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Wacom Mobile studio Pro review Part II from Mac to Windows

As mentioned in a few blogposts before it’s not as dramatic as it seems. I won’t leave Apple completely.
In the studio I will still be using Macs in the form of a MacBook Pro and an Apple MacPro, however I don’t exclude the option that the MacPro will be replaced by a monster PC, if someone can deliver me something that’s really faster than a MacPro (when it’s released) for a lot less money. But a MacBookPro will always be there, for the simple reason there are things I love about the Mac and I like having the option to work on 2 OS systems.

But for the Mobile side I’m now officially switching to the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro, it’s a wonderful machine and after working on it for 2 days now and having a good idea of it’s speed and stability I think I can safely say…”why not try it for a longer time”. Because it’s “just” my mobile machine I can always switch back.

Ok so what’s the status so far.
Well it’s not all good, but most is not the fault of the Wacom, so this part of the review will be more about the differences I encounter between windows and MacOs and letting them talk to each other.

First off
External harddrive
I had a great WD double drive passport on TB.
Great unit, configured in Raid1 (mirroring), very fast but most of all it gave me ease of mind knowing my data was secure.
I tried the dongle from USB-C to TB and (as expected) the drive did not boot up, it wasn’t even found.
So I’m now using an older USB2 drive which is pretty slow, but all our other drives are on TB (aaaargh, what about that new standard TB2). So I have my eyes out on a new solution that can be configured in Raid1 and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg for a 2TB version.

File formats
All my drives are formatted as HSL so Windows doesn’t “get” it.
Simple solution is using software to be able to read this, or reformat in the eXfat system which is crossplatform. For now I won’t do this for my drives for the simple reason I only need ONE drive, but if also my main machine would become a Windows machine this will become quite the challenge because we’re talking about several terabytes. So if anyone has a good and working solution let me know.

Trojans and viruses
Oh my, I installed ESET virus software which we used a lot when still running the IT company and which for us proved to be the best solution. And although I didn’t visit any weird sites except downloading software from trusted sources I already have two Trojan and malware messages from the software….. pffff so don’t even THINK about running Windows without a virus scanner as it seems. I almost forgot how annoying and troubling this was.

Problems with the screen
On the Mac everything is scaled nicely and when you run in Retina mode everything looks the same, this is where windows literally disappoints me A LOT. Photoshop and Manga Studio and Capture One look great, not too big not too small, it’s perfect for the Wacom mobile studio Pro. Windows itself is PERFECTLY scalable in incremental steps (at the moment I prefer 150% on the 4K display). So for people (like me) who haven’t worked with Windows in high resolution environments, let me explain what I encounter.

The software itself looks great, would love to be able to scale it a bit more/less but I understand that can give artifacts so I’m ok with (actually much more than OK, it’s more the control freak talking). But as soon as I run a plugin from Photoshop the story changes, sliders, menus are incredibly small, you can still read it (I have really good eyes) but hitting it with your finger is out of the question, and even with the stylus it’s aiming and being grateful the Wacom is so accurate, but it’s not a happy experience. I mailed this to several plugin manufacturers and actually got the reply that it was not something they could fix now but were working on a solution to be released soon. Except Alien Skin…. a simple regedit (oh oh) and a small manifest file and voila everything looked great, so I think this is just a matter of nagging and complaining and the solutions will be there soon.

Ok now the other things….

Airdrop
I LOVE the idea of airdrop but in all honesty we never got it working flawlessly, if it worked its awesome, but most of the time it was a frustration and waiting game to see if maybe airdrop would recognize another device, but when it worked… wow. Because I often post from my phone and want to also drop drawings from procreate on the iPad pro to my phone or laptop I needed a replacement…. and preferably free of course (hey I’m Dutch). Luckily there are several options and I choose for Zapya a very simple program without the need for scanning QR codes etc. just install it on Android, PC, Mac or iPhone and you’re all set. Transfers up till now all went flawless and recognizing was instant. Highly recommend this one, even if you are in an 100% Apple Ecosystem, I also asked Annewiek to install it because now we always know it work (well up until now it does)

Airplay
Also here are several solutions.
I don’t really need it on my laptop but sometimes it can be handy if I teach in a location where there are AppleTVs.
At the moment I don’t have something (free) that I like, Airparrot I use on the Mac and works fine (unless you mirror 2 highres screens), and they also have a PC version but I haven’t tested that one yet. For the moment I’m testing 5Kplayer which promises to do the same thing but more, but on the Mac I couldn’t get it to work but I’ll try it on the Wacom tomorrow morning.

