Lightweight laptop recommendations

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8,693
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Jonathan
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#1
When I shoot corp headshots, I shoot a D800 tethered to a Macbook running Lightroom. Clients browse the pics, select their favourites and I dump them onto the iMac for editing. That is all I use my laptop for.

It just died (terminal battery failure - total write off). I need a new laptop for next week. What would you recommend?

Obvious choice is a second hand Macbook Air (I carry all my kit on public transport/by hand so lightweight is good) but I bet a PC would be cheaper. Willa Win10 box running Lightroom play nicely with my iMac? What spec will I ned to tether 38MB raw files?

Or should I rush down to CeX and get whatever Mac they have?
 
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Jonathan
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#2
I suggest staying within the Mac infrastructure if that's what you're used to. I think the Dell XPS13 is pretty much equivalent to the MBA and there are good deals on Dell's outlet web site (I got mine there) but I'm sure Mac-to-Mac is going to be easier than PC-to-Mac. But buying from CEX? <Sucks breath through clenched teeth...>
 
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#4
If you are using it to show off images to clients the screen on the 12" MacBook is way better than the Air. It is also lighter.
Seriously, lighter? I hadn't checked the specs yet but assumed the Air was their lightweight one. Looks like I have homework :)

I suggest staying within the Mac infrastructure if that's what you're used to. I think the Dell XPS13 is pretty much equivalent to the MBA and there are good deals on Dell's outlet web site (I got mine there) but I'm sure Mac-to-Mac is going to be easier than PC-to-Mac. But buying from CEX? <Sucks breath through clenched teeth...>
Thanks - some good points. Why the worry about CEX? I've only bought small stuff from them but (1) they warranty second hand stuff (2) it's usually fairly priced (3) there's a branch in walking distance (remember the whole "I need it this week" thing :D ) - have you had bad experiences?
 
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JonathanRyan
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#6
What’s your budget? Either option new are £1200+. And from a client perspective your gong to look better pulling out a Mac book than a pc, sad but true :)
Budget is....I need something to do the job :)

Trust me, nobody cares what kind of computer I have. If they do, I distract them by asking the difference between the 2 phones most of them walk in with ;)
 
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#7
Budget is....I need something to do the job :)

Trust me, nobody cares what kind of computer I have. If they do, I distract them by asking the difference between the 2 phones most of them walk in with ;)
Well then simply go to Apple and buy a MacBook job done. And people do care what kit you have to a point.
 
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JonathanRyan
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#8
Well then simply go to Apple and buy a MacBook job done. And people do care what kit you have to a point.
But a £500 second hand Macbook would cost me £700 less. A £300 PC laptop would be £900 less. I'd be keen to know if either of those options would do an adequate job.

It's not how much you get - it's how much you keep. That's why I'm shooting portraits on a D800 I bought second hand nearly 5 years ago.
 
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Tom
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#9
I think Apple sell refurbished products with a warranty - not sure how much cheaper than buying new as never done it.

I bit the bullet and replaced my old MacBook with a brand new MacBook Pro as I like the seamless integration of the apple products. IIRC, John Lewis did an extended warranty compared to buying direct from Apple.
 
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#10
What about something like an HP Envy 13? They can be had for £750 to £999 depending on spec. Seems to have a decent screen, thin lightweight. How about a Surface Pro for something truly mobile?
 
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Phil Maddocks
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#11
I'd personally buy the 2017 Macbook Pro without touchbar for £1200 -The screen and performance is miles ahead of the Macbook Air 2018 and the 12 Inch Macbook. And if you wanted a bit of "power" to ever edit on the move you'd have it. It also isn't much bigger than the 2018 Macbook Air.
 
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Andrew Cliffe
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#12
If thats all you use your laptop for, then I'd certainly look at secondhand options. There may be good deals on Gumtree, or if you want warranty CEX, Apple Refurb store etc., You know OSX, and don't have to troubleshoot an unfamiliar system.
 
