Comments welcomed and encouraged
This article illustrates 4 key points for why you should be using a Wacom tablet in your photography work.
* Improved workflow
* More precise adjustments
* Faster processing of images
* More ergonomic interface, reduction of mouse-related problems
Any photographer interested in keeping their processes moving along in an efficient manner, should be considering adopting the use of a Wacom or other branded tablet as their primary user interface.
Having the ability to fully customize a wide variety of features to each and every application, not just Photoshop or Lightroom, gives the user so much more ability to get the job done quickly and with less stress.
Sure there is a learning curve with this new equipment, but that is the case with every new camera body, flash, computer etc. Once the user has decided on the most effective settings and gone through them a few times, they will be wondering why they hadn’t switched much earlier.
Having used a mouse and keyboard since the dawn of time, I was amazed at how much faster I can go through a batch of images with a tablet and stylus. I can accomplish complex tasks faster and more precisely. This means I make fewer mistakes. Mistakes that necessitate me undoing my work and having to start over. On a side note, even if I am working in a different sort of software that has nothing to do with image manipulation, I still find myself picking up the stylus instead of the mouse. It’s just that much more agreeable to my frame of mind. It makes want to use it.
More precise adjustments
Having the ability to adjust not only things such as brush sizes on the fly but also, brush pressures, angles, tonalities and so much more is such a blessing. I personally, find that these adjustments are now so quick that I rarely use the keyboard except for those times when I need to enter information. With two buttons on the stylus that can be programmed to take on a number of responsibilities in addition to the plethora of settings on the tablet buttons and radial menu, the ability to precisely affect the images becomes a pleasure and not an annoying task.
When I used the mouse I found that I needed to move the mouse in a way that seemed rather clumsy. Metaphorically, it’s almost like reverting to using candles to heat a room instead of pressing a button on the thermostat. Having learned to write with a pencil at an early age, like most people, using the stylus/tablet combination is like picking up that pencil again. It’s familiar, comfortable, ultimately usable. The fine control available when using the Wacom with its stylus will make you more of an artist than a technician.
Faster processing of images
From start to finish the fact that the user can work in a more intuitive manner alone speeds up the processing. Instead of an operation requiring 3 or 5 steps, it may only require 1 step. This means that things like resizing images for export, copying and creating multiple layer copies etc. can be done in a third of the time that it used to.
Used in conjunction with the Actions feature in Photoshop, for example, a user can get things done so much quicker than in the past. We are truly living in an amazing time, to quote photographer Joel Grimes. There are countless videos online that give you instruction on how to speed up your workflow using a tablet. I would recommend that any new user look for a few videos, but ultimately you won't become used to the tools unless you practice using them.
More ergonomic interface, reduction of mouse-related problems
Using a pen-like interface for most people is a more intuitive approach to working with files. Yes, using a mouse has become the “norm” for computer interfacing over the last 30 years or so, and touch screen technology is quickly overtaking, but there is something rather artist-like when one uses a precise tool such as a well-balanced stylus and tablet to do the job.
Holding the stylus as you would a fine pen, with access to the programmable buttons, you feel well connected to the image on the monitor. The hand can move freely. The wrist is not fixed in a position that invites discomfort with repeated use. Repetitive strain injuries are also significantly reduced. This combined with the variety of available stylus tips, and surfaces for the Wacom product line, you are able to truly work like an artist would on paper or other media.
A Danish study of some 3500 Danish workers revealed that using a mouse in their daily work, increased their chances of pain and strain by a factor of 4, even if they only used the mouse for half of the computer time. Another study, again by Danish scientists, revealed that workers using a mouse in their jobs for more than 30 hours per week had up to 8 times greater chance of developing forearm pain, and double the risk of neck pain. Shoulder pain also increased significantly as a result of continued usage.
The Wacom line of tablets, for example come in a variety of iterations. There are the basic versions for a relatively small investment all the way up to the Cintiq line designed for production studios that will set you back a pretty penny. Available through camera shops, online at various suppliers and of course there is the used equipment market of which I'm a huge fan.
Whichever way you go, it's best to do a lot of research beforehand. I would not recommend purchasing equipment that is designed for travel if you are never going to do location work, nor would I suggest buying a large tablet if you have a tiny work desk. Look at your situation and your style of work then find out what is available to fit your needs and budget. Ranging from around $90 to well over $2400, there is a tablet that will work for you.
That's it for me, the next step is yours.
Photo-Artist working a personal vision.
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