Let’s compare some tablets! Newbie XP-Pen vs veteran Wacom

What’s on my desk? #1

Intro: Wacom vs XP-Pen

The most essential thing for me to have on my desk during my retouching process is a good drawing tablet, so in this first entry of ‘What’s on my desk’ I want to talk to you guys about the one I am currently using vs my previous one!

I can’t think of doing all these hours of retouching without a tablet. Ever since I started digital creative work (graphic design, digital art, retouching) I worked with Wacom tablets and my latest one was the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. When I was contacted by someone from XP-Pen Netherlands to try out and review something from their new line of products I made the switch to my current tablet. My first non-Wacom tablet!

I always love trying new gear and this seemed very relevant to me, because though I’ve always done my work with a tablet, I never tried any other brands than the one I was used to. Apart from that, there’s a pretty significant difference in price so definitely felt worth looking into. I always advise people that follow my retouching classes to work with a tablet, and I’d love to be able to offer them a good lower price option. So it was time to test!

When deciding which tablet to test I chose a XP Pen Deco Pro medium to compare to my current Wacom Intuos Pro Medium because they are the most similar. This way I could easily switch without having to change up my workflow dramatically and I could make a pretty good comparison between the two.

Looks and build

They have similar buttons, a similar layout and a very similar working area. The XP-Pen tablet is larger on my desk but only has a slightly larger active area as the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. Aesthetically, I like the look of both tablets. The Wacom one is all black, has smaller buttons and wheels and a more toned down look whereas the XP-Pen tablet has silver accents, larger buttons (works well for my big hands) and some accent lights on the screen to mark the active area and in the ‘wheel’. Both tablets have a similar weight and feel with a nice finish. Neither feel ‘cheap’. Both have a smooth surface, but the XP-Pen tablet feels a little more textured and paper-like when using the pen. A big difference is that the Wacom Intuos Pro has touch-functionality. I can’t speak on that much though, as I have actually never used it, I only worked with my pen and always had the ‘touch’ function turned off.

Pens & buttons

One thing I noticed when I started working with my Wacom Intuos Pro Medium is that the pen tip would wear down really quickly. I’ve had to replace it quite fast, after a few weeks. This was never an issue with my old Wacom tablets. At the moment, after using the XP-Pen for almost two months the pen nib is still going strong. Both pens have the same thickness and feel. The XP-Pen pen works well and feels nice to hold. I have multiple chronic pain issues as well as hypermobile joints in my already overly sensitive hands so this is an important detail to me. It’s not too thin and I can hold it in a way that makes my hand-therapist happy. I could do with a bit of a thicker pen, but it does the job fine as is. Both tablet pens have buttons that you can assign your own desired functionality to. The main difference is that the Wacom pen has an eraser nib on the back, the XP-pen one does not have that functionality. I don’t miss it though, as I always use my keyboard shortcuts to switch between tools in photoshop.

Speaking of shortcuts, you can assign any of those to any of the keys on the tablets. Both tablets have 8 buttons and 2 wheels in a different layout. The wheel on the XP-Pen works better for me because for some reason I noticed a lot of ‘accidentally touching both wheels at the same time’ on the Wacom. Quite a recipe for chaos sometimes. It might be the difference in size (XP-pen wheels are bigger) or the fact that the XP-Pen wheels are more distinctly separated from each other. I should say that while I call them wheels, the XP-Pen software calls the outer wheel the ‘dial’ and the inner wheel the ‘trackpad’. Because although I use it as a wheel (to zoom in and out), the center circle has trackpad functionality and can be used in a variety of ways. I set the outer dial to function as the ‘[‘ and ‘]’ keys so I can use it to quickly resize my brushes in Photoshop.

Software

With any tablet, it takes some time to figure out all the keys you want to have and what works for you, and I find myself still switching the buttons from time to time, but it’s so easy to do with the tablet software that this isn’t an issue at all. I’ve assigned ‘open tablet setting’ to one of my buttons for a quick change if I feel the need. The XP-Pen software gives you lots of options to customize the way your tablet works, and while Wacom software does that too I feel like I get a more custom experience with the XP-Pen software, if only because I find it a bit easier to navigate. It’s easy, straightforward, quick and it feels ‘small’ and uncomplicated, which makes it a breeze to work with. Wacom and XP-Pen software both have some ‘issues’ with Windows Ink, and both require the same fix to work properly with pen pressure in Photoshop. That’s more an issue on Adobe’s end though, and once you know this fix it’s not a big deal, even if it’s a bit frustrating that we still have to deal with the software and OS not working together properly.

