Wacom Cintiq 27QHD Touch

      Photo Review 8.8

      In summary

      The Cintiq 27QHD Touch is a beautiful piece of equipment, with its bright 16:9 active screen and anti-reflective surface.

      Images displayed on this screen look impressive and the central ‘hot spot’ is barely noticeable to the ordinary viewer’s eye.

      Ergonomically, it’s also a nice bit of gear and the ExpressKey Remote is a very workable replacement for border buttons. It’s easy to recharge, the battery outlasts a day’s work and you can ‘park’ it on the bezel where it’s within reach but safeguarded against accidental knocks or misplacement.

      Anyone who does a lot of retouching or post-capture editing should definitely give it a look.


      Full review

      Wacom has been the ‘go-to’ brand for graphic tablets for many years but this is the first time we’ve looked at one of their flagship products.

      Designed for professional graphics creators, the Cintiq 27QHD Touch (QHDT) displays 97% of the Adobe RGB gamut and handles 1.07 billion colours which makes it useful for photographers, particularly those who are serious about post-capture editing. It can also be calibrated, just like any high-end monitor.  


      Angled view of the Cintiq 27QHD Touch without the optional stand. (Source: Wacom.)

      The 27HDT display is supplied with everything needed for its use, including the Pro Pen and Pen stand plus 10 replacement nibs and a nib removal tool, the ExpressKey Remote and DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.0, Micro USB (ExpressKey Remote) cables, along with adaptors for DVI-D to HDMI, Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort connections (both natively supported). There’s also an AC power adaptor, Installation CD and fairly basic Quick start guide.


      Side view of the Cintiq 27QHD Touch with the built-in legs extended. (Source: Wacom.)

      The review unit also came with the optional Ergo Stand, which has an RRP of AU$599 but can be purchased for $499 when bundled with the display unit. The display itself comes with built-in legs that can tilt it up to 20 degrees (shown above) but has a five degree tilt with the legs folded.

      Also supplied for our review was the new Wacom Color Manager colorimeter, which is ‘powered by X-Rite’ and enables the display to be calibrated in much the same way as a normal monitor screen. It’s optimised for use with the 27QHDT and sells for AU$329.

      What’s it for?
       Graphics tablets take the place of a monitor screen but instead of using a mouse to select and move displayed items, you use an electronic pen with a pressure-sensitive tip. Precision is the main advantage of pen tablets over conventional monitor-plus-mouse combinations.

      Designed to handle like a regular drawing tool, the Pro Pen supports 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and includes tilt recognition, simulating everything from a fine line to the texture of broad brush strokes. Both the size and the sensitivity of the pen tip are adjustable, with further flexibility available through interchangeable nibs that provide a range of different feels and possibilities.

      Users can select and adjust the canvas size, create multiple layers and easily add colour and brightness enhancements with a high degree of precision, using the eraser to quickly correct mistakes or blemishes. The large, high-resolution screen can also display 97% of the Adobe RGB colour space.

      When working in Photoshop, users can take advantage of Photoshop’s multi-touch support, which covers all the tablet’s  pressure-sensitive features. This makes it possible to use the pen in one hand to select, draw and paint, while using the other hand to zoom in, pan and rotate the canvas. Standard gestures like swipe, pinch and spread are also supported.

      These features alone make graphic tablets essential tools for creative artists. But they are also useful for professional photographers (and very serious enthusiasts), particularly if they do a lot of retouching work or are engaged in creative image editing.

      Setting Up
      The tablet we reviewed had been used before so it was just a matter of connecting it to our Windows computer and switching everything on. Because we run dual monitors, one had to be removed to make space for the Cintiq 27QHDT, which was connected via the HDMI formerly used by our Eizo FlexScan SX2262W monitor.

      Downloading the latest driver from Wacom’s Australian website was simple and took one a minute or two and pressing the ‘tools’ button on the top right hand corner of the screen opened the Wacom Desktop Centre (shown below) from which everything is driven.



