Is the Loupedeck+ a Gimmick or a Time-Saver? A Long-Term Review of the Loupedeck+

Is the Loupedeck+ a Gimmick or a Time-Saver? A Long-Term Review of the Loupedeck+

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. 

Introduction

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. 

Build Quality 

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.   

Features

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. 

Capture One 

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.  

Summary

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 

Closing Thoughts

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. 

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18 Comments

YL Photographie's picture

for me it's a gadget

Illya Ovchar's picture

Yes, probably one most photographers can do without too haha.

Hector Belfort's picture

I have one. It works well. It's certainly a tool that works. Unfortunately my one is left unused and dusty. In the end its just as fast to use the mouse. I would say its well made and might suit some people.

Teemu Paukamainen's picture

I got one as a present a few weeks ago and I'm still trying to learn to use it but so far it's only slowing me down considerably and I honestly don't think it will ever be as fast as my current working methods (keyboard+mouse).

Illya Ovchar's picture

I had the same problem, it takes time to get used to, unfortunately...

Illya Ovchar's picture

Yes definitely, this is a niche product designed for photographers who work with high volumes of work.

Martin Peterdamm's picture

in my experience with all these special controllers, they are cool for a while, and you want to use them but in the end keyboards work better. even these Wacom buttons and dials, never seen one using it with pleasure. I recently found a really nice solution for working on photos accidentally. I bought a 60% keyboard for coding and gaming, I planned to use the full size for my photo stuff.... It came out that these 60% are spectacular when working with a wacom and mouse - an ergonomic dream team. the small keyboard sits in a 45-degree angle in the upper-left corner of the wacom. super handy for shortcuts, the mouse has enough space right to the wacom.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Nowadays I'm between the Loupedeck and the keyboard. Both have a distinct function. With Capture One selection it's the loupedeck, and with PS it's the keyboard.

Matt Rennells's picture

Having had mine for over a year, I feel that I can offer some real world experience. Works great as a sidepiece with a Wacom tablet. Also works quite well with my Surface Pro in tablet form (no keyboard). A very portable on the go editing station. Here's what I primarily use it for. 1) Culling - super fast with wheel, ratings below it and I have C1 assigned to flag/unflag. 2) Shortcuts for Photoshop. My editing in photoshop typically entails spot healing, patch tool, and clone. I have those all assigned to L1-L3. Need to content-aware fill something - hit C3. D1 offers precise zoom in and out just like a mouse wheel, and the big dial controls my brush size (or hardness). Everything is at reach for my left hand while my right had operates the pen on tablet. 3) Batch processing in Lightroom. I have some standard output presets assigned to my P1-P8 values. Highlight a bunch of images, hit preset button and it is applied to all -- no need to sync. Now want all of those to be black and white too? Right click and create virtual copies, then apply black and white preset. I typically charge around $100/hr, and it is has paid for itself in time saving on a weekly basis. For those of you that charge $500/hr, this should be a no brainer as if it saves you 30 minutes in editing it has paid for itself.

Matt Rennells's picture

One other thing I forgot -- 4) it is super handy and looks super cool when you slide it in front of a client and they can use it to look through their images from a shoot with the big wheel. I even had one client that read the dials and starting making her own adjustments -- so I instantly knew what she wanted in a final product.

Illya Ovchar's picture

It gets a 10/10 for the looks haha. I see you use it to largely edit high volumes of work. I can tell you're loving it haha ;-)

Matt Rennells's picture

I've found it to be helpful for lower volume work too (other than just weddings) if you are doing a large portion of your editing in Lightroom. Just like switching from a mouse to a Wacom tablet - it takes getting used to. As far as looks go, in the competitive world of photography, sometimes looking like you're a high tech professional is almost more important than actually being one.

Slater King's picture

I've had one for a good couple of years and really enjoy using it - it certainly does speed things up for me, BUT the software is about as bad as it gets in my opinion. I'm often frustrated by the lack of support / documentation and a truly awful user interface. It's probably easier to get a phd than figure out how to configure it - which is such a shame as the hardware itself, and how it lets you interact with Lightroom for instance is great. It is so frustrating, and such a lost opportunity in my opinion :(

Illya Ovchar's picture

I agree, the build is great and the design is spot-on. But the software is terrible. Especially with C1.

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

I wonder what the issue is with the USB-B connector? It's just a type of plug, and having a USB-C type plug on both ends won't magically make issues go away, I think. It's probsably more a driver thing? I have cables that go from USB-C on the one end to USB-B on the other and have no issues with my devices -- though I don't have a LoupeDeck so no idea what the issue is.

I wonder if besides LightRoom and partial CaptureOne support, is there any support for other software, like Affinity, DxO, Exposure?

Illya Ovchar's picture

I guess I didn't say it clearly enough. I mean it would be nice to swap the USB-B connector for a C because it means one less dongle. I'm sure the connectivity issues stem from the software, not the hardware.
The software has connectivity with After Effects, Audition, Aurora HDR, C1, Final Cut, Lr classic, PS, Premiere. Other Loupedeck products(CT or Live) may have different options.

Barry Strawbridges's picture

My personal setup is a Elgato Stream Deck, an iPad running the Elgato Stream deck app, and a Shuttle Pro. Pretty much every program, I remap keys or add macros. I also have a pen tablet display for editing, so I want to focus on keeping my hands off of the keyboard and mouse.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Interesting setup. Never heard of Elgato before, will have a look.