I’m not a great fan of sitting down with Lightroom for hours on end to get the end results I want from my latest photography excursion. Even less so when it involves my clumsily moving sliders with a mouse or remembering dozens of keyboard shortcuts to access some feature I once saw, buried deep in a menu somewhere.
I’m also – as my dear wife will tell you – a sucker for gadgets. Mention the subject to her and you’ll get some story about that passata maker I once bought (a great idea, I thought, for dealing with an abundance of tomatoes) or the special tool for coring and segmenting fresh pineapples (a genius idea if ever there was one) and how these gadgets, and others, are now gathering dust in our pantry.
This keyboard-sized editing console allows a photographer to almost completely dispose of mouse and keyboard during an editing session. Quite literally all of the commands I use in Lightroom – and a good few more – have either a physical dial or button which can be accurately and simply adjusted to achieve the results I want.
Indeed, it is entirely possible to remove most of the panels from Lightroom, bring up your chosen photograph for editing in full-screen mode (again with a single button push) and edit the photograph to taste without any on-screen distractions or impedimenta.
I’m sure we all have subtly different workflows, whether working in Lightroom Classic, Photoshop CC, Capture One Pro or Aurora HDR. But there are common themes/tasks to be completed whatever the workflow, and Loupedeck+ clusters these into specific areas of the console.
Rating or selecting/deselecting images is done quickly at the touch of a button. Sliders for exposure, shadows, highlights, temperature and a host of others can be accurately adjusted with the turn of a knob, or reset easily by pushing the knob. And I’m barely scratching the surface of just how powerful and completely customisable this tool is.
Installation is simple once the Loupedeck software is downloaded and installed, then the console connected via USB. It worked for me straight out of the box when connected to my iMac. You simply need to tell the configuration software which editing programme you are using; all of the usual suspects are covered it seems (but only the desktop or classic flavour of Lightroom, not Lightroom CC) and the Loupedeck website has full details, and also some useful training videos and documentation.
The software itself looks very professional with a brilliant user interface should you need to look under the hood a little more. And the hardware is very impressive for the price. The unit is made of good quality plastic throughout. Knobs and control wheels are really tactile with good weighting and dampening. Keys feel substantial – with plenty of travel – and therefore able to take plenty of one-fingered stabbing, which is just what the doctor ordered.
Indeed, the whole package – software and hardware – feels well-executed from start to finish. Take a step back from all the details and what you are left with, to my mind, is a well-built and well-designed tool which really does make the job of photo editing simpler, quicker and more accurate. And I can imagine that is particularly the case if you sort and edit large numbers of photographs.
My Loupedeck+ came from Amazon.co.uk for £219. And, while that may be quite a lot of money for a plastic keyboard, I think it’s a very fair price for a good product which absolutely delivers in spades. I suspect mine will not end up on the top shelf of the pantry next to the passata maker. And you can’t say fairer than that.