Posts

Wacom Mobile Studio Pro in depth review Part I

An Apple fanboy taking the jump for creative freedom on a device that does what he wants… but it’s not an Apple…. it’s actually a lot better.

 

Ok yesterday I picked up my Mobile Studio Pro 16 from Wacom.
I opted for the fastest version with i7, 16GB, 512SSD and of course 4K screen.

Let’s take a quick look in short about my thoughts before you watch the video.

Why?
Very simple.
Apple dropped the ball and keeps dropping the ball.
First of all the new MacBookPro is hardly a pro device anymore, it’s lighter and smaller but has less battery life, problems with GPU under heavy stress, fans that kick in way too late and misses A LOT of ports, also power wise for what you pay its VERY underpowered to say the least. I believe in a USB-C standard, but I also believed in a TB standard (because Apple told us).

I was hoping for a new machine with some form of touch and incorporation of the Apple Pencil for retouching. When I saw the big trackpad I thought… “there we go” but no…. also looking at pricing I don’t think I’ll be able to afford the next MacPro version, I expect that IF Apple updates this beast (I still love mine) it will start at 6000.00 for the base model and in all honesty I do make a living off photography but if I would order what I need for editing our videos this would probably set me back 10.000 and in all honesty that… I can’t afford.

Seeing Apple really closes the door on ANY form of touch (or Apple pencil inclusion) I feel we are on a dead end, so when looking at what the competition is doing with Microsoft releasing a third (already) generation of the Surface Pro and Wacom recently releasing the also third generation of the Companion (now called Mobile studio pro) I think it’s time for people like me to look over the mountain to Windows 10… because all these machines run that other OS, the OS where we always joked about “Once you go Mac you never go back” and I still agree…. in some form.

First evening with Windows
The Wacom Mobile Studio pro comes with Windows 10 pro pre-installed. You do need to setup the Wacom drivers first which appears a bit weird, but in essence it’s a small job, I think it’s because you first have to setup Windows itself.

The setup of windows very much reminded me of MacOs in some things, and is a far cry from the last time I installed a Windows version (I did update to 10 on a notebook). It all looks sleek and nice. There even is a fingerprint sensor in the Wacom that is setup REALLY fast and works very well, still don’t know what to do it with exactly but that’s to find out in the coming days right…..

On the desktop Windows 10 looks ok. I do miss the nicely rendered menus from the Mac and the overal look, Windows still looks like it’s an 90’s operating system that has been upgraded. But that’s not a bad thing some people love the squares and the look of the preferences/settings but for me it all looks very old fashioned. But in essence it doesn’t matter because I’m not using this machine for it’s OS I use it to create and the desktop etc. looks all very nice and smooth not a real difference with what I like from the Mac, start menu is nicely organized and the “metro” look I also like although it’s again a bit square.

Gestures
As you can see in the video I’m trying out some gestures and I think it’s a huge debit to the Wacom that everything is silky smooth, I tried the same gestures on a high-specced Vaio laptop I own and it’s without a doubt less smooth, it works but it doesn’t give me that “iPad experience”

What I really really like is the gesture options in for example Photoshop and Capture one, zooming in on images with just pinch and zoom is amazingly handy and I already see myself doing this on my MBP within a few days realizing it doesn’t have touch 🙂

Speed
This thing is FAAAAST.
It’s a far cry from my Macpro (Dual D700’s with Final Cut Pro X is sick) but rendering and editing in Premiere is amazingly smooth and easy. I do have to get used to not being able to just trim clips like with the magnetic time line but I can life with that and as soon as I have a proper keyboard with touchpad (Logitech K830 on order) I’ll test this again. Photoshop and Capture One both run like I hoped.

Tethering
Tethering I tested in Capture One and works, connection is really fast and images come in just as fast as on the MBP, didn’t expect anything else, although I was a bit afraid with the USB-C dongle.

Problems
None yet expect some weird behaviors in Premiere.
Mostly due to my touchpad and keyboard not working properly (I use a very low budget and older Logitech), but one thing did frustrate the heck out of me and that’s the fact I can’t just import my MTS files anymore without loosing audio. I have to copy the whole structure of the card, and that’s not a good thing. On the MBP and in premiere I was able to just copy the MTS files and drag them into Premiere. Hope I’m missing something here.

Another problem is that the Wacom Mobile studio pro is “clean” on the back, meaning there is no VESA mount option, for me that’s a bit of a problem because during workshops I love to mount my display on a stand so people can see what I’m doing. My MBP was always on a Tethertools table but when we started shooting wirelessly in some situations I used an iPad Pro on a mount from Wally and connected to a stand. Let’s hope something similar will be released for the Wacom Mobile studio pro.

Another thing is the stand… there is no stand in the box (and I knew this) I have one on order but without it I think it’s usable but not as a laptop replacement, so make sure you get a stand when you buy one.

The final piece of critique I have is on the speakers.
I don’t need great speakers but the speakers in the Mobile Studio Pro are…. well they make sound let’s put it that way. Compared to the MBP it’s a lot of steps back. On the other hand…. it’s not really important, they make sound and you can always use headphones (yes there is a headphone jack), and I’m already looking for some BT speakers if I really need it.

