View Full Version : MacBook Pro?

Kirk Gittings
1-Feb-2007, 10:45
Rather than upgrading the oldest of my desktop workstations (I now have two Dells, one a generation old and one two generations old), I am thinking about buying a current, top of the line 15" laptop, to replace the oldest workstation and my current laptop ( I now have a 13" G4 Powerbook). This would be used on the road of course for tethered shooting and in the home office for working on image files and accounting etc. with a separate desktop large monitor (could I use the laptop monitor, when I am at home for the secondary monitor?). This would enable me to run Windows on everything (my brain aches from having to mentally switch back and forth) and consolidate down to just two computers.

How much speed improvement are you seeing on the MacBook Pros? The G4 was barely adequate for working on image files so I only used it when on the road when necessary and for communication.

One of my out of town clients requires that I deliver files before leaving town. That is about 50 38MB images with individual CR conversion and some post processing. So I need this laptop to perform.

Thoughts? A MBP with maxed out memory and HD? Will this serve my needs in the home /office (with a separate monitor) and on the road?

Gordon Moat
1-Feb-2007, 11:05
Just a suggestion on this product, when used for tethered shooting. Check to make sure that the device drivers for your tethered camera (or back) are updated to work on the MacBook Pro. I know of a few Kodak SLR/N users that have been left behind by a lack of updated device drivers, and a few people with printers that no longer communicate with their new laptop.

Outside of that issue, it seems the new MacBook Pros are going okay. So far no major issues, recalles, nor problems. As with any computer, more RAM and faster harddrive help when handling image files.


Gordon Moat
A G Studio (http://www.allgstudio.com)

Frank Petronio
1-Feb-2007, 11:16
The price jump from 2gb to 3gb of RAM is pretty steep... ouch

1-Feb-2007, 11:48
Could you use Crucial (http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.aspx?model=MacBook+Pro+2%2E16GHz+Intel+Core+2+Duo+%2815%2E4%2Dinch%29) for the RAM?

Gordon Moat
1-Feb-2007, 11:58
There is a RAM pricing overview site called Ramseeker (http://www.ramseeker.com). They check RAM prices from many vendors on a regular basis. One downside of RAM from Apple is that the warranty is only the machine warranty; buying RAM from third party companies usually has a lifetime warranty. While RAM rarely fails, I have personally replaced two laptop RAM chips under warranty; better safe than sorry.


Gordon Moat
A G Studio (http://www.allgstudio.com)

Ted Harris
1-Feb-2007, 12:27
www.datamem.com ..... sells only Apple certified RAM. I,ve been using them for 20+ years. The MPEX of memory. Ask for Bud.

neil poulsen
1-Feb-2007, 13:03
I would wonder about the color fidelity on one of these systems, versus what one can get on a good monitor. Calibration can only go so far in maintaining color integrity.

Peter Lewin
1-Feb-2007, 13:06
The problem with the price jump from 2GB to 3GB isn't really the memory vendor, its the architecture. There are only two slots, so to get 2GB its 2x1GB DIMMs (and 1GB DIMMs are relatively inexpensive), but for 3GB its 1x1GB plus 1x2GB, and the 2GB DIMM is an expensive animal! At my local Apple Store two different salesmen recommended trying to live with 2GB total until the price on the 2GB DIMMs drops (they hoped in 6 months or so). The same salesman said you could technically get 4GB by using 2x2GB (if $ was no object...) but the software would only recognize 3GB...

Kirk Gittings
1-Feb-2007, 13:16

When in my home office it would be hooked up to a real monitor and the laptop screen would become the secondary monitor for PS tools only. On the road though I would have to live with it.

Frank Petronio
1-Feb-2007, 13:26
Personally I find it possible to work with normal 50-150mb files on my G4 Ti 1gb RAM but I guess if I was using a Pro Tower part of the time I would quickly grow frustrated. I just remember how it was working on the same sized files back in the IIci days when one operation took 15-20 minutes. Waiting 5 to 30 sec for an opperation to happen is nothing cause I can multi-task, etc.

