How many photo editing tablets are being used?

posted November 21st, 2017
I am seeing more and more pro-photographers and how-to tutorials are using photo editing tablets to do their post processing. I was wondering how many 365ers are tablet users and what brands are being used? It seems to me in my limited research that Wacom is the most recognized company in that field. I also see that a relatively new company Huion, a Chinese company, has a number of tablets available. Huion has larger tablets, more working surface, for significantly less money than Wacom's line of tablets. But then there is the question, are you getting what you pay for?
I would appreciate any input as to what tablets are being used and why you chose that particular make and model.

Thank you for taking the time to answer!
posted November 21st, 2017
This is probably going to be quite nonsensical and long but here goes! :D

I use a Wacom (An Intuos 4 Large). They're great for certain things, like quick layer masks and quick fixes and "touch ups" where a mouse is a bit clumsy. I mainly chose this model because I had it already, as it's what I use for digital painting.

Now, one difference between the two is going to be the pens. Most Huion have battery pens, whereas Wacom pens are powered via radio waves. Batteries are fine, though does make it a bit heavier and perhaps more annoying if the pen isn't charged or runs out. Then a newer wireless version, which like the first battery pen lack the "eraser" end, so you can't just flip the pen in your hand and delete stuff (something that's surprisingly useful) and lack the pen buttons (buttons can be reassigned to basically any functionality) as the button switches to eraser.

Now one thing I do like is a larger vs smaller tablet. Though to a certain point. The L size or "Pro" for Huion are similar and about the perfect size for me personally. They give me more room, and less reliance on "precision modes" and "area modes" and such things, making things quicker. Randomly, I'm not really sure why Huion boast of having "the biggest tablet in the world" for the WH1409, when it's working area is almost 1.5x smaller than the Wacom XL tablet (350 x 220mm vs 488 x 305), though that thing is rather pricey.

There are some stories about software incompatibility with Huion and various quality issues, though that's true of every product (though the "wobbly line" stories in even the positive reviews are kind of worrying). I'm not really sure how well the Huion lasts long term, or how well their drivers last between OS versions, but that's always a risk with hardware.

It's always possible from places such as Amazon to get one, try it and if you don't get on with it return it and get the other. Alternatively sometimes local stores have them in display units.

Now, for the amount I paid for the tablet, it's gotten lots of moneys worth back, after the amount I've used it. You can get things in sales, and I spent about the same as my 100mm macro lens for something I use almost daily for a bunch of hours (to be fair I also use the macro lens almost daily). Of course if it's not something that is going to be used that often, then the price of it is much more a consideration.

While we're here it's worth mentioning the "screen" style tablets. Which I've never been able to get on with. Firstly because of the slight delay between doing something and it happening (though that affects some people less than others), and secondly because your hand gets in the way of your vision. Then while you're using it you either have to lean over it or hold your arms out, neither which is very comfortable! Then of course because they're rather ridiculously expensive and rather small as monitors.

That was rather long. :D
posted November 21st, 2017
I use a wacom intuos pro also. It is the small one and I only use a small portion of it to save on using large motions when I edit. (you can choose the area on the tablet that you want to edit within) It suits me fine although I only use it on photos and not for other graphic work. I don't know anything about the others!
posted November 21st, 2017
@miseria - Thank you for your in depth response! I really appreciate it! After reading reviews on the tablets, I often begin to wonder if the reviewers are talking about the same product they are so wide ranging from one to five stars. I next went to YouTube to look for comparisons, which I found a few but nothing that really helped me in making a decision. Sometimes I wonder if well known people in the photographic field are given, free of charge, equipment for them to use in hopes they will promote their product? I do a lot of post processing in Lightroom and PhotoShop. Not always extensive mind you. I do understand how cumbersome a mouse can be sometimes in achieving what it want.
I did not think your comments were too long or nonsensical as I feel they were needed to explain your experience.

I did come across a YouTube review that mentioned that the Huion tablets didn't allow you to assign tasks to the shortcut buttons to more than one software application which I thought unusual. I thought using a tablet would be similar to using a mouse in different applications.

Having zero experience with tablets and their use and abilities doesn't help either. I take it from what you said that if you are using a small tablet you are restricted by the area you can work on at one time?

Thank you again for your informative reply!
posted November 21st, 2017
@skipt07 Basically all the tablets by default work as a 1 to 1 ratio with the screen. So the pen in the top left of the tablet puts the cursor in the top left, and bottom right is bottom right. So the smaller the tablet is the smaller the movements you have to make.

This is fine for usual things, but when you want to do small details on smaller tablets the required movements become rather tiny. So to compensate for this it's normal to use a precision mode. This basically switches the tablet control area from equivalent to the entire screen to a smaller screen zone. On the larger sizes there is much less need for this as the work area is bigger and the movements bigger already. Of course you'll be doing bigger movements for everything else too, but no need to switch modes.

