Loupedeck CT – A Hands On Review Of The New Creative Tool
Some of you may remember the original Loupedeck and Loupedeck+ that we’ve covered already, the large keyboard shaped and sized creative console deck that allows you to have physical controls instead of digital sliders to quickly and efficiently edit your images and video in applications like Adobe Lightroom, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut. Well, a short while back, the team at Loupedeck have released their latest addition, the Loupedeck CT; a new creative console that’s designed to both look good on your desk and enhance your workflow even further.
What Is It?
As mentioned above, the Loupedeck CT (Creative Tool), is a new, modernized control panel for creatives that puts all the digital tools for your photo and video editing needs right at your fingertips. Giving you a consolidated, more travel friendly, and potentially more efficient tactile tool for your workflow. Occupying about 1/3 of the physical space of its predecessor, the CT takes advantage of a touch screen digital panel to place all those “missing” buttons and dials in customized “workspaces” so they can become whatever tool you need by simply swapping through the programmable buttons to activate them.
[Related Reading: Loupedeck+ Review: A Big Improvement From The Original]
This small, but mighty tool, is designed to deliver a premium editing experience in every way. With its high-quality aluminum cover and dials, touchscreens, LED backlighting, machine-quality ball bearings and more, Loupedeck CT is a powerful and beautiful addition to your workstation. The knobs feel fantastic and precise, the button feedback feels great, and the touchscreens are surprisingly responsive. Details right down to the packaging are kind of fantastic and impressive, including the durable USB C cable that’s included.
The only thing that we’ve found to be a problem is the keyboard buttons (see the pro/cons list below), which can be easy to break off if not transported properly. While these buttons are ridged and look/feel great when using, it’s pretty easy to accidentally hook one of them and break off. Ironically, even if you break the connector, you can still leave the button in place and use without incident.
[Related Reading: 5 Tips to Edit Faster in Premiere Pro]
Setup & Install
Loupedeck CT is ready to go right out of the box with a familiar and growing set of applications. Move freely between Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects, Audition, Ableton® Live™ and soon more – all from one sleek user interface that automatically recognized what application window and panel you’re working with, making transitions a breeze!
Now where things get a little complicated is the learning curve on setting this beast up to suit your custom workflow. Again, out of the box, nearly everything you’d “need” is present and ready to go, but if you have your own way of doing things, and we all do, you can customize each and every button and knob to do what you want. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that hard to do, but it is overwhelming at first glance. Speaking from experience, it took me quite some time to figure out how to adjust, move, and save my custom workspaces….I actually messed a few things up, but thankfully you can save and import/export profiles along the way and resetting to a factory default is an easy process if you royally screw things up like I did….a….few times….haha.
So again, out of the box this thing is ready to go, but if you want to customize it, i’d take your time and read the user guides carefully and check out the videos for each application that the Loupedeck team have created on their youtube channel.
Using It / The Process
Like most external/physical editing consoles, this may not be for everyone. When I reviewed the first loupedeck, i’d argue that those devices weren’t for me either, however, after spending time with the device and getting over the learning curve, i’ve fallen in love with this console. I’m still not incredible with it, as i’ve been spending more and more time customizing the layouts and tools in each section to better fine-tune my own workflows.
That being said, the majority of the heavy-lifting has already been done for you when you first plugin and install this device. It automatically knows which application you’re loaded into, loading up the appropriate presets for each app as you move, making swapping back and forth a breeze.
Also, like the Loupedeck+, the buttons, dials, and touch screens respond and feel absolutely fantastic. They are all incredibly accurate and it just feels like a better editing experience, especially when you have to make micro adjustments to things like your highlights/shadows and colors.
At twice the price of its predecessor, the Loupedeck CT launched at a price point of $549 making it a tough pill to swallow for those new to external editing consoles, and seasoned pros alike. But when you compare it to other devices out there and it’s forward-thinking capabilities, it’s incredibly worth it, despite being a little harder on the wallet.
When you compare this to the full sized Loupedeck+, I definitely prefer it. This now truly feels like a device to be used along side of your mouse/keyboard instead of something that was so big that it had to be a replacement.
