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Everything photographers need to work from home: computers, laptops, monitors and more

Everything photographers need to work from home
(Image credit: Future)

Right now, home working is the new reality for a lot of photographers, at least for the time being, so here's a roundup of all our latest and best advice on computers, monitors, printers and storage. If you're stuck at home, you might as well make it as painless and productive as possible!

Computers for home working

If you work at a regular desk (check out our guide to best desks for homeworking), then a traditional desktop computer will give you the most power for your money. Does it matter what you get? We think so, because although photo-editing doesn't place as many demands on your computing hardware as video or gaming, older machines may struggle to process high-resolution images and raw files from the latest camera. And if you have a lot of images to process, the faster your computer can get through them, the better.

Here's a buying guide to some of the best desktop computers around right now, for both Mac and Windows fans.

If you don't have the luxury of a fixed office space or you want the flexibility to move around or work off site, then a laptop makes more sense. The best laptops for photographers are powerful enough to match a desktop computer – but portable.

Many photographers shoot video too, of course, so while there is a good deal of crossover with the best photo editing laptops, we've also published a guide to the best laptops for video editing. And finally, if you want to make working with a laptop a bit more comfortable, consider buying one of the best laptop stands.

An alternative to the conventional laptop is to choose one of the best Chromebooks – these lightweight units are great for students, or for those that are used to working using Google Drive and Google's free cloud-based apps.

(Image credit: LaCie)

Storage for photographers

Almost all photographers will find their photo collection quickly outgrows their computer's internal hard drive. If you have a configurable Windows machine you CAN add more internal drives, but with the speed of today's USB-C and Thunderbolt interfaces, it makes much more sense just to plug in external drives as needed.

We have published a guide to the best external hard drives for photographers which includes regular drives and high-security, high-speed RAID devices ideal for professionals. If you have lots of images (or videos) and need to store these, and like being able to access this archive from anywhere also check out our guide to the best NAS drives.

Very often, though, that's overkill. Desktop drives are fast with lots of capacity, but they're tied to a single location. The best portable hard drives give you much-needed extra capacity and you can take them with you. They're powered by their USB cable, too, so you don't need power cables.

On the subject of storage, how do you get images from your camera to your computer? Some computers have SD memory card slots (not other types) and some have none, so check out our guide to the best memory card readers to find a faster solution than simply connecting the camera by cable.

(Image credit: Philips)

Monitors for photographers

Most computer monitors are designed for web browsing, productivity/office software and other activities that don't need particularly high resolution or accurate colors. Photographers, of course, need both of these things! We've put together a guide to the best monitors for photographers, with the emphasis on display quality and color rendition. If you are more into video, then you instead want to check out our best video-editing monitor guide.

You don't HAVE to get a monitor designed solely for photography. The best USB-C monitors can do a good job too and they're very simple to hook up – and some of the best ultra-wide monitors might be designed for gaming and VR, but they can also work well for photography and video. 

And if you are working at home, you may well benefit in getting your monitor off the surface of your desk using a monitor arm. And if you need to take the monitor on your travels, it is worth checking out the best portable monitors.

One of the keys for best display quality is proper monitor calibration – this makes sure the monitor will display colors as they actually are. Some really high-end monitors come with built-in calibration but in most cases you'll need a separate calibration kit. Read our guide to the best monitor calibration kits for more.

(Image credit: HP)

Photo printers for photographers

It's the final piece in the home photography puzzle – a printer! There are lots of good online labs you can use, but having your own printer means you can get prints right there and then, and in exactly the sizes you need.

See our guide to the best photo printers to see our current favorite models or, if you need to output larger prints for clients or exhibition, we have a guide to the best large format printers too.

If you are looking for a budget solution, check out our guide to the best all-in-one printer for home working, or our top ten choices for the best wireless printer.  We also have a guide to the best portable printers for quick and simple prints in smaller sizes.

What next?

In view of the current worldwide health crisis, home working is likely to become daily life for many photographers, so we're committed to offering the best advice we can to keep your hobby and your business running smoothly. We'll update and add to all our guides to reflect all the changes, new ideas and new ways of working as they unfold – so stay safe, and stay tuned!

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