Why You Need A Wacom Tablet

Lauren and I recently visited the Yousuf Karsh exhibit at the Alberta Art Gallery. Karsh was a well known Canadian photographer based out of Ottawa . He’s probably best known for his portrait of Winston Churchill – the one where Karsh took Churchill’s cigar away and Churchill gave Karsh a surly look.

Wandering around the exhibit we came across a lot of Karsh’s darkroom supplies, and it got me thinking about how lucky we are today.

Karsh was manually dodging and burning film negatives! It’s hard for me to imagine how tedious and time consuming making and editing prints must have been.

Times have changed and with them the tools we use to work on photos. One tool that is indispensable in digital photography today is the Wacom tablet.


Using a stylus to essentially draw on your images (dodging and burning, retouching) may feel unnatural at first but ultimately provides a level of dexterity, precision and speed not possible with a mouse.

The best way I’ve heard the benefit of using a tablet described is being the same as the difference between painting with a pen and a brick.

If you haven’t tried a Wacom tablet, test one out at a computer store (I think Best Buy carries them). There are very affordable intro models (which function great) as well as larger professional tablets.

Even if you only consider yourself a hobbyist, this is definitely a powerful tool to think about adding to your workflow.

I’ll be honest, we don’t go anywhere without our tablet! We each have large models for use at home, and a small, travel sized one for when we’re on the road. That’s how much we love using them!

Do you have a favorite digital editing tool that you can’t live without?

Rob Lim

Hi there, I’m Rob! I’m a photography ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I love all things photography: shooting, teaching and always learning more! If I’m not reading up on the latest photography news, or studying a technique, I’m probably reading a book or planning our next adventure!

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12 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. I left the Karsh exhibit inspired to try and edit some film by hand to see what i could come up with. Great post.

    A favourite editing tool of mine is the background music Shaun often has playing. Its amazing how creative I can be sometimes depending on the music.

  2. I know I'm supposed to love this thing, it is taking me some major getting used to. (or maybe I'm a slow learner!) I am totally going to keep working past the learning curve and hopefully come to love it! haha

  3. Keep at it, Laurie! You'll get the hang of it, and then you'll don't know how you managed without it!!

  4. I think I never just took the time to get used to my tablet. I think it's time to brush the dust off it and bring it back to life.

  5. I feel a sudden urge to buy a tablet. Would a Wacom Bamboo do for my hobby work?

  6. I had to do retouching on 300+ photos this week, so I busted out the Bamboo tablet I bought a couple of months ago (the one I never really got used to :X). After about 10 photos, man did it make a difference! I tried to airbrush with my mouse and you're right…it is like trying to paint with a brick!

  7. *@Jonathan:* Tablets definitely take some time to get used to! Try it out again, and practice! Once you get the hang of it it's magic!

    *@Christian:* Totally! I was using a super old entry level Wacom the other day when I was doing some retouching on my laptop out of the house. Worked like a charm! The Bamboo's look fantastic these days!

    *@Faye:* Right ON! That is fantastic! I'm so glad you gave it a shot and that it worked for you! I bet you saved SO much time, especially on 300+ photos!!

  8. THanks for the reminder- I haven't purchased it yet. Maybe it should be on my x-mas wish list! I would love to see a video of you using yours.

  9. ugh. i keep hearing this. bought one over a year ago and could not get the hang of it. i keep meaning to bust it out. perhaps i should. any tips for quicker learning?

  10. *@Michele:* Great idea! I'll definitely be figuring out how best to show how I use mine!

    *@Lisa:* Stick with it! Open up a blank document in Photoshop, get a small brush, and practice drawing with it. Hover and move the stylus to move the mouse. Press down to paint. Try pressing harder to see how the pressure sensitivity works. Painting around will help you figure it out pretty quickly, I think that's how I started out! Hope that helps!

  11. Walcom Bamboo vs intous 3/4/5, any thoughts? Is there a big difference in usage? I have the Bamboo; is there a reason to upgrade based on sensitivity?

  12. Hi, do you recommend a pen or a pen and touch tablet? The pen only is far cheaper and I’d rather not waste the cash in case I don’t get to grips with it.

    Also any recommendations for video tutorials on using them?


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