Loupedeck Review compared to PFixer BCF-2000

As a professional documentary wedding photographer, actually taking photographs is a small (but essential!) part of my job. Much of what a wedding photographer does is in the editing and processing of the images. And that’s where tools like the Loupedeck photo editing console for Lightroom comes in handy. It’s the kind of tool that can save a photographer a substantial amount of time processing each image, and when there are hundreds of images to deliver from each wedding, that time saving soon mounts up. This short Loupedeck review will give you an idea of how this console works, how responsive it is, and how it compares to the console I’ve been using for a couple of years now, Pusher Labs PFixer software with the Behringer BCF-2000.

What Is a Photo Editing Console?

I’ve been using Adobe’s Lightroom software for many years, and though it has it’s own issues, it’s still my preferred way of processing the hundreds of images delivered to each wedding client. For a few years now, there’s been several hardware solutions to adjusting all the sliders in the Lightroom develop panel. Rather than using a mouse to click and drag sliders about on the screen, these devices are controlled by turning and moving physical sliders and knobs which make the adjustments in Lightroom. It drastically speeds up the process of fine-tuning an image – with practice, muscle memory means you are able to process an image without looking at what your hands are doing. An added benefit that I found with the PFixer software and Behringer panel is that you can make multiple adjustments at once, using both hands. Now, it doesn’t make the keyboard or mouse completely redundant whilst editing, at least not for me. I still like to have a track pad and Wacom tablet and pen on the desk to make brush adjustments, while the panel makes ‘global’ adjustments to the image, selects tools, and rates and cycles through images.

Loupedeck Review Video

I’ve had issues with the software part of the PFixer panel in the past. I have to keep Lightroom updated in order to benefit from the latest RAW converters and support for new cameras, and sometimes the PFixer software doesn’t catch up with Lightroom and Operating System updates. So when I saw Loupedeck being developed, I wanted to back the project on Indiegogo, and see if it would give me another hardware option. The first units shipped a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been using mine for the last couple of days editing weddings. The Loupedeck review video above gives you a good comparison of how this console works, and what the differences are between Loupedeck and the PFixer panel.

I’m not going to detail my thoughts here, it’s much better to see how it performs in the video.

Let me know if you have any questions about how they compare, or if there’s anything you’d like me to try. Here’s the wedding images I edit in the video above. They took around 20 minutes with both consoles. Typically I spend 20-40 seconds processing an image with PFixer, and the Loupedeck was taking roughly the same amount of time.

Loupedeck is available here. I paid full price for this unit and have no connection with Loupedeck or PFixer. If you’re interested in training or mentorship, you can book via dunnit.me photo mentoring site.

17 Comments

  1. Hello Paul!

    Thanks for the video review, it was a good one and gave us more perspective on users working with wacom (or a similar pen).

    09:30 First of all that mouse error you had. I had some strange mouse movement problems with Wacom Intuos 4 some years ago. I changed the tip to another version (which had a spring) and those problems were more or less gone. It might be pfixer too, but i think that is worth checking out. The third problem I have come across with lightroom, is that if your computer stalls for some reason, it might give / recieve some commands from the mouse, keypad, pfixer and do strange things when the lag is over.

    10:00 Copy/paste functions will be more versatile in the future, we are currently working on different kind of options how it can work and it should be choosable by the user. If i remember correctly there were three different ways that are most used and we will add those functions to our software. Also paste from previous is on our list.

    12:00 End/Esc -keys: Loupedeck is not allowed to send keyboard commands to Lightroom. Different language sets might have different keys so they wouldn’t possibly work (unless they are signable) but the biggest reason is that apple doesn’t allow any hardware’s software to apple store if they send keyboard commands – if we drop apple store, then it would be more difficult for the user 🙁 But a lot of esc/enter -commands can be solved in another way (“close window” for example) and we are looking into those already 🙂

    13:50 Configurable options: As you are one of the early birds of crowdfunding backers, you have really early version of our software. There are a lot of configurable things coming along on later software updates, we just have to code them in and test that they really work as they should. Some of the functions are in progress and some are ready and in test phase 🙂 Unfortunately we cannot customize keystrokes to those buttons (Apple store restrictions for software), but we can add functions that are supported by the Adobe SDK (more info about that later).

