My experience with Loupedeck - the video mixer for Lightroom

The large dial on the controller is for rotating and cropping the photo. If you press the "Fn" key at the same time, you have a particularly fine adjustment.

A few months ago I received the Loupedeck from the manufacturer for a test report. But what is this Loupedeck actually? I already had one a long time ago prior notice about this Lightroom video mixer on my blog and since then this device has also been on my watch list. When the test device finally reached me, I was very excited to see how working with Loupedeck and Lightroom would “feel”.

The packaging of the Loupedeck is very elegant: Here the embossed and silver-plated Loupedeck logo on the outside of the packaging.

The packaging of the Loupedeck is very elegant: Here the embossed and silver-plated Loupedeck logo on the outside of the packaging.

Special keyboard for Adobe Lightroom 6 & CC

If you want to describe Loupedeck briefly to another person, you could call it a "special keyboard for Lightroom". It is more or less a desk that you plug into your Mac via USB (also works on a Windows PC!) And whose operating elements display the virtual Lightroom controls in reality. This means that you can manually adjust the tone value, exposure, white balance, color saturation, contrast, evaluation of the photo and much more directly on buttons and knobs without having to use the computer keyboard or mouse.

The large dial on the controller is for rotating and cropping the photo. If you press the "Fn" key at the same time, you have a particularly fine adjustment.

The large dial on the controller is for rotating and cropping the photo. If you press the "Fn" key at the same time, you have a particularly fine adjustment.

What's the advantage?

It may initially be unclear to the outsider why one would want this at all. I can operate the sliders and functions just as easily with the mouse in Lightroom and for many functions such as "Zoom" or "Fullscreen" there are also keyboard shortcuts that you can learn quickly. That is also correct, but it is difficult to jump back and forth as quickly and operate different controls in parallel, as is the case with the "real" hand and physical knobs. And even if you know keyboard shortcuts like "F" for "fullscreen" and the like, you have to keep looking at the keyboard to hit the right key

This means that Loupedeck shows its strengths above all in situations in which you have to sift through, sort out and edit a lot of photos. In practice, it should be of particular interest to professional photographers who are looking for a brisk workflow: wedding photographers, travel photographers or even journalists who may have tight deadlines.

Loupedeck for private use?

When I speak of professional photographers above, it is for the reason that the costs of just under EUR 250 are more suitable for commercial photographers. Of course you can also buy the Loupedeck privately (I would even recommend it!) To sort and edit your 2000 travel photos from New Zealand, but the price may put some people off.

Here the freshly unpacked Loupedeck. Not only is the pack visually appealing - the device itself is also very pretty in black and silver (photos: Sir Apfelot).

Here the freshly unpacked Loupedeck. Not only is the pack visually appealing - the device itself is also very pretty in black and silver (photos: Sir Apfelot).

Technical structure and compatibility

The technical specifications at Loupedeck are relatively straightforward: It is a desk with a permanently connected USB cable (125 cm) that does not require its own power supply. Instead, it is supplied with power via the USB output. If you plug it into a USB keyboard that also has its own USB output, however, it can happen that there is not enough power available and you will be confronted with an error message. For this reason, the device should be plugged directly into a USB port on the Mac / PC and if necessary. use a USB extensionwhen necessary.

Technical details and compatibility can be found on the packaging.

Technical details and compatibility can be found on the packaging.

Loupedeck and Photoshop, Apple Photos or Premiere?

Who was happy, also Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, Apple Photo, Luminar / Skylum or to control other programs with Loupedeck, which is unfortunately disappointed, because unfortunately only Lightroom is supported here - and that only from version 6 up to CC. The fact that Photoshop cannot be controlled with Loupedeck, for example, is due to the lack of software support for Photoshop itself, according to the manufacturer. For example, there is no such interface in the RAW module that is vital for external USB devices if they are running the program want to control.

Compatibility in a nutshell

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 and CC
  • Microsoft Windows 7 to 10 (Attention: Windows 7 has some error messages (see below))
  • Apple macOS 10.10 to 10.13 (High Sierra)

Processing of the controller

The manufacturing quality of the Loupedeck is quite high. Even if it is ultimately made of plastic, you can't complain about the value. The endless knobs are all comfortable to hold and the buttons are pleasant to press. The only thing I would like is that the clacking noises when pressing the controls are a bit quieter, because in an office with several people the clacking can be a bit annoying to colleagues.

Sure, you could also wish the processing like at Palette Gear is made with metal and plastic, which would of course be a qualitative leap upwards, but then you would surely have to add another few hundred euros, because a pallet gear set that has significantly fewer functions costs more than twice as much as Loupedeck . I prefer to be satisfied with clean plastic production and save a large part of the otherwise necessary budget.

The many knobs and scroll wheels map the most important functions of Lightroom on a special controller, which you can use to work with Lightroom without using a mouse or keyboard.

The many knobs and scroll wheels map the most important functions of Lightroom on a special controller, which you can use to work with Lightroom without using a mouse or keyboard.

