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Thread: Best travel laptop for Photoshop and Lightroom

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    Member rexboggs5's Avatar
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    Best travel laptop for Photoshop and Lightroom

    I will be retiring from teaching in about a month and will have to return my school laptop. So I will be buying a new one. I will be doing some travelling and taking photos and post-processing them using Photoshop and Lightroom, so I was wondering what is the best laptop on the market for this - either Windows or Mac. As photography is my main hobby, I will be using this frequently so I want the best available. TIA for any suggestions.

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Are budget a major constraint?
    Fuji XT-2, Fuji X-E3, Fuji X100T, Fuji VPB-XT2, Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8, Fujinon 50-140 f/2.8, Fujinon 35 f2, Fujinon 90 f/2, Fujinon 60 f/2.4 Macro, Yongnuo YN560 IV, Yongnuo YN560 TX, Benro C3580T, Mefoto Q00
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    There isn't "one". But good news, there are many. I'm glad you said you want the "best available", because you may well need such.
    I can only relate from my experience, so look up the Asus UX5... series. I have the U500V, now approaching 2 years of age as a model.
    Main features: SSDs, all USB3 ports, Core I7 of good marque, and 15" HD touch screen. If you think the last is trivial ice-caking, wait till you
    use it. Basically: portable power!
    ...
    ...
    ...
    (Bottom line: Price then $1500. Now ?)


    And finally, use all that as a guide only. (Oh, MS Win based.)
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    The budget isn't a constraint, except for extreme prices. Which might be fine, if they were justified.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, most prices are NOT justified. I have a vague idea that the equivalent of mine would now
    carry the $2K mark. The driver is that (this is my opinion) what you pay for something less is just money WASTED!!
    Sure, you could pay another K for a "gaming laptop" (Boy! Did I say that?) but that to me (ie, my needs) would be
    a waste from the other end of the scale.

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    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
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    You are going to get all sorts of recommendations. Personally I use a 13" macbook pro as my travel laptop. It is loaded with both LR and PS. My decision was a compromise - I wanted something portable and light weight but with a good screen for editing. If I could do it again maybe (and I would need to check the weight) I would go for a 15" screen to give me a little more real estate for editing on the road.
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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    There used to be five or six top quality laptop brands. Sadly, several of those grand marques have deteriorated badly now. Toshiba, for example, once a quality benchmark is now an unpredictable mix of excellence, shoddy tricks, mega-expensive proprietary parts, unexpected sleaze, and downright weirdness. Can still be good, but far to often not.

    There are only two of the grand marques still operational, or three possibly. Panasonic still make Toughbooks. I haven't looked at a recent model, but no doubt they are still the same as ever: incredibly rugged, rather unpleasant to use, and mega-expensive. Did I say incredibly rugged? But you wouldn't want a Toughbook: they are not really laptops as such, more a type of industrial machinery.

    I believe that Fujutsu are still making their traditional products (they were last time I checked, which wasn't that long ago). These are beautifully finished, superbly presented business notebooks, and quite expensive. Well, OK, very expensive. But very good quality. If your laptop lives an easy city life and you love high-quality things, a Fujitsu is a great choice: top quality, top dollar.

    Finally, there is the Thinkpad family. The famous IBM Thinkpad line was sold quite a few years ago now to Lenovo and - to everyone's astonishment, and to the delight of all except competitors - Lenovo kept the wonderful Thinkpad traditions going just as they were. (Perhaps this wasn't so hard for them: after all, Lenovo didn't just buy IBM's name and patents and product line, they bought the whole lot including patents, R&D facilities, engineers and other staff, right down to the chap who answers the phone in Sydney or Berlin.)

    To this day, Thinkpads aren't just made, they are engineered. Most models, for example, aren't a circuit board and a battery in a moulded plastic shell like almost every other laptop made today, they have an actual metal chassis made of strong, lightweight magnesium alloy. Thinkpads are tough. There is a lot of care and attention to detail goes into their design. The flagship T Series models are my first choice: all things considered, these are the best general-purpose laptops you can buy: very tough, very reliable, beautifully made, quite expensive, worth every penny. For my own use - lots of outback travel, harsh conditions, dust and dirt, I use a T Series - my fifth Thinkpad and my third T Series. Wouldn't dream of using anything else.

    I used to sell a variety of laptops, including (on request) lesser brands like ASUS and Acer (Acers are better than you'd think) and Lenovo (i.e., Lenovo's cheaper, non-Thinkpad line which is quite decent as a rule but not to be confused with the real McCoy) but I don't anymore. If people want cheap, flimsy laptops, there are plenty of other places they can go to.

    Thinkpads are plain-looking businesslike black boxes. No gimmicks, just functional. You will get more features for less money with any of the lesser brands. But you won't get the same quality.
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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Unfortunately Apple is beyond that price range unless you buy refurb, the non-retina 13 or wait for a 10% off which happen regularly. I would be going with 8GB and 256 SSD. You can get USB 3.0 compact SSD's if you need more storage, both Sony and Samsung make nice ones.

    I think the Lenovo option might be a good one


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    If I were to buy the best Apple laptop for travelling and photography (Lightroom and Photoshop) without being constrained by cost, what would you suggest?

