MacBook Pro Retina Display 1st Impressions

Many of you have been asking me about my impressions of the new MacBook Pro Retina Display from a “Photographer’s Perspective” and I’m not quite ready with that review yet. However, I have done my 1st review and given my overall impressions of it, which you can read here. The reason that I’m not really ready to talk about it from a photographer’s or even a designer’s perspective yet is that to be fair we really have to wait for Apps to be updated to take advantage of this (Hi-DPI) display. While Apple did showcase a “future” version of Photoshop CS6 on stage, that version is not quite ready for distribution yet.


photo credit –

We’re also waiting on Lightroom, InDesign and Illustrator. What I can say now is that while the current CS6 versions haven’t been updated yet, they do work just fine and I have no problem using them in my daily routine.

As a matter of fact I’ve completely switched over to the New MacBook Pro Retina Display and used it on stage during my Detroit InDesign Users Group meeting last week without any issues. I did my entire demo including Photoshop CS6, Bridge CS6, Illustrator CS6, InDesign CS6, Acrobat Pro X, and Adobe Muse. I figured that there was no better way to really test its capabilities than to do a full blown demo on stage in front of 200+ people 🙂 Crazy=Brave. I didn’t even bring the old one as a backup. It all worked perfectly!

How do non-Hi-DPI apps look?

That’s the question you’re probably wondering about and I have to say that while not as crisp as a native Hi-DPI app would look, these apps don’t don’t look bad at all. At least not as bad as I feared. Sure they are a little “soft” and if you zoom in in Photoshop you’ll see more jaggies around the edges, but even with these annoyances, I have no problem doing my day to day work including photo retouching. I actually feared that it would be unusable and I’d have to keep using my other MacBook Pro until the updates came out. I’m glad that that turned out to not be the case (Y.M.M.V. – I can’t tell you how YOUR eyes will perceive ANY display. You really have to see YOUR work on a display that you are considering and be YOUR own judge! I can only tell you works or doesn’t work for me.)

When these apps are updated for Hi-DPI life will be even better! So stay tuned for an updated review or second look once we have an update to Photoshop and perhaps some of the other apps. As a photographer you’re definitely going to want this USB 3 CF/SD Card Reader by Lexar.

20 Replies to “MacBook Pro Retina Display 1st Impressions”

  1. Hi Terry,

    I got mine about a week ago and it’s a beautiful thing. CS6 runs impeccably on the retina screen. I must say, images show up much clearer, even without the retina upgrades from Adobe. See you at PSW in Las vegas!

  2. Hi Terry,

    I’m also using Creative Suite 6 with no problems on my Mac Book Pro with Retina display. Between the faster processor, 16 GB of RAM and the SSD, it’s really fast. I’ve only had it a few weeks, but so far everything is working great!

    — J

  3. Terry,

    I was not able to get the card reader to work. Their website says that they are working on a firmware fix but it is not released yet. How did you get yours to work???

    1. Didn’t do anything special. Plugged it in, plugged in a card it mounted. Copied stuff from it. Apple did do an update recently. Perhaps that’s why mine is working.

  4. Terry: Do you worry about qualitative output differences after adjusting images on the retina display? Have you been able to judge this for yourself after viewing them on a non-retina display?

    1. Haven’t run into any issues to date with working on an image with the Retina display and then looking at it afterwards on a non-retina display. On the 1st day I got it setup I retouched a photo with it and have since looked at that same photo on other computers.

  5. Hi Terry, why would using the rMBP be an issue when presenting on a conference setup. You would be hooking up to a projector or other display device anyway so the machine will adapt resolution accordingly. So of course the applications will look fine on your large conference screen. The same holds true for the thunderbolt display. Everything looks great there but it’s because the os will use the correct resolution for the screen device attached. Not sure I understood your comment about being brave for doing so in front of 200 people. Lol

    1. The comment had nothing to do with the display and everything to do with it was the 1st time since setting it up from scratch, installing Apps, setting prefs and copying files AND connecting to a projector for the 1st time. The chance of forgetting something on a new configuration.

  6. Hi. Until now using Macbook Pro has been a pleasant experience for me. No issues with me. However, I am keen to use the Macbook Pro Retina Display as well, for I can see people are full of praises for it. Apple has done it once again!

  7. Hi Terry,
    Thanks for your excellent blog.
    It looks like I am going to replace my old MacBook to the new RMBP. From your opinion do you think it is worth to investigate in the biggest processor? I will use it for Photoshop and LR.

    Best regards

    1. Thanks, I usually recommend going with the fastest, best you can afford if this is going to be one that you’re going to hold onto for 2-3 years or longer.

  8. Hi Terry,

    I have a few questions text isn’t solid and really pixalted and so are all the icons and menus. I am running CS6 Design Premium.

    – What resolution settings are you using?
    – When you right click on the application photoshop for example and Get Info is the tick box show in low resolution ticked and greyed out?

    If you can give some feed back that would be great as I am thinking of changing it for the regular screen.



    1. Icons/text, etc. on non-retina enabled Apps will look soft, pixelated, etc. until they are updated.
      I currently run at the native 1440×900 res, however I also like 1680×1050 which is what my previous MBP was at.

      Bottom Line, like most 1st generation things you have to wait for the rest of the industry to catch up. It’s not a simple task that one would think to update for retina displays. In the case of Photoshop for example, thousands of icons have to redrawn at higher resolutions. So if waiting is not your thing, then you may want to skip this 1st gen Retina Display and wait for the apps to catch up.

  9. Ok no problem, would you advise holding out and is it likely to be a free upgrade/update?

  10. Thanks Terry for your help. Didn’t want to exchange it so that’s made up my mind.

    Many thanks


  11. Hi Terry,

    I am running CS6 Design and Web Premium, everything works fine except for Indesign, cannot even make a PDF, Export, Package, or even print some things from Indesign, without instantly shutting Indesign down.

    If you could give me some feedback on what the problem could be would be much appreciated, as i do use Indesign nearly daily, and without being able to do these simple things is becoming a real inconvenience.



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