Tablet Review: Wacom’s Wireless Intuos4
The benefits of swapping a rigid mouse for a sensitive stylus are clear when it comes to Photoshop, but do they apply elsewhere?
The answer is a resounding yes. A graphics tablet significantly improves, and even transforms, workflow within Lightroom and Aperture. In addition to the intuitive, pressure-sensitive pen, which offers accuracy and sensitivity when handling things such as Dodging and Burning, Selections and Masks, tablets let you customize the way you work and override many of the application’s panels and menus. You end up concentrating more on the task at hand and less on moving your mouse between palettes and tools.
There are several graphics tablets on the market but Wacom’s cutting edge technology and flawless integration with creative applications have made it a market leader. The professional Wireless Intuos4 tablet is a prime example of Wacom’s attention to detail.
To one side of the tablet are eight ExpressKeys and a finger-sensitive Touch Ring. You customise these by assigning frequently-used Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture functions to them (the assigning process is relatively quick, as the clear guidance videos on Wacom’s site and YouTube show).
Throughout the productive sorting and adjustment process, one hand operates the ExpressKeys and Touch Ring to quickly bring up needed tools, while the other uses the tablet’s pen to work on the image. On the tablet itself, there are handy OLED displays next to the ExpressKeys buttons. These clearly show the function, so you don’t have to remember which button you assigned to which feature.
The Touch Ring has a center button that allows you to choose between Scrolling/Zooming, Brush Size, Layers and canvas rotation. The feature you select is adjusted by clockwise or counterclockwise finger movement on the outer ring. For example, if you choose Brush Size, your finger movement on the outer ring increases and reduces brush size.
You can program the tablet to work differently in different applications, so you can have your ideal Photoshop set-up as well as your custom Lightroom and Aperture settings all ready to go within the same tablet. So if you prefer a firm pen in Photoshop and a soft pen in Lightroom, you can store both preferences.
The tablet also includes pressure- (2048 levels) and tilt-sensitive pen. The photographers who have abandoned Photoshop for Lightroom’s image editing will find it particularly useful in the Develop module, which has several pen-centric features like Spot Removal, Red Eye Correction and the Adjustment Brush. The pen provides accuracy and sensitivity that a mouse cannot easily deliver, along with countless fine tuning touches. You can adjust the opacity of an Adjustment brush effect by applying pressure to the pen, for example, or you can vary the brush size by moving your finger clockwise or counterclockwise on the Touch Ring.
Intuos4 Wireless pen tablet with Bluetooth® wireless technology is part of the Intuos range. See Wacom’s comparison of models to determine which size and price is right for you.