Size
Loads of people asked me if a 16″ wouldn’t be too big to carry around.
And I can only say “NO….are you nuts it’s awesome”
I think we have to be clear here.
Apple labeled their MacBookPro because it was meant for the Pros, it was bigger, 17″, heavier, had a load of ports, it was FAST and it was… well a pro machine. It still looked beautiful but it wasn’t a small laptop at all. Later they dropped the 17″ which I think was sad and I bought a 15″ with Retina I fell in love again, but now the route is more to small and sleek and I think that’s where we are on the point that I want to make….

I’m not someone that will sit in starbucks and take out my shiny nice MBP put it on the table and start doing my Email or spreadsheets, when I do something on the road it’s work on images, draw, watch a movie etc. And in most cases I have room when I do this, it will be in a hotel room, at home, in the RV, outside in a park or whatever.

But most of all when I create or retouch I NEED real estate, I can’t work in a 10x15cm space to retouch a model shoot. And on smaller screens (with all due respect) I feel like I see more menu’s than drawing/retouch space. This is also why I LOVE the 16:9 form factor instead of a 4:3, the less room that is taken up with menus and other necessary stuff the more space I have to be creative or work.

In the video you see me comparing the Wacom with my MBP 15″ late 2014, it’s bigger but it’s not too big, it fits in a 17″ sleeve perfectly. And if I want to check mail in a starbucks I’ll take out my iPhone or iPad Pro. This baby is to work.

Charging on the go
AWESOME, this is what I wanted.
Let’s be honest, when you are just using your pc/tablet whatever for email or browsing battery life is no problem, you’ll be kicked out the place before the battery dies. But when you do video editing and retouching battery life becomes VERY important. By charging via USB-c you can now use external batteries like the HyperJuice to power your tablet for DAYS if necessary. We own a reasonable sized HyperJuice and it kept my MBP during a full shooting day at 100% with easy. I still have to test this on the Wacom but I expect nothing less. This was also one of the things I didn’t like from the Surface Pro, it used it’s own charging connector making it impossible to connect it to the batteries, unless…. well I didn’t feel like hacking it (never a good idea with power).

Hardkeys
LOADS of people ask me “why the wacom, it’s so expensive”
Well yeah it’s not cheap, but you get a LOT.
First of all like the title says you get hardkeys, if you don’t know how important those are I guess you’re not retouching a lot. There are software emulators that can give you keys but you still have to take your eyes off your work (also one of the biggest problems I have with the touchbar (emoticon bar) on the new MBPs) With hardkeys you can find them blind and use them. This was also another reason for me to go for the 16″ because now I have 8 and a rocker ring 😀

In fact I would love to have even more, so I’ll try to connect an EK remote to it very soon.
The less I need a keyboard the better and the EK remote had 15 keys, add the 8 of the tablet and I think we have no need for a keyboard anymore.

The screen
yeah what can I say.
WOW, WOW, WOW
This is one gorgeous experience. 4K resolution in such a “small” size means you LITERALLY see one smooth surface, it’s silky smooth. Lightoutput is also enough although more is always better when working outside, but that will also cost you dearly in battery life and contrast ratio when lowering the screen output, so I’m more than fine with this. And 96% adobe RGB is of course a welcome bonus.

The surface doesn’t feel like glass like you would expect from a “laptop replacement” but remember this is a creative tool, it’s designed to be used with a stylus and create stuff. And that’s what the screen does, it feels great with an even more tactile feel than the Cintiq and it doesn’t blur the resolution. With the iPad pro you can use screen protectors to get this feel too but it blurs the screen slightly PLUS you add to the parallax problem (your pen hits the glass and the real drawing is below).

The pen
This baby is also great.
8000+ pressure sensitivity levels, yeah great but how does that feel?
Well I’m not a digital artist (although I love to draw) but what I saw yesterday in Photoshop the level of control is INSANE, you can go from hardly visible to big bold lines without glitches… nice. But I’m not good enough to use this… but I’m sure there are people out there that do.

As you can see in the video parallax is gone, speed is great so what more to wish.
One more thing you have to realize btw, although the Apple pencil is great and works like a charm it’s not a pixel device, meaning it works in clusters, the Wacom units are pixel based meaning you use the FULL resolution for drawing, for real artists this can make a huge difference.

3D scanner
If you’re into 3D modeling the mobile studio pro comes with a really cool (so they told me) 3D camera which can be used to scan objects for 3D modeling. And according to a friend of mine it works like a charm. (just saying)

More to come
In the coming days I will post much more on my experiences, problems and of course the experience I have with Windows.
The next blog post will give you some tips on software you can use as alternatives to Mac specific things.

Fan noise
Loads of people ask about this.
The MBP is quieter for a longer time, but WHEN those fans hit you hear them VERY good.
The mobile studio pro is MUCH less loud but the fans kick in a soon as I started rendering, so I braced myself but to my surprise they never really got any louder, they just kept the device in working order it seems where my MBP waits till it’s probably almost to late and than starts cooling like crazy.

Oh and one more thing
Love the Cintiq?
never could afford one because it’s “just a display”?
Now you can. With the Wacom mobile studio pro you can use a Wacom link and use your tablet in Cintiq mode on your Mac or PC.