A few other things really surprised me, seeing the trouble I had in the past.
It seems iCloud is now working great on PCs.
I synced my favorites, although I first had to install chrome to get my favorites and after that synced Edge with Chrome, it’s a weird workaround but when I synced Edge straight away it didn’t take over at least 2 folders and Chrome did, now is this hardly a problem because I always want 2 browsers on my machine for testing purposes. And uploading larger files to YouTube often doesn’t work in Safari or even Edge and works flawless in Chrome.

Also all our Email accounts are up and running (well ok that would be weird if that wouldn’t work) I do run into the problem that I can’t add any images or hyperlinks to my signatures in the standard Mail app, so I’m now looking at alternatives, although the standard mail app does look VERY good, it recognized all my contacts and agenda without a problem also.

Plugins
ALL plugins I use are available on the PC side.
Alien Skin, DxO filmpack and Optics, Imagenomic Portraiture, Perfect Skin (still testing that one) and the Topaz suite… all up and running.
Yes, yes I hear you asking “what about MacPhun”…. yeah well….. no fun with MacPhun yet.
Let’s hope Luminar comes to the PC because that’s the plugin I use A LOT at the moment, in fact it replaced almost all my other plugins on the Mac. But there is not a real problem for me. I always learn myself to use different plugins for the same thing (it did happen a few times that plugins acted up, so always have an alternative). For the hyperdetail from Intensify I’m using Topaz Clarity at the moment which does a great job and gets me app 95% there, so that’s good enough in my book. If Luminar is released for PC it will be 100% again, and if I really need to do something with a very specific look I will save that image for later when I’m on the Mac.

So how does the Wacom behave?
Absolutely awesome (I know I use that word way too much)
Drawing in Manga studio is breathtaking on the 27″ cintiq but this one comes very close, it’s less impressive due to the screensize, but the pen and feel of the mobile studio pro is REALLY a step forward, and I really love the 27″ cintiq, but man that mobile studio pro is one cool display for digital drawers. I can see a boat load of comic book artists and digital artists having a field day with this device. It has the potential to literally change lives. (queue dramatic music with loads of up tones)….

Speakers and keyboard and stand
I’m waiting for the official stand but found that my trust stand I use for my iPad pro (which doubles as a remote control in our home) is perfect for the job (although a bit less comfortable if I have to carry it with me). Keyboard wise we ordered the Logitech K830 which is BT and backlit via a build in battery, and it seems the touchpad is very good. And sound wise… our son still had a philips “hand grenade” BT speaker which is now being used on the Wacom and improves the sound A LOT and it’s a very small unit that can fit easily in my bag with the keyboard.

Anymore?
No not for now.
It’s been a real busy day yesterday and in between I also had to finish the installations on the Mobile studio pro so I hardly had any time to do something else, but this weekend I will start really diving into programming the keys and doing the first full retouch session from A-Z on the machine.

I hope you enjoy these little insights, if so let me know and we will continue them for a while, until everything runs smoothly.

 

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.

Using natural light and a bit of reflection

The following shots were taking with natural light, well actually the last one (with the sun reflection) was a shot with added strobe.
Now one of the tips I want to share with this blogpost is looking for location.

 

Often we walk past location that look 100% uninteresting for our photoshoots, however if you look a little bit better/longer or, as I often call it, with your photography eyes some locations can be really nice. I always love reflections and windows are great for this, however I also love structure so older buildings are a true treat for me and I love using them to shoot against. This building actually is on the other side of the road from our studio and we often use it during our workshops or sessions (It always helps to have good relations with your neighbors :D)

 

Marie November 21 2013-86-Edit

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Microsoft Surface Pro 2

We all love our gadgets, and when the gadgets can really add something to our photographic workflow it gets even more interesting of course.
As you have read on this blog before I recently sold my MacBookPro in exchange for a Sony Vaio Duo 13 which I still use and love, but in all honestly it’s in a price range where not everyone is able to shop in for a tablet/laptop, so I was very interested to testdrive the new Microsoft tablet, Surface Pro 2.

surface-pro-2-in-purple-640x353

 

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