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Video: What is DX encoding and how did it become an industry standard in the analog age?

DP Review Latest news - 5 hours 49 min ago

Have you ever wondered what those silver squares on the side of film cassettes are? They're called Camera Auto Sensing (CAS) codes and they're part of DX encoding, an industry standard first announced by Kodak in March 1983.

While DX encoding might be common knowledge for some DPReview readers, others — particularly the younger crowd — might not know what DX encoding is, how it works and what it took to become an industry standard.

These exact questions and more are answered and explained by Azriel Knight of the YouTube channel This Old Camera. In the six minute video, the first in a new series he's calling This Old Camera X-tra, he explains how Kodak introduced DX encoding, the purpose of the individual rectangles and how it became an ANSI and I3A standard that nearly all of the photography industry adopted, even though certain companies were a little hesitant to hop on board.

You can find more of Azriel's videos by subscribing to his YouTube channel or following him on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: Photo News

Fujifilm GF 250mm F4 R LM OIS WR sample gallery

DP Review Latest news - 15 hours 9 min ago
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The 250mm F4 is Fujifilm's longest lens for its medium-format system. It's equivalent to about 200mm on a GFX camera, and we put it to work on some portraits as well as some scenes around Seattle's waterfront – take a look.

See our Fujifilm 250mm F4 sample gallery

Categories: Photo News

HP Chromebook x2 review: Gives Surface Pro, Pixel Slate, iPad Pro a run for their money - CNET

CNET Reviews - 16 hours 9 min ago
The x2 strikes a nearly perfect balance between laptop and tablet -- at a Chromebook price.
Categories: Photo News

Sony removes a7/R III firmware version 2.0 from its website, says it's 'working on the issue'

DP Review Latest news - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 12:36

Two months after releasing firmware version 2.0 for its a7 III (Windows, MacOS) and a7R III (Windows, MacOS) mirrorless cameras, Sony has removed the firmware update from its website.

At the top of the download pages for Sony's a7 III and a7R III firmware, an update read:

IMPORTANT: We apologize for the inconvenience, but the release of this software update has been delayed. We are working on the issue and will release the update as soon as possible. (Added on 12-07-2018)

In an announcement post on the Sony UK website, Sony explains the firmware has been pulled due to two issues:

1. In rare cases, your α7R III or α7 III model may stop functioning while writing RAW data onto an SD card that has already been used multiple times.
2. With the α7R III, taking a picture while using the Auto Review function may occasionally cause the camera to stop responding.

The announcement says Sony 'will provide updated system software addressing the above issues in mid-December.' Until then, Sony is asking users of its a7 III and a7R III mirrorless cameras to back up all data currently on memory cards (or to use an entirely new memory card) and to ensure the Auto Review function is turned off when taking pictures.

Update (December 8th, 2018 at 4:34 EST): This article was updated with more information surrounding the reason behind Sony pulling the firmware and an estimated timeframe of when the new firmware update will be available.

Categories: Photo News

Leviton Decora Wi-Fi Smart Plug review: Cheap, plug-in smarts for Alexa and Google Assistant - CNET

CNET Reviews - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 10:58
This $30 smart plug puts anything you plug into it under Alexa's or Google Assistant's control.
Categories: Photo News

DPReview TV: the 2018 DPReview Awards

DP Review Latest news - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 06:00

With the launch of full-frame mirrorless systems from two of the industry's biggest players, it's safe to say that this was an especially busy year for the camera world. It's not an easy job picking out the strongest products and innovations in such a year, but we endeavored to do just that for our yearly DPReview Awards. This year, Chris and Jordan joined us to help celebrate what we think is the best gear of the past 365 days.

See all of our award winners and runners-up, and get new episodes of DPReview TV every week by subscribing to our YouTube channel!

