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Hey fellow photogs, looking for advice on a number of PJ subjects hope you all don’t mind. Even though been at this myself for years. the new fangled things are hard to keep up with.

For now I would like to know what you all think the Best Laptop is for on location shooting? And I mean in the dirt heat, rain etc. Not a nice stay at home or in a hotel Laptop? one that can endure combat situations that is light weight and tough, good price as well. And any operating systems you think it should have.

I am looking for a small size, but large enough screen to see in daylight and send pix asap to anywhere in the world.

Any help will be greaty appreciated as always, will have lots more questions in the future hope you all don’t get bored of them or me.


by NN at 2009-04-20 13:47:10 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Since no one seems to be biting:
I think a lot of people will say the ToughBook (Panasonic) is best for the field.
I tend to think it has more to do with care. My 4 year old Mac PowerBook G4 with maxed out Ram runs Lightroom and Photoshop just fine, even on d700 files. It has been multi-week kayaking, camped in the winter, and others such things, and while showing signs of wear, no signs of stopping.
Figure out how to deal with dust and moisture entering through ports and vents (a thread about this has been discussed) and you’re set to go.


by | 20 Apr 2009 18:04 | Lima, Peru | | Report spam→
NPR and the BBC both have used Panasonic Toughbooks. They are indeed tough. I saw evidence of that personally at NPR.

But I have also seen a lot of photogs in the field with 15 inch MacBook Pros that they treated with some care (mostly sealing them from water and dust, the most common eroding forces). If you can do that and also keep yours from undue blows and vibration, you might just be fine.

Of course if you can do that for a MacBook Pro, you can probably also do it for a Dell, Sony, Lenovo, HP, or other PCs. :-)

by [former member] | 21 Apr 2009 00:04 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks for the info, Kamil, and Neal much appreciated

by NN | 21 Apr 2009 15:04 | | Report spam→
I find the toughbooks too heavy, and rather expensive… Get a good solid laptop that has everything you want, then buy a good case for it, that’s the most important part…

by Ben Curtis | 21 Apr 2009 15:04 | Cairo, Egypt | | Report spam→
I use a panasonic toughbook, a macbook pro, and a base-model, last gen macbook – the toughbook is indeed tough as nails, the macbook pro is the most powerful, and the macbook is the one I actually use, because it’s the smallest and lightest.

on the PC end, this one came in my inbox a few hours ago – I find the thinkpads well built, and this one comes installed with XP instead of the disastrous Vista OS.


as Ben suggests, you can drop that in a hardcase, and have a ruggedized kit at a fraction of the cost of a toughbook.

by teru kuwayama | 21 Apr 2009 17:04 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
I am also on the lookout for a new laptop. 500-700$ range, 13-15 inch-ish. Would be cool if people keep on posting links to what they think are good deals.

by Tom Van Cakenberghe | 22 Apr 2009 04:04 | Kathmandu, Nepal | | Report spam→
I own a VAIO VGN FS315m since few years now…it never goes out of date!; I upgraded the RAM to 2 giga and can work with RAW files as fast as with more modern computers. I really think VAIO screen is much much better than any other laptop screen, including the very expensive Macbooks. Mine has a 15.4" screen and wifi included, it’s really a great laptop, believe me!

by Federico Caponi | 22 Apr 2009 12:04 | warsaw, Poland | | Report spam→
Thanks guys appreciate all you help. yep the toughbook is around 5lbs. And a bit on the expensive but still a good choice as are all the other suggestions, Trying to look them all up before choosing,

Thanks again everyone


by NN | 22 Apr 2009 13:04 | | Report spam→
I have used a Toughbook on several occasions, in my opinion they are the best as far as durability. Though I do have a friend who used a hard shell cover for their MacBook while in Ghana, Africa and it seemed to handle extremely well. She had absolutely no problems with it.

Here is the site she referred me to:


or if you want a brand name:


Personally I have used a MacbookPro without any sort of cover and finally after two years it is finally starting to die. The magsafe socket isn’t working all the time, the CD drive is broken (only after being dropped some time ago) and the whole case is dented/ screen is scratched. At the same time, as far as uploading goes with light editing, it still works fine. after two years of semi combat situations. good luck!

by Menashe Wodinsky | 22 Apr 2009 14:04 | Jerusalem, Israel | | Report spam→
FWIW, I’ve used every Mac laptop since they were invented. I’m now on my 2nd 15" Macbook Pro, and it’s humming happily along. What I’ve noticed over the years is that the average lifespan of my machines is ~18 months, but this is probably due to performance needs, rather than hardware failure. I’ve only replaced one machine due to hardware failure- the previous 15" MBP that took a dive out of the overhead compartment as an overexcited lady dug through it. By far, the best machine I’ve ever owned was the 12" G4. I’ve routinely cut video in the field with all of these machines. The Macbooks are nice and small, and probably more than adequate for stills, but they’re plasticky and don’t seem to be as robust as the Pro. I truly wish Apple would release a MBP in a smaller form factor. As I write, I’m looking at the scratches and gunge that adorn my machine, and thinking of the bugs I saw crawl in through the keyboard in Congo last month. Poor bastards. I’ve groaned at plenty of Winbloze machines that I’ve been forced to use on occasional jobs over the years, and pretty much refuse to use them now. MS operating systems suck and the software is kludgy. The US Army is switching, so I guess there’s always that glowing endorsement.

