When it comes to editing, saving time is always part of my thought process. I want to deliver the best results in as little time as possible. The Loupedeck CT helps me do that without any sacrifices.
Normally, when you want to save time in the editing process, you need to make sacrifices in the way you do things. For example, if I want to clone out an element from an image, I get the best results if I take the file into Photoshop. But the Lightroom clone stamp tool does a decent job, and I save significant time if I skip the process of opening Photoshop, editing, saving, and then loading back into Lightroom. So, while this may be a small sacrifice in quality, for me, it saves enough time to justify doing it in Lightroom so long as the results are passable.
After enough time editing and fine-tuning your process, you come to a point where you have made all the sacrifices you are willing to make to save time while still maintaining your desired quality. That’s where the Loupedeck CT comes in. This external device gives you access to all the tools and functions you need to edit in a simple and practical layout.
There are six dials that let you control any slider within Lightroom. Each dial can also be pressed like a button. This allows you to assign certain functions to these buttons. The way they come at default is the dial will control the slider, and the press of the dial will reset that slider to zero. Aside from the dials, there are 12 touchscreen buttons that can be assigned to any desired function — things like opening the brush tool, crop tool, and copy and pasting settings. You can even do things that you can’t traditionally do with Lightroom shortcuts like apply any desired preset with the touch of a button.
As for the touchscreen buttons, these can also have numerous pages associated with them. So, I can have my HSL adjustments tied to the dials and then swipe up or down to access different colors. The main screen of touch buttons is also independent of the dual touchscreens, so I can have different pages open for the dials while still having my main screen for the buttons.
Where this all gets tied up into a neat little bow is when we start talking about the workspaces. There is a set of circular buttons along the bottom of the screen with numbers on them. These are how you can move from one workspace to another. So, for example, I have a workspace set for culling. When I press this workspace button, it automatically switches me to the library module and has my dials and buttons set the way I want them for when I cull.
When I press the workspace two button, it switches me to my basic editing setup and automatically switches me to the develop module. I have dials for all my basic adjustments and tools I want easy access to. When I want more control over certain things, I can either create a new page of buttons or I can create a new workspace.
As an example, I have a workspace for basic editing and then a workspace for color adjustments. When I’m on the color adjustment workspace, I can swipe from screen to screen on the dials in order to access different colors. When I switch to this color workspace, my touch buttons also change to my desired setup. When I’m done, I can press the one button to get back to my basic editing setup. These workspaces are also program-specific. So, you can have a set of workspaces and pages set up for Lightroom, then when you change to Photoshop, the device will recognize that and automatically show you the workspaces for that program.
Another great thing about this device is that it can work with multiple applications. It has integrated support with multiple programs (such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, etc.), which means it offers things that the program's standard shortcut keys can’t offer (such as applying presets). But it also has the ability to map shortcut keys to any button, making it possible to use it with any program. But when using a supported program, you’ll get things like pre-setup workspaces and pages to use and modify instead of starting from a blank slate.
Now that you all know just how amazing this thing really is to use, let’s talk about the build. This thing feels solid. It has a quality weight, and the dials and buttons have a very clean feel. The smaller dials have a nice yet silent click when you turn to give you feedback, while the large dial on the bottom has a smooth gliding feel. Because of this, I have opted to use a smaller dial when switching from image to image rather than defaulting to the stock setup of using the large dial. When I’m culling quickly, I love the physical feedback of knowing I’ve only gone forward by one image. With the larger dial, I found myself skipping images and stepping forward to fast. But this will just be a personal preference.
The best thing about the device build in comparison to the competition is the size. This thing is about the size of two cell phones stacked side by side, making it something you can easily fit into a computer bag.
One thing you will also notice is that the device has Bluetooth built in. Unfortunately, this is a feature that will only be supported in the future via a software update. It’s also still not clear how the device will work when Bluetooth is enabled, since the CT gets its power from a USB-C cable. So, maybe they will offer a type of battery pack, but that’s still not clear.
What I Liked
- Amazing customizations and ease of use
- Small and compact
- Quality build
What I Didn't Like
- No integrated support for Capture One (which is confusing since the older models have it)
- I wish there was a way to select brush presets (I’ve been told it’s on their list, but nothing is guaranteed)
- The price is high ($550), but if you edit a lot, the time savings make it worth it
Right out of the box, the Loupedeck CT will speed up your workflow. The simple fact of not having to constantly move your mouse around the screen will save you time. The hardest part about using the Loupedeck CT, though, is figuring out how you want to use it and how best to optimize the various ways to configure it. But once you get dialed in across your various applications, you’ll be able to cruise through your edits. Right now, I can almost edit an entire shoot with the use of two dials and my mouse. And I only need my mouse for things like brushing and applying gradients. So, if you are looking for something to speed up your workflow, the Loupedeck CT should be high up on your list.