Lock in Your Premium Membership Discount!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Gear & Apps

PFixer MiniMal MIDI Controller For Lightroom Could Be A Boon To Your Workflow

By Kishore Sawh on December 10th 2015

pfixer-midi-lightroom-controller-develop-photography-slrlounge-kishore-sawh-4

Within the past nine months, I’ve written a few times about various ways to control Lightroom from some sort of modular device. Lightroom, for all its worth and value, can sometimes be its own worst enemy in terms of efficient/accurate control, and thus our problem.

If you’re working on a small monitor, like on a laptop, the sliders at times take careful (slow) movement to get just right within the Develop module. Using the mouse or trackpad isn’t necessarily the best way, though, of course, the most common. Numerous companies are creating modular interfaces to control Lightroom with, and frankly, many of them seem great.

CTRL+console+lightroom-sorter-control-culling-ipad-photogrpahy-slrlounge-kishore-sawh-5

As an Apple user and having a few iPads laying around, the CTRL+Console Lightroom Sorter that was just released has turned out to be my favorite way of culling and sorting through my images. The finger gestures are brilliant, survey mode is nice, and on a big screen I can sit back with clients and not be hunched over the keyboard. It just works, and for like $30 or something, it’s a great deal. But it’s not complete yet because the Develop module controller isn’t finished.

pallet-pfixer-modular-lightroom-controller-MIDI-photography-slrlounge-9 pallet-pfixer-modular-lightroom-controller-MIDI-photography-slrlounge-10

Also, for those who don’t have iPads or those who prefer something a bit more tangible, it’s not the answer. A company called Palette came out with a modular system of sliders and knobs to control LR and seems good, but is around $500 for the whole kit, and that’s a bit steep for most. The other option was from PFixer, which basically took a physical and motorized MIDI controller and repurposed it through mapping software to control Lightroom and Photoshop.

This whole package was around $350 for the whole thing and honestly seems pretty incredible. The only drawback appeared to be the size – it’s not exactly portable, and many of us are always on the move. It’s the main reason I hadn’t bought one. Well, now Pusher Labs has addressed that with the PFixer MiniMal MIDI controller.

pfixer-midi-lightroom-controller-develop-photography-slrlounge-kishore-sawh

[REWIND: 3 MODULAR LIGHTROOM CONTROLLERS TO SUIT YOUR POST PROCESSING NEEDS]

Unlike the older, bigger brother, this doesn’t have a host of sliders, but only one. It does, however, have 33 buttons and some of which double as dials. This is because where the other version used the Behringer BCF-2000 MIDI controller, this uses the much smaller Behringer X-Touch Mini. The precision of adjustment using this, in theory, makes me a bit giddy actually, and at $180. Well, allow me to clarify, the PFixer software is $99 and the device is another $100, but the bundle deal is $180. But hey, if you have the MIDI controllers already, you’re halfway there. Get it here.

We have not used this as yet, but will hopefully be getting a review unit to give you a proper look into the build and usage qualities. So keep an eye out.

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Alana Gordon

    Has anyone purchased the Palette? Personally, I really like the idea, but aesthetically it looks a bit chunky and plasticky, although I assume it was the retro look they were aiming for. I saw on their website they have a wooden version, but for $900 that one will be staying on the shelf. It would be nice if they had a bluetooth version in order to eliminate the need for cords. Cool idea in any case.

    | |
    • Stephen Glass

      From what I gather there are some important considerations not mentioned. I think the largest of those is, “Do you use a Wacom or other graphics tab?” I’m a gear junkee as much as the next person. But when I look at these types of outboard units I think, “Where would I put my Wacom, keyboard, to accommodate this new piece of gear?”
      When I think through the use of something like this in LR I just don’t see the advantage over the facility my Wacom provides. When I’m retouching in PS, I have actions, presets, and “macro” keys set up on my Wacom. So I just don’t think I’d use it. Now of course that begs another question: Are you a Wacom person.
      As soon as I set up my Wacom I never looked back. It was a missing link and I just can’t imagine life without a graphics tab. I use it for everything. I have a Bamboo for my MacBook Pro and travel with it.
      But there are other people, boggles my mind but they do great work, who can’t stand a Wacom and opt for a mouse. They try a Wacom then sell it.
      So to each his own you know?

