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Wacom Tablet Recommendation

kitjv

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As a longtime LR & Mac user, I am finally coming around to understanding the benefits of a Wacom tablet versus my trackpad for post-processing. Since I am sure that many of you are veteran Wacom tablet users, I would like to lean on you for a recommendation. Specifically, what features & size of tablet do you find indispensable? I don't want to "under buy" & later have buyer's remorse. Likewise, I don't not subscribe to the dictum that bigger & more expensive are always better. So your experienced thoughts would be most appreciated. Thank you kindly.
 
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Will you be using it mostly in Lightroom, or also in Photoshop?
There’s a kind of continuum of uses for a tablet:
  1. Advanced compositing, digital painting/drawing with simulated pencils and brushes
  2. Painting masks for photos, for retouching or compositing — many Lightroom users fall in this category
  3. Simple mouse replacement for general computer use
Generally, the higher up you are in that list, the more money you want to spend.
A simple mouse replacement tablet can be small and have basic features, where you spend under $200.

For photographic masking and basic retouching, it helps to have a small to medium sized tablet and a stylus with good pressure sensitivity, usually in the $150–500 range. If the tablet is mostly for use in Lightroom, this type of tablet would be typical. I use a small Wacom Intuos Pro.

If you want to make digital paintings, draw digital comic books, or do advanced compositing in Photoshop with custom brushes, especially the brushes that respond to things like the angle you hold the stylus and if you are turning the stylus as you paint, you’ll definitely be using a Wacom Intuos Pro. For those users, the medium to large sizes can be preferable for drawing/painting at the same size as on paper.

If, on top of all that, you’d like to paint/draw on a document being shown on the tablet itself because the tablet has a display in it, then you want to pay even more for a Wacom Cintiq Pen Display.

Another low-end/high-end differentiator is that the more expensive models have more programmable buttons (ExpressKeys), and may have a Touch Ring. I mapped my Touch Ring so that I can spin it to change values in Lightroom Classic options. In Adobe Premiere Pro I programmed the Touch Ring to be a jog/shuttle wheel for the video timeline.

The short version:
Photographers can get away with small/basic tablets.
Digital fine art painters/sketchers can make use of the features in the higher end tablets.
 

kitjv

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Conrad: Thank you for the thorough reply. Virtually all of my work is in Lightroom with occasional forays into Photoshop. With that said, I have been leaning toward the Wacom Intuos Pro in either the small or medium size. If the small tablet will not only replace my trackpad but also provide the additional precision I am looking for, then I see no need to spring for the medium or large size. Does this make sense?
 
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It makes sense to me, since I use that same Intous Pro Small. Sometimes I even use the Intuos Pro’s built-in multi-touch trackpad, when I don't need the stylus. When using the stylus, the hand can make the trackpad send conflicting mouse moves to the computer, so you can turn off the trackpad feature with a hardware switch on the side of the tablet.
 
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I also use the Intuos Pro Small. One thing that new users may not realise is that the tablet maps onto the screen snd not the image. So, if you need to do detailed work on a small part of the image, just zoom in.
 

kitjv

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Conrad: Thanks for tip.

Davideric: Indeed, I realize that. I believe that the Cintiq series has an actual image-displaying screen.
 

kitjv

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One additional question: Is the Wacom Intuos Pro model PTH-460 the same as the PTH-460K0A?

Thank you.
 
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I have a small Wacom Intuos Pro too. I tried and tried, but found it extremely frustrating and just could not get used to it. I went back to using the mouse, and the Wacom is collecting dust. Another reason not to spend too much money!
 

kitjv

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It is my understanding that there definitely is a learning curve. Eventually, I guess it all boils down to individual preference.
 

PhilBurton

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It makes sense to me, since I use that same Intous Pro Small. Sometimes I even use the Intuos Pro’s built-in multi-touch trackpad, when I don't need the stylus. When using the stylus, the hand can make the trackpad send conflicting mouse moves to the computer, so you can turn off the trackpad feature with a hardware switch on the side of the tablet.
So I just ordered the Intuos Pro Small from B&H Photo. (Free two-day shipping and no sales tax in the USA if you use their "Payboo" credit card.)

I'm left handed, so now I can imagine a no-keyboard operation at times.

Are there customizable keys for Microsoft Office programs?

Phil
 
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Are there customizable keys for Microsoft Office programs?
I started Word and Excel on my Mac, and the Wacom software did not show a special set of shortcuts for them. What the really means is that out of the box, the tablet will have Office applications use the default set of assignments (a preset called “All Other”) for the tablet controls. At any time you can click the plus sign by the application list, add any application, and customize your own preset for it. You can customize each key on the tablet, what the Touch Ring does, the touch gestures you want to use when the trackpad is switched on, and each button on the pen.

Wacom-tablet-setup.jpg


But…for those of you who have not used one of these before: It’s probably best to take it slow at first. Use it as it is out of the box for a while, to get used to the basics of how it works.

Then, over time, ask yourself what you wish each of the controls did, like “I wish I could use this ring to adjust Lightroom sliders.” Or, “I wish the top button would pop up a menu of my most frequently accessed folders to open.” Then slowly start customizing things. If you’re like me, the defaults wouldn’t fit your working style anyway. I don’t like their defaults for Photoshop.

Even though this is my fourth Wacom tablet in 25 years, this new Intuos Pro S is several generations more advanced than my previous one, and it has taken me a couple weeks to adjust to it. There are several things it can do that I wasn’t even aware of when I ordered it. So don’t let it feel overwhelming, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t instantly change your life or seems to work against you at first. Just take it slow, and gradually shape it into what you need it to be in order to work more efficiently.
 
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