Wacom has been synonymous with producing tablets for media creators for a long time now, and there is no doubt that their tablets can make editing photographs much easier in post-production. The company introduced their new Pro line of tablets in 2017, but only recently released the new Wacom Intuos Pro Small model. This tablet offers the main features found in the larger models but in a fun-sized, lower-priced package. After the break, we will share our experience with the tablet and let you know if this small package can deliver significant results.
Having more control over the images we’re editing in post-production is always something we welcome. Sometimes using a mouse and keyboard can be tricky when it comes to making masks or selections just right, and it can be equally as difficult to apply the correct amount of dodging and burning to an image. Tablets and pens like the Wacom Intuos Pro Small are designed to give photographers and media creators more control over images and projects, and they are now more popular than ever thanks to products like the Apple Pen and the creativity it can bring to those who use tablets. Can the Wacom Intuos Pro Small bring the same levels of control to images in editing software on Windows-based PCs and Macs? Let’s find out.
DISCLAIMER: The Wacom Intuos Pro Small was sent to us to review and keep by Wacom. This, however, had no impact on the final review. All of the views expressed in this review are ours and have not been influenced by any outside source. This level of transparency exists so that we may continue to build our relationship and level of trust with our readers in the same way that we have been doing for the past 10 years.
Pros and Cons
- Small and lightweight makes it easy to travel with, and it doesn’t take up much desk space
- Pleasant to use and makes editing fine details easier thank to the 8,192 levels of pressure
- The Bluetooth connection makes setup clutter and cord-free
- Pro Pen is incredibly comfortable to use and offers levels of control that will delight
- Designed for both left and right-handed content creators
- Great battery life
- Works with all major photo editing suites such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Capture One
- Initial setup takes a while as you need to input commands and keystroke manually
- Overall, the software is not the most user-friendly program you’ll find
- The plastic used on the tablet is a fingerprint and grease magnet
- The pen stand that houses the extra tips can be hard to open
The Wacom Intuos Pro Small was attached to a custom-built Windows 10 based PC with a Ryzen 5 2600 processor, 24GB of RAM, and a GTX 1060 6GB GPU attached to a 24-inch IPS display. The tablet was used in Photoshop, Lightroom, and Capture One Pro 12.
A highlight of the specifications for the Wacom Intuos Pro Small is listed below. For a full list of specifications, go to the official Wacom website.
Small: 269 x 170 x 8.45 mm / 10.6 x 6.7 x 0.3 in
Small: 160 x 100 mm / 6.3 x 3.9 in
Small: 450 g / 0.99 lb
Pen pressure levels
8192, both pen tip and eraser
± 60 levels
10 Pro Pen 2 nibs (6 standard and 4 felt nibs in pen stand)
Small: 6 customizable, application-specific
USB to PC and Mac
Bluetooth Classic for wireless connection to PC or Mac
USB 2.0 port
Windows® 7, 8.1 and 10 (32 and 64-bit)
macOS 10.12 or later
Bluetooth Classic for wireless connection to PC or Mac, Bluetooth LE for wireless connection to mobile devices (in the optional paper mode for M and L sizes only),
Internet connection to download driver* and software
The Wacom Intuos Pro Small is rather lovely to look at. The tablet’s design is quite minimalistic, and it has been designed to offer great form and function without cluttering the main workspace. As you can see in the image above, the main drawing area is flanked on the left by six programmable buttons and a programmable scroll wheel. The overall dimensions of the tablet are 10.6” x 6. 7”, with the active area of the tablet measuring 6. 3” x 3. 9”. The outer edges of the tablet have a smooth gloss finish, while the drawing area is more of a matte finish.
Flip the Wacom Intuos Pro Small around to the left side, and you can see just how thin the tablet is overall. The tablet is barely thicker than the USB-C port that you can see in the image above. This helps make it incredibly easy to pick up and carry around with you. If you travel a lot, you’ll find that this tablet will easily slip into your camera bag.
