Wacom Intuos Pro Medium Digital Tablet

Today we're looking at the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium Digital Tablet!

As always, I'm just a military photojournalist and a wedding photographer, my use of the tablet reflects the demands of my job, not the requirements of every person who will use it, so take it with a grain of salt.  This is a tablet designed primarily for digital artists, that has a secondary design in support of photo elements; so try to keep in mind that my review reflects me using it primarily for those photo elements, and is in no way a reflection of its functionality when used in its intended role.

 
 

Single Sentence Summary

Utilized as a non-graphic design tool it's got some amazing potential, I'm just waiting for the updates required to REALLY help in Lightroom.

Why I Bought It

Anyone who has ever edited over 300 photos in a single sitting understands the value of maximizing efficiency in post processing.  I found that most of my time editing was spent sliding bars in Lightroom, and scrolling up and down through the develop module panes.  This tablet offered programmable options that would save me 10-20 seconds per photo in just mouse movement.  It doesn't seem like much, but to put that into perspective the last wedding I shot had over 600 images.  On the conservative side (10 seconds of movement saved) that would cut out 100 minutes from my processing time.  That's just one of hundreds of jobs, so understandably it made sense to invest in my own time. 

What I Like

I love how this isn't designed for how I use it.  I'm always looking to develop into new areas, and I love to draw.  Having a device with the potential of learning and applying a whole new field like digital sketching could mean that down the road I could somehow merge two passions.  Now it's just a matter of dipping my toe in the water and seeing what I can do.

It's designed to function specifically with Adobe, and that's basically all I use to edit with.  The support I've received from their customer service reps was fantastic, because, as it's designed to work in the programs my workflow features, they understand exactly what I mean.  There's nothing worse than bad customer service, and thankfully Wacom's reps (from my experience) understand the Lightroom and Photoshop, so they knew exactly what I meant.  Though that doesn't mean I got what I wanted, but they assured me that it has been requested by many people, and that it is in the works.

The touch options are great.  I love no longer having to scroll up and down to access some of the other options in the develop module, and I don't need to find a perfect surface for a mouse pad when I'm in the field.  The sensitivity options are very intuitive, and the layout is perfect in my opinion.  The size is exactly what I want at medium, it fits nicely in my carry-on, and it's not too small for the functions I need.

It's wireless!!! I love that.  My life on the road seems to be a massive mess of USB hubs, USB 3 cables, power supplies, HDMI cords, and basically everything under the sun.  Anything that can avoid entangling me is a step in the right direction.

It's super lightweight too.  I was looking at holding-off and getting a display tablet like the Wacom Cintiq 13”HD, but it requires a power supply, it weighs more, and again, cables, cables, cables.  The Intuos Pro doesn't require any of that.

What I Don't

The learning curve is a great place for me to start here.  I honestly took so long getting used to it that it substantially slowed my processing down.  It was bad.  I committed to using it to edit an entire wedding, but after finishing ¼ of the images with the tablet I had to stop and go back to the old school way just to ensure I'd still make my deadline.  Does that mean I'm going to quit?  NOT A CHANCE.  It's just going to take me time to get used to it and for it to be as natural as my old processes.  Keep in mind I've been a full-time professional for years now, and this is a huge adjustment, you can't expect it to be simple and easy to adapt.

One incompatibility issue I had was linking the touch ring to the sliders, ie. Having the first touch ring function linked to exposure, the second to shadows, the third to highlights, etc.  Unfortunately Lightroom isn't programmed to have shortcuts to adjust each individual slider, so I had to program two of the other buttons to control jumping back and forth between sliders while the ring adjusts it left and right.  It should really be something where they should have foreseen that and communicated one company to another to fix that ages ago, but their customer support told me that's in the works.

Another major point for me was that I am apparently horizontally-challenged.  I spend an inordinate amount of time adjusting crop and composition in post because I naturally shoot a little wider than necessary to err on the side of caution.  With that I expected that I'd be able to crop, zoom, and rotate with two fingers much like a phone's touch screen.  Unfortunately in the crop tool aside from rotating, Lightroom isn't quite compatible with those motions at present.  I called Wacom and asked about how to adapt and overcome because cropping was a huge expectation for me, so huge I assumed that it would have already (obviously) been included.  Apparently not.  Wacom says there's an update in the works, but until the day that gets released I'm going to have to sadly knock a point off for that one.

Smaller points:

  1. The touch area is deceptive.  I bought it thinking the whole surface would be touch sensitive, however it's really only the section in the little white rectangle.  I just felt like I was shorted.  Literally.  I mean, why even texturize and colorize the tablet if it doesn't reflect functional area?
  2. The programming doesn't commute with the device.  Programming your personal preferences for each key and motion takes time, and I don't have enough time on the fly to sit down and re-do it for anything new I may need to plug into.  I think your preferences should be stored in a profile inside the tablet in a format that is recognized by both PC and Mac computers (I have no choice but to use both as I frequently work with other nations who have different systems).  They do have an export option, but it only works for the same platform.  Ie., I can program it on a PC and export my settings to a file and install that file on another PC, but I cannot use that file to install it on a Mac.  They also offer Inkspace through the Wacom Cloud Control Room, but I frequently jump from military computer to military computer, I'm in deserts and remote areas or on secured networks with no internet access, I shouldn't have to log in to download and go and I can't always access the equipment before I deploy.  It should be stored in the device!  Also, I'm admittedly extremely tired of everything requiring ANOTHER cloud.  How many passwords must I remember in life?

Bottom Line

It's got a heck of a learning curve for me.  Not in that it's hard to use, it really isn't, but that it's just taking this old dog a long time to learn these new tricks.  I realize that the “What I Don't,” section seems a bit long in this one, but don't let it put you off, I very much still view this as a valuable tool, and I very much do believe the pros much outweigh the cons.  I'm particularly excited about how many options it opens up potentially down the road when I venture into integrating more graphic design elements.  I'm just waiting for them to sort out slider controls and motion controlled cropping in Lightroom and this rating will jump up an easy point.

UPDATE (17-Jan-2017): I've since REALLY delved into integrating this device into my workflow, and now it's absolutely essential for my speed.  I've overcome and adapted to many of the shortcomings I had when I initially started using this, and it's TOTALLY a must-have for me.  Completely a worthwhile investment.

Score

9/10 (Updated from 7/10 on 17-Jan-2017 to reflect present usage as noted above)

As always, this is not a technical analysis, it's just my impression of gear I've tried in the contexts of weddings and military photojournalism.  I'm not endorsed by anyone, nor do I sell any equipment or receive any kickbacks from anyone, so I have no vested interest in steering you to or away from anything.  That said, it's a great piece of equipment, and I'm likely never letting it go.

 

-Wes.