The Wacom Cintiq 18SX is a “large-format, pressure-sensitive, interactive Pen Display for photo editing”, introduced in 2002. That makes it “legacy” equipment, kind of like me.
When first introduced, the 18SX cost about $3,000. Today I found one available on eBay for $325, used. There are much better solutions available and this blog is for those who, like myself, are trying to keep older equipment working with their systems. Frugal photographers!
After the initial nose-bleed price fell, I was able to purchase an 18SX to edit photos directly on the display. It was a great improvement in accuracy over working remotely from a trackpad, mouse or tablet.
It worked well on my Apple Mac G4, and the driver’s for the Cintiq were updated until 2012. However, with newer Apple operating systems, the device stopped working in the last few years. In the last year or so, I reorganized my workspace with desk mounts for monitors and a new iMac. I mounted the Cintiq on its own arm, hoping to get it operating again. I tried many different software options to get the device to work with my system under OS X 10.9 and 10.10, but to no avail. In my research, I found that many others had the same problem. For a while, I gave up and the Cintiq sat idle, holding headphones and GoPros during their charge cycles. It worked well as a retractable tray.
Using On1 Photo 10, I needed to get the Cintiq working to edit complicated image masks. Checking Wacom’s drivers again, I found that the latest driver for the 18SX was still the 2012 version.
The other day, when I plugged in the Cintiq’s Display Port and USB connections to the back of my iMac, the Cintiq flashed on, but went dark and would not respond. Not one to give up easily, I turned on the Wacom Desktop Center (version 6.3.8-2) installed with the driver, but could not get the monitor to respond.
I restarted the iMac with the Desktop Center open and the Cintiq plugged in and powered on. The monitor came up with the system and has worked fine since. I have not tried to calibrate or change settings, that might be pushing my luck.
The Cintiq’s pen has stopped working once, when the iMac went to sleep, and the pen did not work when I woke the computer. However, when I turned the Cintiq off and then back on, the pen started working again. I normally keep the Cintiq turned off and unplugged so I can use the Thunderbolt port for another monitor, and only plug in the Cintiq when I need to edit images. The Cintiq isn’t the most crisp display. Since that first restart, plugging in the cables and turning on the 18SX seems to bring it up right away now. When It doesn’t, restarting the iMac with the Cintiq plugged into the computer and powered up seems to fix the problem.
I don’t know if the display compatibility of OS X has improved in recent updates, but my Cintiq 18SX is back and I will use it while it is.