In today’s world of photography, post-processing of digital images is an absolute necessity.
In the old days of film photography one would spend hours in the darkroom dodging and burning, working with filters to increase contrast, and pushing development times to achieve better exposures. We were limited.
Now there are tools which can greatly enhance one’s processing. Enter the world of digital tablets. At the top of the pyramid of this class are the Wacom Intuos5 Tablets.
My friends at Hunt’s Photo sent me one to review and test.
After opening up the package and attaching it to my computer via a USA port, I set about becoming familiar with how it works. It is amazingly complex, with a vast array of ways to program the tablet to suit one’s needs. Wacom offers a wireless accessory, freeing one’s desktop from another cable.
There are basically two interfaces one can use with the table. The pen, with lots of choices of brushes, or one’s hand using gestures. I soon had a photo loaded in photoshop and set about using dodge and burn, saturation, masks, and curves to get the photograph to look like what I wanted it to be.
What I found myself doing was using my hands for controlling the various Photoshop Tools. It was a new experience for me, something I had never done before. Gone was the mouse and its limitations. It seemed intuitive.
I was interacting with the computer in a way I had never experienced before. I felt a sense of creativeness, much like a painter whose individual brush strokes bring a canvas to life. It was the freedom of it, smooth, simple, so very easy to adjust the foreground saturation, change the warmth of tones in the distance forest, sharpen only what needed sharpening. Indeed, after a few hours of working with the Wacom I had discovered a new world of human/technology interface.
For most users, who do have a bit of desk space, I would recommend the medium sized tablet.
Dimensions (W x D x H): 380 mm x 251 mm x 12 mm
Active area Pen (W x D): 224 mm x 140 mm
Active area Touch (W x D): 224 mm x 140 mm
Weight: 990 g
Multi-touch Support: yes
Wireless Accessory Support: yes
Resolution (per point): 0.005 mm (5,080 lines per inch)
Tilt sensitivity: ± 60°
Maximum reading height with pen: 10 mm
No. of ExpressKeys: 8 capacitve keys
Touch Ring controller: 1
The tablet can be used as a large touchpad for simple navigation. It uses some standard universal (Apple-like) gestures. There are some custom gestures that you can assign macro commands for use in your favorite post-processing software.
There are options to adjust touch settings, like pointer speed, scrolling speed, pointer acceleration, double-tap time, or completely disable the touch input. While I would not replace my mouse, I must admit that using the tablet one could very well consider this idea after using the device for an extended period.
Standard gestures include: tap to click, two finger tap to right click, two finger drag to scroll, pinch to zoom/rotate, three finger swipe left-right to navigate, four finger swipe left-right to switch application. You can disable any of them.
The tablets come in three sizes. I recommend the medium sized unit, especially if one has limited desk space. If one spends a great deal of time using the keyboard, I recommend the small unit. At $209.99, today’s price, it’s a bargain.
Customizable gestures include: three finger tap and hold, four finger swipe up/down, five finger tap and hold, and five finger swipe up/down.
In other words, the tablet had almost unlimited ways to set it up to your liking.
What is difficult to explain is the feel of the tablet surface, not too slicky, not too rough, just right, especially for those of us who have lots of finger grease.
One thing I do want to emphasize is that cheaper is not better. There are lots of digital tablets out there, those designed for the consumer market aren’t what a serious photographer should consider. After all, if one has spent $15,000 on cameras and lenses, why would one buy a cheap tablet with severe limitations?
If you are serious about trying this fantastic new human/technology interface, I strongly suggest that you consider buying one from Hunt’s Photo Video. Why? Because the company has an incredible reputation for quality support services. I have used Hunt’s for years, they are always willing to assist me. One example was my desire to be among the first to get a Nikon D800. I got one within a week of asking, most other vendors said it would be six weeks!
I also recommend that one visit Wacom and plunder around. One can download the manual for the Wacom Intuos5 and have a good read before ordering.
In sum, even old dogs like me can find a new toy to use. Life is about learning new ways to do old things. The Wacom Intuous5 is a splendid example.
Visit www.insivity.com to see inspiring photography from some of the most adventurous photographers and artist today along with tools and techniques they use.