If you’ve read my previous review of the Loupedeck+, you’ll know I am a massive fan and it is now a firm part of my editing routine. As I said in that review, it was something that I was honestly wary of before trying it, but something I do edit without now. So when I got the chance to do the new Loupedeck CT review, I jumped at it.
The Loupedeck CT is a completely new editing station. Loupedeck has marked this as their professional tool, designed to deliver a premium editing experience. Along with the dials and buttons familiar to those who have used the , the Loupedeck CT features a touchscreen interface system of virtual buttons, that you can fully customize to your editing needs.
The CT is compatible with a wide range of software right out of the box. And it has the ability to add even more software via an ever-growing library of custom profiles.
Here is a list of compatible software out of the box (takes deep breath):
- Abelton live
- After Effects
- Capture One
- Final Cut Pro
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Lightroom Classic
- Adobe Photoshop
- Premiere Pro
- System (Windows & Mac)
Profiles exist for many more programs, including Davinci Resolve, Photomechanic, and Logic Pro X, amongst others. This is a serious list of professional software, and the ability to customize the Loupedeck CT means that there is an almost limitless opportunity to create your very own tailored workspace.
Design and build quality
The Loupedeck CT is very different from the Loupdeck+. It is much more compact in its footprint. The size is about the same as two mobile phones placed side by side. This smaller footprint not only makes having the CT on a smaller desk much easier, but it also means it is simple to add to your bag when editing on the road or on location.
The packaging looks and feels premium. It reminded me of an Apple device in the way that the quality oozes out before you even see the product.
Jet black packaging with an embossed and foiled logo on the side really does make this product feel luxurious. It may sound silly, but when packaging is this good, I feel that it shows the importance of attention to detail to the company.
Once the Loupedeck CT is removed from the packaging and those, oh so satisfying, clear plastic covers get removed, the quality of the Loupedeck CT shines through.
The build quality on this device is excellent, with the device itself comprised of an aluminum top plate (save the virtual buttons workspace) with a solid plastic underside. All buttons and dials are all reassuringly firm, with the dials having a tactile click when turning, whilst the virtual buttons have haptic feedback, which you turn on or off.
The center dial is used as a touch screen interface for some adjustments, and again, it works perfectly. It is responsive and has worked flawlessly during my time with the unit.
This is a very well-made piece of equipment that is another step forward in quality from the already well-made Loupedeck+.
The Loupedeck CT also has a Bluetooth chip, which will eventually, via an update, make the unit connect wirelessly.
It also comes with 8GB of storage, which mounts as an external drive when you connect the Loupedeck CT. This storage allows you to save all settings and preferences within the device. So, when you transport the product, all your settings travel with you. This is great for those that travel regularly or use different computers for different projects.
Ergonomically, the unit is made for one-handed operation. This is not to underestimate the amount of editing this thing can do on its own. Whilst the Loupedeck+ feels like something that is aimed to replace your keyboard, the CT feels like an addition to your keyboard and mouse. It is an incredibly powerful enhancement to your workflow.
Buttons on the Loupedeck CT are backlit in a way that aids your use of the device. The buttons’ color shows how it is mapped at a glance. The three colors are green, purple, and blue.
Green buttons are assigned to workspaces (of which you can have multiple per application). The purple buttons are assigned to actions (such as applying a preset or creating a copy of the image, etc.). Finally, the blue buttons are there to take you into page-based layouts. This allows you to create sub-menus within a workspace, such as a page dedicated to your image presets, without the need to change the entire workspace.
Installing the Loupedeck CT
Installing the Loupedeck CT is a simple affair. You just download and install the software from the Loupedeck website, then connect the Loupedeck.
The Loupedeck itself is USB-C, which helps future-proof the product. However, it comes packaged with a USB-C to USB-A braided cable, which will be welcomed by a lot of people. The cable itself is of high quality, reinforcing the attention to detail that Loupedeck has put into this product.
The learning curve is the part of Loupedeck CT that is the thing that you will find hardest. It’s not that the CT is hard to use, in fact, it is the total opposite of that. It is more about remembering which button is where, how you have your dials set, and moving your hands away from existing workflows.
With the Loupedeck+ everything is set and you quickly become accustomed to where everything is. However, whilst the flexibility of the Loupedeck CT is its strongest feature, it does mean you have a larger learning curve. As an example, when moving from Lightroom to Photoshop, the button layout changes, so it takes more time to become a power user across multiple software.
