Loupedeck+ review


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What is it?

Like its Loupedeck predecessor, the Loupedeck+ is a $250 editing console for various post-production programs. Originally designed with Adobe Lightroom Classic in mind, the Loupedeck+ has improved and expanded upon the original version to offer an improved tactile experience that lets you edit photos, videos and even sound using dedicated dials, knobs and wheels.

In addition to providing dedicated dials for color correcting and fine-tuning images and video, the Loupedeck+ editing console also serves as a great culling tool, with dedicated buttons for rating, flagging and sorting images before you ever start editing. In short, the Loupedeck+

to bring a more tactile approach to editing your content and eschews the on-screen sliders for an array of what seems like infinitely customizable controls.

What’s new

As its name suggests, the Loupedeck+ is a second-generation device, a successor to the original Loupedeck. While its external dimensions and overall shape have remained essentially unchanged, it does offer several improvements.

The first and most noticeable improvement is the build quality. The frame, as well as the various dials, knobs and keys, have been upgraded to create a more sturdy feel. The ‘clicks’ of the dials and knobs feel much less wobbly than the original Loupedeck and the overall tactile feedback is much more pleasing.

The ‘clicks’ of the dials and knobs
feel much less wobbly

The buttons have also received an update, although they’re still a bit too ‘mushy’ for my liking. I would love to see a version with mechanical switches compared to the membrane switches currently used, but that would likely increase the cost and size of the device, so it’s not a dealbreaker.

Aside from physical details, Loupedeck has also updated its accompanying software for the Loupedeck+. It not only offers more customization options than before, it also supports many more programs, including Premiere Pro, Aurora HDR, Adobe Audition, and others.

Design

At first glance, the design of the Loupedeck+ is a little overwhelming. It almost feels as though you’ve been thrown into the captain’s seat of a commercial airliner with all of the buttons, dials and knobs available to you.

Thankfully, so long as you’re familiar with the program you’re using the Loupedeck+ with, it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of. For the majority of my time with the Loupedeck+, I used it alongside Lightroom. It took a few days of looking down at the editing console, then back up at my screen to ensure I was making the right adjustment, but within a week of using the console, I was able to make adjustments on the fly without looking.

In Use

Although the Loupedeck+ is compatible with several programs (listed below), I mainly tested it out with Adobe Lightroom Classic. As such, my thoughts only address the user experience with Lightroom Classic.

The Loupedeck+ proved to be an incredibly valuable tool once I managed to set up the customizable controls to my liking (a process I also divulge below). Much like the original Loupedeck, it made culling, sorting and editing photos much easier than having to go through each slider in the Develop dialog and tweak it with my mouse.

Furthermore, using the Loupedeck+ made it possible to process photos in full-screen mode, making it easier to edit photos on smaller displays more precisely. Changes are slightly delayed when using full screen mode, compared to editing directly within the Develop module, but it wasn’t delayed enough to make the process any more difficult.

One detail I would’ve liked to see added is the ability to assign specific macros to the customizable buttons. Yes, there are plenty of built-in options (almost too many), but I would love to be able to add keyword groups to images with the tap of a button or two.

Software

While the Loupedeck+ hardware is a pleasure to use, the secret sauce of the editing console lies in the software. As previously noted, Loupedeck has not only dramatically improved support for existing programs in the form of more customizability but also added support for several new programs. As of writing this review, the Loupedeck+ can be customized to work with the following programs:

  • Adobe Lightroom Classic
  • Adobe Photoshop CC with Camera Raw
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CC
  • Capture One
  • Adobe After Effects CC
  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Adobe Audition
  • Skylum: Aurora HDR

The Loupedeck plug-in itself is a bit convoluted on first glance. Between the sheer number of buttons, dials and knobs available on the board and the ability to further customize each one with the included Function (Fn) button, the options are seemingly infinite.

So infinite, it seems, that there’s a good chance any amount of time the Loupedeck+ might save me in editing down the road was very likely taken up during my customization setup. From dedicated crop ratios and user presets to fine-tuning the integrated HSL sliders, there’s hardly anything you won’t be able to tweak and customize within the Loupedeck plug-in with Lightroom. Other programs are more limited, as integration isn’t nearly as tightly-knit, but even outside of Lightroom, the Loupedeck+ console goes much further than your average macro combo.

I think the initial onboarding process could be a little easier for the plug-in, but this tool is meant for the power-user, and anyone familiar with more advanced features shouldn’t have too much trouble getting up to speed.

Bottom Line

The Loupedeck+ editing console is a substantial update over its predecessor. The build quality is better (particularly in regards to the dials/knobs/keys), it’s a bit more compact, and the additional buttons provide even more functionality than before.

It’s not necessarily cheap at $250, but considering how much time it saved me in just a few months of using it, it’s clear it will more than pay for itself in the long run, based on time alone (not to mention frustration).

I would’ve liked to see, at the very least, a detachable USB-C cable or, better yet, a completely wireless version with Bluetooth and a built-in battery. But aside from that, I don’t have many complaints. It gets consistent updates, has a solid partnering app and brings a fantastic tactile editing experience to the digital creative workflow.

What I like:

  • Great array of buttons, dials and knobs
  • Dedicated HSL scroll wheels
  • Looks fantastic on the desk
  • Great software that makes the hardware shine
  • Consistent software updates

What I don’t like:

  • No USB-C
  • Cable isn’t detachable (or wireless if I’m allowed an additional complaint)
  • Matte finish shows wear and scratches easily

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