Tag Archives: processing

Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet Review

Wacom Intuos 5 Touch Medium TABLET (now called the Intuos Pro)

To Tablet Or Not To Tablet; Long Term Review
The Wacom Intuos Pro family of tablets. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos Pro family of tablets. Photo: ©Wacom

I’ve been a user of Wacom tablets for many years now. I have had an Intuos 2 and Intuos 3. With the introduction of a “touch” surface, I was intrigues so borrowed the new Intuos 5 Touch Medium with wireless adapter for a long term review from Wacom.

Editing "1 Sixpence 1 Play" using FCP X and a Wacom Intuos 5 Touch graphic's tablet and calibrated Eizo CG276 monitors. Still frame from video; ©Edmond Terakopian

Editing “1 Sixpence 1 Play” using FCP X and a Wacom Intuos 5 Touch graphic’s tablet and calibrated Eizo CG276 monitors. Still frame from video; ©Edmond Terakopian

The review didn’t start off too well though. The early software drivers on the Mac weren’t very stable and regardless of wether I was in tethered mode (USB) or wireless (using a wireless USB adapter), the tablet would at some stage during the working day disappear and eventually I just gave up and went back to using the Apple Trackpad on my Mac Pro and Intuos 3, waiting for updates to the software.

The Wacom Intuos Pro small tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos Pro small tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

During a large edit on a big project (around a year ago), I developed a serious wrist pain and decided it was time to get the Wacom Intuos 5 out again. My only issue with using my Intuos 3 all the time is that I’m now so used to the gesture control in the Mac OS that having only a pen or the Wacom mouse is often counter productive. I decided to have a look at the Intuos 5 again and thankfully there was updated software. I updated and switched off the Apple Trackpad and went to the Wacom. Glad to report that the drivers are now solid and there are no more problems.

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The huge positive thing about the Intuos 5 is the fact that it is also a touch pad with gesture control too; the name is kind of a clue here. Some learning is needed to master a few new movements but the system works well; so well that I’ve stuck with it solidly since, without issue. My beloved Apple Trackpad has been tucked away in a cupboard since. There’s also fully customisable control in the way of “ExpressKeys” and added control with the Touch Ring.

Having used it with Aperture, Lightroom, Capture One, Photoshop as well as FCP X on some major projects, several of which have gone on to win awards, the combination of pen and touch not only works extremely well, but is also much kinder physically and doesn’t cause the fatigue or pain that can be associated with heavy mouse or trackpad use. For my general computing, I just use the tablet as a touch device.

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

One huge advantage with the pen is also the ability to be much more accurate. Using brushes or moving sliders incrementally can be done with pinpoint accuracy. On top of this, the free flowing pen is suited towards artistic expression, so things like burning in or dodging is a breeze and more akin to the expressiveness one would show in a traditional darkroom. Naturally for the artist, there is no better tool, so if you draw, paint or do graphical design and for some reason haven’t tried a Wacom, just do – you won’t regret it. One thing I can pretty much guarantee is that within weeks of use of a Wacom, you will wonder how you managed without it.

The only gripe I have is the touch surface doesn’t cover the entire tablet and is within a designated area, which is incidentally, clearly marked and roughly around 85% of the surface area. I occasionally find myself just outside the bottom of the area and it’s frustrating as it can lead to errors when using the tablet as a trackpad. One does get used to it, and there are so many positives, that for me, it’s not a deal breaker. I do hope though that Wacom can make the next model touch capable over the entire surface.

Some thoughts on which size; as I use dual monitors at my office, I have always opted for the A4 size in the past, now called the Medium. The larger surface area allows for great control and accuracy when working on small areas (like retouching dust). I think anyone who works on a single screen or works just on a laptop will probably find the Small size to be more than capable. As always though, the best thing is to find your nearest stockist and go and have a try to see what suits you best. Also, for those who have never tried a tablet before, at first it will feel slightly alien the first day; trust me, just persevere as it will revolutionise the way you interact with your computer.

Faster working, pain free use, accurate and versatile with both pen and touch. With the maturing of the software, this is a must have for anyone who spends a lot of time photo, video or audio editing. I can’t recommend this highly enough; your work will improve and your wrist will thank you. Having just sold my Intuos 3 tablet, pen and mouse, I shall be purchasing my own Intuos 5 Touch Medium soon!

The Wacom Intuos 5 family of tablets. As you can see, the new Pro series look almost identical. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos 5 family of tablets. As you can see, the new Pro series look almost identical. Photo: ©Wacom

NB – Since beginning this long term review, the model naming has changed and the Intuos 5 range is now called the Intuos Pro. As far as differences between the unit, they are practically identical with some minor cosmetic differences and a slightly different surface coating. Also, the Pro now comes with the wireless kit as standard (although you can also use a USB connection instead).

