When the original Loupedeck was released, it got a mix of reviews but a lot of hype. When the Loupedeck+ was released, the community even more delighted. It was a big departure from the original. So, I hopped on the hype train and bought the Loupedeck+, just a few months after the release. Having used it to edit events, fashion, portraits, and everything in-between, here are my thoughts.
The hype for the original Finnish startup that Loupedeck was, gave them great crowdfunding earning of 488% above requested. The device sounded promising and innovative. Upon launch, the original Loupedeck delivered tactile editing controls — think of a mixing deck for DJs. And for people who, like DJs need controls at their hands that instant, the Loupedeck+ is a great tool. I stood in that category, I was the “guy with a camera who does everything.” Shooting events was a huge stream of income, and much like a DJ, I wanted quick control. With lots of files to process and edit, I noticed the speed and quality improvement.
The Loupedeck+ comes in very nice packaging, so if you’re into that you won’t be disappointed. For the ones interested in the device, the Loupedeck+ is built to last, and if you don’t spill coffee on it, it will. The material is plastic, but for a keyboard, nothing out of the ordinary. Having used it on location, it takes a nice spot on the digital tech station. It’s not too different from a regular keyboard when it comes to size, a lot thicker though. The weight is just right, and it sits very well on the desk. I can’t do anything but praise Loupedeck’s build quality.
The dials are well made and I don’t see them breaking anytime soon. The distance between the dials is quite small, so if you’re clumsy with your fingers that may be a problem. The dials also don’t have any stopping point, so you can turn them all you like without knowing numerically how much you are changing. But I never found that as a problem; I edit by eye, not by numbers. Most of the time, the Loupedeck+ sits on my desk, like an extension to the keyboard. The feel of the buttons also reminds you of a keyboard. Not the dreadful MacBook one, but the nice mechanical 1990s one. The sound of the export button is particularly pleasing.
The Loupedeck+ is packed with useful buttons and dials right at your fingertips. To me, it opened up a new world of editing. Suddenly I began to use features that I rarely used before — like selective color adjustments. I think I would’ve gotten there in the long run, but the Loupedeck+ improved my editing by giving me instant access to certain features. There are eight dials to take care of the main color adjustments. In Lightroom, those controls are hidden deep in the developing section.
Unique features apart, the Loupedeck+ enables physical interaction with editing. And once you learn the controls by heart (a month of daily use) you end up being more efficient when using Lightroom. This efficiency is largely due to the strategic placing of the dials, the temperature is next to the tint, the exposure to contrast, and shadows to highlights. There are two customizable dials in very different spots on the panel which you can customize to your liking. Also, there are plenty of other buttons that you can customize. Some are located by the arrow keys, and others by the rating. The custom mode makes it very easy to assign functions to every dial.
There are a few connectivity problems. For Mac users, in particular, it is the USB-B cable. I’d love to be able to plug in the Loupedeck+ directly. As a Mac user, it took me quite a lot of time to set up. The software doesn’t always recognize the Loupedeck when it is connected through a monitor rather than a direct device-computer connection.
Since I began to shoot tethered most of the time, transitioning to Capture One was coming. I do prefer Capture One. But the features of the Loupedeck+ are largely limited when it comes to Capture One. Most of the buttons work, however pressing the dial to reset the adjustment (like in Lightroom) doesn’t. I would’ve hoped that Capture One 21 with its improved keyboard integration ought to fix the problem, but it seems like it’s a no for now. The color adjustment dials do not work either, and sit without a purpose. So does the Vibrance dial, which I marked “inop” to not confuse myself. Overall, the Loupedeck+ is most used when doing basic adjustments and selecting photos. I would like for better integration with Capture One, which is rapidly gaining popularity.
Using the Loupedeck+ with Lightroom opens up a whole range of options and makes you a lot more efficient. I found that editing event photos and selecting photos, in general, took me much less time. The device feels very good and does what it promises most of the time. I can’t talk about use for video, because frankly, I haven’t done too much in-depth video editing with it. Nowadays, I use it almost exclusively with Capture One to select and do basic edits of the images. I would advise against buying this to use with Capture One though.
What I Liked
- Futuristic look and feel of the mechanical keys
- Integration with Lightroom, and Camera Raw in Photoshop
- Ability to customize most of the device
What Could Be Improved
- Integration with Capture One
- USB-C connectivity
- Setup time on a Mac
If you need to edit a large batch of photos in Lightroom, and want to be as efficient as you can, this is 100% for you. I’d shell out the money again because it saves a lot of time and enables you to do more interesting things. But if you’re like me, and end up doing work where it's more about one image than a hundred, this probably isn’t the best investment. You’re better off working with a keyboard to select the photos and sending photos to a retoucher.