The initial setting up of custom workspaces will take time and effort from the user. However, this is the step that is essential for those looking to get the most out of this device.
The software makes it simple to set up, but you need to customize the layout of the deck for your specific editing style. You will then need to do this on a software-by-software basis. This process may take a few hours, but it is so worth it. The profiles supplied by Loupedeck are great and get you started instantly, but every editing workflow is different and the Loupedeck profiles are unlikely to match your specific workflow.
The Loupdeck CT in use
The first thing I noticed about the Loupedeck CT was its software awareness. Switching over to Photoshop from Lightroom, the Loupedeck instantly changed to its Photoshop workspace. There was no lag or waiting. It was ready to go. This smoothness is the same for every software. You can even set it up to control your Spotify, so you can keep your hands on the Loupedeck whilst you decide what music you want to listen to whilst you edit.
This key feature makes the Loupedeck CT amazing for those who work in several different pieces of software. It really does make this device a huge step up from the Loupedeck+.
I know when I reviewed the Loupedeck+, I said that video editing wasn’t great. With the CT, it really performs.
Moving to Premiere Pro, you get the tools you use the most right at your fingertips. As someone who isn’t a huge video editor, it makes editing easier for me. I have also been experimenting with Final Cut Pro, and again, the Loupedeck saves me having to search through menus when I am looking for a tool.
I am sure that in the hands of a more capable editor, this tool will be huge in speeding up workflow. For an amateur like me, it makes things easier and encourages me to dig deeper.
This is also true of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Audition, which I profess to be completely lacking in in-depth knowledge. However, I can see how this, in the right hands, will be incredibly useful.
Moving on to photography (the reason I am sure most of you are reading this), to sum it up, it is amazing. If the Loupedeck+ is a high-quality, off-the-peg suit, the CT is a custom-tailored suit from Saville Row; every button and dial customized to fit your editing needs.
In Lightroom Classic, it performs beautifully. Editing is effortless and the Loupedeck makes the whole process quicker, easier, and more tactile. The ability to customize a setup to be exactly how you want is something that gives this an advantage over the Loupedeck+ for those who use more advanced features regularly. This is shown in the ease of adding your own presets to buttons. Simply create the preset, then ask Lightroom Classic to update, and instantly, it is available to add to your layout.
It is when you move to Photoshop that the Loupedeck CT really shines. The ability to customize your button layout combined with size means using this with a mouse or graphics tablet is a joy. Also, the ability to use the touchscreen center button makes working in color an amazing experience. The Loupedeck CT is a much more enhanced experience than the Loupdeck+ when it comes to Photoshop.
The integration with Adobe products is still deeper than with other software, though. Switching to Capture One Pro, the experience is simply not quite as fluid. Capture One is in Beta mode even though it comes pre-installed. In use, it lacks the level of integration found in Lightroom and can’t offer the same functionality.
This is due to Loupedeck relying on keyboard shortcuts rather than the software API. Loupedeck has released an enhanced plugin profile, which allows greater integration for Capture One users. This does help, but it relies on you having to set your keyboard to the US setting, which as a UK user, is an annoyance.
I know discussions have taken place with Phase One on fully integrating the Loupedeck CT, and for many professionals who use Capture One, this would be a game-changer. Until that happens, the best way to describe the Capture One experience is good, but not as good as Lightroom.
What I love
There is a lot to love about this product. The main things for me are:
- Look and build quality
- Unlimited customization options
- Multi-software usage
What could be better
- Integration with non-Adobe products
- No wireless option (although this may be coming)
Is it worth it?
This is the big question. This Loupedeck CT is not cheap. It currently retails at £469.
It warrants that money to those who spend a lot of time editing and those who use a variety of software daily. It is much more suitable for a wider variety of programs than the Loupedeck+. If you use Adobe products, it is pretty much flawless.
However, if you mainly edit in Lightroom, you will possibly be better served with the. It has all the features you need and comes at a lesser cost.
The other question is whether it is better to invest in the Loupedeck CT or a graphics tablet. Again, this depends on your usage and editing style. Personally, I would make more use of the Loupedeck CT. However, you may not.
The Loupedeck CT is aimed at a certain group of people. To those that will get the most out of this product, the £469 price tag is easily justified in the time saving and workflow enhancements the CT will give them. The Loupedeck CT is no mere editing gadget – it is a tool that takes your editing workflow to another level.
I really suggest you try a Loupedeck before dismissing it out of hand. Be warned though, you will probably fall in love.