    15:09 Crop/rotate delay : We are looking into that delay if it could be avoided – I am not sure why it does occur with Loupedeck and not when you use your mouse. It might have something to do with Adobe SDK because it uses the same crop tool as a mouse does.

    16:23 Brush active & Global adjustments: That is a very interesting point that you use your brush at the same time when you adjust your global adjustments. Never thought that someone would do it like that. If you want to try radial or gradual filters – they should work differently than the brush, like you require for your work (software version 1.0.1 atleast). So At this point, I think this is solvable. I have made a ticket for our coders to check it out! If it is possible, then we should put it as an option for the user. We will also look into the crop/rotate if it’s possible to use through SDK while brush is active.

    20:14 slight delay on the knobs is related on computer speed. If you really want them to lag, put on a full screen mode and try them out x) But if you have a really fast computer, they should work without any lag.

    23:30 Knob rotating speed : Dials have two speeds. When rotating slowly, it will go with smaller increments (exp 0,02 which is more accurate than with a mouse, and dials with 1 increments) and when you turn it faster it has x3 factor. It is smooth to use, but it is slow for professionals. We have worked on this subject already and there will be speed adjustment that users can customise. It is able to douple the current speed without losing any accuracy (my favourite) and the x3 factor will also be adjustable. I think users will be extremely happy what we have come up with.

    Other pointers:
    – We will investigate, if we can make P1-P16 work as a brush-presets too. They would work as such when the brush is active. I have no idea does SDK even support brush -presets at all, but we will look into it!
    – Esc-/enter-keys, for excaping dialogs is one of the things we are working on currently. We won’t be able to add that keystroke, but we will be able to add “close dialog”-function in some of the panels/windows in some other way (for example you can close brush-tool by pressing it again).
    – Reset crop is also in our list

    * Some of the restrictions Loupedeck has are dependend on Adobe SDK (for developers) and API (interface) for Lightroom – so every command Loupedeck sends goes straight into Lightroom. That is why Loupedeck is as fast as users computer. SDK is a very new implement on Lightroom (came with version 6) and it doesn’t yet support all the functions that Lightroom has. We are communicating with Adobe and letting them know what users need and want that is restricted by their SKD.

    PS. We are working on the software all the time, so it will be regulary updated with features we hear from the field or find ourselves. As we are intouch with Adobe, we know what new features there are coming and if they are applyable on Loupedeck. Some features we will not add into loupedeck, as they are faster to use with a mouse or a pen – we don’t want to slow users process down just to make our product “more versatile” x)

    Thanks for the test again!

    • Superb feedback, thank you Karo for taking the time to go into such detail. It sounds like you have pretty much everything covered in terms of what I raised in the video. I’m looking forward to the next software version.
      I had a bit of a breakthrough with using the brush. Yes, I discovered that pushing the brush key again, when open, closes the brush dialog, and opening it again starts a new brush. So I now have the brush settings reset to zero. I press the brush once and start brushing say, dodge, and simultaneously turn the exposure dial to see the effect and fine tune it. I then press the brush key twice, to close and open a new brush (which is zeroed again) and start brushing the next brush (burn, WB etc). This works really quickly and I never need to move up to the brush controls in LR. It’s made each edit even faster!

  2. Hey paul,
    Can I ask what mac you’re on? I’ve never been able to get the kind of responsiveness I see here in lightroom – only if was processing small tiffs, not raw files and with a tiny window size. I’m currently trying to work out why with the help of adobe. (This has been true of the last 3 intel processors I’ve had, 2 graphics cards, nvme ssd’s and raid drives.) Also what raw files are you working on? ( I cant fullscreen your vimeo vid to see).