And I use some old school techniques as a result - less layers, more hard eidts. Start up and only launch Photoshop, frequent purges and restarts, careful, efficient work techniques.

I'm holding out until CS3 hits and then getting a loaded Mac laptop. Hook up with a 20 inch Apple LCD and no worries... They are due another speed bump by April, and that will probably be the time to buy.

Yeah it would be different if I worked in a prepress department. But I don't think you'll see that big a boost in actual production time so long as the hard drives aren't significantly faster... It's the save time that really kills you on a laptop.

Doug Dolde
1-Feb-2007, 14:32
I think it's a great idea and am considering it myself. I'd use it at home with the laptop display closed up. Plug in my Eizo CG21 and use a wireless keyboard and mouse. I have a 600 GB firewire external drive for added storage space.

1-Feb-2007, 14:51
If you really want to go that route (laptop only), then I would suggest holding off until both Leopard (OS X 10.5) AND CS3 come out. They will both be 64-bit and the MacBook Pro will likely get tuned up for that occassion too.

Henry Ambrose
1-Feb-2007, 15:30
I'd be wary of running Windows on the MacBookPro and expect to do tethered shooting unless I knew someone who is using the same exact set up successfully. Just because its supposed to work does not mean it will. You're going to be dealing with a different assembly of hardware bits and pieces. I'd stay Mac all the way.

I've just moved to a 24" iMac which is a bit faster overall than a MacBookPro. The screen is way bigger of course and the hard drives are faster and bigger but the RAM limitation is the same.

The new MacBookPros will run big monitors including the 30" and let you use the built-in screen for tools, etc. This is a good solution for a dual purpose traveling machine and a good color managed system at work. But I don't think you'll like working on the little screen on the road. You can calibrate the screen but the different ambient light conditions you'll experience will be tough to deal with on top of the lower quality of the display. It will be tough to get accurate color. I assume your client wants accurate color? ;)

The RAM situation is no problem for your 38MB digital camera files. I have 2GB in my iMac and it just flies through Canon 5D files with Photo Mechanic and CS2. Totally completely flies! The biggest difference you will see with a MacBook is the hard drive performance which will be noticeably slower than a 7200 3.5 inch drive. Overall I'd say you're looking at 50% longer time per file to open and save.

2GB RAM modules have come down about $200 in the last 90 days, but again I wouldn't sweat this too much as my machine works great at 2GB. For big scans at your office it might be an issue but I think you state you'll have another real workstation there. At $600 for a 2GB module I'm passing on that upgrade for now.

If I were you and I was driving to the road jobs I'd think hard about buying a 20" iMac and carry it in a travel case. Since the flat screens have become standard this is lots easier to do rather than with a CRT. I know people who've carried tower computers and flat screens for location work who thought it worthwhile.

I'm thinking hard about traveling with an iMac for tethered shooting and working up files to deliver back at the hotel. The only downside is the loss of convenience of a MacBook. But you will gain real working advantages.

Kirk Gittings
1-Feb-2007, 15:35
Marko, I have been using CS3 beta for some time now. Is it not 64-bit?

1-Feb-2007, 15:41
Marko, I have been using CS3 beta for some time now. Is it not 64-bit?

It is, but the Tiger (OS X 10.4.x) isn't, so the CS3 is still runing in 32-bit mode. You will need both the OS and your application to be 64-bit. I will venture to say that this will be much faster on certain operations than what you are seeing now, but you will pay the price in greater requirements on resources such as memory. That's why I think most of their lineup and especially the laptops, will get a slight boost in that department come spring time, right before the official Leopard release.

Kirk Gittings
1-Feb-2007, 15:55
Henry, Shooting an iMac on location sounds awkward at the least. Alsohere are times when I have to shoot tethered on battery. I also doubt that they are built to a standard that would tolerate months a year of travel.

Ken Lee
1-Feb-2007, 16:55
Dunno about tethered shooting, but I just upgraded to the Photoshop CS3 Beta, and have concluded that I have no need to upgrade from my 15" PowerBook 64 with 1.25 MB of RAM. It does nicely with big files - especially if I specify an external hard drive for swap files.

