Photography employment is expected to grow by 17% over the next eight years. Photographers are in great demand because businesses depend on visuals to connect with their audiences.
Social media channels like Instagram and Facebook are places where people find and admire quality images. For photographers, it presents an opportunity to make a living.
The photography industry continues to rebound quickly from COVID-19 losses. To get yourself ready to work professionally as a photographer, you need the right equipment.
You need the best laptop for photography. It’s the key to creating a workflow that helps you do more with less. It’s just as important as your lenses, lighting kits, and camera body.
What is the best laptop for digital photography? This guide has you completely covered. Read on to learn how to choose the best laptop computer for your photography business.
Desktop vs. Laptops for Photographers
Your first question is going to be about desktops and laptops for photographers. Why should photographers get a laptop instead of a desktop? There are advantages and disadvantages to each one.
Desktops and laptops are comparable as far as power goes. The capabilities of laptop computers continue to evolve.
The one downside of a laptop is that there’s a smaller screen and you’re always looking down at the laptop monitor. That can cause neck and shoulder pain.
Desktops are easy to upgrade and customize. You could opt for a cheap PC like a Chromebook that doesn’t give you nearly what you need to edit photos.
A desktop computer offers a better ergonomic setup. You can overcome this by purchasing a separate monitor for your laptop and plugging it in when you’re working at home or the office.
That gives you the flexibility and power of a laptop without straining your neck by looking down at a smaller screen for hours while editing.
You also have one device for all of your needs. You don’t need to shuffle photos between your laptop and desktop computers. That disrupts your workflow, leads to duplicates, and accidentally deleted images.
Photographers can take their images anywhere. It’s possible to tether your camera to your laptop for greater control.
You can show clients your work on-site and improve the work in post-production. It also saves everyone from having to do reshoots.
What’s Important to Photographers?
Laptops are a better investment because you’re only buying one computer for your photography needs. Before you start shopping for a new laptop, there are a few things to know about laptops computers.
You’ll see a lot of specs and codes. There’s no need to get intimidated, you just need to know what they mean.
Consider the platform of the laptop. Are you a Windows or Mac person? That’s really all that matters.
Both operating systems are more than adequate for photographers. You’ll rarely find software that isn’t available for both platforms.
Your comfort level with either Windows or Mac systems should be the determining factor. If you do switch, be prepared for a learning curve.
Some newer laptops will have an Intel EVO badge on them. It doesn’t refer to the operating system. It’s a new set of hardware standards that Intel and partner manufacturers created.
EVO devices have to have an 11th generation processor and other graphics cards and components. You can get more details about this standard at this link.
You depend on accurate colors to edit and deliver the highest quality images to your clients.
Make sure that the display is the right size so you can see the images up close. Most photographers go for a display between 14 and 16 inches. Keep in mind that the display size impacts the weight of the laptop.
Look for a high screen resolution and color accuracy. A 1080 HD screen will perform just fine for your editing needs. An in-plane switching (IPS) screen delivers the best color accuracy.
Wedding photographers take thousands of pictures to deliver a few hundred to clients.
About 74% of real estate photographers deliver between 15 and 30 images to clients. It could take a couple of hundred images to get those 15 to 30 photos.
The most important thing you need as a photographer is adequate storage space. You have a choice of storage drives in laptop computers: SSD and HDD drive.
An HHD drive is a traditional hard drive that uses a magnetic disk to store information. The disk has an arm that goes across the surface of the magnetic disk to write and read information. There’s an actuator that moves the arm.
It’s slower, but it’s more affordable and you get much more storage space.
SSD drives are solid state drives. They’re more stable and faster because they don’t rely on multiple parts like HDD drives do. If an actuator fails on an HDD, the whole drive fails.
The central processing unit (CPU) is the center point of your computer. The CPU sends receives instructions from you, processes them, and sends them to the other parts of the computer to complete those tasks.
A powerful processor means that this sequence happens quickly. A slow processor will take forever to open and close programs.
They’re judged on clock speed and boost. A clock speed of three and boost of four is about average for mid-level computers.
Random access memory stores temporary data to make it easier to access while the computer is working on a process.
Your laptop should have at least 8 GB of RAM and be expandable to 16 GB. That gives you enough power to handle editing software now and upgrade down the road.
The best laptop for photography has the ports you need to connect many devices at once. You’ll need to connect a webcam to talk with clients, an SD card reader, an HDMI port for a monitor, and USB ports to connect a mouse, keyboard, and camera.
Consider the devices you’ll want to attach to the laptop and check to see if the laptop has enough ports and then some.
How long does the average shoot last? You want a laptop to outlast that by several hours. Many of the best laptops for photographers offer solid battery life.
Look for laptops that last anywhere between 12-17 hours. That’s more than enough time to do a photoshoot or editing session on the road.
Photographers that are heavy travelers will appreciate the lightweight laptops. You can get powerful laptops with a decent screen.
The weight of these laptops is around four and five pounds. You can get something lighter and powerful, but you’ll find that it’s an expensive option.
You’ll see laptops at so many different price points, it’s hard to know what differentiates the good from the bad. Generally speaking, stay away from laptops under $500.
These will be Chromebooks and entry-level laptops. They’re not bad devices, they won’t meet your photography needs in the long term.
You won’t get the processing power to run Photoshop and Lightroom. You’ll end up having to upgrade your laptop in a few months.
You’re better off getting the right laptop, even if it means spending a little more money. This is a piece of equipment you don’t want to bootstrap.
Expect to spend between $1,000 and $1,500 to get a suitable laptop for your needs. This ensures you’ll have enough computing power for several years.
Setting Up Your New Laptop
It’s important to set up the right photography workflows from the start. Plan out your workflow in advance and ask other photographers how they set up their laptops.
Make sure you have a backup system set up for your work. This can be an external hard drive or cloud drive. Many photographers use Google Drive or Dropbox to store and share images.
Create a folder naming structure that makes it easy to find projects. The date, client name, and image number are the main details to attach to a file name. This would look like PROJECT-111821-IMG0001.
Create folders for each of your projects and separate your personal projects from client work.
Install your editing software, attach your peripherals, and get to work!
Finding the Best Laptop for Photography
Laptops make perfect sense for photographers. They’re portable, affordable, and powerful. You can save time and improve your workflow when you buy the best laptop for photography.
You now know how to assess laptops and get the perfect one that meets your needs. Consider the storage, display, cost, speed, and possibilities to expand its capabilities.
Now that you know what equipment you need to start your photography business, you’ll need some business help and inspiration.
Check out the Business section of this site for the latest business tips.