The Laptop Dilemma...

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by billballardphotography, Jun 1, 2016.

  1. I have a Lenovo Edge 15 that is proving to be simply awful for editing. (I'm using Adobe CC, PS & LR with varying Nik and VSCO plugins. The Lenovo is Windows 10, 64 bit.) When I look at my images on another monitor - even other laptops - the images I've processed on the Lenovo are flat, and lacking good contrast and tonal range. This is much more noticeable in color than monochrome images, but the disparity is there. I can even see differences between images from other photographers when viewed on the Lenovo and my phone.
    The big issue seems to be the lack of adjustable color settings for the monitor. Using the Windows 10 color calibration tool, I can set the Gamma and RGB. I use the Lenovo settings for brightness...but there is no setting to adjust the contrast. I've used the X-Rite i1Display Pro color calibration system and end up with a very flat and warm toned image on the screen.
    So...I have three choices as I see it:
    1. Buy another laptop, with the most adjustable monitor I can find for it. So far, my research has shown the Dell XPS 15 (non-touch) to be worth considering, and not necessarily with the uber hi-res 'touch' monitor offered as an option.
    2. Buy a MacBook Pro 15 with Retina Display, and make the switch from PC to Mac. (I understand the Retina Display is not adjustable, per se.)
    3. Take my former studio assistant up on his offer to do my post/retouching work on his Mac setup; he knows what he's doing, and he understands how I see. Plus, his work is awesome!

    I also must use a laptop as I live on board my 34' sailboat. A desktop system is not an option, not up for consideration, and not doable. And having said that, the lighting is horrible in the boat - all LED - and that is most certainly a factor in the lack of quality of the image edits. And going off topic for a second, the boat is also a factor in my considering a move from PC to Mac, as we already use an iPad for navigation.
    For the near term, I'll be using my former assistant's talents for post work. But sometime in the next couple of months, I will need to find a solution which will work for my lifestyle. I'm no longer a working pro, but from time to time I sell a print here and there, and do post images on the web, etc. Quality is important. Any input is appreciated.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Have you considered a docking station that would allow you to connect an external monitor? I know space is an issue for you, but perhaps you could mount the monitor like a hotel TV so it could be pulled out when needed and pushed back against the wall (or hull?) when not needed. You also did not mention whether your Lenovo came with the upgraded graphics card. I know such an upgrade isn't crucial for photo editing but might help get everything possible out of an external monitor. Just some thoughts!
     
  3. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    4) Surface Pro 4. And it's also a wacom type drawing tablet.
     
  4. lwg

    lwg

    External monitor is the way to go. The Retina display on the MacBooks is pretty good for color, but not perfect. But given your limited space it's the best option I have seen (but I've not looked at even 1% of the laptop options out there).
     