    • Hi Gethin,

      My iMac is Late 2013, 3.5Ghz i7, 32Gb RAM, GeForce GTX 775M 2048 MB graphics card, OS 10,12,5.
      I’ve had speed issues and lag in LR before. Here’s what has helped me:

      Start a new catalog with each wedding.
      Build Smart previews, then disconnect the drive (or rename the folder where the RAW’s are while you working LR). It’s supposed to use the Smart Previews even if it’s connected, but I still do this and it seems quicker to force it’s use anyway.
      When you process the images, do not do any of the following global adjustments – Noise Reduction, Sharpening and Grain – set them all to zero and leave them like that until you’ve finished the whole set.
      Sort them by ISO range when finished, and match apply a preset to do the Noise, Sharpening and Grain.
      Leaving that till the end is what keeps the app running quickly.

      Hope that helps,

      Paul

      • hi paul, yep I discovered saving the detail for last way back. Believe me nothing would prepare you for editing on my machine! 🙂 I find I get such a tiny benefit for creating a new cat that I stopped bothering a while back (I have tried putting the pics, and library on superfast ssd’s and all sorts of tweaks.). Anyhoo, I’m going to point the thread I’m on to your vid – hope thats ok, so that those of us that have significant issue can see what it can do. I’ve seen a few folk on that thread with d800 NEFs. Wondering if the 12bit raw files are partly to blame. Can I ask what you’re shooting?

  3. That was awesome. Wow watching you work, to me, is akin to seeing the sun come out in the sky after the clouds have been grey. I have been struggling with Lightroom for years since Lightroom 3 was replaced….maybe it was lightroom 2, I forget when it got slow. It would be amazing to have that kind of quick productivity in editing photos that you have. To be that effective would be amazing. Thanks for sharing….
    Although unfortunately I use a PC so I realise now the PFixer is not an option and the Loupedeck isn’t even available yet. Bummer. I will definitely try your you tips and tricks you mention to the above comments for speeding up lightroom. This wedding season I have started to create a catalog per wedding that is only those photos, although that alone does not appear to work that much better. Hopefully that helps. Out of interest (many you mention it above) where do you store your images to process them? I used to store them all on a NAS and work from there, but I now have them on a directly connected SSD linked to the motherboard internally. But even that makes only a little improvement. Maybe beciase you say you disconect the images from the smart previews to work it doesn’t matter?
    I love to take pictures but the post processing after the updated to Lightroom 4 onward kills any sense of joy I had with digital photography early on. I have also never seen your use of the tracker pad, console and wacom pad simultaneous use. The tri-fecta. wow. Look at you go, mesmerizing.

    • Thanks Alastair,
      Yes, for storing, once smart previews are built and you disconnect the folder, it really doesn’t matter where they are. I have all the RAW files on a bare HDD attached by USB 3 and a dock. The crucial thing is to have the catalog and the preview files (stored alongside the catalog – .lrdata files on a mac) on your fastest drive. Then, when that wedding is done, you can move the LR files over onto the same drive as the RAW files for long term storage.

  4. Hi Paul. Interesting to see how you edit. I don’t use the brush as much as yourself, but I can see how doing global adjustments as you brush is a time saver.
    I was also thinking to get a loupedeck around the time the Kickstarter campaign was going but I thought it was quite pricey. I found an alternative solution – a Behringer X-touch mini (£60-ish), the same manufacturer as your PFixer console, but a smaller unit mostly made up of buttons and dials. I use it with Midi2Lr, a free download for PC which allows you to customise the dials and buttons to use with Lightroom. It gets updated regularly and works well with Lr.
    It was good to see what you made of Loupedeck and I thought you did a good job of explaining your editing process and how the different consoles worked.

  5. Very useful Paul – thanks for taking the time to do this. I’m just a tablet and keyboard editor. Tried the PFixer thing for about an hour a few years ago and hated it.
    But I think it’s time to try one of these. Since I’ve moved to Sony I’m finding my files need slightly less editing of that makes sense? I do find having to select the brush presets a pain, I think you said that Loupedeck still doesn’t allow you to do that with a single button press. Hopefully in an update that would be very useful.

    • Yes Jon, you still have to select your brush presets manually. But to be honest it’s mainly exposure I need to adjust. And I’m into the habit now of starting to brush with the pen whilst adjusting the exposure dial. Then hit the brush button twice to start a new brush with different adjustments.

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