2014′s Best Photography Laptops: Which Laptop is Right for You?

While searching for the best laptops for photography, there are number of factors you should bear in mind.

The key features you need to look out for while buying such a laptop are cost, performance, battery life, weight, screen size and resolution. Apart from that, always remember that the better your graphics card, RAM, video output, hard drive and processor are, the more you can do on your laptop.So prioritize the features and pit them against your budget to see what you can afford and what you need to let go off.

In Depth Comparison of the Best Photography Laptops

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Photography Laptop
Processor
RAM
Hard Drive Space
Screen Size
Resolution
Battery Life
Weight
Cost
Rating
Amazon ImageApple MacBook Pro 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display

2.7 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 Processor16 GB512 GB SSD15.4"2880x18007 hours4.4 lbs$$$4.2/5

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Amazon ImageApple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch

1.8 GHz Intel Core i5 Processor4 GB228 GB SSD13.3"1440 x 9007 hours3 lbs$$4.3/5

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Amazon ImageASUS G75VW-DS73-3D 17.3-Inch

2.3 GHz Intel Core i712 GB 1500 GB 17.3"1920x10808 cell8.7 lbs$$$4.2/5

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Amazon ImageHP ENVY DV7-7212nr Windows 8 Notebook PC

2.4 GHz Intel Core i78 GB32 GB SSD + 750 GB 17.3"1920 x 10809 cell$$3.5/5

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Amazon ImageSamsung Series 9 13.3-Inch Ultrabook

1.7 GHz Intel Core i54 GB128 GB SSD13.3"1600 x 9009 hours2.6 lbs$$4.3/5

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Features of the Top Photography Laptops

At this moment, let us understand how the following features make a significant difference to laptops meant for photography.

Processing Power & Cost

best laptop for photographyObviously, the first thing a photographer looks for in a laptop is enough processing power to complete all photography related post processing tasks. But there’s a trade-off here: power vs cost.

Since there are a lot of options for laptops in the market today, you can now buy one with considerable power, good amount of RAM, a good screen and a sizeable hard drive for less than $600.

However, if you are buying a laptop specifically for the purpose of photography, it is recommended that you look for some additional features that will help you with photography related work, even though you might have to dish out some extra cash. It is a good idea to invest in an extended warranty especially if your laptop is a high-end design – it is acceptable as long as the warranty cost does not exceed beyond 15 percent of the purchasing cost.

Battery life

Every manufacturer will mention the specifications of battery life at different brightness levels. However, when you put the laptop to use, more often than not, the battery dies out before it is meant to and you will have to plug it in to charge it. This happens mostly when you try to download files, edit photographs, browse the web and use other extended features like the WiFi and Bluetooth.

As a photographer, you would set the brightness level to a minimum 50 percent and 100 percent when the need arises. A laptop that allows removable batteries is a good option in this scenario. Also look for batteries that have more cells as they tend to keep your laptop charged for longer but if you compare the prices, a spare battery would make more sense.

Screen size, colour, resolution and gloss level

This is one thing you must not compromise on if you are buying your laptop for photography. Since you will view and edit all photographs on this screen, it is preferred that you choose one that is significantly big (16 inches) and has high resolution (1680 pixels).

However, when getting a screen with high resolution, ensure that all applications are updated and can accommodate the high resolution or your images can look pixilated and the quality would eventually suffer.

Laptops with high resolution may also be lead to compatibility problems when you try to attach it to a projector with low resolution. In this case, the images on the projection screen may look blurry or stretched. You should also check out the colour quality and glossiness of the display screen as that will affect your colour critical decisions.

A lot of photographers prefer the anti-glare screen to a glossy screen as it reduces the number of reflections and gives you more number of viewing angles though most images tend to look a lot nicer on glossy screens while editing.

Weight

Another crucial factor to consider when selecting your next laptop is weight. As a photographer, it is better to get something that is light so you can carry it with you in the field or while you are traveling. For this purpose, it is best to not get something cumbersome.

Top Five Laptops for Photography

While you may find several laptops in the market that suit your requirements, here is our list of the best laptops for photography.

Apple Macbook Pro 15″ with Retina Display

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The MacBook Pro is the best pick among all other laptops if you want to use it for presentational purposes. While it has been proven time and over again that Apple’s designs are sleek and beautiful, this laptop also has a retina display that accounts for a brilliant display of photographs.

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It has one of the quickest processors and a range of powerful components. If you want to shoot tethered and display the best of your images to clients, you will thank technology for the creation of this retina display. However, not many photographers pick this model because of its lack of upgradeability and steep price. So while it does count as a quick machine, you may want to look up a few other designs before you pick this one as your workstation machine.

If you were to compare it to G75VW or G74SX, you may realize those models help to edit video slightly better as they have GPU enabled acceleration but the 15 inch Apple MacBook Pro has so much to offer overall, that every photographer would have a hard time convincing himself not to buy it!

Apple MacBook Air 13″

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When you are lugging heavy photography equipment, it would seem very helpful if you could cut down on some extra laptop weight. That is exactly what MacBook Air enables you to do. This elegant design from Mac is incredibly fast and can run most photography software even though it is small enough to fit into a camera bag!

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With a thickness of 0.68 inches, it can be held in one hand and moved around easily. As a photographer, you could run some of the best photo editing software including Photoshop CS5, iPhoto 11, Aperture 3 and Lightroom 3 on the 13 inch MacBook Air.

A similar model is the 11 inch MacBook Air but like you can see already, it offers a slightly smaller screen.

With a screen resolution of 1440 by 900, the 13 inch MacBook Air offers photographers with just the right space to work on. It also comes with an SD card slot so you can spare yourself the USB cables and card readers if your camera uses an SD card.