      | |
    • Alana Gordon

      Hi Stephen. Thanks for your comment :)
      Yes I have a Wacom, but I have a Cintiq so it all controls are on screen which saves some desk space. I utilize all the pre-set keys (a lot) and like you, couldn’t live without my wac. But being a total gadget-geek I still like the idea of these sliders, although will probably hold off until I find some that are a little more sleek.

      | |
  2. None None

    There is already a solution for Windows that the software is free and updated regularly…at least four times since I started using it several months ago. It was mentioned by Michael Kokott above. The article explaining the hardware and software was on PetaPixel here:

    http://petapixel.com/2015/08/12/midi2lr-an-open-source-app-that-lets-you-use-any-midi-controller-in-lightroom

    Some of the concerns and features discussed in the comments have since been added by the software author. Overall great program and hardware too.

    | |
  3. shane jackson

    Does anyone know anything that works with bridge? Great article almost makes me want to use light room ;)

    | |
    • Justin Haugen

      As a former bridge adobe camera raw user, it’s absolutely worth using lightroom for your workflow. Although you’ll have some growing pains navigating your way through a workflow at first.

      | |
  4. Cary McCaughey

    Literally was about to take the plunge on the Pallet unit but this looks awesome for a fraction of the cost!!! I was looking for portability and this looks awesome. May just jump on this instead!!!

    | |
  5. Michael Kokott

    My Beringer is sitting around in the corner because my paddy no longer works and i failed to find a good replacement for windows :(
    I do hope they will extend pfixer to WIN at some point – could have a lot of new customers….

    | |
    • Justin Haugen

      that was a huge bummer that paddy stopped getting support. The operation was too small and unprepared to commit to all the software changes =(

      | |
    • Michael Kokott

      I am pretty sure you are right – and it is fine – but i would have expected to hear something from the developer :)

      Anyways, i will try out this one here (learned about it just today)
      http://rsjaffe.github.io/MIDI2LR/

      | |
  6. Joseph Cha

    this just gave me a workflow booner

    | |
  7. Stephen Glass

    I can see this being very useful for weddings. @Barry Cunningham, do you use a Wacom or other graphic tablet? I’m just curious. I’m tempted to get these types of things every once in a while. But now that I just do editorial and portraits I really don’t need it. I’m utilizing the Wacom more and more with the functions on the pen and the buttons on the tablet itself. Most of my retouching is folks faces. So a function key on the Wacom for alt and “H” for the hand tool and I’m fine. I know what you mean though. I think it really depends on what you shoot. If I did an event a week I might be interested.

    | |
    • Barry Cunningham

      Stephen,
      I have a Wacom tablet buried in a closet someplace, but I don’t use it. I don’t do a lot of heavy editing or drawing on my photos that require a pen interface. For what little I do, mainly removing dust and scratches on scanned photos, I have been content to use my mouse. I have gotten used to mousing with my left hand because, being right handed, I like to leave my right hand free for writing. Poking dust specks with a healing brush I can do fine with my left hand. If I wanted to do serious drawing, I would probably drag the tablet out.

      | |
  8. Barry Cunningham

    I don’t want a large, expensive, single purpose hunk of hardware with buttons and sliders cluttering my desk.
    That’s the purpose of a GUI, to put all those buttons and sliders in software, where they take up no space and are dynamically reconfigurable. We certainly worked hard to get rid of clunky hardware UI solutions in the ’80’s.
    Maybe I’m just getting old. I just don’t get it. Sheesh.
    But, if it floats your boat, knock yourself out. Drop on yer foot. Just keep it away from my desk.

    | |
    • Justin Haugen

      the thing about lightroom is the sliders are not all immediately accessible. I’m tired of the giant column, I want palettes. I can see a mechanical slider with feedback being useful in immediately accessing the desired slider. Then you can develop muscle memory for slider placement.

      It’s certainly useful, just not for you.

      | |
    • Paul Empson

      I particularly don’t want a bit of kit that could be obsolete after a the software release.

      | |
  9. Justin Haugen

    It makes me want to bang my head that I can’t get this for windows. I hope there is windows support in the future because I really want to use this product.

    This isn’t a windows or mac is better conversation, this is acknowledging there’s probably a 50/50 split of users on each platform.

    | |