      The user interface lets you select the Cintiq 27QHDT or the EK (ExpressKey) Remote. Whichever you choose, you can access the latest updates, adjust the device controls and backup and restore settings and open the user manual. Help and support functions, which include online tutorials and social media and forums, are also accessed via the screen.

      Physical Features
       The first thing that strikes you is the size of the Cintiq 27QHDT; it’s larger than many monitors with an overall measurement of 770 x 465 x 54.5 mm and weighing nine kilograms as supplied or   25.1 kg with the optional stand. The ‘active’ working area is a rectangle measuring 596.7 x 335.6 mm with a familiar 16:9 aspect ratio.

      The active area has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, which is less than consumer-grade 4K resolution but similar to the resolution of competing screens from market leader, Eizo. Its tempered glass surface is finely etched to minimise reflections and provide some ‘grip’ for the pen.


       Front view of the Cintiq 27QHDT, mounted vertically on the optional stand to show the screen layout. (Source: Wacom.)

      Surrounding the screen, is a relatively wide bezel with three illuminated shortcut keys near the top right corner of the  bezel, which access the Wacom Desktop Centre display and the on-screen keyboard (shown below) and switch the touch settings on and off. The right hand side panel carries a Kensington security slot for attaching a  locking security cable.  


       The virtual keyboard that pops up when you push the keyboard button, showing the panel for handwriting that displays when you press the button on the top left corner.

      The black bezel is magnetised to provide parking space for the supplied ExpressKey Remote, which replaces the fixed buttons on previous models and is powered by a rechargeable lithium polymer battery. There are two USB 3.0 slots on either side of the tablet, any of which can be used for charging the remote via the supplied cable.

      According to the device’s specifications, it takes two hours to charge the remote to 80% capacity. Once charged, the battery is rated (by Wacom) for 160 hours with a key press every 30 seconds.

      A switch on the bottom of the remote lets you turn it off if it won’t be used for a period of time. A status LED beside this switch flashes red when it needs recharging and glows orange  while charging is taking place. It turns off once charging is completed. It flashes blue while pairing with the tablet and switches off when it has enough charge to operate.

      The remote has 17 programmable ExpressKeys plus a Touch Ring that can be set to control various functions. There are eight keys along the outside edges and four in the centre, as shown above, and each can be set via dropdown menus in the ExpressKey Remote tabs of Wacom Tablet Properties.


       Re-setting one of the Touch Ring functions.

      Each Touch Ring mode is associated with an LED, which glows when the mode is selected.   By default, the Touch Ring is set to control the Auto zoom/scroll, Brush Size and Rotate functions. Different options can be selected from the dropdown menus, as shown in the screen grab above.


       The supplied ExpressKey Remote can be ‘parked’ on the tablet’s magnetised bezels or placed nearby on a desktop (as shown). (Source: Wacom.)

      The ExpressKey Remote should be kept at least 40 mm away from the pen but will operate up to about a metre from the screen. It can be attached to one of the magnetised bezels on the left or right of the screen, which are strong enough to hold it in place when the screen is vertically orientated. Alternatively, it can be placed nearby on a desk for easy access and will work with up to five compatible displays that are connected to the same computer, as long as they are within wireless range.


       The Pro Pen shown sitting on its dedicated stand, which also accepts the pen vertically. (Source: Wacom.)


       The Pro Pen stand opened to show the spare nibs and nib removal tool. (Source: Wacom.)

      The Pro Pen is cordless and battery free. It’s supplied with a dedicated stand that has a screw-off base which holds additional nibs plus a nib removal tool. (The latter is a metal ring in the centre of the pen stand base.)

      The pen should be kept in its stand when it’s not being used as this maintains the tip sensitivity. It should not be rested on the active area of the screen where it could interfere with cursor positioning when a mouse is used and may prevent the computer from shutting down or entering the sleep mode.

