A lot of photographers aren’t ready to let go of Apple. Though the company has been maintaining an abusive relationship with professionals for many years, their computers and their systems simply work. There isn’t a whole lot to complain about; things don’t go wrong often. The same can be said for PCs, but they’ll need more work to get there. So, for the photographer looking at a new Apple computer of some sort, we dissected the options currently out there and here’s what we think the best Apple computers for photographers are.
Editor’s Note: We’re assuming you own some sort of Photo editing suite and so we’re not including that in our piece. For what it’s worth, our staff is loyal to Capture One.
An Apple Desktop
Photographers still have a great reason to work with a big desktop of some sort. For starters–photo editing requires being able to see a lot of details really large. But in addition to that, larger monitors typically have a larger Adobe RGB range and overall color gamut. For years, many photographers have gone with iMacs or the iMac Pro. But with a fully spec’d iMac Pro costing well over $12,000 it doesn’t seem feasible for a working photographer. The photographer who works in a studio or has an office will need a larger display and a whole lot of power. So, we’re recommending the following setup which can be found on Amazon. Here’s what we think is the best desktop option of all the Apple computers for photographers:
- Mac Mini: From Apple, this configuration costs $3,898.99. It’s very capable.
- Hard drives with SD ports: I’m a very big fan of LaCie’s Rugged drives with USB-C. I’ve been using the Rugged series for years now. 4TB drives go for $219. Try the 2Big Dock.
- BenQ 32 inch monitor: We reviewed this monitor last year and I miss it every single day. You’ll probably want your own external speakers though. Also, this monitor has an SD card reader built into it. It will run you around $2,000.
- Apple keyboard: It’s around $88 and they’re pretty good.
- Logitech mouse: I personally really like Logitech mice, and I use the Logitech MS Anywhere 2s and it costs $49.
- Wacom tablet: An Intuos Pro Small is around $320.
- Datacolor SpyderX Elite: I think any photographer who is serious about their work should look into what a good calibration device can do for you at $269.
Add all this up and you’re spending around $6,624.99. While I know the PC elitists out there will say, “You won’t spend that much with a PC!” I have to admit that I own a gaming PC and I abhor editing on it. The system doesn’t integrate smoothly with any sort of mobile device. There are Google apps that I could use if I wanted to go Android, but I like my iPhone.
Personally, I won’t need the keyboard, the mouse, the Wacom, or the Spyder because I own them already. So I’ll need a computer, hard drive, and monitor. If you have all this, the price starts to look a lot more attractive.
For the Photographer on the Go
The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I like the idea of a very powerful MacBook Pro. On my Tuesdays and Thursdays, I like to work on my laptop out of my office. But on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I have to be at my desktop to maximize my creativity. The idea of just taking my computer to go with me and then plugging it into a big monitor is pretty attractive. Here’s what we think is the best laptop option amongst Apple computers for photographers.
- MacBook Pro 15 inch with touch bar and a whole lot of tricking out: We’re spending $6,848.99 from Apple. Amazon isn’t letting us do further configurations.
- Hard drives with SD ports: I’m a very big fan of LaCie’s Rugged drives with USB-C. I’ve been using the Rugged series personally for years now. 4TB drives go for $219.
- BenQ 32 inch monitor: Again, this will run you around $2,000.
- Logitech mouse: I personally really like Logitech mice, and I use the Logitech MS Anywhere 2S and it costs $49.
- Wacom tablet: An Intuos Pro Small is around $320.
- Datacolor SpyderX Elite: I think any photographer that’s serious about their work should look into what a good calibration device can do for you at $269.
The cool thing about this setup is that you have dual monitors and don’t need to have a desktop and a laptop. Your laptop is going to be pretty powerful here. 32GB of RAM and 4TB storage is what I have on my current 2015 iMac though. In fact, most of this machine is my current 2015 iMac but in a portable form factor, except that this MacBook Pro can be turbo boosted beyond my current machine. It also comes with new ports and that snazzy new touch bar. For what it’s worth, I like the touch bar.
All of this together is costing me $9,486.99. That’s a lot of money, but you have the ability to go very portable and then come back to your monitor to edit when you need to. I don’t use Wacom tablets, I have the mouse already, and I also already own the SpyderX. So I’ll need the hard drives, the computer, and the monitor.
Of course, you may not need totally spec’d out machines. But for the type of output I do that requires video editing, photo editing, running a blog, using Slack, using Trello, using Apple Music, iMessage, etc., it would just make the most sense in terms of longevity to get the newer machine.