Technical details

The part that is not so interesting to talk about but important to know: How similar are these tablets, technically? Where is XP-Pen saving money to offer a lower price? Is it still worth it? Let me put some of the main specs side by side.

XP-Pen Deco Pro MediumWacom Intuos Pro Medium
Active area 157mm x 279mmActive area 148 mm x 224 mm
Tablet Pen Pressure 8192 levelsTablet Pen Pressure 8192 levels
USB C USB C & Bluetooth
Tablet Resolution 5080 lpiTablet Resolution 5080 lpi
Tablet Tilt 60 DegreeTablet Tilt 60 Degree
Around €129Around €389

As you can see, at first glance and after reading my review, there are a LOT of similarities. The XP-Pen is a bit more toned down and misses some fancy features like wireless connectivity but in return it offers a more affordable option with great functionality.

Conclusion

Both tablets are great, at its price point I am highly impressed with the XP-Pen Deco Pro Medium, and I haven’t had a single reason to switch back to my Wacom since I started using it. The only reason would probably be a few cm’s of extra desk space and one less cable 😉

Interested in purchasing this tablet, or a different XP-Pen product? Check out their website www.xp-pen.nl and use code 10%JoseFienH for a 10% discount! (valid until 31-1-2021)

Play with something new

Playing with the Lensbaby  Sweet 80 optic for Photofacts Academy. They’ll have a full course about Lensbaby lenses soon!

The focus is slightly different in all of these images. It’s not always necessary to have a fully in focus model or perfect eye focus. When you want to shoot creative portraits, you can definitely say “fuck the rules” sometimes 😉 when it’s about the total package, colour, emotion, composition, creativity and your own personal touch, all of those things are more important than some rules about what’s “correct”. Sometimes it’s about the things that flow naturally and invoke an emotion. With lenses like the Sweet 80 you can create a totally different mood by shifting your focus and totally blurring parts of your image.

That being said, which one is your favorite and why? Have you ever shot portraits that go against rules and expectations?

Check out Lensbaby and all they have to offer here (affiliate link)

Model Migésa Gaidy at APL Model Management
Make-up and hair Charlotte van Beusekom
Top by Dark Virtue Designs

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Just do it!

Last week I got angry.. Angry about body shaming and fat hate due to a plus size MANNEQUIN(!) in sportswear. And I wanted to use that anger towards something positive because anger just eats at you. So I organized this photoshoot. I have been organizing, running around, emailing, calling and stressing non stop to put this together. I’m so happy all these gorgeous women, who love to work out and look cute, wanted to work with me on this, and that @womenshealthnl wanted to share our story! Check out the article on their website. (in Dutch)

See all the images from this shoot in the slider below or on my ‘Series’ page.

Key make-up artist @ashleydesignmua
Make-up artists @sylvia_mercera & @muah.myrthe
Models @missearlygrey@misscurviana@joannvdherik@cherellarowena & @lovaeij
Photography and styling @josefienhoekstra

Light @henselnl@hensel_visit
Lens @tamronusa 45mm 1.8 thanks to @transcontinenta

Hensel Certo 400 Portrait Kit

I’ve recently had the pleasure of testing out this great starter kit. I created two videos that you can check out below (don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel for more!)

There’s an unboxing video and a first impressions video of my first time trying out his new kit by Hensel. Showing everything that’s in the box and putting the set together, as well as shooting with the awesome Lara Aimée. Some basic setups and some gelled lighting setups.

It’s a great compact, easy to use and complete set for anyone who is just starting out with studio photography. Watch the videos to hear and see all about it!

Check out the gallery below to have a look at the images I shot during my first impressions shoot.

You can get the set here:
https://henselnederland.nl/product/hensel-certo-400-portretkit/
https://hensel-usa.com/products/hensel-certo-portrait-kit-110v

Behind the scenes: Floral Fairytale Fashion

In this video you get a look behind the scenes of one of my recent projects.

Awesome team, awesome location, many flowers, gorgeous clothes, lots of sillyness. That about sums it up!

 

Huge thanks to the awesome team Model Lara Aimee https://bit.ly/2J95WFI

Make-up Ashley Design Make-up Artistry https://goo.gl/s5gLsY

Hairstylist Julia Lion Hair https://bit.ly/2JayqyM

Assistant Nadine Baumler https://bit.ly/2GUlzf0

Dresses provided by Art Photo Projects https://bit.ly/2IRSZwr

 

 

Follow me:

INSTAGRAM https://goo.gl/EZm9FC

FACEBOOK https://goo.gl/UtoQGO

Behind the scenes: 24H Challenge

I set a challenge for myself, a 24 hr photo challenge.