      In use, the pen is held as you would a normal drawing tool and users can adjust the grip to make the  side switch easy to adjust with thumb or forefinger.  This switch can be set to two different customisable functions, the default settings being double-click for the upper switch and right-click for the lower.

      Reversing the pen turns it into an eraser, while its sensitivity can be controlled by applying varying downward pressure to its tip.  It can also be used to move objects about the screen by selecting the object and then sliding the pen tip across the screen without lifting it.

      On-Screen Controls
      Working down from the top of the Wacom Desktop Centre, the first option involves selecting right or left handed usage. The next controls the display settings, which cover brightness, contrast, colour space and gamma adjustments (some of which will be required for calibration).


       Users can choose from nine preset modes (shown above), depending on what they’re using the tablet for.   Different settings will change the screen’s brightness, contrast and colour, sometimes quite noticeably.


       The next step down covers the pen, touch and buttons settings, starting with touch settings (shown above). Clicking on this line displays a sidebar that lets you turn touch control on and off, duplicating the function of the button above the screen. Below is a link to the touch input and gesture settings, which opens the screen shown below.


       This interface gives individual control over the touch settings for the tablet, pen and software application. The default setting automatically recognises the default settings and selects the Wacom gestures from the two options offered, the alternative being Windows gestures. You can personalise the gesture settings by selecting the My Gestures tab and opening the screen shown below.




      Moving on to the Pen & Button Settings tab lets you open the pen settings menu (shown above), calibrate the pen and open the on-screen control menu. All the adjustments you need for setting the pen pressure, tip feel and tilt sensitivity can be controlled from this screen, which includes tabs for adjusting the eraser settings and calibrating the pen with the display.

      Calibration involves aligning the screen cursor with the position of the pen on the screen, a necessity to compensate for the viewing angle and adjust for parallax. It should only be done with the screen set in its working position and with the pen you plan to use.

      Clicking on the Calibrate tab opens a sub menu that lets you select which screen you’re working on (the tablet is the default). Clicking on the Calibrate button opens a blank screen with a crosshair in the upper-left corner. When you touch the pen tip to the centre of the crosshair it moves to the top right corner, where you touch the pen tip to the centre once again. This process is repeated when the crosshairs move to the lower corners of the screen, resulting in the display shown below when all four have been touched.


       You can test the calibration by positioning the pen at a few different points on the display and checking whether it matches the cursor position. If it does, clicking on OK accepts the calibration; if not, select  ‘Try Again’  to recalibrate.

      The next step down covers the Backup and Restore settings, which support two alternatives: Backup & Restore Settings to Wacom Cloud and Backup & Restore Settings to Computer. Both are designed to save your customised tablet settings.



      Backup to Cloud (shown above) requires you to create an account with the Wacom Cloud online service. You must supply your name and email address and create and confirm a password. Backup to Computer (shown below) creates a folder for storing the settings on your computer desktop. This is handy if you ever change computers or have to reset your drivers as it means you don’t lose all your settings.


       The Social Media & Forums tab opens links to all the popular image sharing services.
       The Help & Support tab at the bottom of the page opens links to Social Media & Forums, User Manuals, Tutorials and Wacom’s support and registration pages. Links are provided to Wacom’s local Customer Care service as well as a store locator, Technical FAQ page and the latest tablet drivers.

      The Cintiq Ergo Stand
       The optional Ergo Stand provides a wider range of positional options for users who like to vary the angle of the screen for different tasks. Weighing approximately 16 kilograms, it’s counterweighted with a very solid base that can be positioned close to the edge of a desk, enabling users to work while sitting or standing.


       The Cintiq 27QHDT shown on the optional Ergo Stand, which is designed specifically for the Cintiq 27QHD displays. (Source: Wacom.)

      The working angle is adjusted by releasing clutch levers that extend outwards on each side of the screen and allow both the tilt and the height of the display to be changed quickly and easily. The tilt angle can be varied from flat on the desktop to near vertical.

