I'll begin this article by saying this: I haven't always been a fan of Microsoft.
In fact, I've used Macs for a good long time for everything from day-to-day tasks to processing the images that I take.
That's now changed.
I talked in a previous article about why the Surface Book is a photographer's best tool.
This go round, I'd like to expand on what I discussed in those articles and focus on the all-important area of post-processing.
This Thing is Purpose-Built for Creative Pursuits
I loved my MacBook for a very long time, and I still think it's a great machine.
But next to the Surface Book, my MacBook looks and feels positively quaint.
When it comes to creative tasks, the Surface Book shows its chops in just about every way.
It's light. It's fast. It's easy to engage with.
Looking at the screen (more on that in a bit) is a joy, with colors that look great, are bright, and accurate.
On an aesthetic level, the Surface Book just looks great, which doesn't hurt when you're engaged in tasks that require creative inspiration.
The Surface Book certainly delivers that.
On a technical level, the Surface Book really shines.
Though there are many different configurations, regardless of which Surface Book you get, you get ample processing power to handle heavy loads like image processing.
Lag is minimal, the keyboard is extremely responsive, and the battery life when used as a laptop is great, allowing you to cut the cord and tackle post-processing duties wherever you want.
The Screen Makes Editing Super Easy
As I said earlier, next to the Surface Book, my MacBook Pro looks like a relic.
A big part of that is the fact that there's no touchscreen capability with my Mac, but on the Surface Book, there is.
Now that I've used a touchscreen to edit my photos, I know that there is no going back.
With PixelSense technology - which is a fantastic feature that allows the touchscreen to understand if you're using your finger or the Surface Pen - you get pinpoint control over the edits that you make. Naturally, that's a big bonus when editing your photos, particularly when making selections that require finesse.
Combined with the excellent keyboard that has good response and keys that feel well-built, you get multiple means of inputting your changes, each of which works beautifully.
And this is the case for all tasks, not just processing your photos.
I found that even when I was doing day-to-day tasks and needed to navigate around Windows 10 (which is great, by the way), that I was using the touch screen rather than the keyboard.
On top of all that, the Surface Book's screen is detachable, so you can be even more mobile when doing your editing. It's also handy for meeting with clients so you can show them a few proofs, easily passing the screen around or even allowing them to zoom in and out to view their images simply by touching the screen.
The Surface Pen Makes Editing Even Easier
As great as the touchscreen is for editing, for me, the best post-processing feature of the Surface Book is the Surface Pen.
If you've ever used a Wacom tablet before, you know the value of having a stylus for taking on your post-processing tasks.
But unlike the Wacom, with the Surface Pen, you write directly onto the Surface Book's screen.
It's just like the days when you used to draw in your notebook!
For me, I found using the Surface Pen for editing my photos to be a seamless process, one that I adopted quickly by virtue of the familiarity of using pen and paper.
And I mean that seriously - the Surface Pen literally feels like a traditional pen or pencil. It fits beautifully in my hand and is comfortable to use for long post-processing sessions.
What's more, the Pen and the Surface Book's screen are a beautiful marriage. See them together in the video above by Microsoft.
On other screens, the stylus feels a little wishy-washy, but that's not the case here. The Surface Pen actually feels like you're writing on a surface that provides friction, just like you'd feel when putting pen to paper. It even comes with various tips so you can change the feel of it as it glides across the screen.
You can imagine how that enhances your ability to edit your photos with much greater ease.
The Surface Book Handles Lightroom and Photoshop Well
Of course, the big question when I switched to the Surface Book is if it would be able to handle the rigors that Lightroom and Photoshop would place on it.
I can tell you that the Surface Book met the challenge on both fronts.
It's not a perfect performance, as there is some lag on some memory-intensive tasks, but that's to be expected on the vast majority of computers.
As far as Lightroom goes, you can process RAW files with ease, especially those from cameras with fewer megapixels (though even megapixel-heavy images still process fast enough).
General tasks in Lightroom occur quickly and efficiently, and you can even run Lightroom on just the tablet portion of the Surface Book. However, since Lightroom can be power-hungry, I'd recommend keeping the tablet and keyboard attached and plugged into power.
The Surface Book is similarly useful for running Photoshop. Typical tasks like making selections, adding layer adjustments, cropping, and so forth are just as fast on the Surface Book as on my other machines.
There are two major caveats, though...
First, if you have an 8GB Surface Book, you will experience some slowing down in Photoshop as you accumulate more and more layers.
Second, though you can run Photoshop and Lightroom simultaneously with an 8GB Surface Book, you might encounter some memory consumption errors.
Naturally, the way to avoid this is to do what you need in Lightroom, export your images to Photoshop, and then close out Lightroom before opening Photoshop.
But keeping your layers to a minimum isn't always an option, so in that case, an upgrade to the 16GB model is well worth the extra money.
See the Surface Book with a Performance Base in action in the video below by Ditch Auto:
Wrapping It Up
When it comes to post-processing my photos, I have found just about an ideal partner in the Surface Book.
As noted above, the screen is bright and sharp, so viewing my images is a joy, and with the touchscreen capability and the Surface Pen, editing my photos is a joy as well.
With excellent features, great build quality, and the ability to run power-hungry applications like Lightroom and Photoshop, I think you'll be just as surprised about the Surface Book as I was when I unboxed it.
Microsoft has definitely picked up their game, and if I were over at Apple, I'd be shaking in my boots at what the future holds for the competition between Macs and Surface products.