I have been a windows photoshop user for awhile. I'm redoing my apartment and considering ditching my big desktop machine to save space. I have a MacBook Pro from 2009 and was wondering if the monitor is good enough to edit and print with. I also have a colormunki and was wondering if any one uses those with a MacBook Pro.

By "good enough"; I mean do other users use that set up with good results, or have you tried to edit and print photos, and found the monitoring environment to be subpar?

Thanks Bp

closed as primarily opinion-based by mattdm, dpollitt, Itai, Paul Cezanne, AJ Henderson Nov 13 '13 at 17:37

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Without a very precise definition for "good enough", this is impossible to answer. – mattdm Nov 9 '13 at 22:27
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    Defining "good enough" with " good results" is not really clarifying. Also "subpar" is subjective. – Saaru Lindestøkke Nov 10 '13 at 2:04

I've been living on a Macbook pro and doing my photography on it for many years. I haven't owned a desktop computer for 7-8 years.

So you can do it, but with some significant caveats.

I just upgraded my computer from a 2010 Macbook Pro 13" to a new 2013 Macbook Pro 15". The amount of processing capability is significantly different (geekbench value for the old computer: 2100. For the new one: almost 11,000). One big caveat is whether your 2009 Macbook is a smaller screen or a larger one: the smaller screen units are built around battery conservation over processing power, and I found the 2010 13" simply wasn't able to handle the kind of work I was pushing at it. The 15" (or in that era 17") Macbook pros were more powerful but you may find the limits on amount of RAM they can use and the processing power will limit how fast you can get things done. If you're using a modern camera with a larger megapixel count, this'll b a lot more noticeable.

You'll want a larger monitor. I found the 13" monitor too small to do serious work in Lightroom on the road, but okay for basic tasks (importing and ding deletion, for instance). I'm finding the 15" retina makes a big difference here, but when I'm at home, I'm plugged into a big monitor (in my case, a Dell 27" IPS. They're surprisingly reasonable in price). I do use a colormunki to calibrate my screens.

The bottom line to me is this: if that's a 2009 13" Macbook pro, you probably won't be happy; the computing power and RAM will be limited enough to hamper your work. A 15" or 17" Macbook may (or may not be) powerful enough. I think a 13" screen is too small, but is solvable by adding an external monitor for the home setup.

A lot also depends on your camera bodies; if you're working on 12 megapixel images it requires a lot less horsepower than 16 or 18 megapixels. If you're not doing video or timeplapse or HDR, it'll be more usable than if you are. You'll want to max the RAM on the thing (probably 8 gig) and ought to consider running Mavericks because it significantly improves RAM usage, even for Adobe apps that eat RAM alive.

I personally wouldn't use a 2009 era 13" macbook for photography work. I might use a 2009 era 15" macbook; it's performance capabilities would be right on the edge for normal Lightroom work, but I wouldn't consider it fast enough for handling video and I'd be arguing with it about how fast it was doing HDR and other kinds of enhanced processing.

That said, not knowing how old the desktop machine you're thinking of retiring it or its capabilities, it may still be an improvement over what you have. If it's from the same era, probably. If it's newer, I probably wouldn't step backwards to an older Mac system.


This still depends on your definition of "good enough". It's a pretty decent screen, but like most laptop panels from that era (and, for that matter, still today) the LCD screen really is only 6 bits of color depth, and it certainly isn't wide gamut. So, if you are a perfectionist and really care about subtle color detail, you might not find it good enough.

That said, the vast majority of all humans, including photographers, graphic designers, artists, and so on do not notice such things. Many people today produce great work on less-capable, lower-quality equipment.

I'd say go for it and if you are happy with the results, you win. And if you're not, you have an excuse to buy something better (you also win!).

As for the Color-Munki, yes, this will probably help, although a) there are several very different products sold under that line and b) you may or may not have the software (and I'm not sure of the details of that). This is probably better as a separate question.


I use a MacBook Pro with Lightroom 5. I used to use Aperture. It works fine. But I find the laptop's screen to be too small so I picked up an external 22" monitor. I have the controls on the laptop's screen and the image on the big monitor. Works great.

Monoprice.com has recently added inexpensive IPS monitors. I have not tried one, yet, but I have used monoprice for lots of other stuff over the years.

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