I have to admit, when I first saw the Loupedeck on Indiegogo two years ago, I wrote it off, but after trying it, I now realize just how incredible this piece of hardware can be for photographers.
What Is It?
The Loupedeck+ is a photo-editing "console" (keyboard with knobs) that was created to help you edit photos more quickly. It takes the digital sliders in Lightroom and makes them physical buttons and knobs. In theory, the Loupedeck+ should have everything you need to cull and edit an entire photography job without ever reaching for your keyboard or mouse.
The biggest complaint users had with the original Loupedeck seemed to be surrounding the build quality. I never used the original, so I can't compare it directly, but the version I have, the Loupedeck+, has been significantly improved. Obviously, it's not going to compete with the build of other color control panels, but it's literally 1/50th of the price. The Loupedeck+ is plastic, but it still felt sturdy, similar to any midrange keyboard. Most of the knobs can twist and press in, and the keyboard keys have a satisfying feel.
Setup could not have been easier. After going to Loupedeck's website, downloading the Windows driver, and then plugging it in via USB, the Loupedeck+ just worked. I had no connection issues, no glitches, no complex customizations. You just turn the knobs on the Loupedeck+, and it will change the corresponding settings in Lightroom.
One thing that keeps me from enjoying a lot of new tech is the learning curve. If I have to spend hours, days, or weeks learning something before I can actually start enjoying it, I'm probably just going to give up. I fully expected that to the be case with Loupedeck+, but once again, I was wrong.
I rarely use Lightroom, and I personally have a really hard time finding certain options and settings scattered throughout the menus. The Loupedeck lays everything out right in front of you. Without watching a tutorial or reading a manual, I was using more features in Lightroom via the Loupedeck+ than I ever had with a mouse and keyboard before. Having everything spelled out right in front of you, encourages you to play, test, and learn. If you turn a knob and you don't like the outcome, you can just press the knob in to reset that option back to zero.
After just a couple of minutes, I no longer needed to even look at the develop sliders on the right side of Lightroom, and instead, I focused exclusively on the photo I was editing. After about 15 minutes, I had already memorized where all of my favorite knobs were.
Many of the buttons are also totally customizable. If you want access to a specific slider, you can put it right where you want it. If you have certain photo presets you love, you can always have them one button press away.
There's no doubt that the Loupedeck+ will save you time right out of the box, but if you spend a little extra time learning what every button does and customizing it for your preferences, you'll be able to cut even more time from your edits.
When the Loupedeck first launched, it was $300. Today, you can buy the updated Loupedeck+ for $250. It's certainly not cheap, but it's actually cheaper than I expected something this specialized to be. If you're the type of photographer who could use this, $250 is an extremely small price to pay for the amount of time this thing can save you.
Who Is It For?
If you're a commercial photographer, the Loupedeck+ probably isn't for you. You're most likely using Lightroom to quickly cull and then using Photoshop to edit very small batches of photos using a mouse or tablet. Even though the Loupedeck+ does now work with Photoshop, having another item on your desk might actually slow you down. If, however, you are shooting and delivering large numbers of photos, the Loupedeck+ is definitely for you.
Loupedeck+ also works with Adobe Premiere, and if you find yourself tweaking the color on a bunch of different clips, this could also be a big time-saver for video editors as well.
The biggest group of photographers that could benefit from the Loupedeck+ are wedding photographers. I was a wedding photographer for 12 yearsm and editing was the worst part of the job. The Loupedeck+ would have not only made the editing process more fun, but it would have actually cut my editing time by hours for every single job. I also think that the Loupedeck+ would have inspired me to do a better job editing. Little details like cropping or adding a vignette were just barely annoying enough that I might overlook them unless they were totally necessary. With the physical knobs right there, I'm encouraged to use more of the editing features in Lightroom, because it's so convenient.
If you're a wedding photographer, you should absolutely buy this today, but even if you don't shoot weddings, you still might find tremendous value in this product. If you're the type of photographer who is doing most of your editing in Lightroom, and you need to burn through hundreds or thousands of images as quickly as possible, you're going to love Loupedeck+.