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The 30 day MacBook Pro challenge week 2: Can a Windows user become a Mac convert?

03 Mar 2017

Welcome back to the series that asks if a Windows user can be converted to a Mac lover in a mere 30 days. This is week two, in which I look at how it performs on the image editing and creative front. (You can read week one's story here.)

I think I’m getting used to this - somewhat. This morning Chrome froze with some strange ghost image of Finder stuck to its window, which prompted a complete force quit and reboot. Why am I not using Safari anymore? Chrome is just easier for work purposes.

Having the close/minimise/fullscreen buttons on the left hand side presented a challenge at first, but it is quite literally a case of having to adapt. And adapting I am, it seems, in almost every way except my USB-C gripe.

I’ve been taking this slim MacBook home from work almost every day this week, and its slimness and relatively lightweight build doesn’t escape me.  

I’m even starting to get used to the trackpad, although right clicking with two fingers and then navigating menus is driving me mad. Luckily, my Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard showed up this week, which means no more awkward Microsoft keyboard at work and a much better working space. 

I’m not entirely sure why they’re so ‘magic’, but they’re wireless (check), they’re compact (check) and after a bit of mental readjustment to the new keyboard and mouse styles (I love the fact that I can scroll up and down so easily), I’m away again.

I guess I was expecting camera driver installs to be straight plug and play, but that was an assumption that I took for granted. If I plug in my camera, it doesn’t detect the SD card as a removable drive like my Windows machine did. I still needed to search for the driver on the web. Luckily it isn’t too much of a hassle.

Lightroom and Photoshop CC are the latest and greatest versions of the famous photo editing software. When you shoot in RAW, you want to get the best out of your images with Lightroom. For the more arty and professional creatives, Photoshop has some wicked capabilities.

It also helps that unlike my newbie approach to MacOS, I knew exactly what I was doing in Lightroom. I won’t exactly be measuring colour/brightness output in NITS, but what I can say with conviction is that this screen has the brightness and colour spectrum that can make both colour and black and white images fantastic.  

Granted, if you’re a professional photographer you’d probably have an external monitor to compensate for the sheer size and detail of image editing, but working on the MacBook screen alone seems to work for on-the-go editing. Unfortunately Lightroom doesn’t have capability for the Touch Bar (funnily enough as I write the word ‘Touch Bar’, Pages is trying to autocorrect to ‘toucher’ - nice to know Apple hasn’t gone fully overboard with their autocorrect).

You can make your images sharp, crisp and full of life, far beyond what the original image can give you. Basically, the pixel resolution on the MacBook is damn good. For reference, Retina LCD that hits the 2560x1600 mark, with Intel Iris Graphics 550 CPU.

The Touch Bar has its time to shine when using Photoshop. Layer properties, colour spectrum, opacity - all there in front of me, without having to sift through the on screen menus. Zooming in on each individual pixel, I can clearly see the borders. For the main image in this article I have used a relatively plain shot without many creative edits, but the main aim is to give you a screenshot glimpse into how it all looks on screen and the Touch Bar.

I can see why the Touch Bar is good for ease of access in creativity. I also grabbed a spare soft point stylus just to see if I could use the magic trackpad and laptop trackpad as a drawing tablet - they worked quite well but you can’t go past using something that is truly made for the job.

The Touch Bar is definitely a selling point, but I still feel myself drawn back to Windows - partly because of the sheer familiarity, but also because that when it comes down to it - the OS might be different, but the common software, be it your Photoshop or your Lightroom -  are all basically the same tools. I’m not seeing any clear advantages of Mac, besides the usefulness of the Touch Bar - and even then it’s only super useful in certain circumstances.

For week three, I’m going to look at what it’s like to use some of the basic Apple functionalities, and for week four I’m going to put Windows and Mac head to head. Who knows, there might even be a followup, letting it all sink in. This experiment could play out for another couple of months yet!