Categories: Photo News

Canon patent shows off EOS M speedbooster-style adapter for EF lenses

DP Review Latest news - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 15:39
This diagram from the patent shows the optical construction of the Converter Adapter (labelled CL) with a Master Lens (labelled ML) in front of it.

A new patent application filed by Canon, and first detailed on Canon News, lays out the schematics for its own version of a speedbooster adapter that would enable Canon EOS M users to adapt EF lenses onto the EF-M mount.

Japanese patent application 2018-189864 details an adapter that includes both a 0.8x focal length reducer, as well as a 'variable flare cutter.'

As with the speedbooster adapters, Canon's adapter would use a series of lenses to reduce much of the full-frame field of view onto an APS-C sensor, such as those used inside Canon's EOS M cameras.

Where things get interesting is that Canon isn't stopping there. Similar to how Canon has introduced a line of EF to RF adapters with added features, including an integrated control dial and drop-in ND/CPL filters, the adapter detailed in this patent adds yet another component: an adjustable aperture or set of apertures that effectively mask off sections of the adapter to reduce the potentially negative impact of stray, non-image forming, light rays.

This diagram from the patent highlights two separate locations where the variable aperture could be located within the converter (the front of the converter being the left side and the rear of the converter being the right side).

The patent explains this is done by calculating, on the fly via communication through integrated contacts, the ideal pupil sizes and locations of the in-adapter apertures, based on the attached lens' current aperture and focus distance. With this information, the the adapter could ideally adjust its multiple variable flare cutters.

Within the patent, an example scenario is detailed showing how a full frame 50mm F1.4 lens would effectively become a 40mm F1.2 lens with an image height of 13.66mm and 18mm back focus — precisely the size needed for EOS M cameras.

The resulting combination would act as a 64mm F1.9 equivalent. Not quite as wide or with such a bright equivalent aperture as the full frame lens used on full frame, but still better than using a pass-through adapter.

Categories: Photo News

Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board is asking visitors to stop geotagging photos

DP Review Latest news - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 13:21

In Wyoming, United States, the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board has launched a campaign imploring visitors to stop the use of geolocation tags when sharing photos of their outdoor adventures online.

As Vox recently pointed out in a video titled What happens when nature goes viral, geotagged photos have become a major issue for landmarks around the world. When photos posted to Instagram, Facebook, and other social networks are geotagged, knowingly or otherwise, it makes it easier than ever for new people to seek out the exact same location and have their own turn at taking a photo, only adding to the problem.

While it might not seem like a problem, the influx of visitors to many of these locations has caused a dramatic change in the environment, physically and otherwise. In Vox's example, Horseshoe Bend outside of Page, Arizona, United States, has seen an increase in visitors it isn't capable of sustaining — at least not without dramatic physical changes to improve the safety of the growing number of spectators.

It's this same issue the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board is trying to address with its new campaign. 'Every time someone captures stunning scenery and tags the exact location, crowds follow,' says the narrator in the above video. 'The traffic causes unintended harm to pristine environments, plants, and animal habitats.'

To protect and preserve the two National Parks near Jackson Hole, the video implores visitors to use the new, vague location titled 'Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild.' In addition to tagging the more general location, the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board has also created a series of posters advising against using specific location tags.

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Sometimes users are completely unaware that their images are being tagged. Most phones nowadays feature automatic geotagging and although a number of image hosting sites and social networks strip the metadata, there are others that use it by default. If you feel called to be a part of the campaign, be sure to check whether or not the information is being automatically uploaded — and if it is, remember to use more general location tags when traveling around.

Categories: Photo News

2019 Audi E-Tron first drive review: A worry-free, all-EV SUV - Roadshow

CNET Reviews - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:46
The year 2019 will mark the entry of many new players into the luxury electric car space. With Tesla paving the way and Jaguar impressing us last year, now it's Audi's turn to strut its stuff.
Categories: Photo News

Filmborn film camera app updated with new presets, iOS 12 support and bug fixes

DP Review Latest news - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:06

Seattle-based Mastin Labs has released a large update for Filmborn, its camera app for iOS, adding additional film looks, free access to all current editing tools, support for iOS 12 and the three newest iPhone models and updates to the original film preset appearances.

