Retina Macbook Pro

I’m sitting in front of the TV watching old shows, but also doing something I haven’t done in a  while … writing an article for my blog.  It seems like a couple of times each year I take a hiatus.  It’s nothing intentional,  I just seem to get busy doing other things and suddenly it’s been a month or two since I last wrote something.  I have several drafts started, (The Hypocrisy of Art Galleries, Why You Should ALWAYS Use a Lens Shade are a couple of works in progress) but I just haven’t gotten around to finishing them.  I’ve been shooting my new Nikon d800e and NEX 7 a little, but there’s been plenty written by others about those, not much more for me to add. ( I am going to shoot a “group” shot test comparing the 5D Mark 3, the d800 and d800e, the NEX 7, and the IQ180 just to see where the magic “line” is when making large prints … in what size print does one surpass the other one in a theoretical shoot of 20 people, 30 people, 50 people and 100 or more.)

But tonight I just couldn’t resist using my new 15″ MacBook Pro with retina display.  Sure there’s plenty of stuff being written about this as  well, but it’s a good excuse to use the new toy.

I’ve used Macs for a very long time. I can get around OK with a windows box, but I much prefer a Mac. My first Mac was in 1986 and I’ve owned virtually every model since then.  I even bought the first “portable” Mac back in 1989 …

First Portable Mac

…if you can call 17 pounds portable.

For a while I preferred the 17″ MacBook Pro … mainly for the extra screen real estate.  Then I realized that about 90% of the time the MacBook was hooked to an external display, so when  I traveled the slightly lighter and smaller 15″ made more sense.  I’ve opted for the 15″ for the last few versions, but always bought the one with the higher pixel density display.

That’s no longer an issue.  The new display means there is no longer a native resolution – you can set the new MacBook Pro to any resolution you want and it looks sharp.  I find myself changing it based on what I’m doing … higher resolution when using Photoshop and Lightroom, and lower resolution when using Safari or other tasks.

Photographs are amazingly smooth and crisp .. the closest thing to prints I’ve seen from a computer display.  I created a bunch of 2880×1800 images for use as a desktop, the results is amazingly crisp and smooth images – like nothing I’ve ever seen before on a display.  Updates to Photoshop and Lightroom will offer some amazing detail and textures, and judging output sharpening will be more much accurate as the image will use the full native resolution of the display when rendering photographs.  Text is very sharp because that also uses the full resolution to render each letter, regardless of the current display resolution.

There’s more to the computer an the amazing high resolution of the display.  The screen also has a new anti reflective coating that works extremely well … without resorting to a matt coating.  It also changes very little as you view it from different angles – better than any LCD display I’ve ever seen.  You have to be a little more careful, since there is no longer an actual piece of glass over the screen, just the built in display.

What about all the other cools stuff? What can I say … it’s really cool.  At 4 lbs its nice and light, and it’s amazingly thin.  Looks like the battery life will be around 8-9 hours doing casual stuff like browsing the internet.  I don’t have a good idea on how it will do with more intense stuff like Photoshop or Lightroom, but I rarely use those when I don’t have power.  The speakers seem to have a better sound than the previous computer … still not great but a little better.

The internal SSD drive is very fast.  The computer boots from a cold start to the login screen in about 11 seconds, a couple of more after you log in, so about 13 to 14 seconds from a cold start to ready to work.  Launching Photoshop only takes about 2 seconds … so from a cold start to working in Photoshop it’s about 16 seconds or so.  anyone for some real screaming speed?

There are a few concerns.  Firewire is gone … tough for many photographers who use portable firewire drives and card readers.  This is temporary, as Apple will have a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter in about a month.  The Thunderbolt to Ethernet one is already shipping.  Another issue is the power connector is slightly different size, so if you have multiple power adapters for various locations, they won’t work.  However, there is an adapter for those coming, it’s very small and magnetic so it stays in place.  I already have one (it came with my 27″ Thunderbolt display) and they should be available soon as well.  I’ll probably put one on all of my various power supplies.

One other concern is you cannot upgrade the MacBook Pro/Retina display.  No user serviceable parts.  The ram and SSD are all part of the electronics.  It was often cheaper to buy the lowest end model and add memory and a SSD hard drive from another vendor.  Now you better get it right the first time … can’t do that anymore.

I’ve probably had 15 or more portable Macs over the last 21 years.  None of them compare to this latest one … it’s one sweet machine.


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