I've had my eye on the Loupedeck console for quite some time so last week I finally pulled the trigger and ordered their new + version. It was originally a Kickstarter project designed for editing photos in Lightroom using dedicated physical buttons, dials, and sliders. Recently Loupedeck released an updated version called the Loupedeck+. The console works with Lightroom Classic CC, Capture One Pro (which I have been meaning to check out), and another program called Aurora HDR.
It arrived in a few days and I was immediately impressed with the packaging. The box was nicely designed and the console itself was wrapped in a sturdy foam enclosure making sure it could survive any bumps and drops during shipping.
It has a nice weight to it, but it's not too heavy. The knobs and dials are all crisp and feel great while spinning. It's just about as wide as my 15" Macbook Pro and has a very low profile so when I set it in front I can quickly reach over it to use my trackpad or keyboard.
Installation and setup
The instructions were very adamant that you install the software before plugging in the console so I downloaded and installed it with no issues. The Loupedeck+ connects over and is powered by a standard USB connector. I plugged it in, fired up Lightroom, and was delighted by a brief message saying "Loupedeck thinks you look lovely". Unfortunately that feeling didn't last long as I started spinning knobs but nothing happened. I tried unplugging and plugging it in, restarting the Loupedeck application, restarting Lightroom, even tried a different USB-C adapter, no luck. Nothing.
After a lot of troubleshooting I eventually found out I was running Lightroom CC Classic (2015), not Lightroom Classic CC. Once I updated Lightroom everything worked perfectly. Crisis avoided. One side note: apparently it doesn't support the new cloud-based Creative Cloud (don't get me started on Adobe's naming conventions).
A lot of reviews online complain about the build quality. I've spent about a week with it and I can tell you the build quality is great for the most part. My one concern is the large control dial - it wobbles a bit more than I would prefer, but I think it should hold up okay. Looking at the dates of said reviews I think the majority of them were about the first version, where as I have the second revision.
The other significant question online was does this make your editing process faster? While I've only used it a handful of time so far I can tell you for sure, yes it does. Not having to hunt for specific panels and sliders in the sidebar is a blessing. Instead of shifting my focus back and forth between the photo to the sidebar I can see the photo full screen and use the Loupedeck while my eyes stay where they need to be. I'm starting to get a feel for where each control knob is and I'm sure I will get faster the more muscle memory I build up. All the controls have a great amount of sensitivity, so making subtle changes to things like color temperature are easy without swinging too far one way or the other. So far the only control that I can't use the console for is adjusting my tone curve.
One neat thing about the knobs and dials is that you can press down on them and it will reset that adjustment back to the default setting. Very handy, and a nice touch.
There are dedicated controls for your HSL levels, exposure, contrast, clarity, shadows, highlights, blacks, whites, vibrance, color temperature, and tint. Additionally, there are also buttons for things like viewing a before & after, color labels and star ratings, black & white development, and more. On top of all that, there are 17 programmable buttons you can customize to fit your workflow. I haven't learned about the Custom Mode toggle yet, but I assume that's even more customization. In the control panel you can click on any of the custom function controls and map it to just about any function in Lightroom (see below).
Overall I am really happy with the purchase. The build quality is great, and after using it to edit a handful of photos I really like using it. I'll share my thoughts in a few months after I get more comfortable using this in my workflow, but right now I am very optimistic that it's going to become a valuable addition to my process. Stay tuned!