I'm a beginner photographer. I've been having trouble editing for a long time because I have a MacBook Pro 2010 (without retina display) because that's the only thing I could afford right now. When editing photos on the MacBook Pro with Lightroom it looks good, but once I send it to my phone the editing looks so different (color wise). For example, on the Mac the colors are bright, but when I send it to my phone it looks like I didn't edit the photo — the colors are very light.

I feel like it's a waste editing photos on the laptop because when I'm done and I send the edited photos to my iPhone 6, they don't look like how I wanted them edited.

To work around this, I've been shooting in raw, editing the noise, sharpness and the eyes of my clients in Lightroom on my MacBook Pro to make them sharper, and then exporting the photo and sending it to my phone through iCloud. That way, I can edit the colors with the Lightroom App on my phone, but it takes me so long and it takes up a lot of my phone's memory, and most importantly the photo isn't as great because I'm editing a JPEG.

I don't know what to do; I love taking pictures, but when it comes to editing I stress out because of my situation. So my question is: could it be the calibration? Or is it because my MacBook Pro is a 2010 and doesn't have a retina display? If so do you know of any good affordable laptops for photo editing?

  • 1
    Hi, and welcome to Stack Exchange. It sounds like you've got a lot going on. This isn't a normal discussion forum — it's a question and answer site. We need each question to cover one specific problem you're facing. Can you edit your question to provide more focus? (Also note that if the question is: "is there a good cheap laptop with a retina screen", equipment recommendations are off-topic because they tend to be so short-lived and situation-specific.)
    – mattdm
    Dec 5 '17 at 16:29
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    How does it look worse on the phone compared to screen? Are we talking colour or dynamic range or sharpness or...? Is your laptop and/or phonescreen correctly calibrated? If you send the image back from the phone to the laptop without editing does it look the same? How are you exporting your images from Lightroom? Personally it sounds like an issue due to difference in calibration.
    – Crazy Dino
    Dec 5 '17 at 16:30
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    Also for clarification, not everyone edits on macs OR high pixel density screens like Apple's Retinas.
    – Crazy Dino
    Dec 5 '17 at 17:25
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    Sounds like there are a few different issues to address in your post. It would be good if you picked one for this question, and created additional questions for the rest so that you can give more detail about each...As I see it, you have: 1) How should I sharpen images for different displays? 2) Color representation is drastically different between monitor and phone - how to fix? 3) Do I need a retina screen to edit? 4) What is monitor calibration and how should I do it?
    – OnBreak.
    Dec 5 '17 at 18:54

You don't need a new Mac with Retina, or a newer Mac, or even a Mac.

Once upon a time, there was a very real reason to get a Mac in photo editing, Photoshop. Photoshop was written for the Mac operating and then (poorly) ported for Windows. This isn't the case anymore.

Mac OS does have some Apple proprietary software that some users strongly prefer to alternatives, and you may prefer the OS over other operating systems but Mac is not a requirement.

A laptop from 2010 however is getting old. If performance was a problem, you certainly have options using Windows, Linux or Mac, the first two would get you a more tuned / beefier system for less.

The only thing you mentioned however was color in editing vs on your iPhone Yz. What you should be considering here is probably just the screens. IPhone tends to have some great screens, but generationally there have been changes in accuracy AND your screen brightness is meant to overcome things like sun glare. Ideally what you should be concerned about it probably calibrating your laptop monitor properly, to have the image as close to accurate as possible, and worry less about what your own current consumption device renders it like, because a followers Galaxy Note 8 and the future iPhone 12s might not render it the same, especially if one of you chooses to use color profiles or blue light filtering.


Back when your MacBook Pro 2010 was the hottest Mac in the Apple Store it did just fine editing photos. Plenty of pros produced stunning photographs editing them with such a computer. In fact, professionals have been editing photos for far longer than Retina displays, MacIntosh/Apple, or even digital imaging, have existed.

Editing is an art. Like many other arts, the tools you use may have an impact on how easy or difficult it is to do something. Ultimately some tools may not be up to the task of allowing you to fully do what you want. But the basic principles of editing photos is the same whether you are working in a darkroom or using Lightroom. The tools only affect how you interface with the image.

As far as color management goes, the best you can hope for is to have your editing display properly calibrated and profiled so that it accurately reproduces the colors of the image it is displaying. Other than your own devices, you have no control over the various devices that might be used to display your image and how they are set to display that image.

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