Choosing a laptop, especially a digital photography laptop can make all of the difference to how easily you are able to share and edit your work. If you’re a professional, then your choice of machinery becomes even more critical. Choosing the right digital photography laptop comes down to power and performance. There’s also the factor of price, and ensuring you get the best specs from whatever budget you have to work with.
Let’s take a look at the critical components that make a great digital photography laptop, and we’ll touch on some of the best software packages available to edit your work.
Digital Photography Laptop Hardware
Certain computer components are especially important when you want to digitally edit photos. Editing can be a resource intensive process, and even more so for when you want to touch up the odd video. Because of this, special attention needs to be paid to the hardware that you choose.
The CPU plays a key role when editing and will affect the overall processing speed when you’re adding effects or making corrections in color etc. For those on a tight budget an Intel i5 processor will work fine, but an i7 is recommended. It will do everything faster, and the multiple cores will help with photography software that has been optimized for multithreaded tasks.
The RAM is equally as important as the CPU. When you’re working with large formats like RAW inside programs like Photoshop, the RAM will make things faster and more responsive. You will need at least 4GB for professional level editing tasks, but it’s not uncommon for power users to have up to 12GB in a digital photography editing laptop.
A dedicated graphics card is also something to consider with photo editing. Those on a budget can use integrated chips like Intel’s HD Graphics, but a dedicated card will allow for faster processing when working with large and complex images. Again, if you will be doing the odd bit of video editing, a dedicated card is a necessity.
The screen alone is one of the most important aspects of the laptop that you choose. For professionals who will preview digital photography work to clients from a laptop, a good screen is necessary. The screen needs to be high resolution, have accurate color reproduction, and be bright enough to display in different conditions.
As far as screens go, Apple is probably producing the best one for a laptop in the ‘Retina Display’, but there are also excellent options in Windows machines. The ASUS Zenbook is one particularly good example. Ensure high resolution, and check the PPI rating too. The higher the pixel density, the clearer your images will appear.
The software that you choose for photo editing will almost always be an additional purchase on top of your laptop. While both Windows and MacOS do have basic editing software built in, if you want to digitally edit your photos in uncompressed formats you will need to use professional software. Adobe Photoshop is the most well-known, and indeed one of the best, but there are other options available for those who want to spend a little less, or have a different set of needs.
Here are three of the best.
Adobe Photoshop. Even those who don’t edit know about Photoshop. This software will cover you in every department from enthusiast editing right up to professional grade touch ups and alterations. Adobe Photoshop Elements is an excellent version for amateurs and photography students, but it’s powerful enough for most professionals too.
Corel PaintShop Pro. This is the next best alternative to Photoshop, and the most comparable when it comes to features. There are powerful editing tools that real professionals use, but many agree that the interface is dated and at times unintuitive.
DxO Optics Pro. This is a great program that puts a focus on improving images to beat the limitations of your hardware. If you’re not using the best optics this software will make up for it, and it also works fine for everyday editing and touchups.
At the end of the day, the software and hardware that you choose will come down to budget. With the laptop itself, focus on getting the best RAM/CPU/Graphics/Screen combination that you can afford. With the software, use Photoshop as a reference point, and if you’re tight on cash, PaintShop Pro is the best alternative.
Even on a modest budget, mid-level hardware for a digital photography laptop will bring you professional results. Always aim for great shots, and your digital editing job will be half done before you even import your photos to a computer.