Who Is It For
[Related Reading: How to Edit Faster in Lightroom: 6 RAW Processing Tips]
The Loupedeck CT is for creatives looking for a way to make their workflows as precise and efficient as possible. That being said, it’s definitely a tool that isn’t for everyone. Like my previous review of the Loupedeck+, this device is aimed at working professionals who spends hours and hours every day working on the same type of editing and retouching tasks, saving a few seconds here and there on each image/file adds up over a day and can save you hours and hours when all is said and done! While the device is loaded up with presets and ready to go in a Plug & Play fashion, I get the impression the people who this is truly aimed at are the folks who customize each and every thing on their devices that possible to be modded!
If you’re a professional editor who spends a TON of time at your desk with customized hot-keys, shortcuts, gaming keyboards, and more, this is likely the device for you!
Technical details / System Requirements
- OPERATING SYSTEM:
- Windows 10
- MacOS 10.13+
- USB 2.0 A (USB-C to USB-A cable included in box)
- SUPPORTED SOFTWARE:
- Note! Internet connection required to download Loupedeck software.
- 160mm x 150mm x 30mm; weight: 365g
What I Liked / What I Didn’t Like
- Looks and Feels fantastic
- If you’ve ever been into a recording studio or a DJ booth, you’ve seen what similar looking devices, and this, really does, make you feel like some sort of superstar when you’re using it!
- USB Cable is removable (and high quality), making it easier to pack and transport when not in use.
- Can Speed up your workflow and provides a great tactile feedback device for editing
- Precise controls allow for better feedback and adjustments
- Compact and portable
- Build Quality is SOLID (except for the keyboard buttons. See the cons list)! The device has a hefty feel to it that’s solid and responsive.
- Fully customizable and programmable interface.
- A plethora of editing software (and more) already out of the box ready to go!
- Many default workspaces already preloaded for the supported software
- Console recognizes each app automatically and swaps interface for you without having to manually reset / change.
- Forward thinking device for multiple applications.
- Unlike its predecessors, the CT being a touch screen and full programmable is the first in the lineup of the Loupedecks that be useful for more than just photo/video editing tools. With a simple firmware update and/or some custom tinkering, you can setup the console to work with nearly anything!
- Price point is pretty high at more than 2x the cost of the Loupedeck+ making it a tough decision to make
- Learning/setup curve is a tad higher than the previous consoles.
- While it has many of the software options pre-setup to use out of the box, customization can be a tad overwhelming when you’re coming into this thing blind. It’ll probably take you a little longer to get used to than the previous consoles.
- Wireless/Bluetooth isn’t available “yet”?
- Buttons can be easily broken off.
- If you’re not careful when transporting, the keyboard buttons (not the knobs) can easily be popped / snapped off of the device. They protrude rather high and unless you’re transporting it in a case or it’s original box, you’ll likely end up snapping a key or two off so be VERY careful.
- The older Loupedeck’s have custom cases for travel and i’d imagine that the CT will have an official one soon, but for the price point, again, it should come with that case or at least a discounted option.
Conclusion / Final Thoughts
The Loupedeck Creative Tool is a pretty amazing product that shows just how a company should evolve to meet the needs of its clients/users. If you’ve used external editing decks like the original Loupedeck, Loupedeck+, or other external editors, this device will feel like a dream! That being said, if all you do is edit in Lightroom, something a little cheaper like the Loupedeck+ may be the better decision and easier purchase for you than making the $549 jump for the CT. But if you happen to edit in multiple applications such as Adobe’s Creative Suite, Final Cut, Capture One, and more, than this CT is an absolute must have, especially if you’re a multi-disciplined working pro on the road! Just remember to pack it up appropriately to avoid any potential button damage.
If you’ve used any of the Loupedeck or similar products before, or have experience and any tips/tricks for customizing the Loupedeck CT, be sure to let us know in the comments below.
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Update – June 2, 2020
Loupedeck has released version 3.2.5 of the firmware/software for the Loupedeck Editing Consoles which addresses several issues, bug fixes, and adds several new enhancements! While this isn’t a HUGE update, it still adds a lot of great functionality and performance enhancements to an already impressive device. To see the full firmware release notes, check the PDF below;
I just finished testing the Lightroom updates on the CT and maybe it’s just me, but wow, what a difference it made! It’s faster, easier to use straight out of the box, and the response times feel noticeably better. If you’re a Loupedeck user, let us know what you think of the 3.2.5 update below!