While this model may look a little slower than the 15 inch MacBook Pro, users of this model are very satisfied with its performance, especially because its size is so right! Additionally, the solid state drive really speeds things up.

If you want to travel light and compact and also get a good buy for your budget, this laptop is the best you can choose.

ASUS G750 17.3-inch Laptop

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If you are looking for a laptop to upgrade as well as one that will give you raw processing power, this design from Asus is the one for you. With a 3GB dedicated NVidia GeForce 670M video card, this laptop can run Adobe Premiere without GPU acceleration.

If you want to use extensive features like colour grading and editing, Adobe Premiere, is a must have software for you and to run that software at its best, we doubt you would find a better design than the 17 inch Asus G75VW – DS73. With 16 GB RAM and  256GB crucial M4 SSDs, this machine is perfect for video editing, post processing and designing among other photography related work.

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Though it offers a screen that is 17 inches wide, which is by the way, perfect for editing photographs, this Asus design is not very difficult to carry around. If you have to work off-site, do not fear buying this model because it’s big – it may be big but it isn’t all that heavy. In fact, a lot of photographers actually prefer the G7 series laptops to MacBook Pros. While this model has blown our mind away, we are still trying to figure why Asus has not been hyped in the world of creative professionals!

HP Envy 17 Leap Motion i7 Laptop

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The HP Envy 7 is not only one of the best laptops for photography, but it has even ranked in several lists discussing the top laptop features in the world. This model flaunts a display that is larger and brighter than the standard 15.6 inch screen.

With LED backlight and a width of 17.3 inches, the HP Envy 7 is perfect for viewing images that have high resolution. The internal specifications of this laptop are among the best in the industry – with 16 GB RAM, dual 1 TB hard drives, Intel Core i7-2670QM, Nvidia GT750M graphics card, it seems like this model was designed to cater to photographers exclusively.

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If you want to edit stream of high definition footage, the GPU will kick in to help you carry out all graphically intensive work on the laptop. HP Envy 17 becomes a photographer’s dream device because it comes pre-installed with Adobe Premiere Elements 9 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 premium software suites. With the help of these softwares, you can edit anything and everything.

Samsung Series 9 13″ Ultrabook

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The Samsung Series 9 weighs only 1.2 kg and is only 14 mm thick. If you have a lot of work off-site or want to indulge in some fabulous photography while on vacation, the Samsung Series 9 is light enough and just right to be taken along with you.

You can drop your photos into this laptop at any time and tweak them using the best of photo editing softwares, which run rather efficiently on this design. The screen brought to you by Samsung Series 9 is of excellent quality with pin sharp 1600 X 900 high definition pixel resolution. However, the screen also has a matte finish and is not covered with a glossy reflective transistor coating which is why some photographers may not opt for it. But, you can easily use this laptop to edit photos in brightly lit areas or even outdoors without having to worry about annoying reflections.

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The power could have been better but that apart, Samsung Series 9 comes with an integrated graphics card and an Intel Core i5 processor. Since you will have access to only two USB ports, that might limit you in terms of connectivity but the internal SSD drive will ensure that the machine boots up very quickly and you can access your editing software and all other programs very easily.

Other Worthy Photography Laptops

Apart from our selection of the top five laptops for photography, there are some others that closely contend for a place in the list. Check them out!

Dell Precision M6400

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This laptop is very well suited for creative professionals and video editors. It has a high resolution and considerable capacity. While most users buy it as a standard laptop, those seeking to view and edit photographs on Dell Precision M6400 will be highly satisfied.

With its capacity for two hard disks and storage of 1 TB, you can store up to as much data as you like. They work quickly and offer a warranty of three years. It can be upgraded and expanded as and when the need arises but for starters, you should be happy with what it has to offer.

Lenovo ThinkPad W700

As a photographer, the features that you really need to work efficiently on a laptop include an excellent screen, copious storage space, an on-board colour calibration system and an in-built digitizer.

Well the good news is that design from Lenovo offers all of these features and so any professional photographer would be more than satisfied with it. With an Intel Core 2 Extreme Q9300 processor, 4 GB DDR3 SD RAM, 17 inch screen, 160 GB hard drive and a 9 cell lithium ion battery, it will ensure that all photo editing softwares run successfully though you may not be able to carry it around easily. It still makes for an excellent workstation and can be your best friend if you enjoy editing.

Acer Aspire 8920G

This design from Acer comes with a first-of-its-kind 18.4 inch screen that has a resolution of 1980 pixels and is a huge catch for photographers! It also offers 4 GB RAM which ensures that Acer Aspire 8920G can easily run all of the best photo editing softwares.

While the battery life may not suffice for as long as you want to work on the laptop, getting a spare battery for a very reasonable price will take care of that problem. The laptop also has incredible sound quality so you could listen to some groovy tracks while working on your photo edits.

Sony Vaio AW

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Last but not the least, this laptop offers an 18.4 inch display screen as well and is ideal for all photographers who like to work on in large space. With 1 TB of storage and one of the best processors in the market, this Sony Vaio model is an asset for most creative professionals.

While it looks elegant on the outside, it can support all editing software on the inside, thus offering professional photographers a stylish workspace to edit their digital images.

So What is the Best Laptop for your Photography Needs?

This decision ultimately comes down to you. Given your budget, usage, processing needs, weight considerations and laptop performance requirements, which one of the above laptop suits you best?

From our perspective:

  • If you are a Mac user, then the Macbook Air 13″ is the perfect laptop for you. Given its excellent performance, battery and light weight, this one is a no-brainer. Of course, if you are primarily working from home, the 15″ Apple MacBook Pro is also an excellent option.

Now, that you know what photography laptop you want, check out our guides to the best monitors for photography and the best photography desktop computers.