Apple’s 15 MacBook Air Ideal for Pro Photography Work

Apple's 15 MacBook Air Ideal for Pro Photography Work

The Impressive Capabilities of the MacBook Air 15 (M2) for Professional Photography

Apple’s MacBook Air ultrathin laptops are primarily designed for lightweight office and school work on the go. But as Apple’s own M-series processors have become more capable, so too have the MacBooks they’re in. I’m a professional photographer, and I’ve spent the past couple of months with the latest 15-inch M2-equipped MacBook Air, putting it through its paces on photo shoots, both in the studio and on location. I’m impressed.

When it comes to photo editing, having the right equipment is crucial. For many photographers, the size and portability of their workspace is a major consideration. The 15-inch display of the MacBook Air strikes the perfect balance between size and portability. It’s big enough to comfortably edit photos in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop without needing a larger monitor. The ample screen space also allows for easy video editing in Premiere, even when away from the desk.

The MacBook Air’s narrow display bezel and slim 11.5mm thickness make it highly portable. It easily fits into the laptop pouches of even smaller camera backpacks. While it may not be the lightest Air ever made, weighing in at 1.5kg, it is still an acceptable addition to carry around during photo shoots. The build quality is top-notch, though I do worry about potential scratches and scuffs on the dusky blue finish over a long period of use. Fortunately, during my time with the laptop, I managed to keep it in good condition.

The performance of the MacBook Air is where it truly shines. Equipped with Apple’s M2 chip and 16GB of RAM, this machine is more than capable of handling various editing tasks. In my experience, it handled all my photo editing in Lightroom and Lightroom Classic with ease. Importing large batches of raw photos from CFExpress cards was extremely quick, and navigation within the library showed no signs of slowdowns. This level of performance is a real treat for on-location work, allowing for quick file backups before hitting the road.

The MacBook Air also impressed me with its video editing capabilities. As someone who works with both still imagery and video production, I tested the Air with editing software such as Premiere and DaVinci Resolve. Even when handling multiple 4K videos, the Air performed admirably. I was able to seamlessly edit my videos, apply effects and stabilization to clips, and scrub through the project at full resolution without any issues. Exporting the final 4K file took just over nine minutes, which is impressive considering the M2 Pro-equipped Mac Mini took a little over seven minutes for the same task.

Overall, the MacBook Air is an extremely swift machine that excels in professional editing needs for both photos and 4K video production. Its battery life is solid and rarely drops, allowing for uninterrupted work without constantly seeking a power source. And perhaps most impressive of all, the Air operates quietly without the sound of fans whirring in the background.

However, let’s address the elephant in the room: the price. The base model of the 15-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,299, but that only includes 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. For photo and video editing, these specifications may be insufficient, especially considering the large file sizes involved. Opting for more RAM and storage will result in a significant increase in price. The model with 24GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, which I would recommend, exceeds $2,000. The review model I tested came in at $1,499, which is still cheaper than the base models of the MacBook Pro line.

In the ideal world where money is no object, the Pro models may seem appealing with their higher specifications and additional features, such as SD card slots. However, for users like myself who frequently work on the go and value portability, the MacBook Air is the perfect choice. It provides more than enough power to handle photo and video edits without compromising mobility. Even the $2,000 price tag for the recommended configuration seems reasonable when compared to the lofty prices of the Pro line.

While some may argue that the absence of an SD card slot in the MacBook Air is a disadvantage for creatives, it’s worth noting that many pro photographers, myself included, have already transitioned to faster CFExpress cards. Having an SD card slot would be of little use, and carrying a dongle is a minor inconvenience at most.

For power video creators working with extensive 8K video tracks and complex effects, the MacBook Air may not be the optimal choice for full-time use. However, professional photographers who primarily work with still imagery and occasionally dabble in video production, such as wedding photographers or event shooters, will find the 15-inch MacBook Air to be a well-suited companion.

In conclusion, the MacBook Air 15 (M2) impresses with its perfect balance of portability and performance. Its capabilities in photo and video editing surpass expectations, making it an excellent choice for professional photographers. While the price may be a consideration, it offers a more affordable alternative to the MacBook Pro line without compromising on essential features. The MacBook Air 15 (M2) is a true workhorse for those who value mobility and high-quality editing capabilities.

Disclaimer: All images were sourced from the original article by Andrew Lanxon/CNET.