Loupedeck Review – The Dedicated Photo-Editing Controller for Adobe Lightroom

Loupedeck is a new photo-editing controller that is specifically designed for Adobe Lightroom. As many of our readers are not only video and film shooters but photographers as well, I thought I’d give this photo-editing console a shot. Here’s my Loupedeck review.

Loupedeck Review - Editing Console Side

Even though I’m a filmmaker, many of my friends call me up for photo jobs and so I’ve had my share of photography lessons in my career. I know that many of you are in the same boat and, as it happens, Adobe Lightroom is one of the most popular apps when it comes to photo editing. It offers great tools for an ideal raw workflow, but when it comes to editing speed, the mouse and keyboard are always a huge bottleneck.

Loupedeck Review – A Photo-Editing Console That Makes You Faster

Enter Loupedeck, a Finnish start-up that started a buzz on Indiegogo about a year ago, with their hardware controller specifically designed for Adobe Lightroom. In fact, it is the only one of its kind, with buttons that let you adjust many, if not all the key functions within the Lightroom environment. Loupedeck just hit the market and I was interested to get my hands on this controller as I needed to speed up my workflow. Photo editing simply tends to take too long.

Loupedeck review - usb connection cable

Quick Start

The Loupedeck connects via USB to your computer and after installing the companion app, the editing console lets you immediately control your photos in Lightroom.

Loupedeck greets you when you connect it and the well-designed app, lets you edit a few custom buttons and dials. Granted, functionality-wise it is quite limited right now.

There’s nothing else to setup or to do. You just start editing.

Next let’s look at the actual editing speed!

Loupedeck Editing Speed

I’ve been burned with other editing consoles before, as nothing quite fit the bill. Just recently I got a Palette set for photo editing and video color correction, but unfortunately working with Palette was quite a disappointment as the knob input lagged behind and the magnetic design just wasn’t for me. Not a solid solution.

Loupedeck is a different story altogether. After spending some time with it and editing a large set of photos for this Loupedeck review, I eventually became pretty speedy. I would say I am about three times quicker with Loupedeck in comparison to simply using the keyboard and mouse. This sounds like a lot, and it is – by the end I actually overtook my computer’s rendering time, which is not possible with just a mouse input. The main reason is, I don’t need to “find” virtual buttons and knobs with my mouse and I don’t need to wait for the machine – with Loupedeck I can immediately adjust dedicated values by moving my fingers a couple of centimeters from one dial to the next.

Loupedeck review - dedicated dials for color

Loupedeck Review – Dedicated Color Wheels

The fact that there are dials for literally every important value gave me great joy while editing with this controller. I think this is what makes Loupedeck special.

Loupedeck Review - Lightroom color paletteThere are dedicated control wheels for each color in the Lightroom HSL window. I use these quite frequently and with the mouse it is always a fiddly story. The normal process with the mouse means adjusting a specific color value, and only then check if my imagine looks fine. With Loupedeck I can keep my eyes on the result while simply adjusting the wheels with my fingers. This saved me a lot of time and was a new experience, that professional video color graders are quite familiar with.

There are buttons to switch those color controls back and forth between hue, saturation and luminance – nice.

Loupedeck Review - HSL Control

Loupedeck Review – HSL Switcher on the Loupedeck Controller

The Analogue Feel?

At first I thought the dials on the Loupedeck had quite an analogue feel to them. To me, a perfect hardware controller would give me repeatable values for each dial, by which I mean setting the exposure dial to 90°, for example, would always result in the same value on the slider in Lightroom. Unfortunately that is not the case with the Loupedeck. Just like Palette, I get different results when I turn the dial at different speeds. This means I often have to “wait” until I see my input on the screen to know when to let go of the dial.

