I’m on the road a lot, and packing for a trip turns into an exercise in keeping my weight to a minimum. I think of it as packing for a backpacking trip, every ounce counts even though I won’t be carrying it all on my back. I’ll run down my camera gear in another post, but one item that I get a lot of questions about is my laptop, a 13 inch Macbook Air.
I struggled over getting a traditional laptop with a disk drive and standard (non SSD) hard drive. For the same price I could get more drive space, more external ports and faster processors. But in the end I went with a 13″, 1.7 dual core i5 with 256GB solid state drive and 4GB of memory….in a slim computer under 3 pounds. It was the right choice.
My biggest concern was performance running CS5 and Lightroom. For my needs, this computer is much faster than my old dual 2.0 intel machine, and the solid state drive means boot up time and opening applications happens in mere seconds. I have worked on 200MB files on this machine in photoshop, and even heavy processing using liquify and lens correction happen in a snap. The keyboard is backlit, and the battery lasts for hours, much longer than my old machine.
One consideration was 256GB of drive space. For some photographers, this may not be enough. But for me, this is more than enough. I only store a few 1000 jpegs on my laptop I use teaching workshops, so I don’t need gigs of space for my images. I will use my machine to backup my images on a shoot, which can be around 150 gigs on a big shoot. But I still have plenty of room for images, plus all my applications. Once I am back in the office , I backup my assignment images, and delete them from my laptop. I have found a few times I needed a DVD drive to install a program, so I bought the external drive to go with the laptop. I doubt I will use this external drive again. If you are doing heavy duty photoshop work and want a larger screen, then the Air might not be for you. But I have to say, I just got back from two weeks in Chile and the Air performed like a charm. And it was so trim and light I didn’t even know it was in my photo backpack.