  5. David, we share many of the same problems (I'm sure this will be a consolation to you!) and I will be following this thread with great interest, as I believe many others also will.
    The very best laptop I had for post processing my color images was an old Compaq I bought in 2009, which alas! had SDS (sudden death syndrome) a few weeks ago, from multiple causes as it turned out. Cat hair being one. Fortunately I back up everything I do as I go and also do weekly downloads to two standalone hard disks, so I didn't lose anything. The Compaq hard disk was as it turned out, salvageable, and now lives on in a self-contained generic external HD box. So nothing was lost.
    In Indonesia where I stay, laptops are not expensive, but there is a limited choice available in the local retail shops. As well, much of the information I've been getting from so-called "experts" seems dubious and mostly based on selling me the most expensive model of any brand I look at. The Lenovos are very popular, and the most reliable source I know has recommended that I buy a gaming model for super fast processing. I did look into this, but as you discovered, here is the catch: the image colors on all the Lenovos I've seen are simply awful. This may be due to bad editing, as most of the local photographers I've met here go for expensive equipment but, to be bluntly honest, are terrible photographers and much of their work isn't worth looking at.
    Anyway, I did a sample batch of 20 images on someone's Lenovo, as a test, and sent these to a publisher client in Singapore,who evaluated them on his office computer setup (unsurprisingly, Mac) and rejected the lot as unacceptable due to color and contrast disparities. My lack-and-white conversions also had contrast problems. I had NONE of these problems on the late and lamented Compaq.
    At this time, of your two choices, I favor (2) and (1) in that order. Unfortunately, buying a Mac will require a trip back to Australia, where they are cheaper than those available at local prices, even at the devalued Indonesian rupiah exchange I get for my Aussie dollars. The difference in price will pay for almost all my return airfare, and I don't fly with any of the renowned bucket airlines, so we're talking quite serious money here.
    So Lenovos are, I think, out. Dell has been recommended. Also Acers, but almost all the Acer laptops Ive checked out are in the lower price range and have terrible keyboards. HPs are being flogged off cheaply but even the locals all say to avoid HPs are difficult and expensive to repair. Now and then I find other brands, which I've not yet explored in depth. A big learning curve lies ahead.
    I want to go laptop. If I'm successful in getting a new book contrast I'm currently preparing to bid on, I would seriously consider buying two of the same brand (altho' perhaps not the same models), so I can have an on the road laptop to do daily downloads and one securely on my desk at home for the post processing work. (The house fur bags will no longer be allowed to sleep on the desk or even in my work studio.)
    This isn't very technical as I'm not a techno type. In the past I've tended to do a little research but then just buy for dollar value, often at retail outlet end of line sales, sometimes OL or privately. Until now this has served me just fine. In all this I am, I think, one of the majority.
    As I said, I will be watching this post with great interest. Like the cat who ate cheese to peer down the mouse hole with baited breath...
     
  6. Make the move to the Macbook. You will not regret it. I was PC user for 20+ years and made the move to a Macbook Pro Retina about 3 years for my photo processing needs and has never regretted it once. It may not be perfect but it does come to close.
     
  7. Thanks everyone, for your replies and input. I do need to explain some issues a bit further:
    David, LG: I did consider an external monitor. However, there are two inherent concerns about going the external monitor route. First, is the power supply. Unless someone knows of a suitable, high-quality monitor which is powered by 12vDC, it's an incredibly difficult (and expensive) option from the power supply perspective. We don't generate our own AC current on-board, and can only use the shore power supply (120vAC, 50mhz) when we're dockside. Away from the dock, and in most foreign ports, I wont have any way to power the monitor. To keep our costs down, when we're traveling, we're anchored out or on a mooring as opposed to being in a marina. My second concern is secure stowage. Of course, maintaining the systems in the general marine environment is a challenge - and that applies to all of my gear - cameras, lenses, memory cards, etc.
    Eric: I took a long, hard look at the Microsoft Surface Pro models. My big concern with them is durability, especially the keyboards. I don't think they could stand up to the beating any machine is going to take living aboard a small boat making ocean passages.
    JayDann and Barry: Mac is still a good option, particularly since I discovered that I can transfer my Adobe Cloud from Win to Mac. This is still the front-runner and thus far, the better option. Or so it seems.
    Thanks again everyone -
     
  8. Bill ... Sounds like you've made up your mind. But there are monitors out there that run on 12-volt DC. The link below is to an example of one on Amazon that only runs about $150. I did not research it extensively, but it appears to be something that might work in your situation. Just trying to be helpful. Good luck!
    http://www.amazon.com/SuperSonic-1080p-Widescreen-Compatible-24-Inch/dp/B0082ULKUE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1464881473&sr=8-3&keywords=computer+monitor+12+volt+dc
     
  9. Bill, most laptop screens are simply not that great (either too optimised for "colour pop", or too dull but not made for good colour fidelity), the Apple notebooks and the Surface models are among the better screens you'll find (or higher-end workstation class notebooks, which are priced a bit more spicey).
    As for durability, I wouldn't have too much doubts with a Surface Pro, for all I see they're par with Apple when it comes to construction quality. While travelling, the keyboard on the Surface will act as cover, if stowed away normally, I wouldn't see how that would go more wrong than a regular notebook. I sure wouldn't rule them out, though if you're comfortable and OK with OS X, of course an Apple would work equally fine.
     