I strongly suggest you read this recent thread, entitled Mac Users - How Much is Enough? (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=21193) Jim Kitchen is (in addition to everything else) a software engineer within the Apple Developers Network, and gives a valuable insight into performance issues that existed prior to the CS3 Beta, and which appear to have been finally solved.

It wouldn't surprise me if Apple waits to launch a fleet of 64-bit machines at the same time that Photoshop (one of the most important "killer apps") comes out in 64-bit mode. Jim can comment here, but it seems that when they do, the performance boost will be anything but questionable.

1-Feb-2007, 17:18

I am not Photoshop power user by any stretch of the imagination, but I recently bought a 17" Mac Book Pro with the 2.33ghz processor and 2gb of Ram. I am completely satisfied. It is leaps and bounds faster than my Intel 13" Macbook or my old G4 iBook. Although I loved those laptops, I never knew what I was missing. OS X is a completely different animal with some real horsepower behind it.

I also recently picked up a refurbished Epson 4990 scanner and have scanned 500mb files from my 5x7 negatives and was surprised at how well this computer can handle them. I am running Photoshop CS. It is much faster on the MBP than on my G5 iMac, albeit the iMac only has 1gb of Ram. I was concerned about the stories I had read about CS running too slow on the Intel Mac's, but so far - for my minimal needs, it runs just fine.

As for the question of running Windows under OS X, I run Windows 2000 under Parallels and it is plenty fast. I do 3D AutoCad with it at work with some pretty big files and even in a window under another operating system it runs better than my old PC desktop. I have not tried Boot Camp, mostly because I have never had a desire to run or own XP. The convenience of flipping between Windows and OS X is something that will sure to put a smile on your face!

I would probably follow the earlier advice in this thread and wait for the new machines to come out with OS X 10.5. I have a feeling it won't be too long of a wait...



Struan Gray
1-Feb-2007, 23:42
A couple of random observations.

I recently went shopping for a new work machine, with a budget that would have covered a MacBook Pro. I ended up with a maxed-out plain MacBook and a 20" Cinema display.

The plain MacBook feels about the same speed as the Dual 2.0G G5 I have. Disk operations are slower, but manipulations like Photoshop CS filters and the scientific applications I run feel comparable in terms of how long I have to wait for things to complete. The reduced size and wieght are significant for me (and if comparing, don't forget the power brick: the one for the Pro is quite a beast).

The MacBook screen is much better than most laptops I have used and seen. It is the first laptop screen I have been happy editing images on. Good enough for 'on the road', and useful even for colour palettes when docked.

The Cinema screen is great. The MacBook drives it cleanly and all sorts of desktop tasks are made a pleasure. For my personal photography I still lust after an Eizo or NEC, but working on optical and probe microscope images on the Cinema display makes it clear that my lust is at least partly irrational.

We have here in the lab a range of iMacs at various sizes, including several of the dual core Intel 20" models. The screen is very good, but doesn't match the Cinema for quality or subtlety. Although the iMac screens are pretty constant in contrast and gamma for different horizontal viewing angles, they shift quite radically for vertical ones. Someone standing behind a seated operator will see a very different image balance.

The Cinema display comes in a not-too-big suitcase style box. Were I going on the road I would simply take it and the laptop together. Flying would be more tricky, but a Lightware or Peli case for the monitor would allow that too. I would vastly prefer that combination of laptop and external screen to a luggable iMac.

Ted Harris
2-Feb-2007, 06:39

As you know I am running a plain Macbook, the choice made because size rather than performance was my prime concern. I have it maxed out with 2 Gigs of RAM and am running CS3 Beta on it. I haven't done a comparison with a stopwatch of how it performs v. my G5 tower with 5 Gigs or RAM or my Mini with but it seems to run acceptaby fast with files up to 500GB, after that it gets a bit dicy. It definitely runs faster than the Mini and probably slower than the tower. I suspect that if you got the MacBook Pro route you will even more speed when you max out the RAMand remember that means an additional Gig over the plain MacBook; further the ATI video card in the Pro should also help with speed.

