Why should a photographer want a graphics tablet for image-editing? It might seem as though your computer setup does everything you need it to when it comes to post-processing your photos, but actually a pen and drawing tablet can provide you with all sorts of advantages and generally make your editing workflow much more enjoyable.
Whether you use Photoshop, Lightroom, or another editing program, a major advantage of using a tablet for photo-editing is that you can use a stylus to draw in your edits. This makes the process not only significantly more intuitive, but quite a bit more enjoyable as well, and the fact that many of the best tablets and styluses are highly sensitive and able to register up to 8,192 different levels of pressure means you can make adjustments with pin-point accuracy. Professional photo retouchers and editors use tablets to make their image edits, and you’ll likely find it really transforms how you feel about image editing.
Right now, we reckon the best tablet on the market is the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium, for its blend of functionality and price. An ultra-sensitive pen, customisable controls and multiple connectivity options make it a fantastic tool to slot into any workflow. However, there are many different tablets by many different manufacturers, catering for many different tastes. So, let’s dive in and take a look at a selection of the best graphics tablets for photo editing…
Best graphics tablet overall
1. Wacom Intuos Pro Medium
The best balance between performance and price
Dimensions: 219 x 338 x 8mm | Built-in screen resolution: n/a | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS
There are more advanced tablets and cheaper tablets available, but we reckon the best value for money for a tablet for photographers comes from the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. Its rough, tactile surface and highly sensitive stylus make it an enjoyable experience to use the Intuos Pro Medium for editing, and the combination of Bluetooth and USB connectivity make it easy to boot the device up and start editing your images, whether you’re a Windows or Mac user. The tablet supports multi-touch gestures (pinching, swiping, etc), and its shortcut keys are fully customisable, allowing you to assign them the functions of your choosing. Also useful is the Touch Ring, which gives you quick access to your favoured commands and tools.
Best budget graphics tablet
2. Huion H430P
Astoundingly cheap, this is a fantastic entry point for tablet editing
Dimensions: 218 x 168 x 42 mm | Built-in screen resolution: n/a | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels | Connections: USB | OS: Windows or macOS
Many photographers might assume that an editing tablet simply isn’t worth the cost, but when the Huion H430p can be picked up for less than £30/$40 you’d be foolish not to at least consider it! Though it can’t compare to the professional-geared models made by Wacom and others in terms of functionality, the H430p is a well-made little unit that does everything a tablet-editing beginner would need it to. It has a small but well-functioning drawing area, an impressively sensitive stylus for the price, and four customisable shortcut keys to streamline your workflow.
Best graphics tablet for Lightroom
3. Wacom Cintiq 16
An entry-level Wacom tablet that’s perfect for Lightroom editing
Dimensions: 422 x 285 x 24 mm | Built-in screen resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, HDMI | OS: Windows or macOS
Removing its standard “Pro” designation, Wacom introduced the Cintiq 16 as a more entry-level tablet designed to tempt photo editors who may not have taken the plunge on a tablet before. Though the price is still arguably a little steep, being many orders of magnitude more expensive than something like the Huion H430p, the Wacom Cintiq 16 is still a great entry-level buy and is perfect for a Lightroom workflow. It has Full HD LCD display is a pleasure to work on, allow you to directly work on the area of the image you are looking it – and this synergizes well with the included Pro Pen 2 stylus. Bear in mind that the 72% color gamut is lower than that of higher-end models, and while this shouldn’t be a problem for most straightforward photo edits, you may notice a very slight difference in how the image looks from tablet to computer screen if you’re using a high-end monitor.
Best graphics tablet for Photoshop
4. Wacom Intuos Pro Large
A huge drawing surface that offers a fantastic, tactile editing experience
Dimensions: 370 x 90 x 275 mm | Built-in screen resolution: n/a | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB, Bluetooth | OS: Windows or macOS
The bigger brother to the Intuos Pro Medium in our #1 spot, if you’ve got more budget to play with and like a larger drawing surface then it’s well worth considering springing for the Intuos Pro Large. It comes with the same level of customization and functionality, with ExpressKeys that can be set to control specific tools and controls, and it also supports multi-touch commands such as pinching and swiping. Despite its large surface area, the Intuos Pro Large is pleasingly thin and transportable, meaning you can also take your editing on the go. Like the Medium version, this tablet also includes wireless Bluetooth connectivity, reducing the number of cords and cables you need to fuss around with.
