factor for me: I don't upgrade my computers very often. My preference is for overbuying and keeping my machines longer. Today's software is more than capable for what I do, so I don't feel a huge need to upgrade very often.

As for AI/GPU intensive actions...I find virtually no apps using anywhere near all of the resources available on either of my Macs—or on my old Mac Pros for that matter. Helicon Focus, Zerene Stacker, and Handbrake are on that very short list. My regular processing apps (Capture One, Affinity Photo and so on) don't use all that much and they're still snappy enough for me. I don't mind waiting a few seconds for C1 to draw an "AI Mask", and things like pano stitching and complex masking happen very quickly. Part depends on how "instantaneous" you need calculations to be. Heck: Apple's even hinting at "AI" in their next iOS release, and iPhone processors aren't nearly as powerful as current Mac ones...

PM me if you want to chat more...



Apr 01, 2024 at 02:49 PM
sjms
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


i've used 3 generations of HP Spectre model laptops. the most recent 14" version also available in 16". OLED screen that supports sRGB, Adobe RGB, DCI-P3. 10 point touch screen and pen, TB4. the next one will most like be the same model next gen.

also it doesn't have the little apple M series encryption issue:

https://9to5mac.com/2024/03/22/unpatchable-security-flaw-mac/






Edited on Apr 02, 2024 at 05:53 AM · View previous versions



Apr 01, 2024 at 02:57 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


Abbott, thanks for the follow-up explanation. Quite the elaborate setup/configuration. Impressive.

I guess I failed in the purpose of one of my comments. It seems lately so many people take comments the wrong way and the discussions move in the wrong direction, so I was just trying to be proactive in avoiding that. Same reason for my pre-emptive comment at the start, as a few here are quick to comment that the post is "the same" as previous ones made here. Anyway, seems I might have moved the needle slightly in the wrong direction with my "curiosity" question. Sorry about that.



Apr 01, 2024 at 03:34 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


sjms, that is an interesting laptop; pricey but a lot of punch to it. Weight is decent too on the 14".

Do you use this laptop for everything or do you also have a desktop system? If everything, what do you think about the performance of LR and PS on it; especially the GPU intensive actions? How much has that impression changed for you over the last few years as Adobe ramps up the use of GPUs?

If you use it for everything, I gather you make use of external drive(s). How does that affect your use of the laptop when away from home (vacations)?

Thanks



Apr 01, 2024 at 03:45 PM
tsdevine
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!



I'm very happy with my 16" M1 MBP. It's my everything machine and I love it. Super snappy using LR and PS.

I have all my photos on a NAS, which I can access remotely over VPN. But I also carry around some NVME drives in enclosures to use when I'm traveling. Again though I can upload all my stuff to my NAS remotely if I have a decent network connection wherever I am.



Apr 01, 2024 at 04:01 PM
sjms
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


mine is now 2 years old. the one adverted is ahead on processing power. i use DXO, Photoshop on it plus a few other little tidbits.. everything is give and take. on this is my portable when travelling it. i have a brand new base setup built in the last weekend of December 23. it has everything plus in it and can be changed out and upgraded. took 2 hours to build up and another 45 minutes to base load.

knowing what i'm working with i get reasonable performance out of the laptop. if you think the price is up there load up the competition and see the bottom line.

Edited on Apr 02, 2024 at 05:56 AM · View previous versions



Apr 01, 2024 at 04:05 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


sjms, fair point re price. I need to make sure I think of Option 1 and Option 3 separately when I think of price. This would be expensive for Option 1 but not for Option 3.


Apr 01, 2024 at 08:25 PM
 


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moncho
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


Getting a laptop covering all of your needs is definitely possible.

I'm using an Asus Zenbook Pro 14 since summer. Lightest laptop I've owned and also the most powerful. Cooling and noise is handled quite adequately.

I am running both Windows and Linux on it. Windows for personal use: photo and video editing, browsing, music production and gaming. My model has a pretty advanced graphics card which comes in handy for video editing and AI tools like noise reduction.

On Linux I'm doing my day to day heavy work (software development) with some pretty cpu and memory intensive tools.



Apr 02, 2024 at 03:31 AM
schlotz
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


When I got the MBP M1 Max, I ditched the desktop and use the MBP exclusively. At home it's in clamshell mode connected to a Studio Display. I take it to edit on the sideline when shooting soccer. LR and PS are used without any issues. It has the power and does the job whether at home or when you're mobile.


Apr 02, 2024 at 06:22 AM
EverLearning
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


moncho, that is an interesting laptop. Out of curiosity, when you speak of photo editing, which app(s) do you use? You mention AI tools like NR. If you use LR, how long does it take to run the new(ish) AI NR on an image (and how big is the image file)? The video card on my current desktop is my perceived bottleneck in my LR workflow. Doing the new LR NR on a 45mb Canon R5 file takes about 2 minutes.

At the price of your laptop, it would definitely have to suit my Option 3 (my everything) and not Option 1 (browsing, language-learning apps, travel b/u and culling (and maybe some LR in a pinch (including workshops associated with any guided photo tours)).

If I decide to go option 1, the younger sibling of your laptop looks interesting (Zenbook Flip OLED UP5401ZA-DB71T-CA). It is about 10% slower CPU, 16GB vs 32GB RAM and Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics vs NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU 8GB GDDR6 (the big difference) but 4k screen vs 2.8k and Li Polymer battery vs Li Ion battery. It is also $1300CDN vs $2500CDN (so about $1350CDN cheaper with taxes factored in).

I am also curious what you do regarding storage. Is 1TB enough for your needs? What is your setup on the road? At home?

Thanks!



