Wacom is a familiar name in the digital art world. When it comes to looking for a tablet, Wacom is amongst the first choice that any photo editor – student, intermediate, or professional – looks at.
But, what’s so good about Wacom? Wacom’s been the industry standard for quite a long time thanks to its strong brand name, reliable quality, and durable build. This makes it a great tool for any photo editing task you throw at it and thankfully it offers a range of options for creatives of all types.
In this article, we’ll explore the 5 best Wacom tablets for photo editing and retouching to upscale your photography.
Is a Wacom Tablet Worth It?
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Many people coming to this article might have that little speck of doubt in their mind as to whether or not Wacom is a good brand.
This is understandable as Wacom tablets aren’t exactly the cheapest option out there. So, before investing in one, it’s good to weigh the pros and cons.
Most professional artists, photo editors, and students say that Wacom is worth it. Despite the expensive price tags most of their tablets have, they offer great value for money. Sure, when it comes to general functionality, you may be able to find cheaper tablets that offer similar features but a place where Wacom almost always takes the crown is its durability.
Wacom is one of the most durable drawing tablet brands. Even their cheapest, entry-level tablets for beginners can easily last up to 5 or more years. And, when it comes to other tablets, many often complain that their pens wear out or break apart after a few months or years of use – but you’ll rarely hear that happening with a Wacom user.
Our Pick for the Best Wacom Tablet for Photo Editing
What to Look for in a Wacom Tablet for Photo Editing
Getting excited to buy something you know will skyrocket your hobby or career can be a great feeling. But, as soon as you’re presented with the opportunity, you’d end up confused not knowing what to look for.
That’s why in this section we’ll discuss the things you should look out for to get an idea of what you want from your Wacom tablet.
Ideally, the size of the tablet shouldn’t be too big or too small. A huge tablet may be difficult to handle, whereas a small one might limit your range of motion and prevent you from seeing finer details. For an idea, take note that professional photo editors may use a Wacom tablet with a 16-inch screen which is found in most industry-grade Wacom tablets.
A high-resolution display would help in seeing details in the photograph more clearly and improve the accuracy of your photo editing. Although it’s not difficult to find a Wacom tablet without an HD display, you should buy a tablet that has a coated screen to prevent annoying reflections while editing.
Having the necessary features is the most essential part of choosing a Wacom tablet for photo editing. For most tablets, the recommended specs you should go for are 2048 or higher levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt recognition, and palm rejection.
Apart from that, if you’re serious about having a productive workflow, you might want to invest in a Wacom tablet that includes mappable buttons. This will allow you to easily switch between different tools and brushes in your photo editing software.
With connectivity, there are mainly two options available to you: wired or wireless. Wired tablets are cheaper but you would have to make sure your device supports the specific USB type to connect your tablet. You can often find what USB port supports the tablet from the product specs.
Wireless tablets use Bluetooth to connect to your device. Fortunately, Wacom offers Bluetooth connectivity for almost all their devices without compromising on the connection quality (to prevent input delay.)
Price also plays a major role in the kind of tablet you end up buying. Of course, if money wasn’t an object, we’d all be buying the shiniest Wacom tablet on the market – but not everyone is willing to spend a thousand dollars on a tablet.
When considering the price of the tablet, you don’t have to look at the price itself but rather determine the value for the money you’re getting for that tab. Sure, spending $1,000 on a tablet might seem far-fetched, but if it lasts for years, doesn’t give you any problems, and leaves you with an amazing photo editing experience – then that’s the tablet you want to buy.
5 Best Wacom Tablets for Photo Editing and Retouching: Detailed Reviews
Wacom has a wide product offering targeting different individuals with different needs and interests. Before you go ahead with buying one, you should read our top 5 Wacom tablets for photo editing below to determine which one will be right for you.
1. Wacom Cintiq 16 – Overall Best Wacom Tablet for Photo Editing and Photo Retouching
The Wacom Cintiq 16 is one of the best Wacom tablets for photo editing, digital art, and graphic design work. When it was first introduced, artists rushed to buy it with the main reason being its price. For just $649, the tablet offered a 1920×1080 display giving you clear image quality, 72% color gamut, and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity making your strokes much more consistent.
Its 15.6-inch screen makes it the best-size Wacom tablet for photo editing and the included pro pen 2 with 8192 pressure levels gives you ultra-responsive strokes and a smooth drawing experience.
It’s safe to consider this as an upgrade of Wacom’s beginner tablet with a screen, the Wacom One, and one of the cheapest pen display tablets you’ll find with this quality.
