Loupedeck have certainly made a splash in the photography market over the past couple of years. Ever since the launch of their inaugural product, many photographers have adopted the Loupedeck into their workflow. There really is something about being able to twiddle a knob that is far more satisfying (stop laughing!) than dragging a mouse around. I too, was an adopter of the Loupedeck way of life so when I heard that they had launched their updated model, the Loupedeck+ - I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and have a twiddle!
The Loupedeck, for those that are not aware, is a physical controller for Lightroom, with pre-determined controls for everything from Exposure to individual hue & saturation dials. The benefit of this is that it speeds up your workflow as you are not scratching around with a mouse, trying to make minute adjustments and constantly having to go backwards and forwards, trying to find the perfect spot. The physical controls are responsive and accurate and once accustomed, you’ll wonder how you ever used a mouse in the first place. Still not convinced? Keep an eye-out for a video to follow which will show you in more detail.
Straight out of the box, the plus feels like a premium product. It comes extremely well packaged and is presented beautifully in the all black packaging. The controller itself is plastic, which comes as a little bit of a surprise consider the price point. However, this actually makes sense, in particular if you are going to travel with the controller as it keeps the weight down. That being said, the plastic is clearly good quality and it has enough weight to it that it doesn’t feel flimsy. The dials also feel good quality with a rubberised touch and a distinct ‘click’ when rotated, to help with the ‘feel’ when in use. However, I would have liked a touch more resistance to them as they are quite easy to rotate and I would have liked a little more feedback - I’m sure this is just personal preference.
The controls are all laid out in a very logical fashion with the priority dials such as Exposure, Contrast and Clarity all being fairly central (which will suit both right and left-handed users) and the tonal controls and temperature controls more to the right. The function keys, such as undo/redo and shift & control etc. are all to the left of the controller, which again makes pretty good sense as they are used slightly less frequently. Finally, there is a good array of customisable buttons, but more of that later. Setting up the controller for first usage is also pretty simple. However, it does require downloading the appropriate software for your platform but once installed, it communicates with Lightroom pretty well and I certainly didn’t have any issues getting started.
As with it predecessor, the Plus certainly adds the element of speed to your editing. However, it does take a little bit of time to get use to. Very much like learning to type, it takes a while to understand where every dial and button is. When you get it (and it really doesn’t take long to get) it’s a dream, it just becomes second nature. There is certainly a benefit to having something tactile, that you can control your fine adjustments with. However, I did repeatedly keep finding myself having to have a quick glance down, to check that I was ‘twiddling’ the right knob.
One of the main upgrades is the potential for the Plus to be used with more than just Lightroom. It is now compatible with Skylum (formally Macphun) and Aurora HDR. This certainly adds value to the device and is great for those looking to get even more creative with their editing. However, it doesn’t stop there, it is also now compatible with Adobe’s Premier Pro video editing software. Though I have not tried this yet it is certainly appealing to people like myself, that produce photography and video - the idea of having one, tactile editing interface is very appealing.
The improvements continue with additional customisable keys and a ‘custom mode’ which allows you to take full control of all keys and dials. This really opens up the possibilities with the device. The keys are also now mechanical which give improved responsiveness so you always feel in control. In addition to the physical improvements, the configuration software has also had a spruce up and worked flawlessly whilst setting up.
I have always been a fan of the Loupedeck. I love having something tactile that I can use to edit and feel it gives you a lot of extra control over your editing. I am pleased to see some improvements but also would like to have seen a few further additions - notably Bluetooth. However, having used the Plus for a few weeks, I can’t really see how I would go back to the ‘traditional’ style of editing. There is simply something so satisfying about taking manual control over your editing to really nail your edits.
I look forward to seeing how the Loupedeck evolves over the coming years and guess that there may be software updates during that time, opening the Loupedeck+ up to even more versatile uses. Check out the trailer below.