### A Note on Size

Tablets are available in a variety of sizes. This is generally the main differentiation in the pricing, but bigger isn't necessarily better. What you're using it for, as well as practical factors like desk real estate, should inform this decision.

Generally what I've found, and I've heard along similar lines from others, is that for photography either of the bottom two sizes will do. Because you're frequently zooming to check detail, having more surface mapped to the screen to get more precision doesn't really significantly benefit the photographer or retoucher. Not that this'll stop you from seeing retouchers with letter/A4-size Intuoses or 21" Cintiqs, but these larger, fancier models are really made for illustrators and designers, who need the larger surface area for expressive brushstrokes. So don't worry if your tablet budget is under $200, because for photography that's really just fine and anything else is probably overkill. If, on the other hand, you find yourself doing a lot of digital painting, detail restoration, graphic artwork, or organic 3D modeling then having the larger surface area so you aren't constantly finding yourself zooming in and out can be a bonus. If this is the case, I would go for the letter/A4 size tablet, or even the next one up like the monster Intuos4 XL, especially if I had a 27-30" monitor. ### Your Choice of Tablet Features Honestly, when starting out, none of the fancy stuff is actually necessary. Get a basic model. I got a Wacom with multitouch, thinking it would be much easier to rotate and zoom while working without switching tools in Photoshop, but I've found that the sensitivity is lacking a little on the multitouch layer sometimes, leading to lag. Sometimes the Wacom doesn't map to a program properly, so pinch-to-zoom doesn't engage Navigator, for example, or when it does, a large finger movement produces a small on-screen movement with no sensitivity adjustment available. So even when a feature seems useful on paper, that doesn't necessarily mean it is. Luckily, the Wacom drivers do allow you to deeply customise your touch pad, so if you do happen to have a more deluxe model you can pick and choose which features to turn on and off. So things like multitouch, hot keys, and Bluetooth ports are probably best tried in a store later on, once you know your way around a graphics tablet and understand what could be missing from your workflow. Features like the LCD screen on the Cintiq are designed for working pros who can justify the minor speed gain and increased comfort from drawing on the same surface as you're looking at based on their hourly rates. Some high-end pros don't even like the Cintiq experience, for whatever reason, so don't fall into the more-expensive-is-better trap. ### Stylus Features It used to be that pens with extra features were sold separately so you could upgrade as necessary. Now, each product family tends to have its own dedicated pen and the extra controls that used to be on the pen have migrated to the side of the tablet body. The only differentiator left is tilt. Cheap consumer tablets only have pressure sensitivity (usually 1024 levels), whereas professional grade tablets have both pressure (usually upgraded to 2048 levels) and tilt sensitivity. ## Try a Graphics Tablet! For the beginning user, I'd say just get a small, basic pen and tablet combo for under$150. You don't know if you'll need any more features on either the tablet or the pen, and it doesn't make sense to waste potentially hundreds of dollars on features you won't use. If you do decide to upgrade, you can always sell your first tablet or pass it along to a friend.

I've never honestly found myself thinking that I really needed tilt sensitivity, though perhaps in some cases it would be useful to control pen roundness. I think that more is made of some graphics tablet features than they strictly merit most of the time.

That's all I've got for now on getting started with graphics tablets. Don't be oversold, just get what you need. Just like camera gear! If you have experience using a graphics tablet as a photographer, let us know how it went in the comments! Has it sped up your workflow or helped you be more precise?