Filmborn provides iPhone users with true-to-film presets that give images captured by the phone a realistic film appearance. Users are able to create up to three in-app camera kits containing customized specifications, as well as adjust exposure and white balance using gestures and curves using Filmborn's Custom Curves tool. Other features includes last photo review, live film previews, and highlight clipping.

Version 1.4 update makes all of those tools free for users who purchase Filmborn. The app's size and user interface have both been optimized, performance and responsiveness have been improved, and Mastin Labs has added haptic feedback for tool buttons when pressed in Camera view.

A number of bug fixes are included with this update, most notable being a fix for the iPhone X telephoto lens issue users previously experienced. Filmborn now offers a lens toggle under Camera view for dual-camera iPhone models, as well. The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR are all now supported by the app.

The new preset packs available in Filmborn version 1.4.

In addition to the app update, Mastin Labs has also added three new film preset packs to Filmborn's store: Kodak Everyday Original, Fujicolor Pushed, and Portra Pushed. Filmborn is available to purchase from the iOS App Store for $2.99. Additional preset packs are available as in-app purchases for $1.99.

Categories: Photo News

Colorado Tripod Company introduces 'world’s first titanium tripod system'

DP Review Latest news - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 08:18

The Colorado Tripod Company has introduced what it claims is the world’s first titanium tripod system, with a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Not only does the use of titanium make the ball heads lightweight and strong, but the design of the heads also allows the camera to drop to the side below the usual 90 degrees seen in other heads.

The Highline ballhead will be available in either titanium or aluminum. The titanium model will feature a hollow ball to reduce weight. Both versions will have a locking force of 54lb and will offer left-handed controls that allow users to hold the camera and shoot with the right hand. The titanium model will weigh less than 340g (12oz), while in aluminium the same unit weighs 510g (18oz).

To accompany these heads a new line of titanium and carbon fibre legs have also been introduced. The company says that by CNC machining from a solid block of titanium it can make its metal parts stronger than manufacturers that use metal casting. Milling also means the company can make its parts more precisely, and it says it can cut the amount of material used to help reduce weight. The carbon fibre used in the Centennial legs is ten-layered, and comes from Japan.

An additional ball head called the Aspen comes only in aluminium but offers a much wider range of camera positions, as it has no housing around the ball. This allows the camera to drop well below 90 degrees, while making the head quite lightweight at only 454g (16oz).

The Highline ball head in aluminium starts at $79 on Kickstarter, while the titanium version can be had for $399. The Aspen head costs $179 and the Centennial tripod is $249 in aluminium and $399 in titanium. Various kits combing these products are also available. Shipping is planned to start in March.

For more information see the Colorado Tripod Company’s Kickstarter campaign page.

Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there's always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.

Categories: Photo News

Panasonic LX100 II: solid image quality in studio and real-world shooting

DP Review Latest news - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 08:04

We've been shooting with the LX100 II both in and out of the studio, as part of our ongoing review. We've written about the camera's operation and handling, analysed the studio scene and the camera's dynamic range, and expanded the sample gallery.

Click here to read our expanded First Impressions Review

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Categories: Photo News

Motorola Moto G6 review: A budget phone shouldn't be this good - CNET

CNET Reviews - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 05:01
Dual-rear cameras, a Gorilla Glass 3 body and a 1080p HD screen with an 18:9 ratio. Not too shabby for $250.
Categories: Photo News

Brava Oven review: This oven sheds new light on alternative cooking technology - CNET

CNET Reviews - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 05:00
Skip preheat, load up all your food, and cook it with light in this smart countertop oven.
Categories: Photo News

Xiaomi co-founder teases 48MP smartphone camera

DP Review Latest news - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 15:49

Earlier this year Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi announced it had established an in-house camera division. Now it seems the initiative is bearing its first fruits.

