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Wacom Intuos 5

This is my story behind the new Wacom Intuos 5 Tablet/Stylus.

About three weeks ago Wacom (Australia) approached me to see if I wanted to retouch live at one of their upcoming product launches. Obviously my curiosity piqued and I accepted the invitation. Not long after (the next morning infact) a brand spanking new Intous 5 tablet was hand delivered to my studio door. Quite fortuitous really as I had recently spilled tea all over my Intuos 3 and had been borrowing my partner's Intuos 4 since.

Now, any creative with any sense will tell you that the tools they use are a vital component in the production of their work. Michelangelo's David would hardly be one of the world's great masterpieces if it were carved out of concrete with a fork. So it's always nice when a new piece of technology comes along that makes our lives easier (think a Dremel in Michelangelo's case).

With a background in Fine Arts, I'm used to using my hands to shape my work. Becoming seduced by the dark arts of the digital world, I had no idea what a technical journey I was embarking on. Being a digital retoucher these days isn't just about making Photoshop your bitch, it's about understanding technology, from RAM to Colour Depth, Spectrophotometers to Tablets, technology keeps evolving and you need keep up.

You can play with inferior products, but you'll just be adding to tablet landfill. My experience and advice is to save your pennies and skip anything below Wacom's Intuos Line (Beg, Steal, Borrow a Intuos 3 if you have to). I've often credited this tool as being one of the defining components in the style of my work.

That's the background now here's my experience with the Intuos 5.

It's just a shallow visual thing, but the first thing I said when I hooked up my new Intuos 5 was "Stealth". I don't want to sound like an erotic novel, but frankly, this thing is pure sex. The Intuos 5 is smooth and sensual and it precisely targets your pixels with every sensitive pressure stroke.

Stealth: This sexy tablet is so graceful in appearance. No chunky buttons, no multi colours. The low profile matt black surface is one fluid skin and is so Darth Vader on my work surface.

Sensual: The geniuses at Wacom are keeping up with the times and this should interest a few coding geeks out there. Put down your pen and let your fingers see some action. Although the multi-touch technology has been around in Wacom's entry level bamboo tablet for a while, it's now a seamless feature of Intuos 5. As an iPhone and iPad owner it's a nice transition for me giving me options for scrolling, pinch-zooming and general navigation.

Smart: The buttons hidden under the surface can be programmed to suit your every need. You can even design personal shortcuts inside Photoshop and automatically switch to new shortcuts in other programmes. Personally, I've been using Photoshop shortcuts from the get-go but I can see the new kids on the block harnessing the power of the shortcut buttons.

Freedom: Cables? Mehh... This is one of the improvements that's got me excited! I take my Wacom to all my photo shoots, to the classroom to lecture, and to clients studios. Cables to be frank are just a pain in the ass! Now with the Intuos 5 you can install a little radio thingy (not bluetooth) and whip out the USB dongle that lives snugly inside the tablet's USB hideaway. It's speedy, no laggy bluetooth business, and the battery lasts 9+ hours, more than enough for a day's shooting.

In summary, there are loads of other new features but these are the main ones for me. But why use a Wacom tablet at all? All in all it's pretty simple. People frequently tell me they've briefly tried to use a tablet but find a mouse easier to use. But after much insistence by me, the next time I see them they've had the Wacom epiphany and there's no turning back. What do I say? We're born with the desire to crawl and taking those first few steps to walk feels uneasy. Spend some time on your feet and try going back to crawling.