Best budget graphics tablet with screen
5. XP-Pen Artist 15.6 pen display
A tablet with a great built-in display at an affordable price
Dimensions: 500 x 330 x 80 mm | Built-in screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: USB-C | OS: Windows or macOS
A very good “cover-all-bases” tablet, the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 pen display gives you all you really need to start editing your images, at a great price to boot. It doesn’t quite have that tactile Wacom feel when you’re drawing on it, for photo adjustments and edits it does the job admirably. The ultra-sensitive stylus has 8,192 levels of sensitivity, and the ultra portable design of the tablet itself means it’s easy to pack up and take anywhere with you for editing on the go. For a terrific balance between pricing and features, XP-Pen’s tablet is tough to beat.
Best graphics tablets for pros
6. Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13
This comprehensively specced tablet is equipped with Windows 10
Dimensions: 367 x 229 x 16 mm | Built-in screen resolution: 2,560 x 1,440 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels | Connections: 3 x USB-C, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | OS: Windows or macOS (Windows 10 built in)
With the Windows 10 operating system actually built into it, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13 is a seriously powerful piece of kit. Its ultra-high-resolution 2560x1440 WQHD LED-display boasts 16.7 million colours and a colour gamut of 96% Adobe RGB, allowing you to view and edit your images in crisp, lifelike detail. You can use the included Pro Pen 2 to make your edits with pleasingly tactile precision, and if you want, you can even hook the MobileStudio Pro up to your desktop PC or Mac and use it as a pen display for an even more powerful setup. It’s easy to configure the ExpressKeys and Touch Ring to your preferred workflow setup, and you can also control it via the touchscreen. All this does have an effect on battery life, which could be better, but this is a seriously powerful tool regardless – with a price to match.
7. Wacom Cintiq 22HD
A professional tablet with a large, versatile screen
Dimensions: 375 x 248 x 14 mm | Built-in screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 2,048 levels | Connections: DVI, USB 2.0 | OS: Windows or macOS
For artists and designers, this is one of the most desirable tablets on the market right now, and it’s a fantastic choice for photographers too. The large 22-inch screen can display more than 16.7million colours, providing fantastic depth and richness of detail (even if the 1920 x 1080 resolution isn’t as high as we’d like), and it’s a terrific experience to draw on it with the Pro Pen 2. Like many other Wacom tablets on this list, the Cintiq 22HD features customisable ExpressKeys that you can assign preferred functions to, allowing you to streamline your workflow just the way you want it. It’s not cheap of course, but it’s an astounding piece of technology that’s great for pro-level editing.
Best graphics tablet for Windows 10
8. Microsoft Surface Book 2
A fantastic, high-resolution choice for Windows users
Dimensions: 360 x 275 x 74 mm | Built-in screen resolution: 3,000 x 2,000 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels (with optional Surface Pen) | Connections: 2 x USB 3.0, USB-C, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | OS: Windows
One of the best things about the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is that it’s not only a tablet but a laptop too, meaning you can tablet-editing to your skillset without necessarily having to up the number of devices you lug around. Its powerful Intel Core processors provide smooth and fast operation, while drawing on the large, high-resolution display with the Surface Pen is an intuitive and enjoyable experience (though be aware that this’ll cost you extra). If you can afford the steep initial asking price, you’ll find the Surface Book 2 a fantastic device for editing, processing and everything else besides.
Best graphics tablet for Mac
9. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
Apple’s entry into the market is, of course, stylish and well-made
Dimensions: 380 x 242 x 6 mm | Built-in screen resolution: 2,732 x 2,048 | Pen pressure sensitivity: Not specified (with optional Apple Pencil) | Connections: Lightning, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | OS: iOS 12, upgradable to iOS 12.1
If you’re already into the Apple ecosystem, it makes sense to consider Apple’s iPad Pro as your drawing tablet of choice. If you’re willing to pick up the Apple Pencil 2 as well, it works magnificently as a graphics tablet for photo editing, no matter which program you prefer to use, and the pencil can be magnetically docked when not in use. This 12.9-inch version (there’s also an 11-inch) is magnificent for working on, its large Liquid Retina display providing class-leading colour accuracy, and powering operations is the A12X Bionic processor, which Apple says makes the iPad Pro faster than most laptops.
Best Android graphics tablet
10. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
The best Android tablet on the market right now
Dimensions: 164 x 249 x 7 mm | Built-in screen resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | Pen pressure sensitivity: 4,096 levels | Connections: USB-C, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi | OS: Android
Great for viewing and editing your images, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is a fantastic tablet for Android users, and the fact that it comes with a stylus in the box means you have everything you need to get started right away. It’s a fairly pricey tablet, but having access to the range of editing apps for Android is an excellent advantage, and the crystal-clear 10.5-inch screen displays your images in crisp, perfect detail. Samsung also promises up to 16 hours of battery life with the Tab S4, meaning you can keep on editing on the go for longer, and it of course has a range of wireless and wired connectivity options.