 

Apple?
I never was a real Windows fan when I switched to Apple and I never really looked at Windows. In my memory Windows is slow, gets slower over time and is chunky and overly complicated compared to Apple. In essence however as mentioned before I never use the OS that much, I use the programs. And when I now see how incredibly smooth you can switch from gestures to the pen and to the keyboard and touchpad in Windows 10 and Adobe and Phase One software (and probably also Manga Studio) I really and I mean REALLY can’t imagine why Apple is so against touch…. it’s not that if you go touch you have to do everything with touch but browsing for a few minutes on the net with a touch unit is absolutely something I never want to mis again, it’s seamless, it’s smooth, you can zoom it’s an experience that is fitting this time period. Seeing the fact Apple is CLEAR about not incorporating touch I’m very afraid that Apple will see a HUGE decline in customers that will switch to the real professional creative tools like this Wacom Mobile studio pro.

 

Ok before the video : Pros and cons
Pros :
Screen, pen, speed (i7 version), touch/gesture/pen/keyboard/touchpad combination, surface of the screen, size, form factor, kensington lock, 3D scanner

Cons :
no stand, no vesa mounting option, not so good speakers

In the middle (can go either way) :
Windows 10 Pro.

 

I shot this special episode of behind the closed DOORs with my first impressions.

iPad pro, Surface Pro4, Wacom Cintiq… which one…..

A while ago I posted a video online where I showed an app called Astropad.
This app is pretty awesome, it makes it possible to do some retouching in Photoshop/Lightroom etc. on your iPad pro with the Apple Pencil, and it works pretty well, although it has limitations (later more). This video got an amazing amount of views, actually it’s nearing the 180.000 views on YouTube. It also got some remarks which literally puzzled me but also motivated me to write this very short (well ok I’ll try) review on 3 amazing devices, but all in their own right. So…. ladies and gentleman hold your horses, buckle in and if you want to comment please read the article very well and read your reply before pressing post.

 

The weird, dumb, crazy remarks 
Now as you know me I’m a pretty laid back kind of guy, you can’t get me angry very quickly and I’ll always try to answer any question you guys have, but sometimes……

On the video on Astropad I clearly demonstrated an APP on the iPad pro that MIMICS what you can normally do on a Wacom Cintiq. I loved (and still love) this app, but it has limitations. First of all it has to be run on an iPad that is connected to your Mac, this means you ALWAYS need a mac close by, but as long as you are in the same network this means it can be anywhere in your home, this makes it possible to retouch in Photoshop while sitting on the coach.. pretty cool. Now that’s the app, and I think I was pretty clear in that video what it did….. Still MANY people asked me if it ran Photoshop and NO it doesn’t (clearly).

The thing that did get me a frustrated a lot were the many many people starting “wars” on that the iPad pro sucked, I was a fool and I needed to get a surface pro 4. Yeah well…. that wasn’t the idea of the video right? you don’t tell someone that owns a Volvo that he has to get a tractor or plane. But…. it did motived me to call up our friends at Microsoft and arrange an Surface pro 4.

And this…. is where I start this review/opinion on 3 great devices.

 

maxresdefault-2

iPad pro
Let me start with this one.
It retails for app 1200 euros and you have the familiar cool stuff that you are used to from Apple (or if you’re not an Apple fanboy, the bad stuff), it’s a great device to surf the web, you can watch a LOT of movies while traveling, you can use Lightroom mobile and now with the Apple pencil you can get incredibly creative with software like Pro-create and the Adobe suite or MediaBang etc. etc. there is a lot.

I got the iPad pro for one very simple reason, I LOVE to draw. I haven’t drawn in a long time because I never felt the digital way was my way and to draw on paper… well I don’t know why I didn’t do it but I just didn’t (end of story), with the iPad pro and the Apple Pencil I loved the way it felt and I was immediately sold, plus I like the larger display to watch movies on in the RV or while traveling, although in the plane it can sometimes be a bit too big, but then when you read a comic….. ahhhhh heaven, it’s amazing.

card

Astropad I already mentioned and is a great app if you ALREADY have an iPad, you buy it for a very reasonable price and you can retouch on your iPad pro. However it’s far from perfect and for one simple reason… the hover over option. When you do street/travel photography it ROCKS and I dare to say you hardly need anything else, but if you need some serious cloning or selecting… well how much I love Astropad it…. well isn’t usable for that. With a Wacom you’re used to see where you place your pointer BEFORE you hit the surface and this makes cloning a breeze, with Astropad, it’s a matter of… well guessing it and trust me, that’s a BIG frustration. But again if you don’t clone a lot (or just need to remove some dust) it works like a charm.

Now for serious photography the iPad pro is not what you need, there is no way of working on TIFF 16bits, there is no good software for retouching although Pixelmator and Enlight come very very close the end result is still not pro quality. There is some action from Adobe expected and one of their competitors Affinity is claiming to have a great solution next year but let’s see what happens, if Affinity really delivers what they promise… wow.

Video editing on the iPad pro is awesome, you can start in iMovie or Adobe clip and finish it off when you’re home on the Mac/Pc, this workflow actually surprised me in how efficient and easy it was, I expected photography to be better.

