So, the Loupedeck looks great, seems to be well made and the layout is intuitive.
But what about how it functions? The reason people will look to buy a Loupedeck is to create a quicker and more comfortable workflow. Is the Loupedeck a triumph? Let’s address these questions, starting with the Loupedeck’s responsiveness.
When a dial is rotated/ button pressed, the changes happen virtually immediately much in the same way as the keyboard/ mouse/ trackpad. That’s the first test passed.
Once a control is operated, Lightroom jumps to the display of that edit in the develop panel, for example the exposure slider, so the user can monitor the edits being made. This is a time saver when compared to navigating up and down the controls in develop panel using the cursor.
How about the feel of the controls? The most commonly used controls are likely the dials for functions such as exposure, shadows and highlights. These dials feel great in the hand.
For minor adjustments the dials work perfectly. It’s so easy to make those little adjustments, more so than clicking and dragging a mouse or trackpad.
On the flip side, the rotation could feel smoother. Plus, if you want to make extreme changes to a slider, for example pushing the shadows all the way to +100, the dial takes a few rotations to get there.
This rotation action gets a little repetitive after a while. In one sense, it’s trading the repetitive mouse/ trackpad clicking action for a rotating one.
Hopefully you won’t need to make extreme adjustments too often, but the process is slow if you need to. Handily though, each of the dials can be pushed down till they click, at which point the values of the edit are reset.
We tried the same edits with the Loupedeck dials and then by navigating the cursor and making the edits using a mouse. We’re not entirely convinced that for solo adjustments the Loupedeck dials are any quicker. It’s the navigation between controls where Loupedeck triumphs.
We would love to see an intelligent dial control that correlates to the speed at which you turn the dial. For instance, a quick turn = bigger changes. This would further speed up workflow changes.
In theory it is possible to improve the functionality of the dials in this way because we see it happening on another Loupedeck control - the lovely rotate/ crop dial.
The rotate/ crop dial is the big beast on the Loupedeck and handles beautifully. We often find image rotation and cropping a fiddly business with a mouse, but not so with this. By pressing down the Fn button while rotating the rotate/ crop dial, even more precise adjustments are made.
We’d love to see this feature rolled out to the other dials too - holding down the Fn button for precise adjustments, or more extreme ones.
The last set of controls to comment on are the buttons/ keys. We’re actually a little disappointed how ‘clicky’ the keys are and how firm a push they need. On a device that costs £325, we’d expect beautifully dampened keys that need but a tickle to operate. They are not bad per se, just could be better. The group of 8 wheels underneath the P1 - P8 buttons show the way - they feel lovely.
We spent a good while becoming familiar with the Loupedeck, playing around with individual adjustments and then decided to move on to an editing job.
Before we start, note that it is of course possible to make a preset ‘Filter' that is applied to all images in the import. By and large, a Lightroom workflow consists of those individual adjustments from the foundation of a user preset.
We worked quickly through a folder of images using the Loupedeck and then repeated the process the old way with keyboard and mouse/ trackpad. What was the experience like? Which was quicker?
Once in the flow of things, the Loupedeck dials are great and we did begin to notice that they are kinder to the hand than when using the mouse. If the edits to an image are entirely catered for by the Loupedeck, then it is the victor.
However, the Loupedeck cannot adjust all the edits that we regularly make, for example the cursor control and the lens corrections parameters, at which point the keyboard/ mouse takes over.
That said, base corrections can be made one time using the mouse and then the settings copied and pasted to all other images - there are copy and paste buttons for that on the Loupedeck. (There are keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste too, so no real time saved there.)
All in all, the Loupedeck is a tough product to really judge.
Will it replace the keyboard and mouse? No.
Does it compliment the keyboard and mouse? Yes.
Is it a godsend for Lightroom users? No.
Does it enhance the editing experience? Yes.