Brian K
2-Feb-2007, 07:27
I have the latest versions, Core 2 Duo, of both the MacBook Pro and the Mac Pro. I can tell you that PS CS2 runs a little faster on the Mac Pro (2.66, 8 gigs ram, 512 VRAM) than it did on my G5 dual 2.7. However when 64 bit Universal CS3 comes out there should be a significant increase in speed. Also when Apple releases Leopard many of the other processes for the Intel macs should significantly increase in speed.

As of yet I have not used my MacBookPro (2.33 ghz,3 gigs of ram, 256 VRAM) for PS, however I will advise against getting the 200 gig drive because it runs at 5400 rpm and is noticeably slower. The 160 gig 7200 rpm drive is a faster choice. One improvement is that the MacBook Pro does not run nearly as hot as the other laptop computers I have.

I would also advise at this point against Parallels and would suggest that people who need to also run Windows on the new Intel Macs to use Boot Camp. Parallels has quite a few USB problems.

Bob McCarthy
2-Feb-2007, 08:19
I have two setup. One is PC based, I recently bought a macbook, added two gig of memory fron Frys ($140) and hooked it to a fast fw800 300gig drive and run a 24" Apple screen. I couldn't be happier.

Large batches of digital files are still best served on a HD desktop. But scans of 4x5 are easily served by the Macbook. (i wanted small for portability).

CS3 runs just fine as well as the scanning software on the Apple.

Boot Camp works flawlessly too.

The PC is sitting idle most of the time now.

Way to go Apple.


2-Feb-2007, 16:24
I have been running CS3 on a new MacBook Pro, 15'' 2.33 GHz, 2 Gig Ram for about a week now. This set up is slightly faster that my G5 dual 2 GHz w/ 4.5 Gig Ram w/ CS2. The bottleneck now seems to be the hard drive. It still takes a while to write out a 600Meg file from CS3. I was afraid I would run into issues with software that would not run on the Intel chip, but have been pleasantly surprised to have only one so far. Be aware that CS3 has quite a few issues and I would not consider it generally usable yet.

Ken Lee
2-Feb-2007, 18:31
Be aware that CS3 has quite a few issues and I would not consider it generally usable yet.

Could you elaborate on this please ?

Kirk Gittings
2-Feb-2007, 20:30
CS3 has quite a few issues and I would not consider it generally usable yet

I have been using CS3 beta exclusively since its release and have had no issues with it.

Kirk Gittings
2-Feb-2007, 20:39
I would probably follow the earlier advice in this thread and wait for the new machines to come out with OS X 10.5. I have a feeling it won't be too long of a wait...

Won't this be a simple update to 10.4?. the hardware won't change necessarily will it?

3-Feb-2007, 04:56
If it follows the pattern of all of the other OS X updates it should be easy and relatively painless. I have used OS X from the start and have installed every updated version as they came out and have never encountered a problem.

I made that statement because they will probably boost the specs on the MBP again in the near future and I believe that 10.5 is supposed to come out this spring.

One other point that I forgot to make in my first post is that the 17" MBP is rather awkward to tote around coming from the smaller Mac Book. I bought it because I use my laptop as a desktop replacement and often I don't have access to an external monitor when I am in the field. The larger screen is nice, but if I did it again I would purchase the 15" version.



Frank Petronio
3-Feb-2007, 05:17
Some of the incremental OS upgrades have had a few issues, sometimes with printers and security. I usually wait a week and read the reports on http://www.macintouch.com/ before doing anything.

Also, it helps to unplug all the USB and Firewire gadgets beforehand and to start up from the install CD to repair your disk permissions after the install.

Henry Ambrose
3-Feb-2007, 07:56
What Frank wrote is worth watching. There have been a few times where after upgrades printing or other services were broken. And when X first came out there were no drivers for many printers. I don't see any need to constantly upgrade. Pay attention to whats being fixed but stay back a release or two.

I like Struan's (I think) idea of carrying a 20" Apple Display in addition to your MacBookPro. The 'Book screens are definitely not as good as the desktop screens. So you could use the 'Book as is on location then set up the big screen to polish and prep your files.