Hands on: My experiences

Installation

The experience with a device actually begins with the installation. This is relatively easy to do at Loupedeck. One loads at the manufacturer Down the Dmg-File, open it and copy the Loupedeck.app into the folder "Programs". On the page linked above you can find the Windows and Mac version as well as the documentation (unfortunately only in English), which you should definitely check out.

Simple installation, as is often the case on the Mac: Drag the app into the "Program" or "Applications" folder ... that's it!

Simple installation, as is often the case on the Mac: Drag the app into the "Program" or "Applications" folder ... that's it!

When you start the app, you will be guided through an assistant (only when you start it for the first time), which also calls up Lightroom and shows the Loupedeck settings in just a few steps. Basically, you don't have to do anything here, because the standard assignment is well thought out and should be suitable for most people.

Edit photos with the Lightroom controller

For my first test, I opened a batch with a good 200 photos in Lightroom. These were recordings that I took with the drone for a customer of his construction site. This amount of photos is taken every few weeks because the customer wants construction progress documentation for his construction site. That means I can "struggle" with several hundred photos every few weeks, all of which have to be looked through, sorted out and edited. Each time a work of 2 to 3 hours.

This graphic shows nicely the structure and the controls of the Lightroom controller. What the individual controls do, I explain below in the text.

This graphic shows nicely the structure and the controls of the Lightroom controller. What the individual controls do, I explain below in the text.

 

These explanations from the Loupedeck documentation explain the functions of the control elements marked in the graphic above.

These explanations from the Loupedeck documentation explain the functions of the control elements marked in the graphic above.

The first overview of the possibilities

After importing all of the photos into Lightroom, I first had to get an overview of the Loupedeck knobs and controls - and that's a lot, really. The range is extensive and I would like to briefly introduce it here so that people who are looking for a certain function also know whether it is available via Loupedeck or not:

Button are available for Undo, Reno, Brush, toggling between star rating / color, rating asterisk (1-5 stars) or color, copy, paste, pick, zoom, fullscreen, color / black-white, hue, saturation, luminance, before / After, export and cursor keys (up, down, left, right).

knobsthat also have a button function are available for controller C1 (freely definable), Contrast, Clarity, Exposure, Shadows, Highlights, Blacks, Whites, White Balance, Tint, Vibrance, Saturation. You can also press all of these controls to reset the setting of the corresponding control to zero.

Then there is another large rotary control, which is responsible for the alignment of the horizon or the rotation of the photo and the cropping (Rotate / Crop).

In the upper area are still more scroll wheelsthat are responsible for the individual color areas. You can use this if you want to carry out detailed color corrections. Using the buttons next to it, you can select the tabs "Hue", "Saturation" or "Luminance" in which the color corrections should take place.

You can already see that Loupedeck was actually developed to enable working without a keyboard and mouse. You can only use the mouse if you want to do retouching or local corrections to a photo.

A number of buttons and controls can be individually assigned functions using the configuration wizard.

A number of buttons and controls can be individually assigned functions using the configuration wizard.

Loupedeck in practice

At first I was a little disappointed that I couldn't use Loupedeck with Photoshop. However, it quickly became clear to me that the editing of individual photos is less of the scope of the Lightroom controller. Of course, it would be fine to have compatibility here as well, but the main area of ​​application of Loupedeck is the time savings that can be achieved by quickly editing many photos.

Select photos quickly

Just looking through many photos and sorting out and rating the photos with the buttons for the rating stars is great. With two hands on the desk to operate right, left, zoom and the rating stars, you can sort hundreds of photos in no time at all. Here alone I only need half the time for the 200 photos, as I can always quickly check the sharpness with the zoom button and then assign the rating stars directly.

Copy & paste function is currently only conditionally recommended

The two buttons Copy and Paste are also helpful at first glance, as they allow you to copy the development settings from one photo to another, but a bit of caution is advised here.

Unfortunately, Loupedeck's copy and paste buttons do not yet offer a selection of the settings to be copied, such as the corresponding Lightroom function - a point of criticism that will hopefully soon be a thing of the past with a software update.

Unfortunately, Loupedeck's copy and paste buttons do not yet offer a selection of the settings to be copied, such as the corresponding Lightroom function - a point of criticism that will hopefully soon be a thing of the past with a software update.

In contrast to the Lightroom function "Copy settings", which you can call up with the right mouse button by clicking on a photo, when you click on the "Copy" button of Loupedeck you unfortunately do not get a selection option via which you could specify which one Elements are to be adopted. In my case, for example, a vignetting was adopted from a photo that I did not want on the target photo.

Even with lens corrections, local adjustments and transformations, this "complete copy and paste" makes no sense. I hope the Loupedeck software department is still improving this.

Secondary functions by "Fn" key

The "Fn" key brings additional functions into play for many controllers. Here it is advisable to read the documentation, in which the control units are also explained with the extended function with "Fn". As an example: If you press the 5-star key AND "Fn", all photos in the photo bar are filtered so that only those with 5 stars are displayed. All in all, this button expands the possibilities when working with Loupedeck enormously.