The iPad pro and the already mentioned Pro-create and other drawing solutions make that part alone already worth the money to spend on the iPad pro, it’s really VERY VERY good, if not the best device for creatives.

Watching movies, reading comics, playing games, surfing the web, all as we are used to from the iPad/iPhone very solid and great to kill hours on a plane or evenings at campgrounds/home.

The disadvantages are many if you compare it to a laptop or surface pro 4.
No USB ports, although the USB/Lighting sticks solve this pretty well, but still also there you miss a real file system where it becomes possible to open up comics for example from a stick or copy them to a certain app, now it’s all very basic, great for movies and video/photography but that’s about it. BUT if you know this it’s a “perfect” working solution. Also no full blown photoshop or lightroom, Lightroom mobile ROCKS but only if you have a great internet connection which when traveling well let me say this… sometimes sending a letter is faster than sending an email.

The advantages are more in my opinion.
The apps are made for the screen, they are rock solid, they start very fast, they do what they have to do and the touch interface is better on Apple than on any other device I every tried add to this the Apple pencil and you will know why I (and so many) love our Apple iPad.

4a85d889-a6e1-404b-bacf-ec681e64bcfb

Surface pro 4
Microsoft was so kind to send me their Surface pro 4
The version I got retailed for app 2400 euros, twice the price of the iPad pro, and I loved it.
Running full versions of Photoshop and Lightroom and Capture One is great of course.
But that’s on paper…..
And I know I can’t run them on the iPad pro but somehow I know that, on the Surface pro 4 I can so I expect to be able to use them, right?
Well that’s where it goes wrong.

Let me first tell you that I’m NOT an Apple Fanboy, I own a lot of Apple gear, but if something better show up I’m switching without any problem, they are just tools, but somehow when Apple makes something it always seems to work. That being said I also know the limitations and that also means I would LOVE a macbook with a touch screen or an iPad Pro that runs MacOsX (APPLE!!!!) but that’s not here (yet). The Surface pro 4 promises to be just that… so I expect that, this is very important to say before I continue because although I love the product I also find some problems with it.

First off all let’s look at the software.
I love to shoot tethered in Capture One, and that works like a charm, awesome freedom, just walk around with the tablet on a stand and shoot.
Now the retouching part, the display is too small to use Capture One comfortably, and this trend continues with Photoshop, you can scale Photoshop but when you scale it up the work area is WAY too small, when you scale it down it’s more than enough but for the best of me I can’t control the settings or click the right buttons, it’s just too small (Adobe make a zoom function thats flexible or just in between, that would solve this).
Lightroom works ok, although also here zoomable interface…. thank you very much that would be handy.

The touch in Photoshop is awesome, you can easily zoom, rotate and drag around while retouching with the stylus, now this is what I want, this rocks, this is awesome this is…….. hmmmmm battery empty…. yep that’s the main thing I have against the Surface Pro 4, I could retouch 4 images and my battery was dead, now I retouch FAST, but I use 3 plugins that are pretty CPU hungry on my shots and this meant that after app 1 hour my battery was dead as a rock, totally empty.

By the way one quick side step.
The thing I did miss in Photoshop were the keystrokes, and attaching a keyboard… well that didn’t work for me, I choose a tablet to draw on for a reason and than attaching a keyboard doesn’t make sense, I was about to give up when I found a cool little app called tablet pro, this gives you an extra floating or locked keypad where you can program your keystrokes, like the Wacom has it’s expresskeys, this REALLY made the difference for me between sending it back and using it with loads of fun.

Now when an iPad/iPhone is nearing it’s empty state there is not really a problem, you just connect it to a 12V outlet, or a spare battery like the HyperJuice, Mophie etc. there are plenty of them out there, for the Surface Pro 4….. NONE, meaning if you take this baby with you on a 10 hour flight the fun stops at app 9 hours to go, probably already before take off if you are so lucky they have to de-ice the plane and the rest of the time you… well just sit.

Of course it’s not that bad… watching movies the battery actually copes pretty well, it’s not as good as the iPad pro (which I never emptied not even on the longest flights (10+ hours)) but it manages pretty well and if you also take something else with you for entertainment you will probably love the Surface Pro 4, but don’t start retouching because you will run into problems with the battery and there are no external solutions (unless I miss something).

The other thing I experienced as negative was the ONE USB port.
Yes I know the iPad has none but that’s not a laptop….. (see why I told you to think about it before replying), and from the Surface pro 4 I actually expect to leave my laptop at home. Now why is one USB port bad… well you can’t make any backups. The unit I got had a 128GB internal memory and when I travel that’s not enough so we have to use an external drive for storage which…. is connected to USB, so if I want to make a backup of that drive……. yep no luck, unless you also bring your dock which gives you a minidisplay port, USB and some other goodies, so in all honesty it’s something that you CAN solve. But…. when I don’t bring a laptop I also expect my device to run all day during a photoshoot in the field, my MacBook Pro with Capture One running and tethering with full screen brightness can stay “alive” for app 4-4.5 hours, after which we connect it to the hyper juice (actually when it’s half empty), the surface pro 4 ran empty after app 2 hours, which means I can NEVER do a full workshop or even photoshoot with it in the field, unless….. we have power and in most cases we will have power but in some cases we don’t and certainly not close to the laptop.