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#13
What about something like an HP Envy 13? They can be had for £750 to £999 depending on spec. Seems to have a decent screen, thin lightweight. How about a Surface Pro for something truly mobile?
I have to admit the Surface Pro appeals to me. Does it run proper Win10? Will it cope with Lightroom?
 
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Toni
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#14
A £300 PC laptop would be £900 less.
Don't buy a £300 windows laptop unless you're VERY sure of the spec. It's a classic comparison issue where a really nasty budget lappy is used as a comparison with a Mac and comes out very badly because it was a peice of junk even before it left the factory. I know you were talking second hand, but a decent windows laptop won't be cheap.

I have to admit the Surface Pro appeals to me. Does it run proper Win10? Will it cope with Lightroom?
Yes and yes. IIRC @Phil V uses one. And @Neilc28 too.

Personally I'd probably look for a recent-ish Dell XPS13 which is very small & light, but may not be small enough for you if you really want a 12" screen.
 
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#16
Don't buy a £300 windows laptop unless you're VERY sure of the spec. It's a classic comparison issue where a really nasty budget lappy is used as a comparison with a Mac and comes out very badly because it was a peice of junk even before it left the factory. I know you were talking second hand, but a decent windows laptop won't be cheap.

Yes and yes. IIRC @Phil V uses one. And @Neilc28 too.
Still setting mine up, got LR downloaded, seems good but not used in anger yet - planning on a job tomorrow.
Personally I'd probably look for a recent-ish Dell XPS13 which is very small & light, but may not be small enough for you if you really want a 12" screen.
Wow the surface pro escalates quickly. Minimum spec starts at 700 ish but by the time I'd bought the mandatory stuff (including an Office subs I already have) it's way over £1K :(
They are expensive - the kit we have for work comes in around £1500 bought retail (docking station, pen, etc), but our previous laptops have always been >£1000

I got a refurb from ebay for £500 (same basic spec). That's i5, 8gb ram 256gb SSD, a decent new laptop of similar spec would be similar money but not as 'nice' whilst having a warranty.
I bought this because I was looking at a new ipad and it just seemed a better option.
 
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Mark
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#17
I'd suggest looking at a 12" iPad Pro possibly running Lightroom CC (NOT the Classic version that you probably have) which is pretty much what the software is designed for.

No idea about tethering foreign things like Nikons - that's your job to research!!! :p
 
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#18
I've used Windows, Mac and Linux extensively and I reckon that unless you've done the same you should stick with the system that you're already familiar with. The big differences are easy to cope with but you'll find the niggly little differences can waste a lot of time. My current favourite machine is a MBP 13 inch with 2 thunderbolt sockets. Add a £12 Thunderbolt to USB adapter and you're all set.
 
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#19
No idea about tethering foreign things like Nikons - that's your job to research!!! :p
Yeah, Google says you can't tether a DSLR to an iPad unless you buy an expensive bit of hardware that is slow and unreliable :(

I've used Windows, Mac and Linux extensively and I reckon that unless you've done the same you should stick with the system that you're already familiar with. The big differences are easy to cope with but you'll find the niggly little differences can waste a lot of time.
That's a very good point. I mean, I know my way around Win10, but not like I do OSX. And one of the reasons I stick with Nikon is I know how to use them blindfold.

Don't buy a £300 windows laptop unless you're VERY sure of the spec. It's a classic comparison issue where a really nasty budget lappy is used as a comparison with a Mac and comes out very badly because it was a peice of junk even before it left the factory. I know you were talking second hand, but a decent windows laptop won't be cheap.
Yeah - another reason I like Macs. You can't easily buy cheap but it's also hard to buy junk. I think anything that Apple have made in the last 6-7 years would work fine for me.

Thanks everybody. It's looking awfully like I'll be getting a MacBook Air 6 at the w/e :)
 
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#21
Yes and yes. IIRC @Phil V uses one. And @Neilc28 too.
I’ve got the Surface Pro and a Surface Book, to be brutally honest the Surface Book gets all the attention from me, performance, style and flexibility just makes this the perfect device for me.

