Why the Loupedeck CT Is My New Must-Have Editing Tool

Why the Loupedeck CT Is My New Must-Have Editing Tool

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. 

The Build 

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  

Conclusion

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. 

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18 Comments

Matt Williams's picture

Oh great. Now I just have to try this.

I've used pretty much all the consoles under $600, including the Loupedeck+. My favorite, which is what I still use, is the Tourbox. Great price, tons of controls that are different shapes and sizes (unlike some others out there *cough* Contour). I have a few issues with it - the two dials have zero resistance or haptic feedback, they feel cheap as hell (which is strange given the overall great build quality), and most irritatingly, if you have an action set to double-clicking, the thing recognizes a double-click as two single-clicks about half the time. It's way too sensitive. And none of the buttons are labeled, nor is there room to put sticker labels on it, though conversely that's one reason it's so compact.

This is larger but I love the dedicated "undo" "save" "Ctrl" "alt" etc keys. And then the customizability. Looks amazing and seems like it has better build quality than the Loupedeck+.

Not sure how I can resist getting one to try. Do you know if it has ACR support? It may not have a pre-built profile for it (my Tourbox didn't), but as long as I can customize the functions to work with ACR like I did the Tourbox, it's all good. I change most of the functions on these things anyway.

Thanks for the review.

C A's picture

As long as ACR provides a keyboard shortcut, you can configure the CT to use it. The dials are configured with two keyboard shortcuts (decreasing a value vs increasing a value) so even those can have a function.

C A's picture

There is a profile called "Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw".
https://loupedeck.com/en/products/loupedeck-ct
This may do what you want from it.

Jason Berge's picture

No C1 support, no sale.

Jason Berge's picture

No not really, it is very much "in Beta" and has been for a very long time.

Not really usable for serious work. OK I guess if you are just putzing around, but not useful for a working pro, when people are counting on you, and paying for your time, Beta support just doesn't cut it. Sorry.

Matt M's picture

"Quality build" yeah right. My Fn key broke off within a day of owning one. It's the cheapest plastic I've ever seen.

Stuart Carver's picture

Course it did

Jason Vinson's picture

They had a bad batch early on in production. Contact support

Philipp Scholz's picture

Usually I don't comment but this device and its reception is quite interesting to me.
When it was announced I was really happy, mostly because I like gadgets and devices like this and was always somewhot envious of my music producing friends with all their cool hardware with colorful displays and buttons and knobs :D

Now it's here and I saw a video of Ben Marriott, a motion designer on YouTube, who was very happy with it and explained why the CT was so great. (https://youtu.be/StCa4lVfO_8)
Since I am a motion designer by trade as well the way he detailed the features and how he uses them seemed really intriguing and made a mental note to keep an eye on the CT and maaaaaaybeee get one someday.

Just a couple of days later YouTube suggested a review of Short Circuit and he more or less just shredded the device, mostly criticising the software. (https://youtu.be/XI3MCihPpj8)

I immediately checked when the videos were uploaded (maybe there was a firmware update in between?) but both were released within a couple of days.

And now I am sitting here wondering how this one device and its software can spawn such a wide field of vastly different opinions =D
Sure, Ben might be more on the """influencer""" side, so maybe his opinions shouldn't be trusted.
Then again he doesn't seem to be that kind of a guy.
Or maybe the gentlemen from Short Circuit just has a total different use case and judges the CT on a different scale.
But that ALSO doesn't seem to be the case from the snippets he showed.

Long story short: it is a fascinating device, I am still at least somewhat interested in it and I still might want one (if the price drops a bit).

Stuart Carver's picture

First Man Photography on Youtube made a good video about it, its not cheap but definitely looks like a great addition to your workflow, tactile buttons and dials are far better than mouse clicks etc on anything.

Tovi Andurrson's picture

Like this article and all those 'positive' youtube reviews, it was sent out for free and in some cases with a check to do a review. So you are seeing so many reviews because they have been paid to do so (getting products for free is still payment) which is why so many YouTubers have a website to sell 'their' gear.

C A's picture

The software needs a bit of work, but not that much. I understand that there will be another update soon that will address many of the concerns that Short Circuit raised.
Yes, I agree that many "reviews" are too positive, failing to point out room for improvement. On the other hand, the hardware has great potential and I'm very hopeful that future software updates will get the CT closer and closer to that potential.

Stuart Carver's picture

There is Capture One support for the CT now. Been out for a few months.

https://loupedeck.com/en/software/capture-one-pro

Jason Vinson's picture

Ah I didn't realize it had a workaround released! But it does say in that link that it is being down without C1 API support. But definitely giving this a try! Thanks ☺

Jason Vinson's picture

ya functionality is super limited. Not even a way to apply a preset or style.

Stuart Carver's picture

Yeah its in beta stage atm i think...it does say further down the page that they have provided an extended plugin profile to make it a bit better... i dont own one so cant try it but see what you think of it with that.

C A's picture

I don't agree with "super limited". If C1 offers a keyboard shortcut, one can configure the CT to use it, either by starting with one's own profile or by adding to the existing "Capture One Extended Plugin". I created my own profile and it can do a ton of stuff in C1. As the dials translate to keyboard shortcuts as well, one can support many, may adjustments with these dials (by switching their functions through workspace changes or simply through changing the dial definitions via actions).

I never noticed, because I don't use presets, but apparently the latter are not supported with keyboard shortcuts in C1. That's is the exception, though, rather than the rule. There are a ton of keyboard shortcuts in C1 that aren't mapped to keys yet per default. After assigning keys to them (can be complicated combinations of modifiers because one never has to invoke them on the keyboard), the CT can use them.

I think it is really misleading to say "not even a way to apply a preset or style" because so much else works.

Without API support by C1 and/or further special plugin support by Loupedeck there will always be some limitations but the CT is super useful in combination with C1 as it is already.