Apr 02, 2024 at 12:57 PM
sjms
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


The RTX 4070 is nifty. i have just a 3060 w/12GB on my base machine. found it to be more than enough in use.

as long as you are plugged in to power that's a great setup. pull the plug and play that's when you see how long you have.

just for reference i have 16GB ram and 1TB of drive memory in the laptop. have little issue moving pixels around.

its ACDsee for a light table that transfers into either or DXOlab and PScc. all 3 of these programs are up running for use as needed in various combinations. i do not keep anything of value on the laptop itself. anything of value is on external drives



Apr 02, 2024 at 01:28 PM
sjms
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


you need to work out your real needs. i no longer overload portables (longevity) when this does 95% of my photographic needs, stupid paperwork and entertainment as required, needed, wanted. remember you will be carrying it.


Apr 02, 2024 at 05:26 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


No, you can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometime you'll find
You get what you need

The Stones

I was hoping there was a solution that would meet ALL MY needs and I could replacement my existing laptops and dispense with my Desktop PC too (well, it still would have existed but for my wife's uses), but ultimately I concluded that there were too many compromises to that "utopia" ($$$$$, weight, performance, internal vs external storage, higher risk/greater impact of theft, etc). Ultimately I decided to go with a good, light (3lb) laptop (with 1TB internal storage) that would be great for travel (b/u and culling) and could do some LR work in a pinch on the road, while the Desktop will still be the workhorse for photo storage (4TB internal storage) and LR/PS work. I will look to replace that old desktop workhorse with a new one in a year or two.

Thanks to all who provided input for my consideration.



Apr 02, 2024 at 05:58 PM
jeffbuzz
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


Modest desktop GPU's are going to outperform the GPU in many high end laptops. If running the AI enhance tools is your top priority, a desktop is going to get you there faster and cheaper.

I am not using unusually high powered machines. So I'm sure others with uber fast rigs will have different results. But my middling desktop runs LR denoise 18x as fast as my similarly classed "workstation" laptop with a discrete GPU that barely meets LR minimum requirements.

This is the time to denoise the same file on each machine:

Desktop i7-10700 CPU 2.90GHz GPU NVIDIA RTX A2000 12GB ===> 50 seconds

Laptop i7-8665U CPU 1.90GHz GPU NVIDIA Quadro P520 2GB ===> 14 minutes (900 seconds!)

I use that laptop to do basic LR edits and batch processing with no problem. But I am definitely not using it for any of the AI tools.

You'll need to pay a premium for a laptop with GPU power close to what my 2 year, 2 generation old refurb desktop has.



Apr 02, 2024 at 09:10 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


Jeffbuzz, that was my concern (well one of them anyway).

The AI-driven NR in LR can cause image issues (changes) if done after other changes and the (strong) recommendation is to do it first. You mentioned that you do basic LR edits on the laptop. Do you only edit images you are confident you won't want to run the NR on, redo these basic edits later on some images (after running the NR) or just accept that some images will look "different" if the NR is run later rather than at the start?



Apr 02, 2024 at 09:17 PM
jeffbuzz
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


EverLearning wrote:
Jeffbuzz, that was my concern (well one of them anyway).

The AI-driven NR in LR can cause image issues (changes) if done after other changes and the (strong) recommendation is to do it first. You mentioned that you do basic LR edits on the laptop. Do you only edit images you are confident you won't want to run the NR on, redo these basic edits later on some images (after running the NR) or just accept that some images will look "different" if the NR is run later rather than at the start?


If I do "enhance" an image, it's because I've done the typical LR edits like exposure and curves, then find it too noisy. So if there is any difference in the final image due to my order of ops, I'm just accepting it. If I'm going to print large, I'll go back to the original image and make virtual copies to experiment with.

There do seem to be differences in the final DNG images depending on whether I do the "enhance" denoise process before or after applying exposure adjustments. I've done some very crude tests but can barely detect the differences. I think it may come down to JPEG compression/decompression in rendering the on-screen previews.

One experiment seemed to show a slight difference in how chromatic aberration was handled. Basic edits before denoising shows more CA in the final DNG compared denoising first then pasting the same crop/exposure/lens edits to the denoised DNG. I had to push this image to extremes where I normally would not go to see any differences. Exposue +3, curves, absurd crop, CA correction.





Left: edits then denoise. Right: denoise then edit.




Apr 03, 2024 at 12:10 AM
moncho
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Laptop or No? Mac or Windows? Aye caramba!


EverLearning wrote:
moncho, that is an interesting laptop. Out of curiosity, when you speak of photo editing, which app(s) do you use? You mention AI tools like NR. If you use LR, how long does it take to run the new(ish) AI NR on an image (and how big is the image file)? The video card on my current desktop is my perceived bottleneck in my LR workflow. Doing the new LR NR on a 45mb Canon R5 file takes about 2 minutes.

At the price of your laptop, it would definitely have to suit my Option 3 (my everything) and not Option
...Show more

I use Lightroom (not Classic, but that also runs fine) and Photoshop. Used to use Topaz Denoise but now I do the Lightroom AI noise reduction. My 33mp files (which is what, 50 MB?) take between 10 and 30 seconds per photo to denoise, but I guess it depends on the reduction and sharpening parameters.

That Zenbook Flip is a step down in speed and thermal performance and integrated graphics won't get you far with noise reduction software. If you don't want to pay $2500 the first things I would compromise would be form factor and screen resolution (or maybe IPS panel vs OLED if you use an external monitor anyway)

1 TB isn't enough storage for lots of photos but I don't need it all integrated into the laptop. I store those on external media since I don't want to lose it all when I drop my laptop in a bucket of water. I have some very tiny external SSD's on the go and cloud storage from Lightroom and Google Drive.



Apr 03, 2024 at 03:43 AM
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