Some years ago, I reviewed an earlier version of the Motibodo keyboard, so I was interested to see how much has changed. It’s still in active development, and the price has dropped significantly, so it’s now a viable option for most photographers.
Motibodo uses a standard keyboard layout, so there are plenty of buttons available. The Basic software adjusts 48 different controls (sliders/buttons, etc), and the Pro version adjusts a whopping 104 controls, as well as applying 20 Develop presets and 8 Local Adjustment presets. This includes some Library functions, such as star ratings and flags, but most of the controls focus on the Develop module, where the keyboard can be most useful.
Unlike many of the other Lightroom gadgets, the Pro software has buttons for your Develop Presets. 15 DQStudio presets are included, but you can reprogram the controls to use your own presets if you prefer.
They’ve managed to jam a lot of controls onto each key, which makes the layout look quite cluttered at first glance, but it offers plenty of flexibility. Although there’s a printable layout, it’s well worth purchasing the silicone skin, as it’s tough to remember that many shortcuts.
When you buy into Motibodo, you’re buying into an entire workflow. Because the software depends on automatically moving the cursor to specific locations on the screen, Lightroom has to be set up in a very specific way. This includes which panels are visible, the panel widths, the font size, and even the language and keyboard layout. Since my previous review, they have made some changes, so you no longer have to hide specific panels, which is a great improvement.
Because Motibodo uses a standard keyboard, normal Lightroom keyboard shortcuts won’t work, and if you hit a shortcut key out of habit, you’ll get some odd results. Also, when you want to type any text such as metadata or keywords, you must first disable Motibodo using a keyboard shortcut, although it’s smart enough to disable itself automatically when you switch to other software.
You can’t reprogram any of the keys, apart from the Develop presets, so if you frequently use sliders that they haven’t included, such as the Sharpening or Noise Reduction sliders, you’ll be back to using your mouse. That said, the layout is very well thought out, so most sliders are covered.
There is a Photoshop version of Motibodo available, however this is an additional cost.
Once it’s set up, using Motibodo is easy. To adjust a slider, simply tap the applicable key on the keyboard, and for larger increments, hold down the Shift key at the same time.
There is a degree of muscle memory involved, so it doesn’t instantly feel faster as you hunt for the right key to move the Exposure slider, but over time, you’ll learn where to find the keys without looking, and can almost start touch typing to adjust sliders.
Size & Ergonomics
Since the Motibodo software works with a standard keyboard, there’s no additional hardware to clutter up your desk. It’ll even work with your laptop keyboard, making it very portable.
A silicon skin is available with the Pro version for specific Apple keyboards. If you’re a Windows user, the Apple bluetooth keyboards also work on Windows and are lovely to type on, so they could replace your existing keyboard.
Since Motibodo uses a standard keyboard, it’s very comfortable to use, even for long periods.
Instructions & Support
The installation instructions and videos are clear and comprehensive, and their support is quick and friendly. It’s definitely worth watching their training videos to get the best out of Motibodo.
Dave & Quinn are very responsive to support requests, and the software is still in active development.
OS & Lightroom Compatibility
The Motibodo software is available for Lightroom CC and Lightroom 6 on either Windows or Mac operating systems, with the Basic and Pro Skin version offering compatibility with some older Lightroom versions too.
It also works with all modern operating systems, however your operating system and Lightroom version must be set to US English while you’re using Motibodo.
They do warn you not to update your operating system and Lightroom version until they’ve tested them fully, as updates may break Motibodo, which may prove frustrating for early adopters.
Cost & Trials
There isn’t a trial version available, which is a shame, because if you were able to try it, you may be hooked.
Basic Software (printable layout, Basic controls only) costs $75 USD*
Pro Software version (printable layout, all controls) costs $200 USD*
Pro Skin version (silicon skin, all controls) costs $250 USD* (plus shipping/customs charges).
The licenses allow you to install your Motibodo software on up to 5 computers for your personal use, so long as only one instance is running at any given time.
(Prices correct at the time of writing.)
* Full disclosure – In 2011, Motibodo sent me one of their keyboards to test. For testing this release, I’m using a time limited version of the software. All thoughts are my own and I receive no compensation for this review.