Important Features For A Photographer’s Laptop

     

Important Features For A Photographer's Laptop

I like to take photos now and then. Camera is essential, but so is a laptop – without the computer,  photos wouldn’t get the final touch and might look worse (however, there’s also a school of thought that prefers straight out of camera shots, called SOOC). Anyway, having recently revived my photography blog, it got me thinking not only about the photos itself, but the perfect notebook for an aspiring shutterbug as well. On this article, I list a few features I consider important in a photographer’s laptop.

Look For Full HD Display, At Least

The photos that come out of your camera are probably big in resolution. They are likely at least 4500 pixels wide and 3000 pixels tall, if talking about landscape-oriented shots. So, if you have a budget laptop with lower resolution like 1366×768, what will happen? You can not fit the full sized photo to the screen, not even close. Depending if you are an amateur or professional photographer, and how closely you want to work on the photos, you want at least Full HD (1920×1080) resolution to accommodate your images better on the screen. If you are serious, and perhaps looking to have several photos open on the display simultaneously, you might even want to splurge on a 4K (4096×2160) display.

Another important thing in the screen is the panel type. Cheaper displays often have TN (Twisted Nematics) panels that are, well, inexpensive but also have poorer color reproduction and narrow viewing angles. What you, as a photographer, would like to have, is IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel, which brings more accurate colors, an obvious plus for working with photos. Also viewing angles are almost 180 degrees as measured from sides, so if you are working with a team or just want to show your photos on the screen to a bigger audience, these wide viewing angles are an advantage.

High Performance Means Lag-Free Photo Editors

Most likely, a photographer will use his laptop to enhance, edit or retouch the image before publishing it. For these activities, a photo editing software is required. Most popular ones come from the Adobe family: the Lightroom and the Photoshop. Broadly speaking, the difference between these two is that Lightroom can not be used to retouch (remove or add artifacts) while Photoshop can. Nonetheless, these programs require more performance than your web browser, so be prepared to invest in a laptop that has Intel Core i3, or even better, i5 processor. Also, Photoshop is a notorious memory hog, so having 8 gigabytes of RAM or even more is a smart move.

Another thing you should consider is the size of your photos, in megabytes. If you’re serious about photography you will be uploading raw images from your camera and edit them for the best end result. Well, these raw files are rather big, around 15-20 megabytes each. Compare that to JPEG snapshots from point and shoot cameras that are less than a megabyte. So, you will need plenty of room for your photos; for that, a hard drive with terabyte space is a good choice. On the other hand, you can also benefit from the performance a solid-state drive brings. Hence, you could even look for a laptop that has both drives installed (or install one yourself later, if the notebook has free interface for that).

Important Features For A Photographer's Laptop

Traveling Photographer? Battery Life Is Of The Essence

Many photographers like to travel and take photos of cool places (like me). This often means long flights or train or car trips, and hotels and short-term apartments with unfortunately situated power sockets. If you want to put your time to good use, you might want to edit the photos already on your travels, and if you can not get electricity out of the wall, what should you do? Choose a laptop with battery life more than the typical three or four hours. This way, you don’t need to find and use the charger cable all the time, but can work for a day with the battery and put the notebook to charge for the night.

One thing must be said about the battery life; often, high performance and high battery life are not found in the same laptop, but both are rather desirable qualities for a photographer. So, which one to choose? The answer is obviously connected to your personal preferences, but in general, I would say battery life trumps performance. You don’t need too high-end a laptop, like a gamer’s notebook with bleeding-edge performance only to see the battery lasting for a measly hour or two. A good combination of solid battery life and performance is often found in ultrabooks costing between 700 and 1000 dollars.

Choose A Compatible Memory Card Reader Too

To actually get the photos from your camera to the laptop, you will to use either memory card reader or USB cable with the notebook. USB is everywhere, so is memory card reader; but concerning the latter, make sure the card reader on your laptop accepts the type of card your camera uses to save the photos on. Essential is the form factor of the card reader: some laptops only support microSD cards while your camera might use full-sized SD cards. In this case, you would need to use an adapter which is an extra hassle. So my advice is, choose a notebook with memory card reader that takes the camera’s memory card without an adapter.

In my opinion, any mid-range (or above) notebook is more than sufficient for photographing. The biggest issue is probably the display; when you are editing photos daily, you want the screen to be decent looking and have resolution high enough. Performance should not be forgotten either – some photo editing software are quite resource-intensive, which means you’re looking at a laptop with Core i3/i5 processor at least. Naturally, if you are traveling, a solid battery life will be a life saver on flights or train trips. If you don’t know where to start, this ZenBook is a good option (a personal recommendation, as I have a slightly older version myself!)

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