The other thing to think about shooting tethered is where to put the computer. Put it on the floor or ground at great peril. Ever stepped on one? They're not made for that kind of use.

A small cart is a great thing to have. I have a small Anthro cart http://anthro.com/ and a Rubbermaid material handling cart that are portable. In studio I used a big Antro but anymore it just stays pushed against the wall most all the time. My main tool for moving camera and lights is a Mag Liner http://www.magliner.com/ that converts from 2 wheeler to a 4 wheel cart. Its great for moving lots of stuff. You can work off it after you get there.

If you're shooting outdoors power may become an issue. I'd look at some kind of power pack that supplies 110V from battery. If not, then at least one extra charged 'Book battery would be smart. Shooting one single picture outside as a test is one thing, working tethered all day with your 'Book is another. Forget to plug it in while you're shooting indoors for a couple of hours and then heading outside to find you have almost no battry power left is disconcerting to say the least.

And we thought Polaroid was a pain in the rear.:eek:

neil poulsen
3-Feb-2007, 08:12
A small cart is a great thing to have. I have a small Anthro cart http://anthro.com/ and a Rubbermaid material handling cart that are portable.

What's the model number on this cart? I'm having trouble finding it on the Rubbermaid site.

Henry Ambrose
3-Feb-2007, 10:12
Mine is just like the picture shown, 3 shelves, open all around.
I don't remember where I bought it. It was not very expensive and has proven durable and sturdy.

3-Feb-2007, 13:22
Won't this be a simple update to 10.4?. the hardware won't change necessarily will it?

It will be a major new version rather than a simple update. I expect all hardware that was capable of running previous versions of OSX to be able to run 10.5 with no problem, but it is very likely that new systems will be fine-tuned to take the most benefit from 10.5.

Besides, there is also another angle: when you buy a new machine, you get a copy of the operating system with it, already installed. If you bought your new laptop now, you'd still have to buy 10.5 once it's released, which is not that much of a trouble as they have always been priced rather reasonably. But you would also have to install it with all that goes with it - backup data, settings, prefereces, bookmarks, actions, etc., install, restore all that you just backed up and then troubleshoot anything that wouldn't work. That could easily be half a day at least.

Waiting to buy new, you avoid at least part of the hassle. And if anything goes wrong, it is more likely you could get qualified help from Apple.

9-Feb-2007, 08:31
Kirk, Ken,

I am running CS3 in an Intel MacBook Pro. Which I assume you, Kirk, are not given the topic of this thread and that you are the OP. The public Beta currently available has several issues, one being general instability. It has crash several times resulting in lost work (not complaining, it is beta after all). The interpolation is broken when down sizing a large amount resulting in very bad moire patterns. Mulit step resizing was necessary. The killer for me was that the cursor was broken and would not show the size of the brush that is being used. Which made it next to impossible edit a mask correctly. I'm am part of the pre-release program and the latest builds have fixed all these issues. Also the Beta version of Bridge was extremely unstable. Keep in mind I am referring my experience on a MacBook Pro (Intel not PowerPC).

Bruce Watson
9-Feb-2007, 10:11
Marko, I have been using CS3 beta for some time now. Is it not 64-bit?

Photoshop CS3 is not a 64 bit app. (http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2006/12/is_photoshop_cs.html)

I think Adobe's problem is that Vista isn't either, and MaxOS X.x isn't fully 64 bit either. Given the resources available, they apparently decided to concentrate on bringing new features to market rather than making the whole thing 64 bit.

For those of us, like me, who use some big files (like 1.1 GB), this is a major disappointment. From what I can tell though, Adobe doesn't test with files this big so they probably don't know about the performance issues some of us face.

And it's not like they have actual competition. When I asked the LightZone people about big files they were baffled. I got the infamous "nobody's ever asked for that before" line that every company uses when a customer asks for something they can't do. Sigh...

Henry Ambrose
9-Feb-2007, 15:03
"Stay a step or two back from the edge" is always good advice. Don't get in a rush for the latest and greatest.