This post is in response to a question I was asked yesterday.
In my opinion and having used a tablet for the past 12 years or more I would say that if you draw or retouch using your computer you need a tablet and a pen. Not only is the pen more ergonomic but it is far more natural in the way you position your hand and fingers compared to the award two or three button mouse.
The mouse is fine for basic painting and clocking. Anything more and it just does not cut the mustard.
Though the tablet and pen is not an essential tool for photographers it becomes essential if you do any retouching, masking and digital art.
So the question about which tablet should a photographer get can be answered in a few ways. Undoubtedly the Wacom is the finest tablet in the market. There are others but I would stay away. You want a tablet that is well designed and works.
For any peripheral device one of the key considerations is the software interface and the drivers. Here Wacom excels.
The size of the tablet you used should be based on whether you are a single or dual monitor user. For single monitor users, my suggestion is the small or medium Wacom tablets. For dual monitor users the choice is the large or the extra-large. The reason for the large are larger tablet is because you can map each monitor to two halves of the tablet.
Wacom makes three tablet products. The Bamboo, The Intuos Pen and the Intuos Pro. As a photographer I would stay away from the Bamboo as I feel it is a touch pad and with the stylus great for doodling.
So the choices are the Intuos Pen or the Intuos Pro. Both can be connected via USB or wireless. The Intuos has touch sensitivity in all models while the Intuos Pen has an optional touch version.
Lets compare the two.
|Intuos Pen||Intuos Pro|
|Tablet Dimensions||10.75 x 8.75 x 0.4 in||15 x 9.9 x 0.5 in|
|Active Area||8.5″ x 5.3″||8.8″ x 5.5″|
|Pressure Levels||1024 tip||2048 on tip and eraser|
|Resolution||2540 lpi||5080 lpi|
|Express Keys||4 customizable||8 customizable|
|Mutli-Touch: Yes||Yes||Yes 10 Fingers|
|Multi-function Touch Ring: no||No||Touch Ring: Yes – 4 customizable functions|
|Pen||Nib and Eraser||Grip: Latex-free silicone rubber|
|Pen Nibs||5 Standard||Replacement Nibs: 10 nibs : 5 standard, 1 flex, 1 stroke nib, and 3 felt|
|Pen Tilt||No||Yes +/- 60 levels|
|Pen Switches||No||2 customizable|
Wacom Intuos Pro is highly customizable. It has 8 buttons and a multi-functional touch ring and two buttons on the pen. The Intuos Pen has 4 customizable buttons in the top panel. With the Intuos Pro each of them can be assigned a different custom feature – from scrolling, panning and zooming to keyboard shortcuts and changing brush size. You can also use the tilt feature to change brush shapes. A Shortcut Menu can be assigned to one of the buttons and when clicked a circular menu will show on the screen. This menu system gives access to several additional shortcuts than can be layered. Another great feature is the ability to set and customize buttons by application. So Photoshop can have its own custom buttons and Lightroom its own, etc.
Pressure sensitivity is always questioned. If you use Photoshop that recognizes pressure sensitivity then the choice is the Intros Pro with higher levels. You will notice the difference only when comparing the two tablets side by side. If all you use is Lightroom then you do not need the greater pressure sensitivity and the Intros will serve you well.
Intuos Pro also supports hand gestures that are customizable too. You can pan, zoom and rotate using gestures. This feature can be enabled or disabled as needed.
In my opinion the Intuos Pen is ideal for beginners. This is a very good tablet for drawing, painting and photo editing. The Intros Pro on the other hand is one of the best in tablets. The difference in price is fully justifiable. This is a tablet for photographers who do a lot of post-processing, image retouching and work extensively with layer masks. Precision cloning, masking, dodging and burning, is controlled yet simplified. Of importance is the fact that you are unlikely to outgrow the features this tablet provides.
Wacom also make the Cintiq family of high definition pen monitors that are exceptional.