On a related issue, as I’m often on the road with my MacBook Pro or 11” MacBook Air, either on assignment, teaching workshops or giving presentations, I decided to get a smaller tablet for mobile use. I opted for the Intuos Pen and Touch in the small size, which is working out well too. Not up to the feel of the Intuos 5, which is a professional grade piece of equipment, but it does work well on the road. One thing’s for sure though; once funds allow, I’ll almost definitely be upgrading that to the small size Intuos Pro Touch.

The Wacom Intuos small tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos small tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

To see the Wacom in action, you can jump to 05:28 where you can see it being used with FCP X to edit our film “1 Sixpence 1 Play“:

Nik Software Plugins Workflow

Digital Image Processing with Aperture and Nik Software

Here is a recording of my online seminar (webinar from November 30th, 2011) showing how I use Nik Software’s plugins and Aperture for my image processing.
 

Workflow With Nik Software & Aperture

Nik Software Webinar Recording

Here is the recording of my Nik Software webinar from September 2011. I share my workflow using Nik Software’s plugins with Aperture, but also demonstrate how they work in Photoshop.

 

Nik Software Webinar

Online Seminar About My Workflow

Image processed using Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro 2 and Aperture. Shot on a Leica X1. Miami skyline as the sun begins to set. June 16, 2011. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be holding another free online seminar showing my workflow in Aperture, Photoshop and Nik Software’s range of plugins. With each new seminar I use new work, so even if you’ve attended one before, there will be lots of new stuff, so do join in. As always, there will be an opportunity for questions at the end. Hope to see you online 🙂

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 19.00 GMT

CLICK HERE TO BOOK!

My Workflow Using Aperture and Nik Software Plugins

My Workflow Using Aperture and Nik Software Plugins from Edmond Terakopian on Vimeo.

A free online webinar workshop hosted by Nik Software. I’ll show how I use Apple’s Aperture in combination with my favourite plugins from Nik Software; Viveza 2, Silver Efex Pro 2 and Sharpener Pro 3. I’ll also demonstrate how the same plugins work within a Photoshop environment. Regardless of which platform you’re on, you should find something of interest as the plugin interfaces and use are practically the same. This is the recording from the webinar on June 7, 2011.

For those who missed the live webinar on June 7th, 2011, here is a recording of the event. Due to it’s format, sadly we’ve had to cut out the Q&A session, so do keep your eyes on this blog and Nik Software’s pages to find out when the next webinar will be.

Nik Software Webinar Recording

Following on from my Nik Software webinar last week, many of you wrote to me and Nik asking that a recording was made available, so here it is!

I’d like to add a word of thanks to Nik Software for the platform and also to my audio sponsors, Rode Microphones for supplying the magnificent Rode Podcaster for the webinar.

Apologies for the squashed aspect ratio and some other technical issues but the system used has a very unique non-Mac compatible codec  which isn’t even native to Windows so I’ve had issues trying to edit it and get it to play properly.

Aperture 3 Review

I was one of a few fortunate photographers who were invited to take part in Apple’s Aperture 3 beta program a couple of months before launch. As a result I’m in a unique position as being the longest user of Aperture 3 in the UK.

Up until Apple released Aperture in November 2005, photographers were using three programs to do their image editing. A browser like Photostation which was later over-taken in use by Photo Mechanic for editing and batch captioning, a RAW converter like C1 Pro and finally an image editor for final processing in the shape of Photoshop. Aperture changed all of that bringing editing, captioning and processing under one roof with the need for Photoshop on some images. By March 2008 and the adjustments plugin architecture of Aperture 2.1 products like Nik software’s Viveza made using Photoshop practically unnecessary.
The beauty of Aperture has always been that all the adjustments you do, and all the versions you create of the same image within Aperture, never take up any extra space as these are just instructions which are applied once the image is exported for use. This is not true if one needs to export into Photoshop or a plugin such as Nik’s Viveza; in these circumstances a second version of the image is created and the change applied to this second version is permanent and cannot be undone once applied.

Aperture 3 as an image editor, raw converter and processor

Perhaps the biggest and most genius change to Aperture is the addition of non-destructive brushes which allow the photographer to dodge and burn, polarise and smooth to their heart’s content, straight “onto” the RAW image. The beauty of this is that any of the multitude of brushes is non-destructive and just stores the instruction for the change as opposed to modifying the original image file. What’s more is that almost all of the adjustments can be applied by using these non-destructive brushes. This new technology now means that having to create new versions of the image by exporting to Photoshop or a plugin is no longer necessary, as most things can now be done in Aperture’s non-destructive environment. If this wasn’t enough, these brushes also have edge detection which stops the action being performed from bleeding over.