      To mount the stand, place the tablet face down on a soft cloth that has been spread out on a flat surface and remove the three covers on the rear panel as well as the rubber feet. Unpack the stand and place it on a flat, solid surface and adjust the angle of the supporting arms until they are close to vertical. Place the supplied foam cushion on the base plate under the arms to prevent damage when the screen is mounted.

      Blue marks on the stand show where to attach the screen. Lift it into position, slotting the pegs on the stand into the sockets on the screen. Secure the screen with two of the silver screws (supplied), using a Phillips head screwdriver.

      Remove the two rubber feet on the stand and attach the remaining silver screws on each side to secure the rotary axis. Then use the black screws to secure the feet. Re-fit the rubber feet over the screws.

      Unwrap the HDMI/Display Port and Power port/USB 3.0 cables and plug them into the slots on the back of the screen. Then replace the cover. New covers (two per side) are supplied for protecting the left and right attachment points and they should be fitted now. The stand is now ready for use and the tablet can be connected to a computer. (A video showing each step can be found on Wacom’s website at https://buywacom.com.au/cintiq-ergo-stand.html.)

      The Wacom Color Manager
       The optional Wacom Color Manager is a standard colorimeter that plugs into a computer via a USB port, drawing its power via the USB cable. Like most colorimeters a counterweight can be slid along the cable, enabling the colorimeter’s sensor to be positioned in different parts of the screen to make measurements.

      An ambient light diffuser arm pulls out from the top of the colorimeter and snaps into place over the sensor, allowing ambient light levels to be measured (and incorporated into subsequent measurements). It is rotated to the rear of the unit for calibrating the screen and tilted forwards when measuring   projector brightness and colour.


       Using the Wacom Color Manager is just the same as any similar device. (Source: Wacom.)

      You must load the software (supplied on disk) before connecting the colorimeter to your computer via its USB cable. (It takes three to five minutes.) Opening the software displays the screen shown below, which indicates the colorimeter can be used to create ICC profiles for projectors, printers and scanners as well as the Cintiq 27QHDT.


      We selected the Advanced mode on this screen because it allowed us to perform tests on display quality and screen uniformity. The results of these tests will be compared with results from our standard monitor tests in the Performance section below.


       Selecting the display button steps you on to the next page which identifies any displays (monitors) connected to your computer and shows a plot of its colour space. We chose the AdobeRGB colour space for the RGB Primaries and 12C0 candelas/square metre for the Luminance settings (shown above).


      The next screen shows the default profile settings, with dropdown menus for selecting alternatives. It is followed by a Patch Set screen (above) with four options: All patches, Default optimisation patches, Load spot colour patches and Extract patches from an image. These can be used to customise profiles for particular applications, such as portrait photography.


      Selecting the ‘Start Measurement’ button takes you to the profiling page (shown above), where you’re instructed to place the colorimeter sensor-down on the target in the centre of the display and press Next. (The colorimeter must be in emissive light measurement mode with the ambient light diffuser rotated to the rear.)
       In the Advanced mode the X-Rite ADC (Automatic Display Control) optimises the colour temperature, contrast and luminance of the display by running through a sequence of   RGB colour patches before measuring the colour patches to produce the profile.  This takes several minutes, since it involves building data sets, after which it moves on to profile creation.

      It takes just under two minutes for the software to run through all the colour samples and produce and verify a profile, once you’ve pressed the Next button. The software will display the name of the display in the Profile Name box but this can be changed to suit individual users’ requirements. Hitting the ‘Create and save profile’ button saves it for use by devices connected to your computer.


       Tabs along the top of the display panel let you check various aspects of the profile you’ve created (shown above), including a 3D gamut view of the profile, target and measured values for white point and luminance, video look-up tables and before and after views comparing the new profile with previously loaded profiles.
       Profiling with the Wacom Color Manager is a relatively quick process, averaging around two minutes from start to completed profile, compared with roughly seven minutes with our Spyder5 colorimeter. The Wacom device also lets you save your workflow for future use.

