Which is the best tablet for photographers?

Camera lens against colorful liquid horizontal

Photographers who need a tablet for work related activities will find that the Microsoft Surface Pro is by far the most powerful tool to edit, crop and color correct pictures at a professional level.

Although most tablets these days offer high-quality displays and work perfectly well when it comes to viewing images, few of them are suitable for photographers because these professionals need to able to work with large files and resource-intensive software that simply cannot be installed in regular tablets due to memory and hard-disk constraints.


Why aren’t regular tablets a good option for photographers?

Due to the fact that tablets were designed to be as compact as possible, they have very limited computer power. This limitation is most obvious when we analyze what kind of software can be installed in such devices. Nearly all photographers use Adobe Photoshop to handle most of their work. Unfortunately, due to the system requirements to run such a heavy software, tablets are simply unsuitable.

While it’s true that Adobe has been working hard to develop a special version of Photoshop specifically for the iPad, it’s already known that this app will have plenty of limitations that the desktop version of Photoshop doesn’t.

The Photoshop for the iPad will work as an extra tool to be used in conjunction with the regular Photoshop, it won’t be a full alternative to it.


Why is the Microsoft Surface Pro the best tablet for photographers?

(Check Microsoft Surface Pro 6 reviews on Amazon)

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 photographer tablet


Remember how I mentioned that most tablets have extremely serious computer-power limitations?

This is not the case with the Microsoft Surface Pro because it’s not just a tablet. This device is a full computer that actually works like a tablet.

Instead of having to rely on simple apps like tablets do, you’re free to install whatever you want in the Microsoft Surface Pro. Since photographers work not only with Photoshop, but with a wide variety of different software, you don’t really have to worry about memory or hard disk size.

Owning a “tablet” like this one is exactly the same thing as having a regular desktop computer, but you get a whole lot of advantages along with it.


What are the advantages of the Microsoft Surface Pro?

  1. Portability

  2. Precision in picture editing

  3. Touch-screen

  4. Screen size

  5. Digital pen (stylus)

  6. Processing power

  7. Battery life

  8. Operating system



First and foremost, the Microsoft Surface Pro is portable. Although it’s not a particularly small device, as long as you have a backpack or one of those laptop cases, you will be able to take your computer/tablet anywhere you want.

Since this is not a cheap device, it’s highly advisable that you do use some sort of case to carry it around. Due to the complexity of the Surface Pro couples with the fact that its screen is rather fragile, dropping it on the ground would most likely mean that your device will be ruined.


Precision in picture editing

The fact that you can manipulate the images that appear on the screen with your own hands allows you to zoom in and out with ease having access to every tiny pixel of the picture at a much higher speed then you would in any other device.

Working with the Microsoft Surface Pro feels like something between working with software and with real pictures at the same time. It’s kind of a middle layer. Usually, when we’re on our desktop computers, the job feels entirely digital, but the fact that this tablet allows you to directly touch the screen and “click” on the tools without the need to use a mouse makes the whole editing job much more pleasing.



As technology evolves, we get further and further away from peripherals like a keyboard and a mouse. As our electronics become increasingly intuitive we have chosen to work directly with our hands. We have evolved to work with our hands and we all prefer to do things this way.

There are many tablets out there that work perfectly well with digital pens (stylus), but very few of them allow you to touch the screen with your fingers and actually get things done.

The touch-screen feature of the Microsoft Surface Pro is not only something that is nice to have, it’s a characteristic that will dramatically improve the workflow of any skilled photographer that is already used to edit pictures in programs such as Photoshop.


Screen size

Using the touch-screen technology is great, but it only makes a real difference when the screen is large enough. Thankfully the guys at Microsoft decided to take this seriously and release a device that has a pretty decent size. The Microsoft Surface Pro 6, for example, comes with a 12.3’’ screen that is ideal for someone who needs to work with image files.

Of course that, the larger the screen, the better. And although there are some devices with larger screens in the market, none of them combine both computer-power and decent screen size like the Microsoft Surface Pro.


Digital pen (stylus)

For those who are meticulous and like to edit their pictures pixel by pixel, there’s also the possibility to work with a digital pen.

Once you go for this setup: Surface Pro + Photoshop + Digital Pen, the sky is the limit. You literally get unlimited drawing/editing power. The results of your work will only depend on your particular skills.


Processing power

Like I said before, this is no regular tablet, it’s a whole computer. And for this reason, the specs are defined accordingly.

Before buying the Microsoft Surface Pro you are offered a couple of options, though. The more resources you add to your device, the more expensive it becomes.

When it comes to optional features you get to choose among the following:

  • 8 GB RAM with 128 GB storage

  • 8 GB RAM with 256 GB storage

  • 16 GB RAM with 512 GB storage

  • 16 GB RAM with 1 TB storage


In the processing power front, you also get to choose between two incredibly powerful processors:

  • Intel Core i5

  • Intel Core i7


In my opinion, as long as your budget allows you, try to get as many optional features as you can. Go for the largest possible memory and storage. Try to get the best processor as well.

Even though it may seem a bit expensive right now, in the long run it means that you get to have an awesome computer/tablet that works extremely well for the foreseeable future.

Since you’re making an investment in your career as a photographer, do it right. Go all the way.


Battery life

The tablet can for 13 hours and a half on a single charge. This is much more than a regular working day. This means that, as long as you don’t forget to charge your device at night, while you’re sleeping, you’re never going to have to worry about looking for sockets.

I must say this, if you take into consideration how powerful this tablet is, it’s incredible that it can go for so long without being recharged.

In my opinion this is one of the strongest advantages of the Microsoft Surface Pro.


Operating system

When you get a tablet like the iPad Pro, you’re definitely purchasing a pretty good operating system. Apple products simply work. That being said, Windows is still the standard and most people are very comfortable with you.

Since the Surface Pro is a not a simple tablet, but a computer, the fact that it comes with a familiar operating system is a huge advantage.

The device comes with Windows 10 and works exactly like the desktop version. What I’m trying to say is: if you know how to handle your regular computer at home, the Microsoft Surface Pro won’t bring any unpleasant surprises.



In case you’re already a photographer, try to get a tablet that will make your life easier. I’ve played around with dozens of different tablets from different brands and none of them come even close to the one I mentioned in this article.

Before I forget, I would like to point out a disadvantage of this device: the digital pen (stylus) is sold separately. This means you still need to spend a little bit more in order to get the perfect work setup. I wish the Microsoft Surface Pro was a little bit cheaper, but if you compare it to the other tablets currently being sold, the price is rather reasonable.

Remember: Good tablet + digital pen (stylus) + Photoshop = limitless possibilities to express your creativity.


I wish you a lot of luck and keep on creating!

Bruno Santos


Bruno Brasil

Hi! My name is Bruno. I'm a web developer/designer based in Toronto, Canada. I've been working with drawing tablets for over 20 years and I'm among the Top 10 Most Viewed Writers on Quora in the Graphics Tablets category. Do you have any questions? Just leave a comment =)

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