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  1. #1
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    MacBook choices...

    I'm looking at switching to Mac and a portable would be much more useful for me. Couple questions. I'm not a professional photographer and only do it as a hobby, but I want to buy the "right" one...

    The basic MacBook has 1g RAM and a 2ghz Core 2 Duo processor. I plan to eventually get Nikon Capture NX and may load my version of Photoshop** on it. I realize the display is small but if that's much of a problem I could get a larger flat screen for it and still have the portability of the 13" screen.

    **Photoshop... I have the original CS in the Creative Suite, so I'd have to upgrade all of that to get CS3. I'd almost be better off to just buy a new copy but I need to talk to them about it (thinking long term, a couple of upgrades would make this the cheaper route). OTOH, PSE may do what I need and would be used after NX (as needed) anyway (version 4 for Mac, and 5 for Windows?). Or, I could run Boot Camp or Parallels and keep my version of Photoshop, only booting XP when I need it (can I use my license from my current machine?).

    Maybe Lightroom or Aperture is a better idea... I'd like something that can handle my old Fuji S2 files as well as the files made by the new camera when I get it (Fuji bit the dust). And at this point I guess I can't rule out a Canon system either in which case I obviously wouldn't get NX, but that's getting too far ahead right now...

    The Apple Store has refurb 15" MacBook Pro's available but they look like last year's model. They're a pretty nice savings. Would I be better off with one of these versus a new MacBook?

  2. #2
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: MacBook choices...

    The main limitations with the macbook are:
    1) video card- integrated graphics stink, honestly.
    2) RAM capacity is lower than the previous generation Macbook Pro and the current generation MBP.
    3) Small display, compounded by the limitation of single link DVI so you can't use really big displays- mini-DVI to DVI or VGA adapter required, and you can't support anything larger than a 1920x1200 display if memory serves.

    You can upgrade PS from any version really, as long as it isn't academic, and if you call Adobe they will transfer your upgraded license over to mac if you sign a paper stating you'll destroy the discs for the windows version. They'll then send you the mac version disks and a new key for a small shipping fee. CS3 is really a necessity on an intel mac. PSE has not been updated to 5.0, and has not been made an universal binary (to run natively on the intel macs) so it would be extremely slow to run PSE, just like CS or CS2.

    I would strongly suggest at least 2GB RAM for the current generation of cameras. If you get the refurb Macbook Pro instead, you can put in 3GB RAM (1x2GB and 1x1GB module, Apple Certified will run you $100-150 depending on which one you buy). The models in the refurb store are the Core 2 Duo model which was just replaced in early June. I strongly recommend one of these, see why in a bit.

    As far as processing software, Lightroom and Aperture are both excellent image editing and browsing apps with bright futures ahead of them (both are still in version 1). Neither is a substitute for PS IMHO. You can download a trial of Aperture 1.5 when you get the mac. I personally used the Lightroom Beta and I've been using Aperture since version 1.1 or 1.2 or so. When Lightroom came out I opted not to buy it, and since I now have PS CS3 and Bridge CS3 to work with if I feel like doing it the Adobe way, I'm not shedding any tears. Aperture remains my go-to app for large scale projects for both Nikon and Canon DSLRs. I have read a few complaints from Lightroom users about corrupted databases needing rebuilding constantly.

    Remember, Mac OS X has RAW support built in at the core level. Aperture utilizes this as does iPhoto and Preview, Finder, and in OS X Leopard, QuickLook and apps using a new core technology.

    Now you have to consider in choosing your computer expandability and future proofing. More and more is being farmed out to the GPU nowadays, so I'd strongly suggest avoiding the Macbook for this reason. There's only a few Professional (primarily video editing) apps that rely on the GPU for high performance more than Aperture does. GPU acceleration is key to its building full sized previews, loupe view, and so on. In fact, Aperture didn't even support integrated graphics until version 1.5. Performance on the Macbook versus even the low end original Macbook Pro is night and day. On a high end macbook pro with 256MB VRAM and 2GB+ system RAM it's blazing fast.
    If you can swing it, the 2.33Ghz Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro is your best bet. Plenty of VRAM for GPU intensive apps, you can just swap out one of the 1GB RAM chips for a 2GB apple certified module for about $100 if you feel like it, and it has a bigger display, supports dual link DVI, has more ports, and so on. I've been using MBP's since the first revision, and I just picked up a new 2.4GHz LED backlit one with 4GB RAM and it is insane how fast it is. You really won't regret it.

    I'm using Nikon Capture NX, Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.0.2 and the latest EOS utility, PS CS3, and Aperture 1.5.3 and performance on my old Macbook Pro (Core Duo 2.16 with 2GB RAM and 256MB X1600) was great. NX is, well, NX. Comparatively slow on any system, really, but great quality. DPP isn't the fastest tool in the shed either, but its always been PS when you need speed, and Aperture is just great for managing your images.

    And did I mention the illuminated keyboard?
    Harrison
    Nikon Forum / Digital SLR Forum Moderator | moderator bio
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  3. #3
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: MacBook choices...

    Wow - thanks for the great info! I had a thought that the MacBook might be that way, not that I'm that up on the technical aspects but it's designed for a different type of user than the MBP. Like I said, I didn't want to buy the "wrong" thing and your info really helps.

  4. #4
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: MacBook choices...

    OK - I'm in with the MacBook Pro 15" refurb... Decided to stick with the 2.16ghz processor and will probably upgrade RAM when needed. Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: MacBook choices...

    Good choice! The 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo is plenty fast and the dedicated video card will make sure you're puttering along smoothly for a long time coming. Upgrade that RAM whenever you have a chance- places like macsales.com (OWC) have great deals on Apple Certified RAM with lifetime guarantees, and can tell you just the right amount that your model can take.
    Harrison
    Nikon Forum / Digital SLR Forum Moderator | moderator bio
    Check out our new Nikon D300 Pro Review D3 review coming soon...
    Nikon Samurai #9 | NPS Member
    10 Lenses 5 Bodies 3 Macs 1 Sore Back

  6. #6
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: MacBook choices...

    Speaking of macsales.com, they're located right in NW Illinois, so shipping is quick and cheap.

    MBP is a great choice. I have the 2.16 iMac and it is more than fast enough for anything you throw at it.
    -Seb

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    How to tell the most experienced shooter in a group? They have the least amount of toys on them.

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