• JK

Why I Bought the Cheapest MacBook Pro Setup In 2019 For Architectural Photographers

*Just to be clear and before I get a number of harsh critique for my two cents. Allow me to give you a bit of my background at least in terms of what I do and what I was using.


I do architecture and interiors and I also do a bit of studio product photography. Most of my work is for developers and I find myself shooting a lot of newly constructed shopping malls, designer housing and and commercial retail shops. My photoshop workflow can be as simple as blending 3-5 layers to multi-layer (like 30-50) with sky replacements, rendered elements and so forth. Some of the software I use regularly is Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, Helicon Focus, Final Cut X. So if you are into the 3D Maya stuff or just heavy duty post video workflow, this may not work as well.


I was using a late 2015 #MacBookPro with all the goodies (except for the 256 #SSD which sounds insufficient now, but along with the maxed out 16gb of RAM, upgraded gfx card i7 processor...back then it was considered decent and pretty much the best setup for a Mac laptop). About 4 months ago, I had realized, that my second 85W #magsafe had blown and I decided while I could spend another $100 and get another, I wanted to check if it was the laptop or actually just my luck with #magsafe adapters.

Anyways to keep a long story short. It was the #macbookpro , and the apple tech had advise me to consider a new one for there was something wrong with the logic board and it could not be repaired. Mind you I still have it cause I wasn't gonna throw out a $3000 MBP just because the Apple Tech decided to diagnose it with terminal cancer. Since then I have found a good deal for a #magsafe adapter and it's still working and I still do use it from time to time but just not as my primary laptop.


After that I started looking at my options. While I could spend close to $4000 for a new MBP with all the goodies (thanks a lot to inflating prices), but I had spoken to a fellow photographer by the name of #barrymackenzie AKA SWIZZLER. He told me about how he could have gone out at got himself a state of the art MBP or iMac Pro but he didn't. Instead he got himself a 13" MBP with sufficient RAM and sufficient hard disk space and saved himself a grand or two at least.

*this would have been the #macbookpro I would have gotten if I had not found out how well the 13" 1.4GHz performs

In the beginning, I had my doubts but when I started to do some read up on the latest 2019 1.4GHz (yes 1.4GHz) 13" #macbookpro, I was very surprised at the benchmark results. It almost went neck to neck with a mid-range MacBook Pro costing almost twice as much (of course the one without the VEGA20). The more I read up on relating material the more I was convinced that the MBP 13" 1.4GHz was the one I wanted.

Firstly, I travel to #japan for work at least ten times a year and quite frankly carry a 15" #macbookpro (especially my previous was still using the #magsafe anchor weight.) is not fun. Not to mention budget airlines weight restrictions for domestic flights in #japan make #unclescrooge look like a philanthropist.

*this is exactly the model I had purchased

So I decided to give it a go as I really needed something lighter and Barry had convinced me that really with our workflow, don't need a laptop that powerful and sometimes it's just overkill and or that you need to end up doing the work on desktop anyways. The more I spoke to him the more I was sold cause quite frankly, I don't even shoot tethered now anymore (with products like #camranger and #dslrcontroller or even with just the simple but trusty #canon wifi app). What I do find myself doing is importing recently shot RAW images and backup up to my external SSD thanks to programs like #carboncopycloner . As well I find myself editing multi-layer arch/interior photos a lot when I am enjoying a coffee at a coffee shop (yes, I have an iMac but I do like that atmosphere of editing at a coffee shop. It reminds me of a library. This especially so when I am abroad and not having the luxury of going home to a desktop).


Quite surprising, it's everything as promised and almost everything is at part if not better than my formerly trusted 2015 MacBook Pro. Where it does fall short is because while the 1.4GHz #macbookpro does turboboosts at 3.9GHz, it only does so when it feels it's necessary (if someone does know how this can be adjusted, please shed some light). So what does that mean? When I am editing photos or video, it's absolutely functions like a 3.9GHz machine (and not much thermal throttling too, well at least better than my 2015 #macbookpro) but when it comes to booting up or saving documents, it tends to drag a bit.

How Much?

Well my former 2015 #macbookpro still boots up in around 15 seconds (even after three years of heavy duty usage and that logic board problem), the 2019 13" 1.4GHz #macbookpro can boot up in less than 30 seconds. Is that a big difference in terms of boot up speed. YES, but overall it's not that big of an issue (I'll just check my phone for messages in the meantime.) Another instance you will find where the 2019 13" #macbookpro falls short is when you are trying to save a large document. For example in the #photoshop if I am saving a multi-layer #photoshop file that is about 1-2gb in size, I have found that the time to it takes to save the document is almost doubled as well (about 15 seconds while previously it's can probably break less than 8 seconds with the 2015 top of the line #macbookpro). Is it significant? YES, but once again, I will just check my #whatsapp messages on my phone and get back to the work in ten seconds. Mind you the 13" #macbookpro is still fully capable of multitasking/functioning, so while photoshop is saving that particular large document you could be creating a luminosity mask on another or sifting through images on Lightroom.

Now you do have to be realistic. This cheapo MacBook Pro setup does not have a #vega20 option so you are stuck using the standard Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645. So don't bother if you need to render 3D work once in a while (not even a tad bit of 3D work). However for most of you that is strictly doing still photos, that shouldn't be an issue. Hey there must be a small catch right? After all this purchase just saved me $1500 and 98% of what I need it for I can honestly say I either feel it is smoother or that it has no effect whatsoever.

Physically speaking, I now feel no reluctancy to to bring my 13" #macbookpro out and I find myself writing more (like what I am doing now at coffee shops) because it's such a pleasure to carry this light weight laptop around.

Now in reference to a previous article about being frugal (and what so many people had misread). I don't consider this to being "cheap" or "buying inferior." Its the same brand but I am just spending the money where it's necessary and saving it for something else (probably a future iMac with a lot of goodies for heavy duty editing once my current iMac show signs of retirement). I know what some of you that have all the money to spend when it comes to photo and editing editing equipment will probably say.

"I'd rather spend more and get the machine that satisfies my every need, and avoid any unnecessary upgrades"

Well first of all, no matter what laptop you get, you will always seek for an upgrade sometime in the future. Secondly, the top of the line is not as immuned to breakdown than the 13" little brother. Also, does the 15" or 16" with all the bells and whistles really satisfy your every need? At the end it's a laptop. Editing wasn't really meant to be done on a laptop and it's incredible that we can now do so. Now that I am getting older and my work has gotten more sophisticated in different ways, I really think a desktop or an external monitor is crucial. Then there are those with the school of thought that you can always use an external GPU. But that's really another scenario (because a good GPU can boost your speed 8-12x) and it's not really portable is it?

Unless you need to render a 3D graphic in front of a client live, I really don't see how I want to upgrade my current setup. It would be nice to see #apple to come up with a 6-core i7 version in future upgrades but I doubt it. Quite frankly, if Apple knew the little monster of a machine they have created is capable of majority of the work for most freelance/creators, I bet they will even tone it down a bit just so they can maintain sales on the big brother #macbookpro .

Do I recomment it?

Hell yeah.

Will people disagree with me?

Hell Yeah.

But hey #gt4porsche is one of the best cars around but not everyone agree it's for them or that it's the best car around. So like always take what I have said with a grain of salt. I am just trying to save a buck or two for you so you can place it where it really matters.



 © 2019 by Standard Photography KGY

Architecture|Still Life|Design