How immersed do you get in your editing and retouching workflow? Perhaps a large color-accurate screen with pen functions might interest you.
The perfect editing workflow for any photographer is pretty much a personal preference. Every photographer has his or her own preferred way of editing that differs based on the components of the process, the extent of editing, and the method of how the final output is achieved. For photographers who really get down to the pixels in order to meticulously retouch and refine their images, as well as those who manually combine multiple photographic elements to create their envisioned output, a precise tool such as a large pen display is often a good choice.
Build and Design
The Huion Kamvas Pro 24 4K comes in an all-black 589.2 x 364 x 22.7mm slate that encases a 23.8-inch panel. The entire device operates with a single multi-function button that is by default a power button with a single quick press and a menu button when held for 3 seconds. On the upper rim on the back of the screen are input ports for the DC adapter, Displayport, Full sized HDMI, and USB-C. On the right side are two USB A 2.0 ports and a 3.5mm audio output port for headphones or external speakers.
On the top right and left corners are metal stands that flip out to give the screen a 20-degree tilt when placed on a desk. Alternatively, there are 6 VESA compatible screw threads on the center of the rear panel to mount either the separately available vari-angle desk stand or any VESA-compatible stand or monitor arm. On its own, the stand-alone configuration using the flip-out metal stand is limited to just one viewing angle and ultimately requires a separate stand for more flexibility given that this pen display can function both as a drawing/editing tool and a calibrated monitor.
Inside the box is a power supply adapter, a full-sized HDMI cable, and a USB-C cable. While the ports are conveniently placed on the top part of the back of the panel, it may have been better if they were given more space between them and the cables supplied had L-type ends just for the sake of better cable management. The overall aesthetic of the Kamvas Pro 24 is satisfyingly minimalistic however the straight ends of the cables can be seen especially when tilted upwards with a different stand or arm mount.
The Kamvas Pro 24 4K has a 23.8-inch Quantum Dot LED (QLED) display housed in fully laminated anti-glare etched glass aimed at providing both a distraction-free and a smooth tactile working experience. This screen has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (4K) at 185 ppi with a contrast ratio of 1200:1, 8-bit color with frame rate control (FRC), maximum output brightness of 220 nits, and covers 140% of the sRGB color gamut.
The screen’s size and resolution are two of the most significant aspects of this product. A 24-inch screen that is meant to be used up close while displaying rich detail is an entirely different experience from simply viewing a similar-sized screen from a couple of feet away. While working up close, this allows the user to pay closer attention to fine details without having to zoom in and out so much. The anti-glare surface does well in preventing smudges from regular use and ensures both a comfortable viewing and drawing experience.
I do feel as if the output brightness of this display falls short in terms of making it more versatile for different working environments. In a controlled room in terms of lighting, the screen’s brightness is certainly enough. However, in rooms that have bright ambient light or even sunlight coming in through windows (though this of course is not ideal in terms of achieving color and contrast accuracy), 220 nits might be too dim.
The Huion Kamvas Pro 24 4K comes with a PW517 digital pen that uses electromagnetic resonance to function without any batteries. It has a resolution of 5080LPI with 8192 different pressure levels and can function with up to 60 degrees tilt towards any direction. It has two customizable buttons along the proximal part of the pen and a silicone coating on the lower half for better grip. The pen comes with 5 extra plastic and 5 felt nibs along with the standard pen stand and nib replacement tool that is commonly included with any Huion tablet or pen display.
Huion K20 Keydial Mini Editing Controller
One of the most noticeable things about the Kamvas Pro 24 is the lack of customizable buttons on the display itself. Even the menu button for settings is integrated into the power button. For users who are used to pen tablets, you might be looking for a few buttons on the device itself however considering that a pen display can be used in different orientations that might limit the flexibility in terms of the accessibility of the buttons and that is probably why the pen display already includes its own wireless controller.
The Keydial Mini has 18 fully customizable buttons that can be assigned to virtually any function or any keyboard shortcut for any application or system settings. In addition, it has a multi-function dial on the top left corner that can be assigned to linear adjustments such as zooming in and out, moving between layers, adjusting brush size, opacity, etc. The button in the middle of the dial allows the user to switch between the said functions. The controller can be connected and charged through a USB-C cable but can also be wirelessly connected through Bluetooth.
The presence of the wireless controller basically improves the ergonomics of using the pen display in such a way that when in the process of drawing, editing, or retouching, the user does not need to have a full-sized keyboard within reach especially when the pen display is taking a lot of the space on the desk. At the same time, it allows the user to keep all their preferred shortcuts within reach no matter where and how the pen display is positioned.
The initial setup of the Kamvas Pro 24 (4K) was basically as simple as plugging in the USB-C cable and the power adapter. Once powered on, the display automatically works by default as a mirrored screen to the main screen of the laptop. If instead used as a single monitor for a desktop setup or a laptop in clamshell mode, operation is as is, pretty much like a simple display monitor. On the off chance that the pen inputs are not properly aligned with the screen, it requires a very simple calibration procedure that can be found on the Huion tablet setup application. This also includes the customization options for the buttons on the pen, pen pressure levels, and customization on the keydial mini.
The Keydial Mini editing controller, once either plugged in with a cable or paired via Bluetooth, will also appear as a device on the Huion Tablet software. Here the user can assign different app-based or system-based functions, shortcuts, and gestures to the 18 buttons and the dial. One thing I personally wish to see would be a more premium version of this editing controller that could possibly have a screen or even just colored indicator lights to help the user remember which features are assigned to which button especially when using it with multiple applications.
User Experience and Application
Being able to do precision editing on a 24-inch display up close is definitely a more immersive and comfortable experience. With the range of sizes of pen tablets and pen displays in the market, it is definitely a matter of finding the right one for your editing workflow. For someone who prefers editing on the screen itself, the Huion Kamvas Pro 24 (4K) offers perhaps one of the best working experiences in general. However, it is important to understand that a device such as this will take up considerable space on your desk especially if using only the built-in stand.
For illustrators and graphic designers, the constant viewing angle of the display with the built-in stand might be ideal because they probably are those who use such devices most extensively. However for photographers, and other creative workers who might use the pen intermittently but would also use the display as a monitor, either the separately sold vari-angle stand or any VESA-compatible stand or arm might be a good option to use it with. I personally used it with a monitor arm that I’ve had for years and it allowed me to keep the display upright for when I only need it as a display and easily pull it down and set it almost flat on the table achieving a similar angle to when the built-in stand is included.
I believe that there could be some enhancements for the sake of better ergonomics and cable management such as using L-type cables, adding a few buttons on the display for whatever use, and having updated features on the side panel’s USB hub such as a couple of USB-C ports, power output for charging a laptop, and even an HDMI output port for daisy-chain with other displays. Despite those, having this as a multi-function editing tool as both a pen tablet and an editing monitor was definitely a delight to use especially for more intensive editing and retouching tasks.
What I Liked:
- 24 inches with 4K resolution
- Considerably good color gamut coverage and accuracy when calibrated
- Multiple input options
What Can Be Improved:
- More flexible stand height and viewing angles
- Possibly add a few shortcut buttons for major functions on the display
- Updated features on the USB hub on the side