The right-hand side of the tablet is almost as barren as the left-hand side. Here all you will find is the switch that allows you to turn on and off touch (think huge gesture-based trackpad) functionality. The back of the tablet has nothing but a Wacom logo and the FCC ID information along with the model number (PTH-460) printed there. The Wacom Intuos Small Pro has a small footprint that doesn’t take up much space, and it weighs only 0.99lbs. Creators with limited, cramped work areas will appreciate the overall design, the slim build, and the weight of this tablet.
Pro Pen and Stand Ergonomics
The Intuos Pro Pen is what makes all of the magic happen and, seeing as this is how you’ll spend hours interacting with the tablet, it needs to be comfortable to hold. Thankfully, I can tell you that the pen is indeed a delight to hold for long periods. The pen itself measures in with a length of 6.2-inches.
The pen has a wide-body towards the tip that becomes more narrow towards the eraser end. You can see where your thumb will naturally fall. There are two programmable buttons that have a nice tactile feel to them. The upper portion of the pen has an excellent rubberized grip too, which makes holding the pen easy.
The pen stand is a weighty affair that has a plastic upper case and a metal cap with a ring of rubber on it to prevent it from sliding around. There is an indent in the plastic portion of the stand that will allow the Pro Pen to lay flat. You’ll also see a hole in the indent that will enable you to stand the pen on its end (think ‘pen and quill’ style).
Inside the base, you will find 10 extra tips for the Pro Pen (six standard and four felt tips). I really like this design as it allows you to keep them neat and orderly, but the metal screw cap can be a real pain to open. I found myself having to apply tremendous pressure onto the cap and then had to really press hard on the rubber grip to get it to unscrew. Aside from the bases cap being a pain to remove, the overall design of the Pro Pen and the base are really nice.
Overall the build quality of the Wacom Intuos Pro Small and the Pro Pen 2 are excellent. The tablet feels solidly built, and the buttons all have a nice tactile feel, which makes them pleasant to use. The back and edges of the tablet are metal, while the top is made from plastic. The Pro Pen is nice and light–it feels really nice in the hands, but it doesn’t feel quite as solidly built as the tablet itself. That’s okay as the all-plastic build of the pen means that it is lightweight, and easy to hold and use for extended periods.
My biggest complaint about both the tablet and the pen is that the plastic used is a magnet for finger and palm prints. Use the tablet and pen just once, and it will look like it has been used for a long time. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal or a deal-breaker, but it is an annoyance.
I have used the tablet extensively and can say that the surface I draw on does not have a single scratch or pen mark on it, which is excellent! Overall, the Wacom Intuos Pro Small is a well-built piece of gear that should last you a long time. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw it in my backpack or camera bag as I am confident that it would easily stand up to the abuses of travel.
Setup and Software
The Wacom Intuos Pro Small is really quite easy to connect to your computer out of the box. You can either connect it to your Windows PC or Mac via the provided USB cable, or you can connect it to your computer via Bluetooth. Once you have the tablet connected to your computer, you simply go to the Wacom website to download the drivers and software. The initial setup is easy. Once you run the software, it will detect what model of the Intuos you have, and it will ask basic questions like if you are left or right-handed. After that is the real meat and potatoes of the setup, and honestly, you’re going to find that you will spend quite a bit of time here.
Essential functions of the tablet and pen will work with any editing software out of the box, but to get the most out of them, you need to spend a pretty large amount of time setting them up for each piece of software you use. The software is relatively straightforward. You will see each piece of equipment broken down, and you will see a space for which application you use. To set up each piece of software, you have to direct the Wacom software to the .exe or executable file for the editing program you’ll be using, which can be a pain. Honestly, the software should be able to hunt and find compatible software by itself, but it can’t. It’s 2019, features like this should be baked in.
Once you have pointed the Wacom software to each of your editing programs, you can start to customize the tablet and pen to your heart’s content. You can assign each button to a specific function within your chosen editing software, but this is a pain as you need to know the key combinations for each task. For instance, if you want to assign a button on the tablet to undo your last change made in Lightroom, you have to click on the button diagram (that you can see above), highlight keyboard, then keystroke, and then you’ll need to type in the keyboard combination, which for Undo (on Windows) is CTRL-Z.
