Do yourself a favor!!!

Started Apr 19, 2014 | Discussions thread
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slpianoproject Forum Member • Posts: 83
Do yourself a favor!!!

As a fellow a7r owner I wanted to share with you guys my experience with the retina display on the late 2013 15inch macbook pro. On top of that, I have a homework for you. No I don't work for mac, I'm just that normal guy that never thought it would be possible to be actually impressed by a computer after passing 20 years using them intensively. It might be a bit long for those who actually don't care so you can skip the talk and go right below at "On topic for photographers" section.

I've been using a mid 2010 15 inch MBP as my main computer for the last 3 years but when I got my A7R, using lightroom 5 and photoshop CC I couldn't help to notice my computer was getting on the slow side. Actually, just to fully load a photo and be able to zoom in at 100% in lightroom it would take anywhere between 10 and 60 seconds (!)... On top of that, sending a raw from lightroom to photoshop to edit was a good 1 minute. I was spending the same amount of time waiting on the computer to load than editing the actual photos. After 2 months it was enough and I got myself a new macbook pro.

While I have heard about retina display and knew it was great for seeing and editing photos, I have never actually bothered looking at one in real life. One thing I knew for sure is that the next MBP i'ld get would have that display. To my surprise it is now standard on every model of MBP available (before you had to pay a premium). So I went with a 16Gb ram, Intel Core i7 2.3ghz turbo boost at 3.8ghz, 512Gb SSD model with of course the retina display.

First of all, the performance is just incredible. With the SSD you can copy a 1Gb file in less than 2 seconds (compared to 40 secs on my old HDD). The computer loads photoshop in less than 2 seconds even when 9 other applications are opened. I've posted a quick video below to show you how fast it is... The apps opened are in order : Safari, Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, Logic Pro 9, Imovie 11', Pages, Iphoto, Itunes and the Appstore. Chrome is already opened and as you can see, PS CC loads in seconds still.

On topic for photographers:

The main point I want to discuss here is the retina display. How can I describe it in two words.....

U N B E L I E V A B L Y A W E S O M E!!!!

As it is impossible to actually show you without you coming at my house (more on the homework coming later!) I'll get into brief technical explanations of what actually is a retina display. Those displays are all about pixel density. Standard computer screens have anywhere between 100 and 120 pixels per inches (ppi). With the "retina" display apple is making a screen that when seen from normal viewing distance, a person with a 20/20 vision would be incapable of discerning actual pixels on the screen. So on a Iphone... it requires 360sh ppi. Ipad is 270sh ppi, 13 inch MBP is 227ppi and 15 inch is 220ppi. To further explain what pixel density represents lets take for example an HDTV: 1080p is 1920x1080 pixels (2 megapixels) on a screen so if you compare a 40inch vs a 60inch from the same distance, you are less likely to see the pixels on the 40inch because the pixel density is greater. TVs are made to be seen from afar, while computer screens are seen up close. Thats when pixel density comes into play.

Ok but what does that mean? The display on 15 inch MBP is 2880x1800 pixels on a 15 inch screen @220 ppi. That is 5.2 megapixels. That means it has 2.5 times the pixels actually showing on the screen compared to 1080p. What it also means is that at 220 ppi you are actually looking at "prints" of your images on the screen. I have actual prints at home of images from the A7R @ 300 ppi and they do look worse that on the screen. Yes, it is THAT sharp. The level of detail is purely INCREDIBLE. You don't have to zoom in on a photo to see how good the focus is. You just SEE it! On the net the text looks like its actually printed on pages. It is to a point where when you see a 1080p video full screen it looks bad. Not that it is worse than on other screens, its that you are staring at crystal clear content for hours then when you pop the video your brain makes it like its bad content. Seriously, you won't believe it until you see it. I could talk about it for hours it wouldn't be as good as if you do that little :


This is a quick snapshot of my mother-in-law's dog taken with the A7R and the FE 55mm f1.8. Next time you step foot in an Apple store or any authorized MBP dealer near you, go on this topic and see this picture full screen on a retina display. Only then you will be able to understand what I mean. I can guarantee you that you won't believe what you see. (I know it is an ordinary photograph but it is actually sharp, the random image you find on google at an apple store might not be, this one is.)

IMPORTANT!!! : Click on the image and do "See original", only then you'll see the actual beauty of the display, on my screen the other options looks heavily compressed for some reason: IMPORTANT!!!!

View: original size

In conclusion :

I know some of you will ask what is the point of this post. It might be perceived as a post from a guy who wants to brag about his shiny new 3000$ laptop. The actual point of this post is that we see our photos on screen 99% of the time. We edit on a screen; we show our pictures to others on a screen; we look at other's pictures on a screen, etc... And yet after practicing photography for 3 years now I feel like I see my photos for the first time. We are paying thousands and thousands of dollars in photography equipments and some of us use 36 megapixels cameras daily and the only way to actually benefit from it is zooming into our photos freaking 13-14x to actually see the details in it on our 120ppi low resolution monitors. I found myself constantly pixel peeping my photos to actually see how good it was but now I can actually enjoy the whole frame full screen and be amazed by it like I would enjoy a print instead of trying to reach for my loupe and see the ink dots on the paper!

I can understand that for most of us 3000$ is a lot to spend on a laptop (it is really freaking expensive) but if you are paying 1000$ / lenses and 2000$ a camera body, 3000$ for a pure powerhouse laptop that makes you actually SEE your photographs on a daily basis is a small price to pay. It makes you feel like you are actually benefiting from you equipment. And for those working photographers out there. I can guarantee you your clients will be amazed too see your work on that screen as you carry it around anywhere you go!

So do yourself a favor : Get a retina display so you can see the results of you passion at a level you got to see to believe.

P.S : Those laptop comes calibrated out of the factory (not 100% perfect but damn close) and Apple came up with some sort of wizardry that makes it so you can look at the screen from basically any angle and you keep the colours and contrast right. An issue that plagued the laptop world for years in photography.

TLDR: Get a retina display you'll thank me for it.

Edit: the important section above the image

 slpianoproject's gear list:slpianoproject's gear list
Sony Alpha a7S Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro
Sony Alpha a7R
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