Now it seems like I’m negative about the Surface Pro 4, but I’m actually FAR from negative. I absolutely loved working on it, Windows 10 is nice although I prefer the MacOs but it’s good enough. The stylus is pretty good and when used in Photoshop or Manga Studio (thanks to Smith Micro for supplying me with a test version for PC and Mac so I could compare) it’s a dream to work on. For drawing itself I still VERY MUCH prefer the iPad pro, the apps are designed for the iPad pro and this means you have the maximum space to draw and no clutter around the edges with menus like on Windows, let’s be realistic this is a full version you’re running and they are not designed to be ran on a small screen.

In essence I loved the surface pro 4 but the problem I have with it is the working space in Photoshop, the very limited battery life and the one USB port on the device. If they would add an option to charge via USB that would make the Surface Pro a MUCH better device for guys like me who really use the device in the field.

 

dth2700-02-g

The Wacom
Now this is a weird one in this list I think, but bare with me.
Due to the drawing experience on the iPad pro I wanted to do the same thing on the Mac, but in all honestly eye hand coordination with the normal tablet didn’t work out for me, for normal retouching I couldn’t life without my Wacom but for drawing it just doesn’t work, now there were two options for me.

  1. The Wacom Companion
  2. The Wacom Cintiq 13HD

In all honestly the Companion as it is now is pretty awesome but a bit too large for me to travel with and too limited because I also bring my laptop, so I can much better just bring a travel tablet and draw on the iPad pro which I also carry with me. The Companion idea is great and very similar in my opinion to the Surface pro 4 except it has all the express keys and when you connect it to your mac or PC you have a full blown cintiq, but it’s bigger than the surface pro 4, so for traveling…. well I’ll let you decide.

Unknown

When you get used to drawing on the screen with both retouching and drawing it’s very hard to leave that experience and go back to the normal tablet, so I knew I wanted a cintiq. My first choice was the 13HD but when I tested that one out at CameraNu.nl I had to be realistic with myself…. it’s just a bit too small, so in the end we decided to go for the 22HD touch. As you probably know we really ended up with a 27″HD demo model from Wacom which I can try out and show so I’m very happy.

Now when I look at my retouching at home I absolutely love the Wacom Cintiq, compared to Astropad it’s not limited by the hover function, it’s much bigger and it shows my selections crystal clear (Astropad does show some flickering with the marching ants), Thanks to Smith Micro I can also use Manga Studio on my Mac and has become my favorite drawing program for sketching and line work, after which I finish everything in Photoshop. The experience on the Cintiq is absolutely breathtaking, on the iPad pro the lag is VERY low and the overal experience is great, but… the surface can be a little slippery where the Cintiq really feels like a more tactile surface which I actually prefer, I do feel that shading with a pencil is MUCH cooler on the iPad, everyone I show this is just stunned, but…… psssst I never shade like that…….so I don’t miss it.

Traveling with the 27″ cintiq is out of the question, Annewiek told me so herself, so you better believe it.

 

so…… why all these devices in one post.
As mentioned before it started with a review of Astropad (a cintiq like app) on the iPad pro, which I bought to replace my iPad and to draw. Due to all the remarks about the Surface pro 4 I got one from Microsoft to compare and I think that there will be a Surface Pro in my future if they make it slightly bigger and add an option to use external batteries. Because I got so used to retouching on the image itself and drawing is something I’m more and more in love with plus I want to do some new stuff with my photography I actually ended up with a Cintiq, so I think this is the only place where you will find a review with these 3 together but I hope my insights gave you some ideas and maybe tips if you’re also looking for a solution.

 

Conclusion
There is no spoon….
Oops wrong blog….
There is no perfect solution.
I hope for the day we have macbook pro keyboard with an iPad pro screen, take the screen off and the iPad pro becomes an iOS device with all the apps etc. put it back into place and it’s a dumb screen for a laptop, this should be no problem at all for Apple so I wonder what they are waiting for…..If they would also make it possible to RETOUCH on the screen while connected it would mean I would have one device with me during travels.

For now I’m using the following.
iPad pro for media consumption, drawing, reading comics, surfing the web, the perfect traveling companion.
MacBookPro for shooting in the field, in all honesty a tethertools table on a stand is not that much more work to carry around than a tablet on a stand.
Wacom Cintiq for studio use.

That last one I don’t see me replacing by ANY device, working on the 27″ cintiq is VERY addictive and going back to a smaller one…. well no way (well maybe but than it has to be a lot better), the iPad pro and MacBook Pro I’m afraid that for the coming time that will stay my combination up until ONE device can REALLY replace them both, let’s hope on the Microsoft Surface Pro 5/6/7 or if Apple wakes up and does something amazing 😀

Feel free to leave comments but keep it respectful please, this is MY opinion and only MY opinion.

 

Digital classroom “alternative light sources”

In this episode of Digital Classroom a full 2 hours on alternative light sources.
A lot of photographers think you need expensive strobes to get great results, but in reality it can be done with much less, even lightbulbs, christmas lights etc. they can all be used for stunning results.

 

In this 2 hour recording of our live broadcast you can see how Nadine styles the sets and we shoot some killer images with just the available lights, no strobes 😀

 

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel via this link and make sure we continue to produce this kind of work.