      Using the Cintiq 27QHDT with Photoshop
       The main advantages of a graphics tablet like the Cintiq 27QHDT relate to the precision with which you can select and edit images (or areas within images). With the Pro Pen, you can achieve levels of fine control that make a mouse look, feel and operate like a very blunt instrument.

      If you’ve never used a graphics tablet before (or it’s been a while since you used one), getting used to the pen and touch controls will take a while. The first factor to establish is the most comfortable working angle; then you must decide where to put the ExpressKey Remote and how to swap quickly between them.

      Windows users who want to use the touch functions in Photoshop will need to be running Windows 8 (or the new Windows 10) and have the 2014 release of Photoshop CC. Since our computer is running Windows 7, we were unable to assess how well the 27QHDT’s touch functions integrate with Photoshop CC, although they worked as specified with the screen itself and provided a handy way to select functions without interfering with other settings during our calibration tests.

      Interested readers can download the Wacom Gesture Guide for Windows and Mac from Wacom  Customer Care. Note that the pen disengages touch whenever the pen tip or eraser is within the tablet proximity range so you’ll need to move it away from the active area whenever you want to use the touch controls.  

      If you want the gestures to work you need to spread your fingers as far apart as is comfortable and keep them within the active area while making adjustments.  Try to avoid accidental touches on the tablet when making gestures or working on an image as they can trigger an unanticipated right-click. (Touch control is easy to switch off and on by simply tapping the icon in the top right corner of the bezel.)

       As well as examining the measurements produced by the Wacom Color Manager, we subjected the Cintiq 27QHDT to our standard suite of tests carried out with our Spyder colorimeter, which can deliver a much more sophisticated analysis of key parameters. This also allows readers to compare the performance of the Cintiq 27QHDT with other monitors we have reviewed.

      We used the Spyder5 Elite with the latest software to generate tables or graphs showing gamut, tonal response, brightness and contrast, luminance and colour uniformity and colour accuracy and come up with an overall rating for the display. Representative tables and graphs are shown below, with the overall rating following them.

      1. Colour Gamut


       The review monitor delivered a top performance in this test, as shown in the graph above. The green triangle shows the boundaries of the sRGB colour space, while the purple triangle delineates the Adobe RGB colour space. The red triangle shows the measured colour space for the monitor, which covers 98% of the Adobe RGB colour space and is significantly larger than sRGB.
      2. Gamma

      Gamma plots show the relationship between the brightness of a pixel as it appears on the screen, and the numerical value of that pixel.   They are a good indicator of how mid-tones are reproduced. If gamma is set too high, mid-tones appear too dark.


       The graph of the measured gamma (above) shows it to be the recommended gamma for image editing.

      3. Colour Accuracy.


       The plot of colour accuracy shows all hues to be within acceptable tolerances.
       4. Screen Uniformity
       The two Screen Uniformity tests check the brightness and colour consistencies of the display in nine sections of the screen, at various luminance levels. Separate graphs are provided for luminance (brightness) and colour measurements across four luminance levels. We present the upper and lower graphs for each category.

      4a. Luminance Uniformity.


      Luminance uniformity was below average, with a distinct ‘hot’ spot in the centre of the screen and darkening in the right side third of the screen.

      4b. Colour Uniformity.


      Colour uniformity results showed some variations but were within tolerances overall.

      5. Overall Rating



      The graph above shows the review monitor achieved  top marks for colour gamut and contrast and contrast.   Scores for tonal response, colour uniformity and colour accuracy were almost as highly rated but the relatively low score for luminance uniformity (and, less so for white point) bring the overall score down to 4.5 out of a possible 5. This is acceptable for a monitor at this level.

