REVIEW: Loupedeck Photo Editing Console and Lightroom Keyboard
As professional photographers who probably spend more time culling and editing photos than actually taking them, Loupedeck provides a valuable hardware tool that helps speed up the photo editing process.
During our first year of operation as a photography business, one of the toughest things to accept was just how much time we would be spending in front of our computer screens editing photos. While we use top of the line photo editing software - namely Adobe Lightroom for 99% of our work - it can become an arduous task to commit to editing through hundreds, if not thousands, of photos in a sitting.
One of the issues we started to encounter was how moving from slider to slider to adjust every single thing in these software programs is time consuming. At first glance, it's not even really noticeable, but as we began to spend countless hours editing - after coming home from long work days at our day jobs - for months on end, we started looking into alternatives.
Enter: The Loupedeck
I simple search online turned up just a few products designed around providing an analog controller for photo editing. The Loupedeck was easily the most appealing.
The layout of the controls and nice design was far more sensible than the modular controllers we looked into like the Pallette Gear Expert Kit. The $300 price tag, while high, is competitive with other options out there - and probably dictated by the simple that that this product is really only being marketed towards people who spend a lot of time editing photos. We were fortunate to grab one during a Black Friday sale for $220, but if you can't wait for a sale to come around, the Loupedeck is worth its full cost for sure.
The Loupedeck Specs & WHAT IT OFFERS
Before we get into detail about the practical use for the Loupedeck in our photography editing workflow, we want to provide some basic information about the specs and little things you should know about the device from a technical standpoint. We will keep this brief as we know this can be a little painful :)
Put simply: the Loupedeck is a plug-and-play USB controller for editing photos in and Lightroom 6 and Lightroom Classic. In essence, it has the same functionality as a mouse that you would plug into your computer - very simple to use. Initially, you will need to install some small files via Loupedeck's Setup Page in order to get it to sync with Lightroom, but this takes all of 5 minutes to get going. You will want to be sure you are running an OS that will work with this as well before buying: Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 as well as Apple OS X. We use it on MacOS Sierra, and have no problems at all.
The actual device is fairly straightforward in what it offers the user. Named buttons and knobs directly impact their respective settings on the image you are editing, such as Exposure, Blacks, Whites, White Balance, Tint, all of the colors and their hue, saturation, and luminance sliders. Other buttons are configurable and allow you to allocate different functions in Lightroom that would benefit your workflow. The extra knob (that stores data for C1, C2, and C3) that can be configured is especially useful for us, as we can add other values we commonly use like Light, Dark, and Grain. Some buttons can be used to map presets, give star ratings, undo/redo, and view before/after versions of the image you are editing. There is a lot of power built into this little device.
If it's not obvious, the Loupedeck doesn't house all sliders and functions in Lightroom. It provides enough flexibility to eliminate the need for a mouse in most cases, though it will be necessary to use in conjunction with your mouse and keyboard from time to time. Most specifically for us, this occurs when cropping an image, as there is no way to control the crop box positioning or amount. This is fairly minimal, but worth mentioning.
How does the Loupedeck work for us?
Now, time for the most important part of our review of the Loupedeck photo editing console.
Our main reasons for buying the Loupedeck were the following:
- Speed up our photo editing process
- Eliminate the hand/wrist pain that comes from long photo editing sessions
The Loupedeck has met our needs for both of these criteria.
It was amazing how intuitive the layout of the Loupedeck is, and how within minutes of using it, it was providing a noticeable benefit - both to our editing speed, as well as the aforementioned potential for hand pain.
We were able to load up some of our Iceland photos we were in the middle of editing, and start playing around. Having the option to put Lightroom into full screen mode and edit on the console exclusively was a really cool change of pace, and allowed us to make total use of our large iMac screen.
It's funny, because it feels like there should be a whole lot to say about the Loupedeck, but there really isn't! It is one of those products that is really best to try yourself - as soon as you put your hands on it, everything just clicks and you can see the benefit for yourself.
Our Standard Photo Editing Workflow + The Loupedeck
We would consider our Lightroom photo editing workflow to be fairly simple when it comes to our engagement sessions and weddings that we edit throughout the year. Our process looks like this:
- Cull all photos we take down to the best - usually done outside of Lightroom except for very small sessions.
- Import photos into Lightroom.
- Begin editing photos one by one - we start by applying a preset, and fine tuning to meet our stylistic needs.
- The Loupedeck helps speed up this process of fine tuning for us.
- The Loupedeck has a built in function to copy the current image settings, and paste onto other photos. This works best for us for photos in the same location, and that are shot in sequence.
- While going through the photos, we like to 5 star those that we consider "the best of the best" so as to streamline our editing process further. It can sometimes be hard to weed out all unneeded photos while culling (because we don't want to miss out on something), but using the ratings function allows us to sort photos quickly.
- The Loupedeck has star ratings (as well as color ratings) built in - which is as easy as using the respective number keys on the keyboard to rate.
- Once we process every 5 star photo, we go back through and re-edit. We do this until we're happy with this results!
- Here again: The Loupedeck is an invaluable part of this workflow as we refine our edits.
- Usually within a day or two of every shoot, we offer a sneak peak to our clients on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.
- The Loupedeck's Export function allows us to quickly export a few specific images we'd like to share.
The Loupedeck fits naturally into our already established photo editing workflow.
While we don't have any hard numbers, it is apparent to us that this photo editing controller is helping to speed up our editing time.
In a lot of ways, it helps to reduce small amounts of time you would spend scrolling and looking for a specific slider (we always get lost going from changing White Balance to turning Grain on/off because we never seem to find it in the regular Lightroom application).
Additionally, just having a different platform for controlling Lightroom has opened up some new inspiration in us - sort of like how a guitar player might feel newly inspired when trying out a cool new guitar for the first time. At the end of the day, we are fundamentally doing the same thing - editing photos - but the process just feels tighter, more refined, and funner even when we've editing easily 20,000 photos this year.
The Loupedeck is an easy purchase for us. It suits our photo editing needs perfectly. We use it every time we edit photos now, and would highly recommend you look into owning one yourself. This is particularly true if you are editing through a ton of photos like we do.
If you would like to learn more about the Loupedeck or purchase, please consider using our Amazon referral links (found throughout this post) as we receive a small commission from each purchase (at no cost to you), which we utilize to grow our business and take our photography to the next level. This review is not sponsored or paid for. Hand and Arrow Photography Co. only supports products we actually use and benefit from - the Loupedeck being one of them!!