I like the Surface Pro too, still a fantastic device, just the screens a little small for certain tasks
 
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#22
I have to admit the Surface Pro appeals to me. Does it run proper Win10? Will it cope with Lightroom?
Yes it's basically a full laptop just without a keyboard. I do wish they were a bit cheaper, or that Microsoft included the keyboard in the box instead of making it an add on. They look like the perfect machine for on the go photo processing though.


PLEASE do NOT buy a XPS - they are abysmal - You want:
Reliable = MAC
Good = MAC
Powerful = MAC
Cheap = anything else
Macs are the most over-hyped, overpriced products I can think of. A Dell XPS 15 is cheaper, more powerful and has a better, higher resolution more colour accurate screen. It literally walks all over a Macbook Pro in ever respect, for a lot less cash. And an XPS13 against the joke that is the bog-standard Macbook is no contest. Everything Apple makes, with the possible exception of the iPad Pro, should be at least 40% cheaper than it is.
 
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#23
As much as I like the XPS, the first gen 13’s and 15’s were inherently buggy for the most part. Dell appears to have now got their act together and the 4K screen (option) is one of the best I’ve seen
 
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#24
Everything Apple makes, with the possible exception of the iPad Pro, should be at least 40% cheaper than it is.
That's one opinion. With more than 35 years in IT behind me I don't think it's an accurate reflection of reality.
 
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Pete
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#25
'I' as my day job look after 150 XPS users, 100 MAC users & 500 Dell (various windows laptops). We have had 29 XPS failures - for various reasons in the last year.
0 MAC faults.
A MAC costs more, performs better for longer, & is worth more in the long run. A windows laptop after 5 years is pretty much ready for the skip - UNLESS YOU REBUILD IT / Upgrade it.
 
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#26
'I' as my day job look after 150 XPS users, 100 MAC users & 500 Dell (various windows laptops). We have had 29 XPS failures - for various reasons in the last year.
0 MAC faults.
A MAC costs more, performs better for longer, & is worth more in the long run. A windows laptop after 5 years is pretty much ready for the skip - UNLESS YOU REBUILD IT / Upgrade it.
5 years ago I might have agreed with you, but a lot has changed in terms of manufacturers build-quality and OS reliability. You pay for what you get and an equivalent PC costs the same, has the same reliability and the old tale about mac's holding there value has been disproved time and time again. Depreciation of value has always seemed to be better with Mac's, but as has been previously pointed out this is more to do with the higher initial cost. Devices that cost the same relative value rarely depreciate any differently.

If the OP has a mac and is used to a mac, get another mac. However it's important to note that the Mac is no better than the PC and vice-versa, just get what suits you
 
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JonathanRyan
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#27
If the OP has a mac and is used to a mac, get another mac. However it's important to note that the Mac is no better than the PC and vice-versa, just get what suits you
Yes, exactly. I (no longer) really care what system I use as it's just a framework to run the same apps.

I just bought a 4 year old Macbook Air off of the 'bay for £315 delivered. It should run LR pretty well. Whether that's true of a 4 year old PC I really don't know. But I have a new Mac on the way :)
 
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#28
5 years ago I might have agreed with you, but a lot has changed in terms of manufacturers build-quality and OS reliability. You pay for what you get and an equivalent PC costs the same, has the same reliability and the old tale about mac's holding there value has been disproved time and time again. Depreciation of value has always seemed to be better with Mac's, but as has been previously pointed out this is more to do with the higher initial cost. Devices that cost the same relative value rarely depreciate any differently.

If the OP has a mac and is used to a mac, get another mac. However it's important to note that the Mac is no better than the PC and vice-versa, just get what suits you
I've a mid 2014 macbook pro retina, I bought off of amazon warehouse 4 years ago for £800. Its still looks pretty amazing and still going strong and should I sell it tomorrow, I'd probable still get nearly 2/3rds of what I paid for it.
 
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