  10. I struggled with my Lenovo for years and even after calibration, still needed to reprocess my work when I returned from trips. Now I'm using a Microsoft Surface (the laptop) and find it excellent for Raw conversion and processing when on the road. I've not needed to reprocess anything and submitted excellent files without any further processing.
    There's no durability issue with the Surface. It's stoutly built and works flawlessly in the Windows 10 environment. I move effortlessly between W7 and W10 environments between work and home.
     
  11. Bill, I just replaced my old laptop this year with an Asus Zenbook. It very light, and has a 3800x1800 resolution 13.3 screen. I calibrated it with my ColorMunki Photo, and use it for Photo presentations, and while travelling. If you haven't tried one, you might give them a look.
     
  12. Thanks again, everyone!
    David H: actually, no I haven't yet made up my mind. Thanks for posting your link. I did what I thought was a thorough search and didn't see what I felt was a workable 12vDC monitor anywhere.
    Wouter & David S: I'll revisit the Surface models again...and a machine working 'flawlessly' in Windows 10? I look forward to that! ;)
    Alan: I've not checked that particular one - I'll take a look. Thanks!
     
  13. Bill, just so you know, the apps that I'm running on my Surface that are photo-centric include DxO Optics Pro, LR and PS from Adobe CC, PhotoMechanic. and PortraitPro 11. 64-bit versions, of course.
    You might say that W10 is "native" to the Surface, since they came out in the same season. Oh, I couldn't find a driver for my 8-year old printer, but that was an excuse to upgrade to upgrade to a Canon Pro-100 printer, which is a super printer, up to 13"x19".
     
  14. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    JayDann and Barry: Mac is still a good option, particularly since I discovered that I can transfer my Adobe Cloud from Win to Mac. This is still the front-runner and thus far, the better option. Or so it seems.​
    Since the mid 90's and Photoshop 3, I'm on my third wave of Apple love and currently use a mbp with i7, 256 ssd, and 16gb of ram. Honestly, I can't wait for my mbp to die so I can get back to a windows laptop. The last three Apple os releases have been a disaster and the company is now a completely different beast with Cook at the helm.
    My mbp is more delicate and vulnerable than a tablet (SP4) with its easily detachable keyboard. SP4's are used all over the movie sets I work on; they can handle your boat.
     
  15. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    I've used the X-Rite i1Display Pro color calibration system and end up with a very flat and warm toned image on the screen.​
    First, have you tried raising the CCT (or Standard Illuminant) value higher? So if you're calibrating to say D50, up it to D65 (cooler). Next, don't futz with gamma; leave it native. You don't have to alter it. Not much you can do with contrast unless you have control over black level; few displays provide this. Then make sure you view images in a color managed app that uses that profile based on the above calibration. A color reference image in say Photoshop is useful to view neutrality, black to white gradations, memory colors like skin, sky etc:
    http://www.digitaldog.net/files/2014PrinterTestFileFlat.tif.zip
    Before you go all out on a new laptop and display, maybe you can get the X-rite tools to serve you better.
     
  16. The retina screens on the macs are very very good and when calibrated can give you for all practical purposes accurate SRGB color which is about as good as it gets in the lap top world. The surface pro's look nice, but i would go for the 15' MBP to have that extra screen space. All these are solid state and use SSD's for the main drive so should be fairly equally durable. Your biggest problem will be the same with any electronics at sea, corrosion etc.
     
  17. My Surface has 100% of sRGB color space.
     
  18. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    My Surface has 100% of sRGB color space.​
    100% of it's color gamut. But as Barry writes (and I've done the colorimetric testing and agree), there's more to a display producing sRGB which the (well my) MBP retina produces. There's other specifications to target for calibration than gamut to produce sRGB. When I compare sRGB as fully specified to the profile of the MPB Retinal, the accuracy, in deltaE is surprisingly close between a reference of colors and those produced with respect to sRGB.
     
  19. I'm speaking of the Surface, not the Surface Pro. The Surface is the Microsoft laptop with "4K" resolution and more robust construction than the "Book Pro" line. I wish MS had been inventive enough to give the laptop a different enough name that I didn't have to constantly explain which device I'm talking about.
     
