If you do a lot of photo editing, particularly if you’re using a computer with a trackpad, it can be incredibly frustrating when trying to make selective adjustments or painting adjustments onto an image. Fortunately, there are relatively inexpensive options available, including tablets from Wacom. These tablets allow you to use a pressure-sensitive pen on an interactable surface, which is excellent for making precise and natural selections.
I’ve been using a Wacom Intuos3 tablet for many years and Wacom recently approached me with the opportunity to try their latest tablet, the Intuos Pro.
- Multi-touch pen tablet for drawing or more natural photo editing
- USB and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity
- Includes Pro Pen 2, which has 8,192 pen pressure sensitivity
- Touch Ring, Radial Menu and switches on the pen itself offer additional control
- 8 programmable Express Keys
- 4 programmable Touch Ring functions
- USB-C charging
- Medium and large size options
- Mac and Windows compatible
- Medium tablet is $300 on sale (regularly $350)
- Large tablet is $400 on sale (regularly $500)
Design and Build Quality
Compared to my older Wacom tablet, the Intuos Pro is much sleeker and more compact. The medium size I used for this review is 13.2 inches wide, 8.5 inches high and 0.3 inches thick. The active area, of course, is much smaller, as there needs to be a bezel and room for the eight customizable Express Keys and touch ring. The active area is 8.82 x 5.83 inches. In case you’re curious, the larger size has dimensions of 16.8 x 11.2 x 0.3 with an active area of 12.24 x 8.5 inches. The medium size weighs 1.54 pounds and the large weighs 2.86 pounds.
In use, the medium tablet feels really nice to use. It works well on a desk or in my lap. The bottom of the tablet has rubber grips to help keep the tablet in place when you are working on a smooth surface. The build quality is impressive and the device is a sleek black versus the gray of the older tablet. The new version certainly looks more modern.
Setting up the Wacom Intuos Pro tablet is very easy. The packaging is straightforward and there’s an included Quick Start guide. All you need to do is unwrap the tablet, plug it into your computer with the included USB cable and visit Wacom.com/start. There you will download the required drivers and assets for Mac or Windows and then open the installer. The installation process is quick and easy and once you have installed the software, you’re ready to use your tablet.
The software includes numerous customization options to help you get the tablet up and running to your personal preferences, including the orientation of the device. I prefer the buttons to be on the left side of the tablet area, which means that the USB charging slot is not in a convenient location given my computer desk arrangement. It’s not a big deal, but it could’ve been easily avoided had there been charging slots on each side of the device.
Additional options include customizing the buttons, the pressure sensitivity, pointer speed, etc. You can dial in the tablet much like you dial in a mouse or trackpad. Further, you can test your settings as you’re adjusting inside the application, which is convenient. You can also customize the tablet on a per-app basis, so if you want different settings for different applications, you can do that as well. There’s also mapping for multiple monitors, which is a nice touch.
In actual use, the Wacom Intuos Pro works very well. The surface of the tablet offers a good amount of resistance and it feels very natural to move the pen around the active area. It’s worth noting that if you don’t like the default surface, Wacom sells different overlays with smoother or rougher surfaces you can apply to the tablet. The packaging includes a sampler sheet of the surface options.
The pen feels very nice as well. It’s comfortable and a bit thinner and smaller than the pen for my previous Wacom tablet. The grip is comfortable over extended periods of time and I didn’t have any issues with the pen slipping. The pen can sense tilt as well and there’s virtually no lag when using the device via USB. With that said, Bluetooth connectivity works well, but the lag can be a bit noticeable. It’s fine for photo editing, but I could see someone doing a lot of drawing or painting wanting to stick with a USB connection.
If you’d like a different nib, those are replaceable as well and the pen base includes ten of them. I’ve never needed to replace a nib, personally, but it’s good that it’s a simple process.
Along one side of the device are the eight Express Keys and four have tactile feedback. More precisely, the top and bottom button in each set of four are smooth and then one button has a raised dot and the other has a raised line. This allows you to distinguish between buttons without needing to look down. It’s a minor detail in the grand scheme of things, but it’s useful nonetheless.
When editing images in Photoshop, the Express Keys and the radial touch area on the tablet work very well, as do the buttons on the pen itself. Once you get used to the workflow, it’s very fast to quickly paint on images, zoom in and out, make healing brush repairs, etc. When working with layer masks, which is a very standard part of my editing process, the precision afforded by the Wacom tablet is unmatched by a trackpad or a mouse.
A must-have for heavy photo editors
What I like:
- Sleek, lightweight design
- Comfortable and responsive Pro Pen 2
- Very useful when editing in Photoshop
- Customizable user experience
What I don’t like:
- When not on sale, is a bit expensive
- Bluetooth connectivity introduces some lag
I would never want to edit photos without a tablet. It’s become an important part of my workflow and the Wacom Intuos Pro is a big improvement in terms of usability and performance when compared to my older Wacom tablet. It’s not the same revolutionary jump that I experienced when I bought my first tablet, but it’s nonetheless a substantially improved experience.