      The results of measurements with the Wacom Color Manager confirm the ‘hot’ spot in the centre of the screen and the darkening on the right side.


      The luminance plot constructed by the Wacom Color Manager.


       The brightness plot constructed by the Wacom Color Manager.

       The Cintiq 27QHD Touch is a beautiful piece of equipment, with its bright 16:9 active screen and anti-reflective surface. Images displayed on this screen look impressive and the central ‘hot spot’ is barely noticeable to the ordinary viewer’s eye.

      Ergonomically, it’s also a nice bit of gear and the ExpressKey Remote is a very workable replacement for border buttons. It’s easy to recharge, the battery outlasts a day’s work and you can ‘park’ it on the bezel where it’s within reach but safeguarded against accidental knocks or misplacement.

      The high price of this screen will put it beyond the reach of most Photo Review readers. However, anyone who does a lot of retouching or post-capture editing should definitely give it a look; although if you want to use it with Photoshop, you’ll need one of the latest operating systems and  a post-2014 version of Photoshop CC that supports touch functionality.

      If your work combines photography with graphic design, this tablet should be a big time-saver, and may justify the cost on that basis alone ““ provided you have the necessary desk space for its sizeable footprint.  Investment in the peripheral accessories (stand and colorimeter) is likely to be needs based.

      Users who like an upright screen will almost certainly find the stand handy. However, if you already have a colorimeter, you won’t need the Wacom one as Spyder and X-Rite devices will do the job as effectively (although maybe not as quickly).



      Product Type: Creative pen and touch display
      Active Display Size (H ø— V): 596.7 x 335.6 mm (27 inch diagonal)
      Panel Type: AHVA LCD (proprietary IPS)
      Viewing Angles: 178 ° (89 °/89 °) H, (89 °/89 °) V
      Brightness: 330 candelas/square metre
      Contrast ratio: 970:1
      Response Time (Typical):12ms
      Native Resolution: 5080 lines/inch
      Display Colours: Max. 1.07 billion (requires DisplayPort and video card supporting 10-bit colour)
      Colour Gamut Coverage: 97% Adobe RGB
      Preset Modes: Adobe RGB, 6500 ° K whitepoint default; DCI, REC 709, SRGB
      Pen Settings: 2048 pressure levels (both pen tip and eraser), Tilt range: 40 degrees; Tilt Recognition: +/-60 levels, Tip switch, 2 side switches, eraser
      Pen features: Latex-free silicone rubber grip;   6 standard nibs, 3 felt nibs, 1 stroke nib
      System Requirements: PC: Windows7 (32/64 bits), 8; Mac: Mac OS X, v 10.5.8 or later
      Graphics Input: DisplayPort (required for 2560 x 1440 resolution), HDMI (depends on computer)
      ExpressKey Remote Dimensions: 135 x 52 x 10 mm
      ExpressKey Remote Continuous Operation: Up to 160 hours
      ExpressKey Remote Charge Time: Up to 2 hours
      Stand Adjustability: Built-in stand (5 ° w/o legs or 20 ° w/ legs); optional Cintiq Ergo stand sold as accessory
      Orientation: Right or left-handed use
      Size: 820 x 510 x 390 mm
      PC and Mac Connection: USB
      Peripheral Connections: Five USB 3.0 ports
      Power supply: Input100 to 240 VAC, 50/60Hz; Output 24 VDC, 5.0A (max)
      Power Consumption: 80 W; 0.5 W in sleep and off modes
      Dimensions (W x H x D): 770 x 465 x 54.5 mm
      Net Weight: 9 kg without stand;   25.1 kg with stand
      Certifications: VCCI Class B, FCC Part 15 Subpart B (class B) and C, CE, IC ICES-003 and 210, RCM



      RRP: AU$4199; US$2800 (without optional stand)

      • Build: 9.0
      • Ease of use: 8.8
      • Viewing quality: 9.0
      • Versatility: 9.0
      • Overall: 8.8