Most of us are aware of the range of Develop presets, plug-ins and external editors available for Lightroom, but there’s also a range of hardware gadgets and software designed to improve our efficiency. These includes programmable keyboards and dials, midi controllers and iPad apps. Some of these can be quite expensive, so are they worth the additional cost? And if so, which ones work best?
When Lightroom was first released, my business was high volume raw processing for wedding photographers, so I’ve experimented with plenty of gadgets over the years in the quest for greater speed. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing some of the most popular options currently available and summarizing the features of the others. They include the Contour Shuttle Pro & Wacom tablet, Motibodo, PFixer, Palette, RPG Keys, Padroom, VSCO Keys, Paddy / AutoHotKey, Knobroom, Midi2LR and LR Control.
We’ll be comparing specific features:
- Controls (which ones you can adjust)
- Learning Curve
- Size & Ergonomics
- OS & Lightroom Compatibility
- Instructions & Support
- Price & Trial Versions
Before we get stuck into the reviews, however, who would benefit from using these gadgets?
They’re primarily designed for photographers who are editing large numbers of photos individually. They allow accurate adjustments to be made quickly, in some cases, without even looking at the sliders. If you’ve suffered from RSI issues, they also help by splitting the work between two hands and reducing the repetitive slider movements.
On the other hand, if you spend a long time working on each photo, the gadgets aren’t as great a timesaver. However, the tools allow you to focus more on the photo itself, rather than having to look at the sliders, so some photographers find they end up with a better edit, although not necessarily faster.
In the past, some of the gadgets I’ve tested have had a frustrating lag between pressing a button and the adjustment being applied to the photo. There wasn’t a notable lag in any of the hardware tools I tested this time, although the iPad apps are dependent on the strength of the wifi network, and were therefore a little slower.
In a few weeks time, we’ll cover more general Lightroom performance tips, including using smart previews for editing. (Sign up for the newsletter if you’d like to be notified.) First though, this gadget series will run for 4-6 weeks… next Monday is my long-term favorite: a combination of a Contour Shuttle Pro and Wacom tablet.