Today’s Question: I noticed you were using an Apple laptop. It looked like the 13 inch MacBook Pro? I am about to purchase a laptop for traveling in my new camper. Is the 13-inch display large enough to comfortably work in Lightroom or Photoshop?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, I am using a 13-inch MacBook Pro as my primary (actually, pretty much exclusive) computer. With the Retina display I am very comfortable working with this display size for working in Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as editing my videos in Premiere Pro and laying out Pixology magazine in InDesign.
More Detail: To be sure, my priorities are a little different from those of many other photographers, because I travel rather extensively. Because I am rarely home for more than a couple weeks at a time, and am often away from home for weeks on end, it makes sense for me to use a laptop as my primary computer platform.
It has been more than five years since I’ve owned a desktop computer, and I don’t miss it at all. With a laptop I always have my familiar computer and my data no matter where I am.
I do feel that the 13-inch display size is a good compromise. To me personally a 15-inch or larger display results in a laptop that feels more bulky and less portable. And a smaller display isn’t as comfortable to work with.
With previous laptops I felt that I was compromising significantly due to the relatively low display resolution. I simply didn’t have much screen real estate to use for some of the key applications in my workflow. But with the Retina display I am now perfectly happy. I prefer the higher resolution setting (referred to as “More Space” in the Macintosh preferences), which produces a display that appears like a resolution of 1680×1050 pixels. In other words, I have what is very close to a full 1080p high definition display, which works well for demanding applications such as Photoshop and Lightroom.
It is worth noting that if you’re going to use a laptop as a primary platform for working with Photoshop and Lightroom, you’ll want to opt for a relatively powerful laptop. That means opting for the fastest multi-core processor available, upgrading the memory to 16GB of RAM (or even more), and taking advantage of the hard drive (or SSD drive) option with the highest capacity available.