Laptops for Photographers of All Sorts

You’re in the market for a new laptop to supplement your photographic tendencies. Depending on your job, you may have different needs and wants to suit your demands. I used the PCMag Network for some pointers and tips in addition to my own hands-on experiences, here are some of the best for you depending on what your needs may be.



The smallest of the bunch, it well suits and compliments the needs of a photojournalist in need of a light laptop to accompany his/her light DSLR. The screen is very nice and can help you edit your photos to get the very best usage of your colors during the editing process. At around 13″, it perfectly compliments my Olympus E-510 and will be a welcome companion to your Canon T1i or Nikon D90. With two USB 2.0 ports, mini-DVI and Firewire 400 it will surely keep up with the needs of everyday shooting, writing and editing while allowing you to travel light. It fits perfectly into a messenger bag. Your hard drive space may go quicker than you like though, so keep an external with you too. These days, the Macbook starts at $999.

Sidenote: I’ve had mine suped-up with Photoshop Elements, the Microsoft Word Suite, 4GB of RAM, and iMovie HD.

MacBook Pro

Macbook Pro

This has almost all the connections that the Macbook has but with a larger screen depending on if you go with the 13″, 15″ or 17″ versions. Of course, the larger Macbook Pros have more connections (even an SD card reader.) The larger ones allow for greater hard drive storage capacities, which can handle your Nikon D300, Canon 50D or even the higher grade models just fine. Keep in mind that these laptops are big though: so you’ll need a bigger bag to take these with you, perhaps even a backpack if you’re going to shove your lenses, flashes, filters, and camera bodies in there too. The great thing is that these laptops allow for up to eight hours of wireless productivity depending on which type of graphics technology is inside the laptop.

It’s important to note that this is the laptop of choice for most professionals. They can range anywhere in price from $1,199.00-$$2,499.00.

All MacBooks have Nvidia graphics technology built into them: which is heavily utilized by gamers.


Dell XPS 16

Obviously this is a gamer’s laptop. Complete with an RGB LED screen, 16:9 aspect ratio, 1080p resolution, and eSata it is hard to beat if you’re a PC fiend vs being an Apple fanboy. Available for $1,804 direct, Photographers and professionals can will love some of the features including the 16″ widescreen. At 6.9lbs, it’s lighter than the heavy-weight from Lenovo; although it’s nowhere as feature-set. If you’re the type of photographer that edits videos to supplement your photos and you’re more partial to programs like Adobe Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas Platinum Pro then you’ll enjoy this laptop and the ATI graphics technology that has been implemented. As a note, you may want to upgrade it after it has been used for a while as the card was designed for casual gamers, which can correlate to the Photoshop performance falling behind on this one.

However, the company claims that the screen delivers 100 percent of the color gamut used in the Adobe RGB space. Photographers may not like the glare from the glass screen though, or the battery life on this one.


Lenovo Thinkpad W700 Elite

This thing is a beast is every meaning and interpretation of the word. At 17″ and Intel Core 2 Duo processor coupled with the ability to customize it beyond all that to better accommodate to you, it will leave a hole in your pocket at $2,159. However, this should allow the photographer to have their own mobile studio. It’s quite heavy at 8.3 lbs in its standard configuration. Part of this may be the integrated 2nd display at 10.6″ with 768×1280 resolution on a LED backlight screen. Further, it has an onboard digitizer and pen for making those very specific and minute edits.

This laptop contains all the tools that I saw used during my internship at Magnum Photos, but instead of using a giant MacPro body it is a portable PC version.

What’s Your Laptop?

Are you a photographer that works on a laptop (either part time or exclusively)?  What’s your pick and why?



  1. Marcus says

    I’m currently using a Dell Mini 12″. Weighs 2 lbs and is slim enough to fit in my camera bag. Also has an SD slot on it for transferring photos.

  2. says

    I recently bought a netbook (Acer Aspire One). The main purpose for this tiny thing is to hang around with me when I’m on travel, and here are some of the reasons why I bought it :
    – It’s small, compact and very light. I can hide it in my wife’s handbag.
    – Has a very good autonomy when running on its cell batteries.
    – Running both Windows XP and Ubuntu, all the graphic softwares are linux-based and thus free. It just take a short while to get used to Gimp, and it does 99% of what Photoshop does when quickly editing pictures on the move.
    – It’s very cheap.
    I must say that I wouldn’t mind a slightly bigger screen, but it makes wonders and works very well so far.

  3. Joseph says

    This article proves that you have no idea what the h*** you’re talking about. What the h*** is a laptop for photographers? Do you honestly think you know what you’re talking about?

  4. says

    I work on a Toshiba Satellite 15.4″ L305. The hardware was a good deal for the price and the size makes it easy to see shots in Lightroom without having the extra weight of a 17″. Coupled with my Canon EOS 450D and EOS Remote Utility I’ve have good luck doing product photography and taking hundreds of shots without ever touching the camera.

  5. says

    I have just purchased the Dell Studio XPS16 with a 500gb 7200rpm hard drive and most importantly with the RGBLED monitor. I really look forward to seeing how well the monitor reproduces color…

  6. Alan says

    The first function of my netbook is to move photos, from memory card to external hard drive. There are custom card readers that do the same job.
    The SECOND function is to convert the RAW format pictures of my Nikon d200 into jpegs. These can be given to friends, or copied to USB stick and taken to a photo prinitng shop.
    The THIRD function is basic image editing (brightness etc) before images are shared / edited.
    The FOURTH function is to “stitch” panoramas together.

    For all this, I can still get by with an Acer Aspire netbook, ACDSee, and PtGui.
    Photoshop is on my “big” PC at home for anything more advanced.

  7. WEndy says

    I have a Macbook pro. It does not have a CF card reader …. Canon Eos 20 D & up. Do you download with a cable, or buy a card reader – I want to travel light.

  8. Hobbot says

    I use me Lenovo ThinkPad Z61m and R500. They are reliable, powerfull and the 3-Y international warranty make sence to use it

  9. says

    The biggest mistake I made was purchasing a Dell 15″ Inspiron. I should have waited and got something a little more expensive but hey it was a Christmas sale. Not that this is a bad computer it works great , but the first thing I noticed is that the add-on software hogged up a big chunck of my 80G hard-drive. The killer was the resolution on the LCD screen. It is virtually impossible to edit your photos with this screen because the colors change depending on the lights, the angle you are looking at it or the angle it is placed at. This screen is non-replaceable so now I’m stuck with it. I was hoping to use this computer for my Event photography, but now i’m having second thoughts. Another gotcha is that the thing is Heavy with a capital H. If I can find a nice notebook with a decent screen I might just trade it in.