And some of the results

Nadine Januari 6 2016 1346

Nadine Januari 6 2016 1055

Nadine Januari 6 2016 1054

Nadine Januari 6 2016 1046

 

iPad pro vs Surface pro …. oh no

Let me start of by saying that I always believe that everyone is right…
Now what do I mean with this?
Everyone has a different workflow, everyone has different skills, everyone has different needs and that’s ok, so whatever I will say in this blogpost is actually aimed at me, and maybe at you…. But one thing…. please read the WHOLE blogpost before you start a discussion because I think it will make a lot of stuff clearer 😀

 

Why this blogpost?
I recently got an iPad pro and Apple Pencil and have been over the moon with the possibilities (see my reviews online and on this blog), in fact the Apple Pencil awakened a long sleeping desire to draw in me, and I’ve been doing since the day I got the Pencil, it just feels very very natural. So I’ve been posting very positive about it. Also because I never intended to buy the iPad pro for the simple reason it didn’t run full MacOsX, but….. and this where it happens.

 

Full OS vs iOS
So why did I bought that expensive iPad pro and didn’t I buy a MacBookPro or 12″.
Well the 12″ doesn’t make sense for me, I need processing power, we edit 4K videos on the road, I retouch 42/60MP files etc. and although the 12″ is great for business men, for me it would be a paperweight (a very light one) and I would still prefer my MacBookPro 15″ retina.

 

But… I can’t draw on my MBP.
And this is the MAIN reason I bought the iPad pro, the incorporation of the stylus, excuse me Pencil. Of course it also helps that it’s smaller than a laptop (easier when traveling) and it’s bigger than an iPad so I can work on it better, and even with the attached Logitec Create keyboard it will still fit on my lap in an Airplane (barely). But most of all because all the apps are 100% touch based….

 

Surface pro and likes and iOS iPad Pro
So whatever you post about the iPad pro there will be a group of people claiming the iPad pro is just catching up because the Surface Pro has been doing it for YEARS…..and indeed they Surface pro (and others) have been in that form for years, indeed, so that’s true. If you look at it like this…. you have a pen and a tablet.
BUT…..
There is much much more, let’s look at some differences.

 

The first thing you have to realize that there is a huge difference between a tablet and a PC.
A tablet is/should be 100% touch, meaning bigger menus for your fingers (slightly smaller for a stylus), there should be more than enough apps to do whatever you want to do and…. most importantly the system should be very stable.
A desktop or laptop is a different beast.
You have a keyboard for typing and shortcuts, and you have a pointing device for example a mouse and/or trackpad. Most importantly this means you can have smaller menus, you can use keystrokes for quick and easy acces to much used commands and you can work in a efficient way.

 

Did you read that last one?
In a more efficient way, and that’s 100% true.
Let’s look at Photoshop for example.

 

Photoshop (real life) example
For Photoshop I use the following keyboard shortcuts a lot (read sometimes several times per second)
sampling, brush size up and down, Undo and redo, zoom in and out, drag, and switching color when working with masks and I know I only use a few compared to some others. But I would need 9 hardkeys or soft keys to do my work in the most simple way. On my Mac/PC or laptop no problem at all, the keyboard is always there.

 

Now I disconnect the keyboard like on the surface, I sit down on the coach and start to retouch…. after opening my image and looking at it the first problem occurs, I want to zoom in… well that’s possible via the Menu. But now I want to take away some blemishes…… uh…. well….. I can find my healing brush but….. how do I sample without a keyboard? ok let’s forget the sampling just run a filter because I’m running the full version, so that’s done, now I make a layer mask, hide all and I start to paint, every time however I need to switch colors I have to click on the colors, but that’s doable. However changing the brush size….. well that’s again very annoying because it has to be done in the menu. But we’re done with that… now let’s change something in the background with the clone tool…. oops that doesn’t work also because I have to sample something….. well let’s skip that too….

 

To be honest this doesn’t work for me.
If I need to skip things in my workflow I would rather not be able to retouch at all, it should be seamless. You could of course project the keys as a floating keyboard and use those with touch, but when I worked with the Surface I couldn’t find an app that made a few small buttons I could program as keystrokes.

 

Same goes with video editing, try to operate Adobe Premiere ONLY with a stylus… you can better wait till you’re home and do it at home.

 

So I’m running a full OS, I can work in Photoshop and Lightroom but… I can’t do the things I normally do unless I switch constantly between menus and taking for granted that some things never will work. One could argue that you can program the keys on the stylus for this but this is not something that worked very well for me, I lost a lot of control when I did this and found myself frustrated a lot, but maybe if I would have stuck with it for a few days longer I would be able to learn it, but even then I would have only had 2 extra keys.

