Photography
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White Mouse or Black Tablet

A friend asked if I wanted to buy a black tablet. He told me I’d be able to interact with the world in ways I couldn’t even dream about. I’d become faster, more agile, in more control. He’d been a user for a few months, but decided to quit. He offered me a deal.

“You take the white mouse – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the black tablet – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

I paid him the cash, he mailed me the tablet.

The mouse is caged, but will this be a bitter pill to swallow.

Wacom Intuos4 tablet large

Wacom Intuos4 tablet large

To paraphrase, Pietro a photographer friend asked if I’d like to buy his Wacom Intuos4 graphics tablet. He wasn’t using it much and thought I’d find it valuable when editing in Photoshop or Lightroom. He offered me a great deal so I took it. I’ve never used a tablet before and heard they take some getting used to, but they’re pretty standard equipment in the world of post processing. Once I’m comfortable working with it, it should make retouching images faster and easier.

Rather than controlling the pointer on your screen with a mouse, you do it by moving a pen over a tablet. Tablets vary in size, but on the one I got the working area is about the size of a piece of A4. In the standard mode, the working area automatically matches the computer monitor. Touch the pen to the top right corner of the working area and your cursor will be in the top right of the screen. Pressing the nib of the pen to the tablet is like a left click on a mouse. Buttons on the side of the pen can operate as a right click function or you can customize then to your needs. When using programs like Photoshop the tablet comes into its own.

Wacom Intuos 4 tablet

Wacom Intuos 4 tablet

In graphics programs the pen is pressure sensitive and aware of the angle. This means that you can work much more naturally whether you are drawing a picture or balancing out skin tones on a photograph. The pen even comes with a selection of nibs each with a different feel. Shortcut buttons and a wheel on the side of the pad allow you to access commonly used functions without leaving the tablet and reaching over to the keyboard.

wacom intuos 4 nibs

wacom intuos 4 nibs

After using the tablet for a couple of weeks I’m finding it a useful and enjoyable way to work. Customizing the shortcut buttons was key, as was setting the tablet up so that there is a small area for rapid movement around the screen and a larger area for detail work.

Would I recommend a tablet? It depends on your needs. If you spend a significant amount of time on the computer drawing, using CAD programs, or post processing then it’s a definite yes. But, if you’re happy with the mouse, then save your time, money and desk space.

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