For me, the next most impressive and helpful thing is the way that importing images has been changed. The way it works is by downloading all the jpeg previews from your RAW files. These pop up almost instantly as you plug in your card. This allows the photographer to begin editing images, captioning and even adding adjustments whilst the images are still downloading! Whilst the previews download and we edit, the RAWs are then downloaded. It’s absolutely astonishing to see. Another very neat addition to the importing feature is letting the program split images into different Projects automatically based on time or date differences. To add to this one can have a preset, either user generated or one of the program’s own, added to the files as they import.

These presets are extremely useful and range from correction type presets to creative ones like cross-processing and toy camera. Naturally these can be applied freely.

My preferred way of editing, after I’ve done my rough first edit, is to place the cursor on the part of the image which has to be critically sharp. I would then hit the ‘Z’ key to zoom into 100%. The helpful addition to Aperture 3 is that if now I hit a cursor key to edit through my images, all the zoomed in actions will be done to the same point. This saves an enormous amount of time and added to the blisteringly fast importing means that an edit is done in no time.

The zoom feature has been further improved by allowing zooming in further than 100% which is very helpful when retouching very fine detail. This was one of the reasons why I had a need for Photoshop – no matter how fine the dust particle might be, I can now handle it in Aperture, saving time and disk space.

For users with smaller screens like the 13” MacBooks Pros, working in full screen now allows access to all the controls one would get in the normal view.

Faces has to be seen to be believed; with an enormously high accuracy rate this feature trolls through the hard drive picking up almost every single face. Not only obvious ones such as in a portrait, but faces in the background in crowds and so on. Once the user begins to tag these faces, the program gets more accurate at spotting them and tagging them. On exporting an image, these names are written to the Keywords in the metadata. Naturally inside Aperture they can be used to locate people. On large libraries this is an intensive process the first time you do it so I’d advise setting aside some time and allowing your machine to run overnight.

Places is also extremely useful for attaching GPS tags to your images. These can come from your camera if it has this function, from an iPhone 3G if you were to take a shot at the same location or it can be manually done using map views inside the application.

Although a “Levels” man myself, I know some of my colleagues prefer to work in “Curves” which is also now supported.

Lastly, for photographers who take advantage of social networking, FaceBook and Flickr integration are now built in.

Not All Smooth Sailing

Before the release of the 3.0.1 update recently, there were reports from users on the web experiencing issues. Some of the issues with version 3.0 were problems with upgrading libraries from version 2 and the other was a memory leak experienced by users with very heavy retouching. Out of three machines, two of mine upgraded smoothly but the third machine with a library of over 380,000 referenced images and over 44,000 managed files did experience issues with the upgrade. After I repaired permissions and rebuilt the Library in Aperture 2 and with the release of Aperture 3.0.1, the upgrade went smoothly, taking around four days to complete. Some user intervention before upgrading is a must. I do recommend you read my extensive tips on upgrading on my blog http://www.photothisandthat.co.uk/ The 3.0.1 update has also fixed the memory hole.

Aperture 3 as a video editing program

The ‘M’ Word

Yes indeed, the word is multimedia. We’ve all been thrown into the deep end of audio and video along with our photography. Good news is that Aperture 3 can now handle all of this and has become the hub of all my multimedia work. You can download all your video and audio files into Aperture 3. Video, including HD, can even be trimmed for basic editing and exported into a video editing program like iMovie or Final Cut Pro, or exported out for use in various forms. The same is true for audio files. Great news is that for backing up, you can export the project, consolidating the master files and use these as your backup.

For my short film Homage, I chose all the best clips by star ratings in Aperture 3 and used the caption field to make necessary notes. When in Final Cut Pro, these notes made it very easy to edit.

It’s also now extremely easy to put together audio slideshows, blending photos, multi-layered audio and text together and allowing effects like “Ken Burns”. The slideshow can then be exported as a QuickTime movie and uploaded to the web.

Conclusion

Aperture 3 has over 200 new features and I’ve run out of space. Having used the program for real day to day work for several months I can’t express how enthusiastic I am about this application. For today’s multimedia photographer it’s an absolute must. It takes a little bit of care when upgrading, but apart from that I cannot fault Aperture 3. It ticks all the boxes.

This article originally appeared in the BJP in April 2010.

Update

A lot has changed since I originally wrote this article. At the time of this update, Aperture is up to version 3.0.3 and is solid and speedy. There have been more improvement done to the batch metadata system and neat touches like a centre line showing in the straighten tool which allows for  getting horizons straight very easily.

I have not only been using it as my image processing and multimedia hub, but also to create audio visual slideshows and even to give presentations from. I was very impressed with and embraced Aperture before, but with version 3, it would be safe to say that I love it (as much as a man could love software!).