That said, I found both the software and the hardware on the Loupedeck to work pretty efficiently, and I could get my colors right easily, getting a feeling for how the Loupedeck would react after a while. My computer has become very slow with the latest versions of Adobe Lightroom and there is always a lag, but Loupedeck was mostly responsive regardless of that, so I think this makes it a good choice for people who face similar problems with their computer hardware. (I have a six-core Mac Pro 2013, but what do you know, I guess it’s outdated already)

Loupedeck Review – Button Layout

This is one of the key points that the Loupedeck really got right. There are other hardware controllers that you can use to control Adobe Lightroom, but none of them give you this button layout which is, in my opinion, quite perfect for Lightroom. Once you get used to it, you can really edit your photos without looking.

Loupedeck Review - The Button Layout

Loupedeck Review – The Button Layout

I already mentioned some of the buttons available on Loupedeck. Besides the usual suspects like exposure, blacks, whites, shadows and highlights to control your overall brightness, you also have contrast, clarity, saturation, vibrance, white balance and tint available.

There is a single custom dial that you can assign to your liking. By default it controls post-crop vignetting, which suits me very well. I wish there had been a second custom dial, so I could also control post-crop vignetting “midpoint”, to make vignetting adjustments complete.

Loupedeck Review - Star Rating / Flag Buttons

Loupedeck Review – Star Rating / Flag Buttons

There is a button for each star rating, but Loupedeck also features a toggle that lets you switch to color flagging instead of rating. This makes organising your photos pretty speedy. There’s also a brush button that switches to brush mode and a “copy” and “paste” button that copies all settings from one picture to another, which is a function many photographers use a lot.

Unfortunately the copy/paste function copies all values, including crop and rotation, which is something I usually do not want copied over to the next image. Which brings me to the last part of my Loupedeck review:

Critical Observations

Screenshot of the Loupedeck Configuration App on a Mac

Screenshot of the Loupedeck Configuration App on a Mac

The Loupedeck app only gives you a limited number of customization options at the moment. For the custom dial for example, there are only 6 options to choose from. Given that the Loupedeck only just hit the market, I hope and presume that photo editors will get more options here in the future.

Loupedeck custom dial

Another thing I observed was that the color wheels are very easy to press, which results in their respective values being reset to zero. I accidentally “pressed” those wheels several times during my editing which set me back in my process.

The overall build quality is good, but the unit feels a bit plasticky. Since this is targeted at professionals, I wish the whole unit – including individual dials, wheels and buttons – would have a heavier feel to them and more steps of detail. This is especially true for the large “rotate” wheel. It is not fine enough, rotating your image in rather rough steps. In addition, as mentioned above, the dial and wheel positions don’t provide repeatable input values, which gives the control panel a less “analogue” feel.

However, as a filmmaker who also does photography, my main criticism is that Loupedeck isn’t compatible with other Adobe apps like Adobe Premiere (Lumetri Color panel) or Adobe Speedgrade. These color grading apps for video require some of the same picture adjustments, so Loupedeck would be a perfect companion app and I’m sure they would get even more customers on board. Let’s hope they will open up their software in the future.

All those critical observations aside, the conclusion for my Loupedeck review is still a positive one. Let me tell you why:

Loupedeck Review – Conclusion

Loupedeck Review - Exposure button

Loupedeck is a great photo-editing controller that’s specifically designed for Adobe Lightroom. In my opinion, it’s great because it does just that: give you perfect dedicated controls to better handle Adobe Lightroom. If you’re working with Lightroom professionally, then I’m sure you are aware of how speed and control can be a problem when only using the mouse and keyboard. There are few apps where a dedicated control board can make such an impact on speed and efficiency as with photo editing, where you often have to edit thousands of photos. A few seconds won per photo means hours won in the long run. In my experience, Loupedeck succeeded in giving me more control and a faster workflow.

Loupedeck

But it is not only that. Using Loupedeck to touch the controls that I usually have to slide with my mouse made editing photos a more intuitive experience. Despite some of my critical observations, I highly recommend Loupedeck and I will certainly use it for my own photo work in the future. At this time I believe there is nothing like it and, for a professional, the price of around $300 is certainly not a huge deal. If you can easily afford it, or if you edit a lot of photos professionally, I recommend you try Loupedeck.

I hope you enjoyed my Loupedeck review. If it was helpful to you please consider getting your gear through our links.

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