Loupedeck Photo Editing Console in Adobe Lightroom
The hero of our review today is not an ordinary thing. And the unusualness lies, first of all, in the fact that this is an attempt to embody the interface of one popular program in a physical, real form. In general, such input devices themselves are not new, there are many different keyboards and mixers for musicians and sound engineers, the novelty is that this is the interface of the photo processing program — Adobe Lightroom. Usually, when developing a device, the manufacturer tries to cover the maximum possible audience of the potential application of its interface. The developers of Loupedeck went in a completely different way. This console is designed to work with only one program, but is designed to make working with it as comfortable as possible. It was with this project that the development team from Finland launched a campaign to raise money to start production of the console. Interest in the project was so high that the campaign ended at 488% of the planned budget. Let’s get acquainted with this device and see why it is so interesting.
Like any product that works directly with a computer, Loupedeck has some minimum system requirements to work. Do not be afraid, nothing supernatural is required from your computer — if Adobe Lightroom can already work on it, then there will definitely be no problems with the console. It connects using the very popular USB 2.0 interface. The only thing you need to make sure is that the version of the operating system is included in the list of supported ones. Namely — Windows® 10, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 7 or Mac® OS 10.13, Mac® OS 10.12, Mac® OS 10.11, Mac® OS 10.10. Also keep in mind that Loupedeck only works with Adobe® Lightroom® 6 or Adobe® Lightroom® Classic CC, older versions of Lightroom or Lightroom CC are not supported.
The delivery set is quite typical for any modern device. Only the console itself, a very brief connection manual and a booklet of warnings when working with an electronic device. The box is made in a typical Scandinavian design — black, without drawings, it has only embossed with the name of the console. There is no software included, it will need to be downloaded from the developer’s website.
The software itself does not yet support the Russian language, but it is so well designed visually that there will be no problems with setting up.
The size of the console is typical for a computer keyboard, that is, you can’t call it small, but this is rather a plus — the controls are not small and easy to find blindly.
The bottom of the keyboard is made of silvery plastic, there are rubber feet to prevent slipping. The wire can be brought both to the top of the keyboard and to the side, for this special grooves are laid at the bottom. The top of the console is made of black plastic: unfortunately, the material, although it looks beautiful, is quite easily soiled, and therefore quickly loses its stylish look. All regulators are rubberized and lie well in the hands. Tactile is very pleasant to work on Loupedeck.
But let’s talk more about working with the console. First of all, it should be noted that the console does not completely replace the Adobe Lightroom interface, but its most requested features are presented on Loupedeck.
So, for example, the “Basic” settings panel in Lightroom has been completely transferred, in the form of rotary controls, which are located in the center and right side of the console. All controls are labeled with the same names as the corresponding sliders in Lightroom, and their functionality cannot be changed. If you need to return any parameter to its original state, then just press the control of this parameter. That is, it is not only a rotary control, but also a button. This is a very handy feature that allows you to quickly return the parameters to their original values without looking at the digital values.
Arrow buttons are on the bottom right. They can be used to navigate or move the crop area in Crop mode. Next to the «Zoom» key, to quickly enlarge the photo.
The “Crop/Rotate” tool is presented as a separate, largest rotary encoder. And this is quite logical, horizon correction and image cropping are probably the most commonly used functions. If you need to rotate images, simply turn the slider in the direction you want, and Adobe Lightroom will automatically switch to image rotation mode. After alignment, after a short period of time, Lightroom will exit this mode. If you want to crop the image — you need to first click on the control, and then rotate it. In “Crop” mode, the “P1-P8” programmable buttons switch between different aspect ratios of the cropped image. Unfortunately, in the copy that fell into my hands, this regulator played a little, which somewhat marred the impression.
On the left side there are also the “Undo” and “Redo” buttons, for step-by-step undoing of the performed manipulations or returning the canceled actions, respectively. The “Brush” button turns on the “Ajustment Brush” tool — and here you have to take up the mouse or stylus, because Loupedeck does not provide the functionality of the brush itself, but you can quickly set the parameters of this very brush on the console.
The third and most prominent group of controls is the color adjustment panel, and its functionality corresponds to the “HSL/Color/B&W” panel in Adobe Lightroom. The operation mode of the regulators is selected using the buttons on the left: Hue — hue, Sat — saturation, Lum — brightness. When the appropriate mode is selected, the LED next to it lights up. The LED is very bright and clearly visible, it is quite difficult to confuse the current mode. A little more to the left is the “Clr / BW” button, which switches the processing mode from color to black and white and vice versa. The color channel controls are indicated by small color marks. It will be difficult to see them in the dark, however, this is a problem only at the beginning, during the acquaintance. After a short period of adaptation, work with the console is almost completely blind. Pressing the color channel adjustment wheel, as with all other controls on the console, resets to the initial settings.
Above the color channel controls is a group of programmable buttons “P1-P8”. You can configure them through the control program, but their functionality is limited to using presets, and you cannot assign any other functions to them in Adobe Lightroom.
In the lower left part of the console there is a block of buttons for sorting images. Images can be assigned a star rating or color labels, switching is done using a separate key. The current mode is not displayed in any way on the keyboard itself.
Separate buttons — “Copy” and “Paste” are highlighted for quick copy/paste of settings.
Images can also be marked with flags — the «Pick» button.
In addition to the keys already described, the keyboard has a “Full Screen” button — a quick switch to full screen mode and back. It is very convenient to expand the image to full screen, to enlarge the displayed image, all console controls, while remaining functional
In the upper right corner of Lightroom are the “Before/After” and “Export” buttons. The first is for quick comparison between the original image and the result of manipulations, and the second is for exporting the resulting image. The “Export” button, at the same time, is programmable — you can assign a pre-prepared image export preset to it, with a given format, size and file name.
In addition to all the above controls and keys with specific functionality, Loupedeck has several programmable elements. These are two buttons “C2” and “C3”, as well as a knob “C1”. By default, the knob is set to vignetting, and the buttons switch between library and processing mode (C2) and open the web browser (C3).
Part of the controls can work in an alternative mode — with the “Fn” button pressed, located in the lower left part. The button itself is small, but nevertheless, because of its shape, it is easy to find it blindly. All programmable keys and the C1 knob can work in alternate mode.
In addition to setting the programmable buttons, the console can be configured to adjust the sensitivity of the knobs and the speed at which they change parameters. Thus, you can fine-tune Loupedeck’s controls to suit your preferences and your favorite pace of work.
The created settings can be saved and, as necessary, they can be switched, depending on the nature of the work.
But let’s sum it up. As the practice of use has shown, it is very easy to learn how to work with Loupedeck, and pretty quickly the work goes into blind mode, without looking at the console each time. Due to this, when working with a large number of images, the processing speed can increase significantly. You can generally transfer Adobe Lightroom to full screen mode, thereby clearing the screen of the control interface that is already unnecessary, and editing using only the console. It is very comfortable to work with it, especially since it is made of high quality materials and is very pleasant to the touch. The console is heavy enough not to slip or slide out during use, but not excessively, just right. And although it will not be possible to completely refuse to work with the mouse, alas, since it is not possible to do something using the keyboard (for example, set the white balance at an arbitrary point using the Eyedropper tool), nevertheless, with Loupedeck the main tool control is not the mouse, as is usually the case, but the console. At the same time, it not only pulls the bulk of the functions to itself, but also allows you to focus less on the process of interacting with the Adobe Lightroom interface, leaving more time for creativity. Probably, this is the most important thing in the new instrument.
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