Macbook Air 11.6″ (2011) – 1.8 GHz Core i7, 4 GB of Ram with 256GB SSD drive.
Having purchased Mac Pro for the office I found little need for the heavy power of my Macbook Pro anymore. Effectively I was lugging it around with me to download memory cards and do a few e-mails on the road. When Apple launched the 2011 Macbook Airs with the new i5 and i7 processors I jumped at the chance to pick one up. With it’s SSD it feels lightning quick and Photoshop CS5 even open in less than 1 second! I don’t do heavy editing on the road so all I need is for Lightroom to be nicely responsive and with the i7 1.8 GHz version it certainly is. In fact it’s much much quicker than I thought it would be. I LOVE it! The Thunderbolt port on the side means that I can connect super fast drives to it so backing images up on the road has never been quicker. It saves me so much weight and room in my bags, it really is an incredible machine. If you need to do heavy video and photo editing on the road this is not the machine for you but if you are just captioning photos and doing some blogging/e-mail on the road then you’ll never look back.
HexCore Mac Pro (2010) 3.33GHz , 12GB RAM , 4x 2TB internal drives
I moved to a Mac Pro at the end of 2010. Whilst it is true that iMacs are nearly as fast these days I don’t want to edit photos on the glossy iMac screen which is hard to calibrate. I also prefer the expandability of the drive bays in the Mac Pro. I’m always juggling drives about and this allows me to have an internal Time Machine drive among other things. When work picks up you really start to value every minute of your time. The Mac Pro means that everything I do on a computer is done at lightning speed and it’s doubtless saved me hours of time since I’ve got it. I went for 12GB of Ram which I think is a minimum for this speed of computer really as RAM has dropped in price. It’s certainly a high price to pay but when you break it down per year, I expect to keep this for 3 or 4 years so it’s not so bad when you think of it like that.
Wacom Intuous 4 – Medium
I’ve been using the Wacom Intuous 4 now for a couple of years. I think the medium size is the perfect compromise between drawing space and saving space on your desktop. I have never used a mouse in the office since I got this thing, it’s simply amazing. Everything is so much more fluid when you are working and the programmable buttons on the side are great because they are program specific so you can have them all tuned to your liking. Obviously its main strength is Photoshop work, but I don’t even do too much of that and I still find this a necessary addition to my office. It only takes a couple of days to get used to and once you do,trust me you will not go back to a mouse!
CalDigit AV Drive
The AV Drive from CalDigit is a USB 3.0 2TB drive. I did an extensive review of the drive on my other site which you can read right HERE. At the time of writing, Macs do not natively support USB 3.0 but CalDigit make a compatible card to allow you to do this. I have the drive partitioned in two and one half is used for my Time Machine backups and the other half is used as my “working drive” which is where I store current video projects and video files or large photo projects that I’m working on. Being USB 3.0 means it is much much faster and so rendering is quicker, Time Machine backups happen quicker and by setting it as my photoshop and Final Cut scratch disk it really speeds things up.
I’ve been using Drobo as my main redundant backup system now for a couple of years and so far been very impressed. If you are unfamiliar with Drobo as a company, I highly suggest a browse of their website because they have some excellent videos. Basically Drobos act a a redundant backup system sort of like RAID systems but a bit smarter. When one drive is full, you simply eject it and slot a new, bigger drive in it’s place. Simple as that. That means you have room to grow, and unlike RAID systems, the drives can be different capacities so you don’t have to upgrade them all at the same time. Likewise if you have a drive failure, you simply pop in a new one at it automatically re-positions the data within the drives to make sure they are all spread across multiple drives. It’s a system you really can leave to do it’s own thing, just plug it in and go. There are several Drobos available for various sizes and some for network drive storage. Personally I’m using the Firewire drive right now, but all of them have their benefits in one way or another.
Thermaltake BlacX SATA dock
One of the most useful office accessories you can get for $35. After a while you will no doubt have a collection of old drives lying around be it 2.5″ or 2.5″. This dock is a simple SATA dock that connects either via USB2.0 or eSata. Take any SATA drive you have lying around and slot it into the dock to enable it to quickly mount to your computer. If you use a DROBO, then you will probably have a few 3.5″ drives lying around because the DROBO is so easily upgradeable and allows you to simply switch drives out for bigger one. My current workflow has me pulling older drives out of the DROBO and then using those older drives for off-site backup by putting data on them using this Thermaltake BlacX. Once data is on the drives, I put them in a pelican case and store them safely at another location. This way I always have a use for all my old drives. I see very little point in having my off-site drives in a bunch of fancy cases when ideally they will not get used again at all, they are just an emergency backup.
LaCie Rugged drives
The Rugged line of drives from LaCie are perfect for external use when you are traveling. I currently have a few of these in various sizes. 500GB is a good place to start with the firewire ones. So far I have never had one of them fail on me and they are looking pretty beat up now so that’s a goo sign. The drives inside the case are mounted on rubber shock-absorbing mounts and the rubber around the outside edge of the drives protects pretty well from accidental drops. They aren’t really any more expensive that other drives so I think they are a must have for backing up files on the road!
Microsoft Arc Mouse
The Arc mouse is a wonderful little space saver when you are on the road. Its folding shape means it take up no space at all in your laptop bag and when I’m working on a desk in a hotel I really do prefer to use this over using the trackpad. The tiny little receiver does take up one USB port though so I normally have to plug this in after I have downloaded all the cards from a days shooting. But the received is stored neatly inside the mouse when not in use and it comes in a little travel bag. Very neat!
Macbook Pro 15″ – 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of Ram with an upgraded Seagate 500GB 7200rpm drive on board.
This has been my workhorse for quite some time. Its powerful enough to run an external monitor without trouble and when you need to edit photos and HD video on the road this is the one that comes with me. Battery life is not that great but I tend to use this one to setup my roaming office in a hotel for a couple of weeks so battery is not so important for me. I appreciate the firewire 800 port for my portable hard drives because with FW800 you can daisy-chain them all together so multiple drives still only need one port on the laptop. This leaves 2 USB ports free for my card reader and usually my iPod.