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Something with a 13" or 15" screen. Nothing bigger, as then you might have to put it into booked luggage instead of taking it on-board.
    It would have a Retina display and a Core I7 processor. I'll leave the rest to others, but you would not need to go overboard. I reckon
    still about the $2K mark, max.

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rexboggs5 View Post
    If I were to buy the best Apple laptop for travelling and photography (Lightroom and Photoshop) without being constrained by cost, what would you suggest?
    Options:

    Macbook 12 - 8GB RAM & 256GB SSD is $1999. This is the smallest in the range with a retina display. It's worth going into a store to have a look at how small this actually is because it is tiny. It makes my old Macbook Air look big.

    Macbook Air 13 (11 only comes with 128GB which may not be big enough for extended travel) - 8GB & 256GB SSD is $1859. It's a nice size. I carried one of these for business for a long period of time and the weight is good, not as light as a Macbook 12" but nice if you want a slightly bigger screen for older eyes, I personally find the 12" too small now. Apple run very fast drives in their machines (PCIE 3.0) this helps a lot with performance.

    Macbook Pro 13 Retina - 8GB & 256GB SSD is $2299. This offers some slightly higher specs if you can afford them, up to 16GB ram and up to 1TB SSD. Also has the retina display. I would recommend this if you think you can handle the weight, realistically, it's actually a very light laptop, it's just large compared to the Macbook and Macbook Air. The 16GB is not needed for photoshop or lightroom although it's nice to have.

    I'd go into an Apple store and have a look at the models.

    There is a nice comparison of sizes and specs here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIYbnL-xphs

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Not bad for specs. The 12 - if it's 12" would be tiny, IMO.

    The ONE MAJOR DRAWBACK I see in all 3 models is the paucity of disk space. Mine came with two 240GB SSDs.
    I guess a few external drives would have to be the go with these. I did see the 13 once (did it have Retina? - I thought it did??)
    But then price and size (and I didn't even know about the SSD size) deterred me.

    Do they have a 15" in this sort of stuff?
    Last edited by ameerat42; 03-11-2015 at 9:29am.

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Best travel laptop for Photoshop and Lightroom

    The 12 is tiny. It's thinner than my surface pro 3 and it has a keyboard. Incredible engineering when you see what they can do now. If I was travelling, I'd probably consider that personally.

    The disks go up to 1TB. I just quoted the lower end.

    I have a 15" quad core, 16gb, 512GB retina pro. With the new PCIE solid states, it gets 2GB/s read and 1.5GB/s write. It's relatively thin and light for a 15" but I'd love to see a 15" MacBook Air that's thin like the current MacBook


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    Last edited by MissionMan; 03-11-2015 at 11:40am.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Speaking only about Macs:
    My personal views are that the best travel laptops are the MacBook Airs. But their screens won't cut it for you if photography's your main hobby.
    I think the current Macbooks are ahead of their times and technology has to catch up. In their current form I feel there are many compromises. A bit like when the MacBook Airs were first announced that took a few iteration to become a really good travel laptop.
    That really leaves the MacBook Pros.
    I have the 13" first generation MacBook Pro and my wife has the 15" current one. It really comes down screen size and whether you're willing to put up with the extra weight.
    Personally I wouldn't get anything less than 256GB SSD, even with a good DAM system.
    RAM: the more the merrier.
    There shouldn't be any issues with processors in current generation MacBook Pros and IMO, the integrated GPU does just fine. If you opt for the 15" rMBP, there is an option for a discreet GPU if you really want.

    There's a new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 that you can take a look at too.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oops.. I think I'm meant to say Surface Book, which is the fairer comparison.
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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    I'd avoid the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book for now. Massive problems which may take a month or two to resolve. The Surface Forums are plastered with more complaints than positive feedback at about 5:1 ratio. It's not to say they won't be good in a couple of months. I think it's mostly firmware and software bugs but it may take some time for MS to fix the bugs, and if you are travelling, you'd want something reliable.


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    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    If you go for a MacBook I can't really think of any reason not to go for a refurbished one. You get a reasonable price saving and the quality remains first class.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Oops..sorry. Not too familiar with Windows machines these days.

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swifty View Post
    Oops..sorry. Not too familiar with Windows machines these days.
    Nothing wrong. I'm sure they will be good soon, but I think they are having teething problems with the new machines.

    I think Microsoft is still going through some of the learning processes of supplying their own computing hardware.

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    Thanks, everyone, for your comprehensive and knowledgeable replies. I think I'll go with the 15" MacBook Pro and spec it up so it handles LR and PS with ease.

    Must/Should/Can I calibrate the monitor with a Spyder or similar?

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    Ausphotography Regular Boo53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rexboggs5 View Post
    If I were to buy the best Apple laptop for travelling and photography (Lightroom and Photoshop) without being constrained by cost, what would you suggest?
    I would have dismissed Apple a couple of years ago as I find their consumer stuff, phones and the like, less than stellar.

    However our eldest son had a new MacBook pro 15 retina. When he was killed I was given it and didn't want to use it for a while but then realised it was going to waste.

    Had it reformatted and installed Lightroom, Photoshop (cc versions), and some pano stitching software.

    The 15" rerun screen is brilliant. 500M ssd, 16g ram. It flies. Much Much fasted than my 3 year old windows i7 8g ram machine at home.

    We travel a lot, upwards of 20 weeks a year and it is fantastic as a travel laptop.

    I believe it would be about $3500 to replace

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