A few weeks ago I was backing up over 10,000 images on a big commercial shoot in Alaska. I had my 11″ MacBook Air to process images and backup flashcards to external drives. I loved this laptop, it was so light it felt like an iPad, I didn’t even know it as in my pack. But this computer was five years old, had a small screen, and lacked the power to rapidly crunch high res files in Photoshop. But one thing that I never liked was only having one USB-C port. I carried a large dongle with various ports and attachment points to work through the one port on the computer. This slowed things down even more. In Alaska, watching the slow download speed of my Z7II files, I decided it was time to upgrade. And it just happened the MacBook Air had gotten a huge speed bump using Apple’s new M1 chip. Wow, I can’t believe the performance of this new computer!
Here is a picture of my old and the new air. The new air is slightly larger, and about a half pound heavier. But those are the only downsides. First, let’s talk speed. You can see many online speed tests using the new M1 chip, and how performance is increased across the board compared to older Macs and PCs. I found Photoshop works much faster, in part to the much faster chip compared to a five year old computer, and increased memory. I got my air installed with 16MB of memory, and a 1 TB SSD drive. Plenty fast and lots of storage if I need it on the SSD.
But what really blew me away was the increased download speed using CFExpress cards. I plugged in a flash card with 2000 images, about 50GB, and it downloaded under a minute. Uhhh….2000 images from my D6 in under a minute. Increased Thunderbolt USB-C port speed, a super fast card reader and CFExpress flash card really transformed the download experience. Imagine a trip to Africa, and you shoot 3000 images in a day. No problem, before I can take off my shoes the card will be downloaded….incredible! And most importantly, I now have two ports for easier downloading from flash card reader through computer to external SSD backup drive. This performance alone made the upgrade worth it. There are a few other cool improvements like Touch ID and longer battery life too. My computer cost $1500 as I configured it, but you could get cheaper versions with less memory and storage.
One other thing you might explore. I took my old iMac down to the Apple store, and they gave me over $400 credit towards my new laptop, a decent value considering it was an older computer. If you are in the market for a new laptop, the new MacBook Air 13″ is a great upgrade. Faster across the board, longer battery life, and two USB-C ports for convenient download and backup.