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There are two kinds of people, the writer Damon Runyon once said: those who eat at delicatessens and those you shouldn’t associate with.

My friend Mark Kellner (tech writer for the Washington Times) feels this way about people who own Mac computers.  And, I bet if you asked professional photographer Rich Wagner, he’d say the same.

Both of these guys are so obsessed with Apple products, you could stick an Apple logo on a bag of coal and they’d buy it.  (My friend John Forde, probably the most prolific writer I know, is somewhere laughing because he, too, falls in this group and uses this joke often.)

And they’re not the only ones who think Macs can do no wrong.  There’s actually a name for people like this.  They’re called “fanboys” and they’re hiding all across America behind white and silver laptops, most often with ear plugs in, an iPhone in their pocket, and a house full of white computer gear.

But I can tell you, no machine is perfect.  But still, a fan club exists for Macs, and several of our writers and photographers here on staff and out in the field are part of it.  I might even join them before the end of the year.  Here’s why…

There’s no denying that the Mac platform is gaining in popularity and market share now that iPhones and iPads are popular.  And with that comes a little peer pressure.  Everyone else has one, why don’t I?

In addition, Mac screens and monitors are all color-calibrated the same.  In the PC world, your photos will look one way on a Dell computer and another on an HP and neither is guaranteed to look all that great.  Different makes and models will have different screens, so it’s something you have to look for when shopping.  And, if the color-calibration in your screen is ever messed up, it might affect the way you edit your images in Photoshop or Lightroom, costing you a sale.

And then there’s what I mentioned yesterday – Apple’s new operating system will make syncing all your Apple gear automatic.  And that might just be enough to push me over the edge and get out my wallet.  

How much will I need to spend?

I asked Mark since it’s his job to stay on top of these things.  And, despite his fanboy status, he does NOT recommend the bottom-of-the-line MacBook ($999) for photographers, especially those who travel. 

RAM and hard-drive space are too small to run photo-editing software and maintain a picture portfolio, he told me.  And there’s no slot for your camera card, kind of a must these days for photographers.

But every other Mac portable, from the MacBook Pro (starting at $1,199) to the MacBook Air ($999), does have the SD Card slot. They also have brushed aluminum cases instead of plastic, more RAM, and more disc space.

The lowest-priced MacBook Pro has a 13.3-inch display screen.  (Larger screens mean more money and can set you back $1,799 to $2,499… sometimes more.)

All MacBook Pros have Intel CoreDuo processors and at least 500 GB in hard disc space.  And all have HD graphics and super-sharp displays.

MacBook Airs, on the other hand, start at just $999 and are known for their extremely thin and light design.  They’re less than an inch tall and weigh only 2.3 pounds. 

The best MacBook Air for photographers would likely be the $1,199 11-inch model, which offers 128 GB of solid-state memory, instead of a hard drive, and the SD Card slot, which somehow is absent from the 13-inch models. RAM is only 2 GB, so you’ll want to spend an extra $100 to double that amount.  But it’ll be well worth it.  Total cost: $1,299.

Here are some accessories you’ll need, too:

  • If your camera doesn’t take SD cards and instead uses compact flash or brand-specific cards, you’ll need a card reader. The Moshi Cardette Ultra Silver has an integrated cord and extra USB ports and reads all kinds of media cards. It lists for $35, but is available at Amazon.com for $30.58.
  • If you travel to places without Wi-Fi and instead need to hook up your MacBookAir to a LAN line, you’ll want a USB adapter from Apple, price $29.
  • If you’re used to working with a mouse, most wireless mice will work; Mark likes Apple’s “Magic Mouse,” which will let you use “swipe” gestures with the new operating system.
  • Prudent laptoppers will want to have a good carrying case. Mark also likes the “sleeves” and screen-protecting cloths from www.RadTech.us. The sleeves are made from microfiber and protect the outer case from scratches, and provide a good grip. The cloth sits on top of the keyboard and keeps the oils from your fingertips from transferring to the screen.

And again, the real benefit for Mac users will come later this summer when Apple’s new “Lion” operating system is released and you can synchronize all your photos and documents across devices: desktop computer, phone, iPad, and laptop.  It’s said that you’ll be able to sync some of your Windows-based devices, too.  But there’s no proof of this yet.

Still, for a photo-selling user, this convenience will be a definite blessing.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about a few cheaper PC options for those on a budget, including one model they’re calling the Macbook Air Killer.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

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