Xiaomi co-founder and President Lin Bin has teased a smartphone with 48MP camera module on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The image he posted shows a close-up of a rear camera with a '48MP camera' label next to the lens. Bin says he has used the phone for a few weeks and that it will be released in January.

That's not an awful lot of information, but it means the upcoming Xiaomi phone will feature the highest pixel count ever on a mobile image sensor. Nokia's 808 PureView juggernaut came with a 41MP sensor and the much more recent Huawei Mate 20 Pro features a 40MP quad Bayer arrangement.

Like the Nokia 808 PureView and Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the unreleased Xiaomi phone is likely to use its pixel count for high-quality digital zooming, pixel-binning for lower noise, and other computational trickery, rather than outputting enormous image files.

The sensor in question could be the Sony IMX586 quad-Bayer model which was announced in July. At 1/2" it's large for a mobile sensor, but due to the high pixel-count, individual pixels still only measure 0.8µm. Samsung's Bright GM1 is another option with very similar specifications.

It'll be interesting to see if the new Xiaomi will solely rely on the power of the 48MP sensor or add additional sensors, for example for tele, super-wide-angle or black-and-white shooting into the mix. We'll know more in January.

Categories: Photo News

Peel apart instant film returns in the form of ONE INSTANT

DP Review Latest news - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 12:29

In 2016, Fujifilm announced it would no longer produce its FP-100C peel apart instant film, citing a dwindling lack of demand for the product. The discontinuation effectively ended the peel apart instant film market, but a new Kickstarter campaign aims to change that. Florian "Doc" Kaps, founder of The Impossible Project, has unveiled ONE INSTANT, a new peel apart instant film expected to launch in 2019.

Following Fujifilm's FP-100C discontinuation, Kaps had pushed to save peel apart film via SuperSense, the company he founded after leaving The Impossible Project in 2013. The effort wasn't successful at the time, but has ultimately proven fruitful more than two years later with the unveiling of ONE INSTANT.

As Kaps explains in the video above, ONE INSTANT is a re-invention of peel apart technology featuring single-shot instant film packaged in a paper cartridge. More than two years of research and development went into the innovation.

Kaps explains on the Kickstarter campaign:

In spring 2016 Fuji announced termination of the world's last instant packfilm production line. Since that day - more than 2 years ago! - we have been desperately searching for "impossible" ways to save this iconic film material. Just like we successfully did with the legendary Polaroid film by purchasing the last original factory in 2008 and restarting production the classic way.

We failed! And honestly this was the best thing that could happen.

The single-shot ONE INSTANT Type 100 glossy color ISO 125 film is 'based on a new, radical concept,' the team explains. The product is compatible will all classic Type 100 packfilm cameras and is made with original Polaroid P7 material that was acquired by 20x24 Studio.

The team warns that ONE INSTANT "is truly really expensive to produce," but they have vowed to bring down the cost when possible by optimizing production. The high cost is due to being mostly hand-made; the campaign explains how production takes place, saying:

ONE INSTANT is a tiny, bespoke, dream-come-true MANUFACTORY in Vienna. ONE INSTANT film editions will be produced WITHOUT the need of giant machines, huge factory spaces and large teams. Our all new manufactory will just consist of a small beautiful darkroom for all production steps that need darkness (mainly the insertion of the negative into the lightproof paper cartridge), a beautiful daylight assembly room and of course our beloved all analog printshop for all paper work, cartridge punching, producing all our hand-made packaging and communication materials.

Backers are offered multiple products to make a pledge for on the Kickstarter campaign, including various ONE INSTANT bundles that feature multiple packs, different box colors, and a Starter Kit that includes a mint condition Polaroid COLORPACK 2 camera. Film shipments to backers are expected to start in May 2019.

Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there's always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.

