New XP-Pen

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Tree in Padley Gorge, Peak District. Fuji XT1 + 10-24 lens.
Tree in Padley Gorge, Peak District. Fuji XT1 + 10-24 lens.

As some of you reading this may know, I have recently switched from a PC to a Mac for Photography. Initially it was a move from a laptop to a MacBook. Next came the move from my desktop PC to an iMac. This last move is probably longer term as I need to retain a Windows PC for businesses reasons.

Having paid a not insignificant sum for the iMac I decided it was time to get serious about my image editing. For years I have used a mouse for most editing tasks but at one time I did buy a cheap Wacom graphics tablet. In reality, the tablet was too small, I didn’t enjoy using it and then I broke it. But now the time is right to grasp the nettle and invest in a larger tablet.

What I really want is a larger graphics tablet that would provide me greater control over detailed work. At the same time this tablet needed to fit on an already overcrowded desk without getting in the way. Something around A4 size would probably be ideal. The tablet also needed to have a number of buttons (virtual or physical) which I could program with useful commands. My other requirements include:

  • A nice surface to move the pen nib across.
  • Functional buttons on the pen/stylus.
  • The pen needed to be of a reasonable size and weight to make drawing comfortable.
  • At least 2000 pressure levels allowing the pressure applied to the pen to be interpreted by my software.
  • A resolution of at least 5000lpi.

I started my search with the Wacom tablets as they are a recognised industry leader with a quality product. Their tablets clearly meet my needs but I needed to pay quite a bit, typically in excess of £200. Bearing in mind my earlier experience I couldn’t quite bring myself to pay this.

I decided to search Amazon which revealed a lot of graphics tablets for less than £100. The one that I really liked was the XP-Pen Star03. It met all of my requirements and was only around £50.

View on Amazon

The XP-Pen Star 3 graphics tablet
The XP-Pen Star 3 graphics tablet

I have to admit to being rather dubious of this low price but in the end thought it was worth the risk. Having now used the tablet for around a month, I like it – a lot. It’s useful for applying more artistic editing to images. Do I use it all the time? No.

Where a graphics tablet like this comes into its own is when you to brush in or out adjustments and this depends on the software you use. The Nik filters for example provide excellent Control Point technology so tend not to need a graphics tablet. In contrast, if you work a lot with Photoshop Layers or products such as On 1 Enhance, the graphics tablet brings real benefits.

If you find yourself looking for a graphics tablet to try, I would definitely take a look at the XP- Pen. It works with both Mac and Windows PC’s.

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7 thoughts on “New XP-Pen

    Michael said:
    October 19, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Did you consider or try the Apple trackpad? I am about to go down the same route in updating my main computer.

      thelightweightphotographer responded:
      October 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Yes I did. I decided it was far too small and really only intended for working the interface using gestures like you would on the iPhone.

    David Aldridge said:
    October 19, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Hi Robin,
    I was contemplating buying a tablet and was going to default to a Wacom without doing much research, so this article comes at an opportune time. I notice on Amazon that there are two sizes of the Star03, both at the same price. Did you buy the 12″ version or the 10×6″ version?
    Cheers
    Dave

      thelightweightphotographer responded:
      October 19, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      The entire unit is around 13.5″ long but the drawing surface is 10 x 6. It may sound small but it’s pleny big enough. If your only used to editing with a mouse, this feels as though your moving your arm through a huge distance.

    Victor Rakmil said:
    October 19, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I bought a medium Wacom, it’s too big and I only use one button. Their small non intuos version entry model is a perfect size and cost.

    Victor Rakmil said:
    October 19, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    P.s great photo!

      thelightweightphotographer responded:
      October 20, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      Thanks Victor. Good point about the size of the graphics tablet. Some of the larger models definately feel too large if ou are used to editing with a mouse. The XP I’m using has a 10″ x 6″ drawing area which doesn’t sound large but is plenty big enough.

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