2. Wacom One – Best Wacom Tablet with Screen for Photoshop
Wacom One is an excellent tablet for beginners who want to take their photo editing skills to the next level. It offers a great transition from using screenless graphics tablets to using a digital screen tablet due to its robust features and affordable price tag.
It offers a 72% color gamut, similar to the Wacom Cintiq 16, but its screen is not the brightest. This tablet would be best for people who work in darker settings due to the lack of brightness and the reflective matte screen from which light would bounce off.
Despite some deficiencies in its screen, it has a high-quality build and comes with a pressure-sensitive pen that features 4096 pressure levels giving you smooth consistent strokes.
3. Wacom MobileStudio Pro – Best Standalone Wacom Tablet for Photoshop
The Wacom MobileStudio Pro is the best drawing tablet for Lightroom, Photoshop, and other resource-intensive photo editing apps. Its Intel core i7 processor can handle most tasks with lightning speed, even 3d rendering and RAW photo editing. You also don’t have to worry about running out of space thanks to its 512GB SSD.
So, if it’s so good, why isn’t it placed higher up on this list? One word: price.
The Wacom Mobile Studio Pro is a pretty expensive tablet starting from $2,000 for the 13-inch version and $3,500 for the 16-inch version. But, still, this price could be justified because of its awesome specs which makes it a great value for money. Still, I would only suggest this tablet for photo editing professionals rather than beginners breaking into photo editing.
4. Wacom Intuos Medium – Best Budget Wacom Drawing Tablet for Photo Retouching
The Wacom Intuos tablet can be considered the best tablet for photo editing on a budget. It’s a screenless tablet with 4 customizable express keys, 4096 level pressure-sensitive pen, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Wacom’s Intuos series features other sizes and versions as well but their medium is a great size for photo editing as it gives you a better range of motion. It has a comfortable surface that feels natural and responsive to draw on. Combined with the buttons and Bluetooth connectivity, the Wacom Intuos medium gives you a streamlined workflow for your photo editing needs.
To get a more detailed look at the Wacom Intuos, check out our detailed review of the Wacom Intuos M
5. One by Wacom – Best Entry-Level Wacom Tablet for Students
One by Wacom is a fantastic budget Wacom tablet geared toward beginners, students, and teachers. It has an extremely affordable price tag of just $49.99 which gives you an EMR-powered pen, 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, and an excellent drawing surface.
Seriously, for just $50 you’d be right to expect some cheap glossy plastic surface, but surprisingly, the One by Wacom uses a natural drawing surface like the Wacom Intuos.
The two obvious downsides you can consider on this tablet are that
- It doesn’t have any buttons which could hinder your productive workflow since you’d be shifting a lot through the different photo-retouching tools
- It’s wired and doesn’t come with Bluetooth connectivity making it less portable and a bit annoying for people who either don’t have a device with a USB slot or just don’t like a wire dangling on their table
To conclude, if you plan on doing some light retouching and graphic design work, you should give the One by Wacom a try.
Wacom is a well-known name when it comes to producing some of the best drawing tablets. Photo editors require graphics tablets to have a more productive workflow and enhance their photo editing experience.
Professionals are fond of Wacom due to their high build quality, durability, and advanced functionality. In this post, we discussed 5 of the best Wacom tablets for various levels and budgets to help you improve your photo editing experience and progress in your career.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Best Wacom Tablet for Photo Editing?
The Wacom Cintiq 16 is the best wacom tablet for photo editing. It has a wide, smooth surface with excellent color calibration and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity that’ll help you make more accurate edits and overall enhance the photo editing experience.
Is One by Wacom Any Good for Photoshop?
The One by Wacom may be small but it packs a punch. Hooking it up with Photoshop will give you good results as its 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity are good enough to give you nice consistent strokes without many lag and latency issues.
Does Wacom One have a Touch Screen?
The Wacom One doesn’t have a touch screen and you can easily rest your hand on top of the tablet while drawing. Its touch sensitivity only works when interacting with the pen, otherwise, it doesn’t have touch screen capabilities.
What Size Wacom Tablet Should I Get for Photoshop?
If you’re buying a Wacom tablet with a screen then 16 inches would be ideal. This would make the Wacom Cintiq 16 a great choice. However, for graphics tablets without a screen, the medium-sized Wacom Intuos works perfectly for photo editing and retouching work.
Ibrahim Ahmed is the founder and CEO of Mediacaterer – an Art & Design blog covering the latest news, tips, guides, and product reviews for beginners, intermediates, and professionals. He’s a self-taught graphic designer and writer hoping to help aspiring artists and designers make it big in the industry