MacBook for photographers
There are currently four MacBooks on the market, each offering a powerful Apple silicon chip. For photographers, each is terrific, although we suggest the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) for most. It’s the most potent MacBook available and offers plenty of upgrades to make the base model even more powerful. Here’s a look at all four models and why they are great.
Best overall: 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
Source: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore
For the professional photographer, there’s nothing better than the second-generation 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021), which was significantly improved over the first version. Like the 14-inch MacBook Pro (mentioned below), this model offers an M1 Pro or M1 Max SoC with up to 64GB of unified memory and 8TB of SSD storage. That’s a lot of storage for your photos and videos. In addition, you can get up to a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU.
But there’s much more. The latest 16-inch MacBook Pro features a 3456×2234 Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion technology for adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz. It’s also packed with up to 21 hours of battery life between charges and comes with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera with an advanced image signal processor and computational video. The 16-inch MacBook Pro also offers up to 21 hours between charges — the best of any MacBook.
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook models (2021) also see the return of MagSafe, an HDMI port, and an SDXC card slot beside three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports. If you’re looking for any negatives, understand this is the heaviest MacBook Pro in many years (4.7 pounds). It’s also costly, even at the base level.
- Latest and greatest
- M1 Pro or M1 Max, you decide
- 16GB to 64GB of unified memory
- 512GB to 8TB of storage
- A Liquid Retina XDR display
- Most expensive model
- Heavy (4.7 pounds)
Best for mobility: 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
Source: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore
This laptop is for you if you want mostly everything on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but with a smaller display. However, it offers the same internals as the larger model for a little less. Better still, it weighs much less, coming in at 3.5 pounds.
On the negative side, the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2022) only offers up to 17 hours between charges, less than the other four MacBooks.
- Liquid Retina XDR display
- Same great features as the 16-inch model
- Still expensive
- Poor battery life
Best Pro budget: 13-inch MacBook Pro (2022)
In 2022, Apple surprised many by introducing a new 13-inch MacBook Pro. The move was strange because this model looks like the previous one, which was released in 2020. But, more importantly: this is now the only MacBook that didn’t receive a design update.
Inside the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2022), you’ll find Apple’s all-new M2 chip that offers an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, up to 24GB of unified memory, and up to 2TB of storage. In addition, you’ll get up to 20 hours of battery life, which is vital for photographers on the go.
Are you looking for more? This is the only Mac that comes with Touch Bar with Touch ID.
- Has Apple M2 SoC
- Touch Bar with Touch ID
- 20-hour battery life
- Retina display
- Older design
- Maxes out at 24GB RAM
- Only has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports
- Touch Bar isn’t for everyone
Best for student photographers: MacBook Air (2022)
Source: Gerald Lynch / iMore
The 2022 MacBook Air is our favorite MacBook overall because of its fresh design, light weight, and M2 chip. The Apple M2 on the MacBook Air offers an 8-core CPU, up to 10-core GPU, and up to 24GB of unified memory. When configuring your MacBook Air, you can select 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storage, and either 8-core or 10-core GPU. CPU is 8-core, regardless of your confirmation.
It used to be that there were very few differences between the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. That’s no longer the case, as the MacBook Air was significantly updated this time while the MacBook Pro was not. It offers a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display and a 1080p FaceTime HD camera for the first time. Plus, it comes with a MagSafe charging port — just like the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models before. The MacBook Air (M2, 2022) also comes in four colors: Space Gray, silver, Starlight, and Midnight.
- Most affordable MacBook
- Long-lasting battery life
- Multiple build options
- Comes in four colors
- Only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports
- RAM caps out at 24GB
- Only one CPU option
The best for most is the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
The 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) is the best MacBook for professional photographers. It offers blazing-fast internals thanks to your choice of the M1 Pro or M1 Max SoC. Both have been optimized for performance and efficiency. The model also offers up to 8GB of storage and 64GB of unified memory.
Add in the fact that you get up to 21 hours of battery life and a sharp Liquid Retina XDR display, and you’ll have everything you’ll need. It’s the best MacBook Pro model you can currently find on the market. However, it doesn’t come cheap, which is something to keep in mind.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Here’s currently using a 14-inch MacBook Pro. @bryanmwolfe
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