Categories: Photo News

First look: Skylum Luminar 3 adds support for photo libraries, Digital Asset Manager to follow

DP Review Latest news - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 11:52
Skylum Luminar 3's layout.

Luminar’s library is set to open soon, but expect construction to continue through at least next year.

The long-awaited update to Skylum Software's photo editor adds in-app photo library management, which the company says is the first step toward building out a complete Digital Asset Manager (DAM). Called 'Luminar with Libraries', this version more directly competes with applications that organize your photos, such as Adobe Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC. Luminar 3 arrives December 18, runs on macOS and Windows, and is a free update for owners of Luminar 2018.

This version more directly competes with applications that organize your photos, such as Adobe Lightroom

That’s mixed news for photographers contemplating a switch from Adobe’s applications, especially since Skylum has been teasing a Luminar DAM for well over a year (and just barely hitting their promise to ship it in 2018). Acknowledging the situation, Skylum is making further updates to Luminar free throughout 2019.

Luminar 3 is a free update for current owners of Luminar 2018. Owners of Aurora HDR, Photolemur, and legacy products can upgrade for $49 until December 18. New preorders cost $59 until that date, and $69 thereafter. There’s no subscription pricing model.

Library vs Digital Asset Manager

Here’s what Luminar with Libraries offers:

  • The Library component is integrated into the application, not existing as a separate app. It keeps track of all the images you throw at it in a browsable image gallery. Photos can be imported from cameras or memory cards, or you can point Luminar at existing folders on your hard disk. Unlike apps such as Apple Photos or Lightroom CC, Luminar doesn’t squirrel the images away to its own folder or container. It creates a central catalog file to track file locations and edits, but the originals remain wherever you put them in the first place.

  • In the Library, you can rate photos from zero to five stars, mark them as flagged or rejected, or apply any of five color labels.

  • You can create albums and populate them with photos.

  • A few shortcuts act like smart albums, revealing photos based on their capture dates, import dates, and recently edited dates.

  • In the Info panel, a limited set of EXIF data is shown, such as the camera, lens, focal length, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation.
  • You can filter the library based on any of those attributes.
Filter images based on the criteria the Library offers.

Luminar with Libraries covers the basics of wrangling files and making them easily available for editing, but a full DAM provides a deeper level of interacting with one’s photos. Not included in this release is the ability to apply keywords or IPTC metadata, any kind of text-based search, a way to expose and take advantage of location data, or synchronization of images between computers or devices. The interface for importing photos relies on traditional Open dialogs instead of a way to preview the shots.

Editing Changes

Luminar 3 is still the same editor as it was before, with a few enhancements. Presets are now 'Luminar Looks,' which sounds like just a rebranding attempt, but actually rolls presets, LUTs, and some AI-enhanced operations into one-click actions.

"Luminar Looks" isn't simply advantageous alliteration, but a merging of presets, LUTs, and some AI processing.

More significantly, the inclusion of the library into Luminar makes it possible to apply edits to one image and sync them among many other similar photos.

Sync edits from one image to several similar shots.

The Windows version includes improvements to Luminar’s color management to get consistent color among displays and devices, plus a host of bug fixes and performance boosts.

What’s Next

Skylum plans to release frequent updates throughout 2019 to add features and expand the library’s features. In its Luminar Roadmap, the company lists targets for the first half of the year that include:

  • Improved handling of Raw + JPEG image pairs (instead of treating each part separately).

  • The ability to create virtual copies of photos.

  • A Smart Search feature for locating shots “using keywords, EXIF information, and file names” (suggesting keyword support will be forthcoming).

  • IPTC core data editing and syncing among images.

  • Features that use AI technology “when editing skin on portraits, architecture, removing objects or simply applying masks on your images.”

  • A Lightroom migration tool.

