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Best laptops for photo editing

Kim Grundy is a mom, writer, expert laundry folder and sandwich maker, not necessarily in that order. Raised in Oklahoma, she is now a West Coast gal and lives in California with her husband and two sons, along with one dog, two fish (oo...

Top laptops for photos

Today’s laptops are fast, functional and chock full of features that make photo editing at home or on the road a breeze. We talked to experts and laptop users to find out their pick for the best laptops for photo editing.

Woman with mac laptop

Most professional photographers and computer specialists agree that MacBooks and MacBook Pros are the recommended brand of laptops for photo editing.

Are Macs the gold standard?

Macbook with iphoto

Ryan O'Hara of Sphinx Technology Solutions says that all new Macs have iPhoto, which is easy to use for both the novice and professional photographer. "With basic photo editing controls, anyone can jump right in and touch up photos," he says. " The organizational features can even sort by facial recognition and geographic location."

The new version (iPhoto '11) brings even better functionality, he says. "Windows has solutions, too, and can get the job done -- but the overwhelming majority of photographers I've met prefer the Mac platform."

"I've used Windows and Macs daily," says photographer Joel Sims. "Windows gets better with each generation, but is not yet the equal of the Mac for efficiency, integration, consistency across programs -- especially in photography and graphic arts."

Apple MacBooks range in price from $999 up to $1,599, while Apple MacBook Pro ranges from $1,199 up to $2,299. Is the high price tag worth it? Sims says yes.

"The apparent price difference between Mac and Windows laptops is offset by the Mac's efficiency, ease of use, inclusion of stuff that is add-on for Windows, and generally higher quality. And definitely less expense on tech support."

Dell, Sony & HP

Dell Inspiron Laptop

Dell, Sony and HP also offer laptops with great photo editing capabilities, and they are priced lower than Macs. Some laptop options for photo editing include:

  • Dell Studio XPS 4GB Memory ($829.99)
  • Dell Inspiron Laptop, 3GB Memory ($479.99)
  • Sony VAIO laptop, 4GB Memory ($649.99)
  • HP AMD Athlon, 3GB Memory ($399.99)

What about screen size?

Laptop screen sizes generally range in size from 12 inches up to 18 inches. The larger the screen, the easier it is to see and edit photos, however the price also increases with size. The "perfect size" is really all about personal preference.

"I think the 15" screen is large enough so that if I want to use it to edit photos,  the quality and color is sufficient," says photographer Shannon Stych.

Features to look for when buying a laptop for photo editing

Andrew Darlow, editor of The Imaging Buffet says that regardless of the type of laptop you buy, it should have these basic requirements for photo editing:

  • Look for a laptop that allows you to connect an external display with at least 1680x1050 resolutions.
  • If you plan to work in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, have at least 2GB of RAM and at least a 150GB hard drive. 4GB is preferred.
  • Have at least 3 USB ports for an external tablet, mouse or other devices.
  • Built-in SD/Memory Stick card slots are nice, but not necessary.
  • Consider anti-glare screens over glossy screens.
  • Battery life is important if you plan to do a lot of editing on the road.
  • Check the benchmarks on sites that test speed in graphics-intensive areas. You don't want to wait an eternity every time you rotate a file.

What you saidTell us: What is your favorite laptop for photo editing? Comment below!

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