Editing photos with Lightroom in the background

What is surely only a minor matter, which I still don't want to leave unmentioned, is the possibility that you can use Loupedeck to make changes to photos while the Lightroom window is in the background. That means, for example, I have opened a browser window in Safari in the foreground and my Lightroom window is inactive to the side in the background and still the changes I make to the controls are displayed in the inactive Lightroom window. This would not be possible when using the mouse and keyboard, since you can only make changes in the active program under macOS.

Short acclimatization period

After switching from mouse-keyboard operation to Loupedeck, I first thought that it would be a long process of getting used to it. Since the Lightroom operation with real buttons and controls is very intuitive and pleasant, you can work with the Lightroom controller after a short learning phase. You are surprised how well you can find your way around the device, which is not least due to the well thought-out arrangement of the controls.

Categorizing and viewing photos is extremely quick with the help of the cursor keys and the zoom key, as well as the rating keys.

Categorizing and viewing photos is extremely easy with the help of the cursor keys and the zoom key, as well as the rating keys.

My conclusion on the Loupedeck

I can actually recommend this device to anyone who frequently has to edit large amounts of photos with Lightroom. If you don't really like automatic image optimizers like Photolemur and prefer to make the settings yourself, you should treat yourself to the Loupedeck. At first it cost well over 300 euros, but now you can get it for 249 EUR on Amazon.

I find the good workmanship, the simple installation and operation as well as the enormous possibilities that it also offers for individual needs positive. The many freely definable setting options should actually make every photographer happy.

I think it's a bit of a shame that the copy & paste function is only of limited use. I hope the manufacturer will improve this with the software so that you can specify which settings should be copied. Otherwise, I can't say anything negative about this handy Lightroom helper.

Criticisms on Amazon - often incomprehensible

With every product test I usually read the customer ratings on Amazon. These often give me information on which critical points I should pay attention to with a product and with which aspects other users have problems. In order to list these assessments of other people, I have put together the most important points of criticism and my opinion on them.

Keys are not sensitive enough

I was able to find a critical review on Amazon in which a user wrote that the Loupedeck would not accept the inputs on the cursor keys if they were not hit exactly in the middle. I can't understand that at all. I only pressed the edge of the keys and the inputs were always taken. Only when my fingertip was down more than 70% of the key did one or the other button get lost. I would say that is perfectly normal. I would even have expected that the entries would not arrive much earlier. From my point of view, there is nothing to complain about the sensitivity of the keys.

Loupedeck received mixed reviews on Amazon. In my opinion, wrongly, because many 1-star ratings are related to Windows 7 and others criticize points that I cannot understand.

Loupedeck received mixed reviews on Amazon. In my opinion, wrongly, because many 1-star ratings are related to Windows 7 and others criticize points that I cannot understand.

Marginalized needs

Other criticisms, such as that you can either assign stars OR colors, are not decisive for my workflow. Most photographers use either a color system or a star system, but rarely do both in one go. You can also quickly switch between "assign color" and "assign stars" with a button, but that was too cumbersome for the respective user. I think Loupedeck made the right decision here and didn't put more buttons on the deck. You can't please everyone, but you can please the majority.

Chaotic arrangement of the controls

Another point of criticism from one user was that, in his opinion, the controls are "confused" on the device. They should be more in the form of Lightroom attached. From my point of view, this is total nonsense. The fact that the elements are by no means "confused" can be seen from the graphic above, which shows the structure of the Loupedeck.

And the requirement that it should be made according to the specifications of the Lightroom user interface is also very nonsensical. Lightroom works with a vertical bar that also has several tabs. How should this be physically mapped onto a desk with an external device? I think everything is right the way it is.

You can put the Loupedeck in front of or behind the keyboard and then you still have access to the mouse and keyboard if you have to switch to other programs.

In the upper area of ​​the mixer you will find the scroll wheels for detailed color corrections as well as the freely programmable buttons - what is supposed to be "confused" about the structure of the control elements, I can't understand with the best will in the world.

In the upper area of ​​the mixer you will find the scroll wheels for detailed color corrections as well as the freely programmable buttons - what is supposed to be "confused" about the structure of the control elements, I can't understand with the best will in the world.

Error messages and Windows 7 drivers

"Error message when starting without Loupedeck". That is another review that I read. Of course, I couldn't adjust this on my Mac. It seems to affect some Windows 7 installations here. I don't have an error on my MacBook Pro with High Sierra after booting the Mac or after starting Lightroom if I don't have a Loupedeck connected.

Overall, working with Windows 7 seems to cause problems for some users. Here the drivers are probably the triggers for various errors:

  • A user has to uninstall and reinstall the Loupedeck drivers after every reboot of the PC in order for it to work.
  • Another user complains of error messages if he does not close all other Adobe programs except for Lightroom.
  • Another reports that he gets an error message when he starts his PC without Loupedeck.

If you do not work with a Mac, Windows 8 or 10, but want to operate Loupedeck under Windows 7, you should see whether the above-mentioned problems occur with you. Apparently there is no fuss with the other operating systems.

Source of supply: Purchase on Amazon

As already mentioned, there is Loupedeck for just under 250 euros at the large online department store Amazon. I haven't found it at this price yet.

Loupedeck controller for Lightroom
With this special USB controller, the main setting options of Adobe Lightroom can be done by hand without a mouse and keyboard.
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