 

Now let’s look at a 100% touch interface
A tablet runs with apps.
Now apps in the past were terrible, it was a game, an option to put two fingers on the screen and draw, play piano etc. and of course an app was never take seriously… but hey it’s 2015 and apps have grown, in fact you could say that when you look at the apps today some apps are even better than the full blown versions on the “real” OS. But the system will live or die by the amount of apps, and this is (in my opinion) where the Apple system blossoms, there are apps for everything and the apps are very very good overal.


imovie-4k-ios-773d0

For example take a look at iMovie
When ever I tell people I use iMovie they look at me with a big question mark like I’m editing on a typewriter.
But let’s face it, iMovie on the iPad/iPhone has matured and delivers 99% of what most people need. You can edit 4K streams, use PIP, use titles, add music, manipulate music, change the look of clips, change fades etc. plus it reads a lot of video formats now a days. What do you need is the big question, if you need to edit Multicam you are right, iMovie is not the place, but if we are filming a BTS video we often use one camera and that we can edit for almost 100% in iMovie, the only reason I say almost is because sometimes we want a different kind of title, a different look etc. but that’s personal, if it would be just the video we could do it 100% in iMovie.

 

Now throw in Adobe Clip in the mix and you have different options including a cool one where you select the music, throw in the clips, sit back and it creates something cool all automatically on the music which of course you can later fine tune. I know of people that actually use this every time for BTS videos even when at home, they throw the clips in, let it do it’s magic and fine tune it in Premiere pro on their macs. It’s actually also something we are looking into, but Annewiek (and me) actually like a bit more control so we always edit manually. But hey it’s pretty cool.

 

Interaction and connectivity
In the past the iPad was the iPad, you needed iTunes to connect and what came out of the iPad was a finished product. But also that has changed A LOT.

 

First of all using iTunes is also something I don’t like that much, but I hardly use iTunes anymore, only for my music and backups to be honest. The rest is all transferred via a USB3/Lighting stick which is available up to 128/256GB so that should keep you going. Work I create in Procreate is synced via my dropbox, videos and photos we use airdrop and movies I just copy to VLC player via the stick or via iTunes drop, so this is really something from the past… but there is more.

 

You can easily start a project in Adobe Clip or iMovie and continue that project in Premiere or iMovie/Final Cut ProX on the desktop, no problem at all. I can create a drawing in ProCreate and drop this as PSD to Photoshop to finish it off.

iShowFast-Hero-square

 

Limitations
Because the interface is 100% touch and Apple doesn’t want to take any sacrifices they will not merge MacOSx and iOs together at the moment so somethings you can’t do. For the moment for example there is no full Photoshop touch that works with plugins the way you are used to on the desktop, but I think there will be solutions pretty soon. If you for example look at the interface of the FREE MediBang Paint you can see that it’s very well possible to create a very sophisticated program on iOS. I have to be honest that it’s a program I just installed 2 days ago (never heard of it before) and I’m now switching between MediBang and Procreate to see which one I like the most, but MediBang is pretty impressive and I can see something like this EASILY used for photo editing if they changed a few things around and add a few features. (by the way the interface is 100% english in my version)

about-mpiPad

 

A look into the future, that I THINK will be reality
Let me start of by saying that this is just my COMMON sense speaking, what I tell you now is not something that I know is coming, but it’s something that if it would NOT be coming it would REALLY surprise me.
Let me start by saying the following (and this might shock people), Photoshop doesn’t read RAW files.
No really it’s true. Photoshop works with a “finished” product, ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) converts your RAW files into for example TIFF 16 bits ProPhotoRGB files and this is what Photoshop uses. After this all the plugins are used, you can retouch etc. but in essence you are working on TIFFs/PSD etc.
So let’s see what the future COULD bring
I process all my files in Lightroom, Capture One or DxO on my desktop (in the hotel or wherever) into TIFF/PSD 16 bits files. Now I put them on my USB stick and we travel. During travel I now open first my TIFFs/PSDs into Photoshop fix (which can handle pretty big files) and I retouch my skin, other small things etc. Now I open up my other skin plugin (if needed) and I make the skin nice of course I use the delivered adjustment brush to paint the effect in where I want it. After this I run my mobile app for the special sharpening (on my dekstop this is Intensify pro from MacPhun) and I’m done with that (also with the adjustment brush ofcourse), now I open up the final software and I tint my image….. And…… well I’ve done the EXACT same workflow as I did on my desktop and I have the EXACT same file as I did on my desktop, but there is one huge difference…. ALL the apps I used are designed for touch, meaning they use easy to use interfaces, they support the Apple Pencil and they run VERY fast because everything is optimized for my tablet. Everything is now stored on my stick which I take out and plug into my desktop and copy everything on my harddrives and sync it within Lightroom and… well I’m done.

 

The whole discusion of “the iPad can’t read RAW” is pretty “lame” RAW files only need to read once and this is where you adjust what you need and you store it as TIFFs/PSDs after that you can edit in whatever you want. So also on the road.

 

Discuss because of….
I’m afraid a lot of the discussions about surface pro vs iPad is more a matter of “my brand is better than yours” than people that really think about the workflow differences and the options you get. Or they simply don’t want to be open for what’s really going on, and of course you could say I’m the same 😀

 

Is the iPad pro a game changer… well I think it is but not if you just look at it as a tablet with a stylus, that indeed has been on the market for years. It has just been released and you already see artist and real creatives (I consider my drawing skills to be absolute starter) taking the Pencil in their hands and being blown away and switching to the iPad pro because it gives them more control, although already they created art I can only dream off on iPhones with their fingers. The Apple pencil is I think the real game changer, and as you know the iPad pro was designed for that Pencil (the technique is not 100% in the pencil but also in the iPad).

apple6_600x400

 

You see apps like Astropad who not a lot of people heard of explode online now it really comes to life with the bigger screen and Apple Pencil on the iPad pro. You do have to realize however that Astropad is not a substitute of running Photoshop on an iPad pro… it’s in fact a 19.99 Cintiq alternative, for me for example the Cintiq was never a question, I would LOVE the companion but it was too expensive and the use I would get out of it was too little to justify the costs, and carrying another device on the plane or during travels.

