As stated previously, there are few peripheral devices that cause the kind of stir we see akin to that of devices used to control post processing software, and Lightroom in particular. That level of frenzy is more typically reserved for big lens or camera releases, but it appears that even for something as ubiquitous as Lightroom, there are legions of people who aren’t quite satisfied with its user experience, and that discontent has led to the creation of products like Palette, Pfixer, and Loupedeck (Loupedeck+).
I reviewed Loupedeck in September of last year, and if you haven’t read that it may be worth your time to do so, but my verdict was that the product fell short, particularly for the $299 price tag. From build quality to programming flexibility, it was just not something I could recommend to you in good conscience.
Since that time, however, a number of important things have happened regarding Loupedeck that warrant the company and product line be revisited.
First, Loupedeck has had a tremendous price drop and instead of $299 it is going for $179, and what that suggests was that my findings were probably reflective of the market opinion. Secondly, it has released a follow-up product called Loupedeck+, and not only is it for use with Lightroom, but with Skylum, and in beta for Capture One, and the opening price if $229. We’ve just got that in and would share a few initial thoughts about the new Loupedeck+.
Loupedeck+ Initial Thoughts
At first glance it looks very much the same as the original, except darker. The perimeter rim of the console is now a matte black instead of a silver, and it looks better for it – less cheap. That may sound harsh but that was the overall sentiment of the product when I first used it. It was all plastic, the buttons were flimsy, circuitry seemed to perform slowly, and it looked like a $50 product insteaf od a $300 one. This looks better.
There are a number of new buttons/dials, some have changed places and others have just changed appearance, partially to reflect the new functions they will be capable of due to the expanded range of software Loupedeck+ is supposed to work with. The buttons also have a better feel to them, and there’s more confidence in them registering even when the corner of a button is tapped, where the first one really had to have the buttons depress from the center, which was a nuisance.
There’s still the same strange cabling implementation that the original had and i think for $229 there should be bluetooth built in. When we consider than Wacom offering touch-sensitive pen tables with palm rejection for $80 that come with bluetooth connectivity it seems odd this wouldn’t. If the buttons were motorized then maybe one could understand, but aside from the 3 little LED lights on the unit there isn’t any obvious use for a lot of power.
One of the biggest faults of the original was just how inflexible it was compared to contemporaries on the market. Being able to be used with just Lightroom was incredibly limiting, especially in a time where Lightroom alternatives are more popular than ever. Having Capture One integration is an absolute boon to the system, and while the system isn’t perfect (still in Beta), it’s good to see it growing.
*For Lightroom functionality seems to remain mostly the same, but there are some advancements I’ll get into in the full review
In practice, it’s nice to have the dial controls in Capture One, but there are a few changes that should be made to make the user experience better. Something as simple as adding the ability to depress the button or dial to ‘zero out’ an adjustment or return to original state would make this much better. Also, at this point there does seem to be a delay in the software response to the physical input and while you can get used to it, it’s not preferable.
Anyway, it clearly is a piece of hardware improving and hopefully we will have the full review out in the coming weeks, along with Palette Gear, which in many ways is a benchmark piece of hardware. But things are looking up for Loupedeck+.