  20. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    I'm speaking of the Surface, not the Surface Pro.​
    In terms of 100% sRGB? Again, that's a metric of it's color gamut. Which is OK for some devices. Now the new iPad Pro, much larger color gamut, a tad larger than Adobe RGB (1998) and fully color managed.
     
  21. Just to say that I'm quite happy with my MacBook Pro laptop for photography.
    The 5K iMac is better. And, my screen brightness is a bit off (too bright) without calibration. But, overall, I'm very happy.
    Good luck with your choice.
     
  22. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Now the new iPad Pro, much larger color gamut, a tad larger than Adobe RGB (1998) and fully color managed.​

    How does it perform with Adobe CC, PS & LR and varying Nik and VSCO plugins? Right...
     
  23. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    The internet says the SP4 has the best monitor available in the tablet class as well as the best in windows laptop class.
    http://www.displaymate.com/Surface_Pro4_ShootOut_1.htm
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/3rjjk0/display_calibration_results_for_my_sp4/
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/9727/the-microsoft-surface-pro-4-review-raising-the-bar/6
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05bQmilugR8
    all this talk, now I really want one
     
  24. That comparison of "tablets" excludes the Surface for some reason. It's also a tablet.
     
  25. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    I define a tablet by having a mobile processor and a mobile OS. The Surface, to me, is a convertible laptop. David, do you have the docking station and find that there is enough ports for you on the SP4?
     
  26. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    The internet says the SP4 has the best monitor available in the tablet class as well as the best in windows laptop class.
    http://www.displaymate.com/Surface_Pro4_ShootOut_1.htm
    That was then, this is now:
    http://www.displaymate.com/iPad_Pro9_ShootOut_1.htm
    Same site, much newer shoot out. New product with wider gamut and color managed too.
     
  27. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Colour mangaged for watching movies. Nice
     
  28. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Colour mangaged for watching movies. Nice​
    Color management for viewing anything that has RGB values that we need to see properly.
    Considering the newer spec's for viewing movies, DCI-P3, and the wide gamut of this new display, yes, kind of important. But for people like Eric who apparently don't calibrate or profile any of their displays for viewing images or video's (as his comment suggests but I hope isn't correct), color management is rather necessary.
     
  29. Eric ~ , asked:
    I define a tablet by having a mobile processor and a mobile OS. The Surface, to me, is a convertible laptop. David, do you have the docking station and find that there is enough ports for you on the SP4?
    The Surface operates detached, including a virtual keyboard, etc. I'm not sure what your point is. I have mine switch to tablet mode when I detach the tablet potion.
    I don't have a docking station and tend only to use my laptop/tablet when I travel, so I can't really answer your question from experience.
     
  30. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "That comparison of "tablets" excludes the Surface for some
    reason. It's also a tablet"

    "I'm not sure what your point is."

    The point is that the industry, and myself, don't consider the SP4 a tablet. It's classed as a
    laptop convertible and is why it wouldn't be in the comparison. Tablets have mobile CPUs and mobile operating systems.
     
  31. I'm wondering if and when, the MBPs, especially, but also PCs tech laptops will come with the capability for wider than Adobe RGB (1998). I would think that would be a great achievement to have in a laptop and be able to fully calibrate it etc. If it came out tomorrow, I probably wouldn't change, because my current computer is fairly new, but maybe 2 or 3 years from now.
     
  32. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    How does the iPad perform with Adobe CC, PS & LR and varying
    Nik and VSCO plugins?
     
  33. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    5) A MBP and install boot camp and Windows 10...no switching! I just did this on the weekend to my MBP
    but on Monday I returned to 70hr work-weeks on set and haven't dialed it in yet.

    "I'm wondering if and when, the MBPs, especially, but also PCs tech laptops will come with the capability
    for wider than Adobe RGB (1998)."

    Barry, RGB work space is offered on two Windows laptops that I know of: The Razer Stealth and the Dell
    XPS 15-inch.  I would look at the Dell first for performance reasons. http://www.dell.com/en-
    us/shop/productdetails/xps-15-9550-laptop?ref=PD_OC
     

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