Loupedeck+ is the ultimate tool for digital photo fans

I’m an avid photo taker with both with my smartphone and mirrorless cameras, taking hundreds of photos each week.

I shoot in RAW on my cameras and post process all of the photos I take using Adobe Lightroom.

Sometimes I will do final tweaks in PhotoShop, depending on the image, where some dodge and burn are required for example, so 99% of my time is spent in Lightroom.

I both love and hate Lightroom. It has an incredible amount of power to bring a RAW file from a flat looking image to a picture that is full of life and just pops out of the screen.

RAW files are what the camera captures from the sensor with no processing applied including, sharpness, colour profiles, white balance, noise reduction and so on.

The RAW file will look flat because it contains all the data that the sensor captured and it allows you to restore incredible details from shadows and highlights.

However, this also means that you have to spend time on each image tweaking all of these parameters in software like Lightroom, Camera RAW in PhotoShop or software like Capture One.

A lot of people just use the jpegs straight out of camera, which looks great from most modern cameras, but only saving the jpeg from the camera means you won’t be able to see the full potential of an image, because the camera’s processor has automatically applied a profile and presented you with the final product that provides you with little wiggle room for further tweaking.

Loupdeck+ is the ideal design for digital photo editing, smaller than a full-size keyboard with a dedicated button for every task.
Loupdeck+ is the ideal design for digital photo editing, smaller than a full-size keyboard with a dedicated button for every task.

We buy these amazing camera systems for their RAW power and dynamic range, so if you want to get the most from them, save in both RAW and jpeg.

Pushing and pulling the myriad of sliders in Lightroom is a pain, literally.

I find myself in front of a screen processing images for hours at a time and I get pains in my hands from just using the mouse to push a tiny slider a little left, oh no, too much, a little right.

There must be a better way.

Well, there is and recently I’ve been testing a dedicated keyboard that is designed for Lightroom and other software, that makes using it not only quicker, with less stress on my body, but more enjoyable too.

The Loupedeck+ is a little smaller than a full-size keyboard, but instead of keys, it has lots of knobs that can turn and be pushed down, custom buttons and rollable dials all of which can be pushed down to reset any adjustments.

I realise this is a very specialised accessory, but talk about the right tool for the job.

My first time using the Loopdeck+ was a little daunting because I had to keep looking down at it to see where everything was.

However, within a very short time, I felt like I was able to find my way around and could quickly see the benefits this marvelous piece of technology has to offer.

Most of the keys, knobs, and dial are labeled and make it obvious what their default mapping is to a particular function in Lightroom.

The main turnable knobs are for Contrast, Clarity, Shadows, Highlights, Exposure, Blacks, Whites, Temperature, Tint, Vibrance, Saturation and a very large Control dial used for cropping and rotating images.

There are three buttons for Hue, Saturation and Luminance with eight colour dials for adjusting specific colours.

Above these are small custom buttons that by default load presets. You also have dedicated buttons for Undo, Redo, Colour/BW, Copy, Paste, Before/After, Screen Mode and Export.

There are then an additional six smaller custom buttons as well as two custom dials. If you press the Custom Mode button then you can change the functions of 11 of the control dial knobs.

It’s just bonkers how much customisability you have, but as an avid Lightroom user, I found myself using them all.

My only difficulty was remembering what everything did, but after a couple of weeks of using the Loupedeck+ and thousands of images later, I managed to fine-tune my custom buttons could easily find my way around with speed.

The rotate/crop dial is a gift and makes straightening things like horizons painless. While in crop mode, the p1-p8 custom buttons become preset aspect ratios like 8x5 or 4x6.

Hold down the Fn button while turning the Control Dial and you get a smooth turning of your crop. Leave it off and it will turn the crop in large degree increments.

If your workflow involves flagging, you can toggle between the colour and star method. The color and flag keys used for culling images also double as a “keyboard mode”.

Holding Fn and tapping the button to toggle between star and color labels turns those five buttons into shift, control, command, alt, and tab keys like those on a standard keyboard.

One of the features I didn’t use that often in Lightroom is the HSL or colour sliders.

However, the Loupedeck+ has them laid out for you and makes using them far more intuitive.

If you have an image where the overall colour is what you want but you just want to tone down the blue sky, simply adjust the blue saturation dial.

The Lightroom interface is fairly cluttered with panels and sliders, but with the Loupedeck+ you can view your image in full screen and still adjust all of the settings as you don’t need to see the sliders to adjust them.

However, if you like to see the values, as you adjust a slider Lightroom will instantly show that panel and the slider moving as you adjust it on the Loupedeck+.

One of my favourite features in the Loupedeck+ is that you can reset any of your settings by pressing down on any of the dials.

So, if you went too far on say the exposure, press the exposure dial and it will reset it to zero. This is something I do a lot and is so much quicker than using a mouse and keyboard.

The overall construction of the Loupedeck+ feels sturdy and robust. It is a USB only device, so no wireless option.

I only used it with Adobe Lightroom, but it is compatible with Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Audition, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Aurora HDR and Capture One.

For anyone who uses Lightroom regularly and especially those who use it for a living, the Loupdeck+ is a gift.

It has made using Lightroom less of a pain for me physically, and expanded its use as well and making the entire workflow measureable faster.

Loupedeck+ is available from www.barkerphotographic.ie, €225, or amazon.co.uk, £199.

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