Although Luminar 3 won’t arrive with a fully-formed DAM, as many photographers were hoping, incorporating the photo library into the application is still a big deal. Melding the library and the editing tools in the same environment streamlines the overall workflow. It allows you to work on a range of images quickly, without the hassle of opening and saving individual images (and deciding where the edited versions live). It’s a big reason why people stick with Lightroom or use alternatives such as Capture One, Alien Skin Exposure, or ON1 Photo Raw.

Categories: Photo News

Hasselblad Phocus 4.3 update adds new shadow/highlights tool, adjustment layers, more

DP Review Latest news - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 10:12

Hasselblad has released an update to its medium format post-production program Phocus. Focus version 3.4 adds improvements across the board, including improved shadow and highlight tools, new adjustment layer tools, expanded live view options, new lens profile, and more.

The enhanced Shadow Fill and Highlight Recovery tools have been 'significantly enhanced.' Hasselblad says the updated algorithm 'enables photographers to fully utilize the dynamic range available in their images,' although exactly how it's changed remains a mystery. In the event the updated methodology isn't what a user wants, or the a user is working with previously-corrected images, Hasselblad has also included the old algorithm under a selectable version option.

Hasselblad has added Shadow Fill and Clarity options to the adjustment layer tools so they can now be used as local adjustments with the brush tool and linear and radial gradients. A new Detail tool has also been added under the exposure toolset. This new tool is used alongside the Clarity tool to fine-tune the local contrast in an image.

Focus 3.4 also includes a new Live View Aperture option that lets users 'to automatically open to the widest aperture possible or to use the selected aperture instead when activating live view.'

Also new is an updated Noise Filter tool and additional lens profiles for the following lenses:

• XCD 2,8/65
• XCD 1,9/80
• XCD 2,8/135 with X Converter 1.7

To download Hasselblad Phocus 3.4, head over to Hasselblad's Phocus download page.

Categories: Photo News

Insta360 One X update brings HDR video and Google Street View integration

DP Review Latest news - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 07:41

Insta360 has released a software update for its One X 5.7K 360-degree camera. With version software version 1.1.0 the camera is now capable of capturing HDR video — previously HDR recording was only available for still images. The One X HDR mode makes sure highlight and shadow clipping in your 360-degree videos are kept to a minimum and should make for more natural looking footage, without minimal need for post processing.

The second new feature in the update is Google Maps Street View Integration. One X owners can now use their camera to capture 360-degree content for Google Maps Street View and directly upload to Street View via the One X mobile app. The latter automatically converts video files into a series of evenly spaced 360 photo spheres for viewing on the Google platform.

In addition the company has announced that the One X is now available in a bundle that is exclusive to Apple. The bundle includes a number of accessories, including Insta360's Bullet Time handle that also serves as a tripod, a selfie stick that is rendered invisible by the camera software, two batteries, and a protective pouch.

The Insta360 ONE X Camera Bundle is now available at Apple.com for $449.95. You can read our review of the Insta360 One X here.

Categories: Photo News

Review: The Wacom Intuos Pro is a workflow-boosting machine

DP Review Latest news - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 06:00
Wacom Intuos Pro
$299.95 | Wacom.com

When it comes to precision photo editing, a tablet may be the tool you never knew you desperately needed. Although the Wacom tablet has long been a favored tool of graphic designers and digital artists, it’s also an excellent piece of editing gear for photographers.

The Wacom Intuos Pros allows you to return to your roots of putting a pen to paper to create an image - a tactile experience that many younger digital artists may be out of touch with. If you’ve spent a number of years editing with a mouse or trackpad there will undoubtedly be a a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using the pen, but with a little bit of practice you will likely find this device speeds up your editing process and make tools like dodging, burning and clone-stamping much more precise.

