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|Category:||Graphics Tablets and Mice|
|Product:||Wacom Graphire4 Classic A6|
Wacom Graphire4 Classic A6 - Peter Bargh takes a look at the fourth version of Wacom's popular budget graphics tablet - the Graphire4 Classic A6.
Peter Bargh takes a look at the fourth version of Wacom's popular budget graphics tablet.
A graphics tablet can be a useful addition to any digital photographer's computer set up. It makes it easier to make selections around parts of your image and perform precise enhancements using the brush tools. I find it really worthwhile when cloning and using the dodge and burn tools.
|The graphics tablet has been around for many years now and, to be honest, there's little new that can be added in terms of features. This new Wacom Graphire4 has just about everything you could want, but so did their last one! What you get here is a slightly sexier design. The tablet, available in A6 and A5, is now totally covered with a plastic photo frame surround. If you're an artist you can clip it off and lay a photo below. Then you can draw around outlines in the photo to create a life-like drawing, then hand colour using the brushes and various colours and blend modes. Previous models had a lift up flap and the pen could snag on the edges and the print could fall out.
The Pen clips into a cradle at the back of the plastic frame. It's a tight fit which makes it fiddly to get in and out, but I found resting it just above is fine and when transporting push it firmly into place to avoid it dropping out. There is no upright stand like on previous models, but I always found this annoying as I was always knocking it out and off the desktop when reaching for a coffee or Selotape dispenser.
Set up is fantastic. Load the CD and a pop up window suggests you connect the USB cable. On doing this the tablet is recognised and a pop up help file appears. This guides you through the features in simple animated form. It's one of the easiest manuals I've come across, but then there's not much you really need to know.
There are many options to customise the tablet, pen and mouse from the Pen Tablet control panel. Here you can set the pen and eraser sensitivity and button clicking options as well as the various menu pop ups. There's also an option to turn on a clicking sound as you perform an action and a customise of the tablet are in relation to the screen. I use a two screen set up and the tablet copes with this, but also allows for it to be turned off and used on just one of the screens.
|Another major improvement is in the Graphire4’s pen. It now has a rubberised grip which makes it really comfortable to use and the front and back pen keys are set slightly apart to help you find and press the right key every time.
In use I found the two keys positioned too high up the shaft and not that conveniently placed for my index finger or thumb action. I do, however, tend to write holding a pen really close to the nib, so I checked with colleagues. Three out of the four preferred lower buttons.
The pen works well with 512 levels of sensitivity you can really control the paint options making it perfect for artists using programs, such as, Painter.
The pen keys may be too high up the pen for some users.
As well as the driver CD, the bundle comes with other software depending on the version you buy. We tested the A5 Graphire4 Studio which costs £110 and comes with Photoshop Elements 3.0, a good budget version of Photoshop, and Color Efex Pro. The £75 Graphire4 Classic is supplied with Corel Painter Essentials 2. A6 versions cost £180 for the Studio and £150 for the Classic.
Here's one very sexy graphics tablet. If you already own a Graphire this may not be worth the exchange, although you may get a good deal on your old one on eBay so it may not cost you much. If you're new to tablets don't consider anything else. You can get cheapy brands in budget supermarket clearouts but the quality is not in this league.
All four of the Graphire tablets and other pro spec Wacom Intuos tablets can be purchase from the ePHOTOzine shop to help support the site.
Test by Peter Bargh