 

In the coming months you will hopefully see more and more plug-in creators change their plug-ins for Mac/Pc into apps on the iPad and if someone is smart enough to create a “macro” app which will let you open a TIFF and run it in series through the Apps you need this would be a golden combination. So open in fix, save, open in skin, save, open in intensify, save, open in tint, save and now finally….. choose.

 

Most professionals have a really streamlined workflow, my Photoshop workflow for example is almost always the same, so for me it doesn’t make sense to go back to step 1, my retouches take on average 5-10 minutes total and are always in the same order, heck I even flatten my layers when I’m done. So being “stuck” with apps would actually be no problem at all for me.

 

Most of all however the game change element is in the fact that for the first time you have a REAL tablet (so one that is based on 100% touch) with a HUGE library of apps that now also supports a creative device (the Pencil) that can be qualified as top of the line, that combines this all together and opens totally new workflow options. The iPad never really FILLED the gap between being at home and traveling, it was always more “playing around with your files and great for iPhone shots”, now it really fills that gap WITHOUT claiming other wise, I never heard Adobe say you would never use your Photoshop anymore, they always talk about connecting everything together, working on one device and continuing on another. This is also what I didn’t like about Cooks announcement that it would replace the laptop, for business men I think it could, for creatives… well never.
When Microsoft lend me the Surface Pro I was amazed by the device, when they recently released the Surface book I was blown away, it looks drop dead amazing for what it’s on paper, but I also know that as soon as I disconnect it from the keyboard I’m stuck with a crippled Photoshop and the apps for Windows that are 100% touch don’t come close to the offers on the iOS system, and that’s understandable of course, it’s mainly windows with added touch so that’s not an attack, but why would you write an app if you have the full blown OS available.

 

I always claimed that if there was something better than what I’m using now I’m switching, this is also why the Surface pro replaced my MacBook for about 6 months (I actually sold my MPB) but in the end it just didn’t work out, I found myself using it more for watching movies and some photo selecting in Lightroom than running Photoshop, when I ran Photoshop I had a keyboard connected and then loved it, but as soon as they keyboard was gone… well I couldn’t work with it at the speed I wanted so I never used it. For photoselecting I can use Lr Mobile which works faster with touch than the full version to be honest on my Surface.

 

You always have to realize that there are many different markets.
For business men I think the SurfaceBook is the choice at the moment, it will beat the iPad pro senseless for the simple reason that it’s very well thought out, office runs on it and when you disconnect it you can draw a bit and watch movies (although battery time is limited) but without a keyboard Windows will stay crippled. For creative people, photographers, video editors, drawers, painters etc. I strongly believe the iPad pro is the first generation of a device that WILL change the way we work.

 

Are we there yet?
Well yes and no.
With Adobe Photoshop fix you have a great program for fixing things (hence the name)
With Snapseed I could do the sharpening I love and even the tinting (actually snapseed does A LOT) but they need to up the resolution to 50MP on the iPad pro which is the only limitation it has now in the workflow (and of course be able to open TIFFs), but I think that’s something that could be easily adjusted.
For me as a professional I still prefer my MacPro and my Magic touchpad, Wacom/Astropad (still testing which one will stay but I’m leaning to Astropad) and my 27″ dual monitor setup with aRGB color capabilities, but when traveling this doesn’t fit in my bag, so I have no problem at all by selecting my images in the hotel, converting them to TIFFs and putting them on a stick and retouching them all on the plane with the iPad pro without the need for keyboards, because the whole interface is touch based.

 

Conclusion
Sorry for the long rant but I wanted to write this blog post because it seem the last week I’ve been posting the same answers over and over and I’m limited to what time I have online so I thought let’s bundle all these answers into one blog post I can reference to.

 

Let me end by stating (again) that I love Microsoft, they are making great products and the people I worked with were absolutely awesome, I really really like their SurfaceBook. But for what I PERSONALLY do the iPad pro at the moment is filling my needs, but it’s far from perfect, it’s really a very good in between device for photographers and video editors meaning it cuts down a lot of edit time when you arrive back home.

 

Where is shines is drawing and painting and I absolutely love it, and as a traveling companion I couldn’t wish for a better device, the games are cool and gorgeous on the big screen, the movies playback amazing and it even plays 4K if needed.

 

Let’s dream a bit
Howe about if Apple would release a keyboard with build in harddrive, fast video etc. or in other words a MBP without display…. the only thing they would have on top of the keyboard would be the new connector…… and what if…… you would just click that iPad pro onto that connector and the iPad pro switches from being an iPad to just being a display……. I would be willing to pay the price of a MBP 15″ for that keyboard 😀