Monday, April 25, 2011

Bamboo Pen & Touch

I'm pretty sure that both of you (my loyal readers) know that I do a little photography on the side from time to time. That endeavor is WAY on the side much of the time because of my commitments at CSI and elsewhere, but I do get a job doing family portraits or the like once in awhile.

Sometimes, in the course of proving up the proofs to the customer's satisfaction, I have need of a more precise method of massaging pixels than a mouse can provide. To that end, I have, so far, purchased two Bamboo pads. These little goodies include a drawing surface and a stylus much like those used by the pixel wizards at Pixar or Dreamworks. They (the pads) are pretty darn useful when trying to erase an errant power pole or seagull or smirking kid from the background of an otherwise good photograph.
The first one I bought lasted a good long time, but the stylus succumbed to a short drop onto a hard surface. Turns out there's a tiny, little circuit board and some kind of ceramic sensor inside that pen-like device and sudden shocks are a pretty big "no no." Who knew? Not me.

So, the next time I needed to quaff Aunt Marge's hair just so, I zipped down to Best Buy and hunted up a replacement. The first pad I bought was stylus and/or mouse driven only (and the mouse that came with it was a joke). This new one, though is the Bamboo Pen & Touch. It doesn't work as seamlessly as the multi-touch on an iPhone, but the ability to zoom and pan and so forth with a finger is pretty slick. Further, the stylus is even more sensitive and useful than the first one I had.

Since the pad is a pixel-by-pixel representation of whatever screen real estate you are using, it does take a little getting used it. You can't slide, then pick up, then slide again like you can with a mouse. On the other hand, though, you know pretty much where your cursor is going to end up when you place the stylus on the pad. If you have a big monitor and a smallish pad (the Pen & Touch is on the small side), you'll be working in a smaller area on the pad than you might expect. That didn't turn out to be much of an obstacle, however. I got used to it quickly.

The stylus has quite a number of levels of pressure sensitivity so you can be quite precise in adding or subtracting or moving pixels. Even without zooming in, I can usually erase ersatz objects right up to the edge of the subject with some precision. Zoomed in, the level of control is even finer.

Neither of these goodies cost more than a C note, happily, so that puts them in reach of even fairly casual pixel pushers.


Clint Carter said...

What do these little bamboo pads look like?

Clark Draney said...

I added a pic. :)

Cody Hurst said...

This should come with PhotoShop and not be an extra you have to buy. Very useful.