Alex Hare Photography
Why Have I Bought a 13” MacBook Air And Is It Any Good For Photography?
Why have I had to spank hard earned money when my existing 2010 MacBook Pro still “works”? Why didn’t I buy a new MacBook pro with all the extra power they have? Pretty simple really. Because:
Apple made my 2010 MacBook Pro obsolete by making the newer operating systems incompatible with the hardware in my machine and
I don’t want a new laptop with only one port that requires a silly adaptor plugged into the side for extra ports all at extra expense!
And yes, it seems fine for photography although I would recommend paying for the extra RAM and processor upgrade option.
But to elaborate…
Apple seem to be pursuing a philosophy that their computers are more about how thin, light and cloud storage based they can be rather than how practically useful they are.
There are alternatives; I could get a Dell XPS but its similar money to a MacBook Pro and it’s a pain running windows and iOS on separate laptop and desktop machines. So I’m kinda stuck in the Apple brand.
But back to the practicalities of buying a laptop. I’m a photographer. My cameras files are 60 megabytes each. The Cloud is simply not an option for backup or storage as I’m generating hundreds of these files every day. So I need to attach a portable external drive I via USB for temporary back up. I do camera club talks; I want to run HDMI leads and at all times have the option to charge the machine at the same time. The MacBook Pro can’t do this. Everything goes through one single port, charging and all unless you run it all through an extra adaptor gizmo.
I could stump up and buy the adaptor gadget that plugs into the MacBook Pro’s port as this offers an array of extra ports from USB to Thunderbolt but I just don’t want to. The MacBook Pro is already very expensive, another £100 on a extra gadget for basic functionality is a bad deal I feel. It also seems a bit dodgy; I mean isn’t it going to get knocked and eventually damage the sensitive internal parts of the port it’s plugging into as it hangs off the side jammed full of various cables?
All I want to do is simple, low level work on programs like Word, Excel etc and then run Photoshop and do some more heavier processing work, so I need a decent processor and RAM and the Air is a bit wimpy in this respect. However, it does have a SSD which helps speed thigs up and compensate enough to make it perfectly good for non heavy duty, on the fly, quick processing work. For the most part my computer work is done on a desktop so spending big on a laptop isn’t going to be terribly cost effective given how much time I actually use it.
So I’ve gone for the air and maxed out the RAM and processor options. It’s super small and light (more so than the MacBook Pros) so it’s great for working at airports and on planes and easy to carry around hotels and work whilst ‘on the go.’
In an ideal world they’d let me up-spec the Air to 16 gig of RAM and a punchier processor but they wont allow that, for reasons unknown. Probably because no one would bother with a Macbook Pro…
My old 2010 MacBook pro was amazing; USB ports, Ethernet, SD card, power socket AND a DVD burner! Everything you need. No extra peripherals to pay for. It’s going on ebay now as one of the last really good machines they made before the company really went ballisitic as a global brand in mass production (and mass profit…).
So I’m happy enough with my new replacement. Yes, the screen is much smaller and it’s spec isn’t going to blow anyone away but it has all the latest ports (including Thunderbolt) and it’s so light and portable; a bonus worth offsetting against better, but heavier, technical specs in the Pro.
I also have a feeling they really want to drop the Air from their range. The MacBooks and MacBook pros are now nearly as small and light which was the USP of the Air when it was released a few years ago to much fanfare. If they do it’ll be a real shame. Hopefully future MacBook Pros will revert to including some useful ports.
So to conclude; is the MacBook Air any good for photographers? I think so if its not your primary machine for processing. Photoshop and Bridge both ping open in under 8 seconds and I can apply retouches and Photoshop edits without much delay so I think it does the trick. Just.