The assigning keys per applications thing is rather useful! On the other hand most image manipulation software have more or less the same shortcuts anyway, other than the one or two annoying exceptions! The shortcuts really do allow you to do things much quicker and set up the hardware to how you do things (even when i'm not using the tablet I still use the buttons for save and undo)!

Why many people probably use them, especially professionally is efficiency, I know when i'm doing things it does help do those tiny things much quicker! Of course this depends on the kind of editing done!

I think the best thing to do is try one out and see how you get along with it. If it's something you really respond well to and will get lots of use out of it's probably worth the investment. :D
posted November 21st, 2017
@miseria ~ Thank you very much for all the helpful information you have offered.You have been a great help!
I know that you are a graphic artist and I can see where a tablet would be invaluable for that. I have watched numerous tutorials on YouTube on how to do editing in Photoshop and Lightroom, but they weren't meant to teach how to use a tablet to accomplish the task.Nor have I found any that shows someone editing using a mouse versus a tablet.
I guess basically the tablet and pen gives you more control over fine editing.
I have a better understanding of what I need to consider if or when I purchase a tablet. Do you give classes or make tutorials by any chance? πŸ˜„
Maybe I should go to a Best Buy and have them give me a demo.
posted November 21st, 2017
Thanks for starting this discussion. I've been editing on a laptop with a trackpad (!) and would really like to move over to using a tablet. Useful information!
posted November 22nd, 2017
@jackies365 - Thank you Jackie for your response. I saw the large assortment of small Wacom tablets which better fits my budget. But not knowing what a tablet was capable of I didn't want to buy a small one and end up wishing I hadn't. Now that it has been explained to me about the precise mode I it is one of my considerations. I just wish they didn't make so many models which makes it harder to choose.
posted November 22nd, 2017
interesting reading... i have a tablet, but never got the hang of using it... i work almost exclusively off my laptop using the track pad and it seems to work for me... but i keep thinking that it's probably not as efficient or as precise as a tablet... hmmmmmmmm.... thank you for starting this thread!
posted November 22nd, 2017
I use a Wacom tablet... the least expensive and least complex version that I could find. I haven't done anything special with it, regarding assigning functions to buttons, etc., but I do like how precise it is, compared to the track pad.
posted November 22nd, 2017
@houser934 @northy @rosiekerr I am glad that you are getting help as I have on the subject. I have gone back to YouTube since @miseria has given me so much helpful information and have found some tutorials on tablets. So far I have found some done by Wacom and there are a number done by Aaron Nace of Phlearn on setting up a tablet. Haven't watched them all yet. The one video done by a Wacom technician suggests disconnecting your mouse, or in your case stop using the track pad and using the pen and tablet instead. He even suggests playing the card games that are bundled on all computer using the pen and tablet to get a feel for how the pen responds.
posted November 22nd, 2017
@skipt07 Noo I'm a bit "odd" in how I do things (and my voice is reeeally hard to understand) and usually when I explain anything people are more confused than before I started! :D

The difference in control between a pen and a mouse isn't just down to the accuracy but the other controls a pen allows. For example the pressure levels can be used to control certain things, such as opacity. So when you're deleting an area of a layer you can use lighter strokes with the eraser to "feather" the edges for a smoother blend (this is great for depth of field effects or layer masks). With a mouse you're limited to a single fixed opacity so would need to go through numerous other opacity steps or blending to get a similar result.

One of the main things with tablets is of course hand eye coordination. So lots of these kind of exercises are helping you learn muscle memory of what hand movements do on the screen (which is why the card games help as you're repeating simple actions at fixed points). People are all different and learn this at different speeds but practice of any kind helps!
posted November 23rd, 2017
I use a Wacom Intuos Pro medium. I have assigned functions to various buttons and find it saves time. Since I also use it in a graphic art capacity, the pen is hand over fist better than a mouse or track pad in terms of precision. I don't use a mouse or track pad at all anymore.
posted November 24th, 2017
@evalieutionspics - Thank you very much for your input. I believe that using a tablet will be a challenge being that I have become accustomed to setting the sensitivity of applying an effect to my photos by using the sliders rather than by how hard I push on the pen and how that will work together.
Every once in a while I'll take a photo of a subject and when I get it home and look at it on my monitor I am disappointed. But still there is something that I like about it and my thinking is, if I had a tablet could I fine tune the image to get the effect that I desire that is harder to achieve with a mouse?
posted November 25th, 2017
@skipt07 I think it very much depends on what you photograph and how you approach your editing. There are times when I want to mask something off. Then the precision of a pen/tablet is the only way to go. If I want to shade or highlight an area delicately, I COULD do it with a mouse, but it's SO much easier with my pen. Also, because I have assigned various common functions to the buttons of my pen, such as "Undo," "Reject," and "Pick," for Lightroom, my workflow is smooth and fast. I like being able to pinpoint match color where I want it rather than the general area match I was getting with my mouse. The answer to your question is yes; I think the subtle fine tunings are easier to manage with a pen. Additionally, and this may be just because I am ham-fisted, but I find operating the sliders with greater delicacy is easier with the pen also.
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