The idea was to plan an epic photo shoot using my social media and friends network – all within 24 hours!

Curious to see how it all went? In the video below you get a look behind the scenes.

Huge thanks to the awesome team
Model Daisy van der Wees
Make-up Ashley Design Make-up Artistry
Designer & stylist Jolien Rosanne / Fairytas
Bird handlers SettelsRoofvogels
Assistant & Behind the scenes footage Rohan Nagel

 

 

Behind the scenes: M6 beach shoot

Thanks for tuning in! In this video I’m showing you some behind the scenes footage and demonstrate some results you can achieve witn the Multiblitz portable M6 battery powered flash.

Thanks to model Daisy van der Wees for being fun and gorgeous!
Follow Daisy: https://goo.gl/6J1fTn

Multiblitz on Facebook https://goo.gl/paa1c0
More about the M6 here https://goo.gl/EXY8tq

What to watch next:
Withers Avenue – Delay https://goo.gl/BcXb5Y
Vlog: To Erlangen with Multiblitz https://goo.gl/PpFvU1

Follow me:
INSTAGRAM https://goo.gl/EZm9FC
FACEBOOK https://goo.gl/UtoQGO
OFFICIAL SITE https://goo.gl/mn5MIw

Music: Kontekst – Buddha https://goo.gl/huP99w

VLOG: Erlangen with Multiblitz

Please like & subscribe! 🙂
My first vlog! Documenting my trip to Erlangen to work for Multiblitz at the Ringfoto Messe with Tinotenda and Marco.
We had a lot of fun and created some awesome images with the new M6 TTL flashes that Multiblitz provided for my workshops.

Multiblitz on Facebook https://goo.gl/paa1c0
More about the M6 here https://goo.gl/EXY8tq

What to watch next:
Withers Avenue – Delay https://goo.gl/BcXb5Y

Follow me:
INSTAGRAM https://goo.gl/EZm9FC
FACEBOOK https://goo.gl/UtoQGO
OFFICIAL SITE https://goo.gl/mn5MIw

Music by Empire Soul

Lensbaby spark

To start the new year off right, I want to start a new series of blogs! In these blogs I will be talking about the things I use in my photography and I’ll show you guys the results these things give and how you can use them in different ways.

The first blog in this series is about a cute and cheap little lens I got for Christmas, the Lensbaby Spark.

Now believe me when I say this lens feels more like a nice toy than a professional tool, but you can get great results with it! It’s a cute little plastic lens that you focus manually by pushing and twisting it. This creates a tilt-shift effect with a small focus point while the majority of the image is out of focus and blurred. My boyfriend got it for me because I mentioned it a couple of times and he knows I like to try new things and experiment with my photography, so this was the perfect gift for me!

To test it,  I invited over my muse Tinotenda to shoot for a few hours and just experiment and have some fun without a plan or any expectations. Sometimes days like that are really good if you’re stuck in a rut or your creativity is a little blocked because you feel like you’re just doing the same thing over and over. (I can’t be the only one who gets like that, right?)

Working with this lens really takes some practice. It’s quite hard to find the right way to focus and manipulate the effect, but once you get the hang of it it’s really a lot of fun.  What’s confusing at first is that you have no idea what aperture you’re shooting at, because the lens doesn’t tell you its aperture and the camera can’t read it either. After looking it up I found that the Aperture is said to be 5.6 and it’s a 50mm lens. This kind of gives you an idea of what you’re working with and can help you figure out what camera settings to use.

I couldn’t shoot with it for too long, because it did kind of mess up my eyes ability to focus and see properly! You can see that not every image is perfectly focused on the model’s face but with the kind of results you get it doesn’t always matter that much. When you’re shooting creative images, the only limit is your own imagination and interpretation. Don’t be afraid to get weird with it!

Check out a few of the setups we did using the Lensbaby Spark! It’s definitely not for every shoot, but you’ll see it really adds a different atmosphere and mood to an image, which makes it a great tool for creative photography.

The Lensbaby Spark is available for Canon and Nikon cameras.

Check out Lensbaby and all they have to offer here (affiliate link)

 

Photoshop Action: Breeze

A new action to add some drama to your images! Check out the previews below.


breeze_casperbreeze_daisybreeze_necia

 

You can order this action for 3 euros, using the PayPal button below.

Please make sure to mention your email address in the transaction so I can email you the action after payment has gone through.
It’s as simple as that! 🙂


your email adress