Key features
  • 338 x 219 x 8mm / 13.2 x 8.5 x 0.3 in
  • 1.54lb / 0.7kg
  • Wacom Pro Pen 2 with 2 programmable buttons
  • 8192 pen pressure levels (up from 2048)
  • 8 Customizable ExpressKeys
  • Built-in Bluetooth connectivity and USB connectivity
  • Pen stand with 10 replacement nibs (tips)
  • Choose between 'standard' or 'felt' nibs for added friction
  • Mac and Windows compatible
What's new

The Wacom Intuos Pro tablet is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, so it occupies less real-estate on your desk. Despite this, the active area is larger thanks to a slimmer bezel and he surface plate can be swapped for a variety of different textures depending on your preferences.

The Wacom Intuos Pro is designed to imitate a large piece of paper

The new version utilizes the Wacom Pro Pen 2, which comes with a weight base (shown below), and is slimmer than version 1 – It also features two programmable buttons and 8192 pressure levels (up from 2048). Wireless Bluetooth connectivity is also new to the Wacom Intuos Pro.


The Wacom Intuos Pro is designed to imitate a large piece of paper. The user chooses the orientation of the tablet and how it will map to their computer screen – this makes it a great tool regardless of your computer setup or dominant hand. On one side of the tablet you will find eight customizable express keys and the touch ring. The power switch and the touch functionality switch are located on the side of the tablet near the express keys and the optional USB plugin is on the opposite edge of the tablet.

The Wacom Pro Pen 2’s stand stores additional nubs. The pen itself has two customizable buttons – flip it upside down and you can use it as an eraser. The tablet itself has rubber grip on the bottom to keep it in place, and its slim profile makes it easy to travel with or store away when space is limited.

In use

It had been a number of years since I’d used a tablet for photo editing, and I can confirm that the learning curve was certainly there. But after a bit of practice with the pen and tablet I found the process of retouching scanned negatives in Adobe Photoshop to be more precise, faster and less taxing on my wrist than it would have been if I were using a mouse. Put another way, the difference between retouching with the Wacom pen vs. the mouse is like hand-writing a note with a fine tipped Sharpie vs a paint roller. The eraser is precise as well. I found it to be particularly helpful when creating multi-layer image compositions.

The vast degree of pressure responsiveness in the Pro Pen 2 is something I really appreciated, especially when it came to dodging, burning and light retouching. Press hard and the results are more pronounced, use a lighter touch and everything is more subtle. If you are particularly heavy-handed you can adjust the overall sensitivity of the pen.

The difference between the Wacom pen and a mouse is like hand-writing a note with a fine-tipped Sharpie versus a paint roller

The buttons on the side of the pen make it easy to control the brush size. At first I found myself accidentally pressing them as I edited, but I eventually learned to slightly rotate the pen while I worked to avoid this problem.

Also of note is that I observed no noticeable lag time between tablet and computer screen when it was connected via USB. The Bluetooth connection also seemed quite good, though I did notice a little bit of latency when using the paintbrush tool for extended periods of time.

Of course, Photoshop is not the only application the Intuous Pro is good for; I also used the tablet to work on images in Adobe Lightroom. And while it was useful for cloning and healing, I found it to be a little unwieldy when making adjustments to the slider. Ultimately I think I still prefer utilizing the mouse and the keyboard shortcuts that have been burned into my muscle memory for Lightroom work.

Bottom line

If you’ve never used a tablet and pen setup – or if it’s been a number of years since you’ve picked one up – the Wacom Intuos Pro will take some getting use to. Give it time though, because if you are doing a lot of image retouching, image compositing or light graphic design work, this editing accessory will certainly boost your productivity. And the customizable functions will make it appeal to a large variety of users. In all, we think that this tool can help take your editing workflow and the final image results to the next level.

What we like:
  • Pen delivers precise results
  • Pressure sensitive tip
  • Lightweight and travel friendly
  • Highly customizable
  • Excellent to use with Adobe Photoshop
What we don’t like:
  • Somewhat laggy Bluetooth connectivity; not a huge problem for light retouching jobs, but could become problematic when making large scale image composites that require a lot of painting.
Categories: Photo News