This, my friends, is a time-consuming process, especially if you use multiple pieces of software. You need to repeat these steps for each button you want to assign a function to for each piece of software (Capture One, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.). In all honesty, the functions should all be listed within the Wacom software, but Wacom didn’t want to take the time to list the functions where you could just click them to get them assigned. This is honestly just laziness on Wacoms part, and that’s a shame. It makes setting this tablet up quite a pain. Once you have figured out your most-used functions in your editing software and have appointed them to the six programmable buttons on the tablet, and the two on the pen, you’re good to go. Just trust me when I tell you that it is well worth getting this set up just how you want it, no matter how frustrating the process may be.
Ease of Use
Once you have the tablet and the function buttons set up you’re going to see just why the Intuos Pro tablets are so highly thought of by content creators. If you have never used a pen and tablet before, I will tell you that there is a bit of a learning curve. It can feel strange at first, but after a short while, you’ll be editing pictures faster than ever before. The Wacom Intuos Pro Small and the Pro Pen 2 are a joy to use.
After an hour or so you will have control over your images like you’ve never experienced before, and you’ll find that not having to take your hands away from the tablet to make keystrokes will speed up your workflow exponentially. Making precise masks, selections, and complex edits will be more comfortable than ever before thanks to the pen, and you’ll find that you will get used to the smaller active workspace on the Wacom Intuos Pro Small very quickly. Simply hover the pen over the active portion of the tablet, and the cursor appears on the screen.
The cursor is incredibly responsive and moves no slower than a regular mouse cursor would. Simply hold the pen on the tablet and draw with your brush or your tool. You can use the scroll wheel to change the size of your brush as you are painting/drawing your mask, and if you make a mistake you can simply turn the pen over and erase the error with the eraser. It’s incredibly intuitive.
When you are dodging and burning your image, or are doing anything else, you have great control thanks to the pen. Press harder on the tablet and the effect you are painting on is applied more heavily, press lightly, and you’ll get soft, light strokes. This is thanks to the 8,192 pressure levels. There are also 60 levels of tilt detection too, which makes drawing feel like the real deal.
I used the Wacom Intuos Pro Small with a 24-inch monitor: it felt just fine, and the active area mapped well to my display. If you have space, you can opt for the medium or large models, but the small felt great, and the space saved on my desk was a blessing. Battery life is excellent too. If you use the tablet and pen in Bluetooth mode, expect about 10 hours of use per charge. The tablet is suitable for both lefties and righties too. Just tell the software which hand you use, and orient the tablet with the buttons on either the left or right-hand side. Overall the Wacom Intuos Pro Small is incredibly easy to use; just make sure you take the time to set it up correctly. Otherwise, you’ll see no real benefit from the device.
- Incredibly easy to use once you have set up the custom functions
- The pen is well designed and is comfortable to hold for long periods
- Photo editing has never been this much fun before
- It’s priced right at $249.95 (at the time of review)
- Having to manually assign keystrokes to the custom buttons is time-consuming
- Overall the software is not exactly user-friendly and needs to be addressed in future releases
- The plastic used is a fingerprint magnet and looks quite nasty after just a short time
If you have always wanted to have extra control over the edits you make to your images, and don’t want to spend a ton of money on a tablet, the Wacom Intuos Pro Small might just be what you’ve been looking for. This tablet is feature-packed for the price, and it will allow you to make sophisticated edits effortlessly. The tablet and pen are well built, the wireless functionality is fantastic, and the levels of customization will really impress you.
You can genuinely make this tablet work for you, and you will see a considerable improvement in your workflow. This tablet is for those who want to be able to have more control over their edits, and those who either need to save space at their desk or who do a lot of traveling. This tablet will make your life easier in the long run, and it will save you time too. If you edit a lot of photos and want to be able to have more control than ever before over your media, I highly recommend the Wacom Intuos Pro Small.
We award the Wacom Intuos Pro Small four out of five stars. If the setup was just a little less time consuming and the software was a little more user-friendly, it would have hit five stars. The Wacom Intuos Pro Small is available from Adorama for $249.95.