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2009 06:04 (ed. Apr 23 2009) | Berlin, Germany | | Report spam→
While we’re on the subject, has anyone yet used the new Solid State Drives that you can get for some of the Mac laptops?

by Dave Walsh | 23 Apr 2009 08:04 | Dublin, Ireland | | Report spam→
I’ve been using an Acer Aspire One as my travel laptop since November and it fits my needs perfectly. It’s not very powerful (1.6 GHz, 1 GB RAM), but it’s size, weight, battery life, and HD capacity (160 GB) make up for that. It has a 9 inch screen, which I find large enough to do basic editing, deleting, and organizing with Photo Mechanic. When I return from a trip I transfer images (that I’ve already color coded for editing and deleted junk) from the Acer to my MacBook Pro for editing with Photoshop, producing multimedia, etc. It’s a good system. The Acer keyboard is small and takes some getting used to, but for less than $350 I didn’t mind. I also wouldn’t be out as much $$ should it be stolen or confiscated somewhere along the way. As others have said, I have a good case for it and have had no problems with its durability so far. I got mine with Windows XP but have seen it offered with Linux, too.


by Jonathan Henderson | 23 Apr 2009 08:04 | Istanbul, Turkey | | Report spam→
I purchased one of the new MacBook 13" last December and I absolutely love it. I have not put it under any heavy strain, but I feel confident that with some basic environment proofing (dust and moisture) it will do fine. I do wish they would make a 12" again in the new form factor. The new “uni-body” design is fantastic.

I switched from Windows to Mac a few years ago and have never looked back. In the past I used Mac from time to time, but with the Advent of Mac OSX, I never hope to have to go back to Windows. I used to have to waste hours and hours tweaking my Windows machine just to keep it running.

That said, if I had to use a Windows machine I would suggest the IBM Think Pad line. They are durable (without going to the Toughbook extrema) and light weight and well constructed.


by David Mark Erickson | 23 Apr 2009 14:04 | Budapest, Hungary | | Report spam→
These hard-plastic form-fitting cases are good. Might want to be a bit careful in v hot places though:

by Ben Curtis | 23 Apr 2009 14:04 | Cairo, Egypt | | Report spam→
Are there more experiences about using a netbook / mini laptop for basic photo editing. What are the limitations of using these little laptops while on a trip? What is the best buy?

Best regards, Jeroen

by Jeroen de Kluiver | 24 Apr 2009 08:04 (ed. Apr 24 2009) | apeldoorn, Netherlands | | Report spam→
Talk to http://www.lightstalkers.org/t-j-kirkpatrick01. I worked with him in Congo last year and he had this tiny little thing, running OSX. It seemed to work.

by [former member] | 24 Apr 2009 08:04 | Berlin, Germany | | Report spam→
I’ve used the Advent 4211/MSI Wind, it’s more than capable of using photoshop cs2 for editing and PM for selection process, but the biggest problem is the screen which isn’t the best for colour accuracy and it does feel a little cramped screen wise and on using the keyboard. On the plus side it weights next to nothing and lasts about two hours max on the standard battery.

I’m using a macbook 2GHz for normal work, with a PB G4 867MHz as backup and the advent 4211 for when I’m moving around and want to keep it really light.

I do wish Apple would reintroduce a 12inch macbook pro thou.



by Mark Bullimore | 24 Apr 2009 21:04 | Diss, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

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NN, Photojournalist NN
[undisclosed location].
[undisclosed location].
Ben Curtis, Photographer / Editor Ben Curtis
Photographer / Editor
[undisclosed location].
teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
New York , United States
Tom Van Cakenberghe, Tom Van Cakenberghe
Kathmandu , Nepal
Federico Caponi, Photographer Federico Caponi
Warsaw , Poland
Menashe Wodinsky, Freelance Menashe Wodinsky
(Be your own hero)
New York , United States ( JFK )
Dave Walsh, Writer, photographer Dave Walsh
Writer, photographer
(Energy and Environment)
Wexford , Ireland
Jonathan Henderson, Jonathan Henderson
Istanbul , Turkey
David Mark Erickson, Photojournalist & Photogr David Mark Erickson
Photojournalist & Photogr
(Photography Travel Exploration)
Sydney , Australia ( SYD )
Jeroen de Kluiver, Student Photographer Jeroen de Kluiver
Student Photographer
Mallaig , Scotland
Mark Bullimore, Freelance Photographer Mark Bullimore
Freelance Photographer
Thetford , United Kingdom


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