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This past fall I spent a considerable amount of time working on Photoshop. The fall is when I take the most photos and also when I actually process the largest percentage of photos. Gradually I started developing a severe case of tennis elbow. At that point I should have probably stopped working with Photoshop but I had so many photos to process that I kept on going. I finally finished processing the fall photos in the middle of December. The tennis elbow became so bad that I started looking for some way to reduce the number of mouse clicks since that is what seem to have set off the tennis elbow.

I recalled seeing a number of posts on some of the photography sites about the use of a pen and tablet so I spent some time looking around to see if that was a viable option to reduce number of mouse clicks. I noticed that a number of photographers had also complained about problems with repetitive mouse clicks and had found that a tablet helped.

I started searching the photography blogs for information on tablets and found that most photographers recommended the Wacom Tablet. I checked out the Wacom site and found they offered a wide range of products. I was a little overwhelmed at this point. Recommendations varied widely regarding the size of tablet you needed and the features they offered. I decided to call up the local university to see if they were using any tablets and if I could stop in and try one out. They were using a Wacom medium INTUOS4 so I made arrangements to stop in for a test run.

I pulled up a photo and started to work on it using my normal work routine. It quickly became clear that a tablet would greatly reduce if not eliminate the use of the mouse and hopefully help my tennis elbow. The major questions I had was what level of tablet would work best and what was the best size. The latter question was quickly answered during my test and subsequent conversations with university staff. The working space on the tablet corresponds to the monitor. If you want to click on File>Open you have to move the light pen to the upper left of the working space. One of the questions I had was how big a tablet did I need? The university had a medium and I quickly realized that the smaller the tablet the more efficient it would be to work with because there would be less arm and hand movement required.

I came back home and started looking at the options on the Wacom site again. I ended up ordering the INTUOS4 small tablet. It included software, pen, mouse and tablet. The tablet dimensions are 12.2 by 8.2 inches and the working space is 6.2 by 3.9 inches. It has 6 express keys and a user controlled touch ring with four functions that you can program. You can check out the Wacom website for more details on this model.

Installation was a breeze. I’m using Windows 7 and it took less than a half hour to get everything up and running. It took just a few minutes to install the software. The tablet comes with two 6 foot cords that plugs into a USB port. One is for left hand users and the other for right hand use. I connected the cord and I was in business. I programmed the express keys to do what I wanted which was shift, ctrl, alt and backspace. The light pen is extremely easy to use and I had no difficulty switching from the mouse for most of my work. I even use the tablet when I’m just surfing the web.

After using it a while I discovered that the tablet is small enough to set on the right side of my keyboard. This provided me with access to most of the keyboard keys so I continued to use the sift, ctrl and alt functions on the keyboard rather than the tablet. It’s a matter of choice.

Conclusions:

Photographer reviews differed on the size of the tablet required and ranged from the larger the tablet the better to the smaller works fine. My conclusion is that a larger tablet might be nice for someone doing art work or graphics design where flowing strokes are required but the smaller one is much better for photography. The small tablet requires much less had movement and is more efficient.

I’ve almost eliminated the use of the mouse and keyboard in working with photos. I have all the controls I need with the tablet. I need the keyboard when naming photographs but now I wait until I’m done processing a batch of photos then go back and rename them using the keyboard.

I think the pen and tablet is much easier and more efficient  to use for editing photographs in Photoshop and I wouldn’t go back to the mouse.

My Tennis Elbow is gradually going away now that I’m not using on the mouse so much.

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One Comment

  1. I am an amateur photographer and I too am struggling with the decision of size on the intuous. I would strictly use for editing in photoshop and web surfing as well. I really appreciate the review. Thanks!


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