Last year, I heard about this piece of kit coming in 2017 that sounded really interesting. It's called the Loupedeck and comes from a company of the same name in Finland. I reached out to them and they were a real pleasure to speak with and they just sent me a unit to review. Since the Loupedeck is set to release in July 2017, I wanted you to get a chance to learn about it right away.
Simply put, the Loupedeck puts the controls of Lightroom right at hand in the form of a keyboard/controller. It's design is simple and elegant. The unit uses the company's software to communicate between the Loupedeck and Lightroom. The initial release is very solid, and the company is looking at more features that can be added in software. You connect the Loupedeck via a USB port on your computer. Due to a dearth of available ports, I plugged the eval unit into a powered USB hub and all works perfectly.
Having tried a number of different alternate interfaces for Lightroom, this is the ONLY one that I have tried that was both intuitive, and a pleasure to use. Others had nice controls but I had to memorize what each one did, one has sliders that set themselves at 0 regardless of where the slider was positioned and others had software that was to be kind, flaky enough to be a Vachon treat.
The thing that users will need to get used to is the desk space taken up by the Loupedeck because it is the size of a keyboard. It's not an issue with Lightroom, because most everything that you will need to do that would be done from a keyboard is easily done with the Loupedeck. I've set mine behind the normal keyboard and I just bring it to the front when I am working in Lightroom.
Lightroom sliders are controlled by defined twist knobs with push buttons built in. I know that some folks want to be able to program every button or knob to do a zillion different things, and it's this flexibility, often spelled complexity, that makes these things generally a failure. The Loupedeck is clearly designed by Lightroom users for Lightroom users. The button/knob layout is logical and well labelled. There are three programmable buttons with options for folks who want to automate certain things.
Preset lovers will love the Loupedeck because there are xx preset buttons across the top that you can assign to your favourite presets. There is also an Fn key that doubles up the flexibility of some of the controls.
Many serious Lightroom users spend a lot of time in the Hue Saturation and Luminance panel. Loupedeck has a dedicated rotary wheel for each colour and you can quickly toggle through each of hue, saturation and luminance. I am one of those people, and this feature on its own is simple and so usable that I was doing HSL edits without having to take my eyes off the screen. Talk about time saving and efficiency increases!
I have included some graphics provided by the company so you can see the layout of the Loupedeck as well as the key assignments. What you cannot see from the images is the build quality. The Loupedeck is not some flimsy piece of kit. It's built solid, but not very heavy and you can feel that that knobs and switches are not cheap junk. I've used very expensive audio boards that did not deliver the same field of quality.
A Loupedeck does not replace your tablet or digitizer. It augments it and that is a good thing. With many very serious Lightroom users saying that they are now doing over 90% of their work in Lightroom we see how valuable such a tool will be. There will undoubtedly be some who believe a dedicated controller that only works with Lightroom is overkill, but for many of us, the Loupedeck is going to be an ideal and demanded tool. I love it and recommend it to serious Lightroom users.
Loupedeck is scheduled to start shipping in the US on July 19 and will sell for about $299 USD.
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I'm Ross Chevalier, thanks for reading, and until next time, peace.