What is the one thing that all photographers hate? Maybe selfie sticks take the top spot. But close to the top has to be editing.
It is the one part of my workflow that I least look forward to. Like most photographers, I would much rather be spending my time taking photos than sitting in front of a monitor.
For any given assignment, I may come back with between 4000-6000 photos to edit. The quicker I can get through these, the better. So, over the years, I have looked at many ways of speeding up my workflow efficiency. I try to get my pictures as close to the final version as possible in the field. But there will always be some editing needed.
So, when I first learned about the TourBox controller, I was extremely excited to test it out.
TourBox is a controller for digital creators, designed so you can use creative software such as Photoshop and Lightroom more efficiently. TourBox is compatible with Mac and Windows, and works by adding the shortcuts that you might use in your workflow to dials and buttons. This makes it quicker and easier to access software tools and features, which in turn speeds up your workflow.
The company behind TourBox was founded in 2016, and they spent two years developing this console. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the first finished versions were shipped in July 2019 to 58 countries.
The controller arrived in a stylishly-packaged box which would look at home on the shelf of a high-end department store. Inside the box was an instruction manual, a console, and a USB cable to connect the controller to a computer. There was no power cord, as the controller uses power directly from your computer.
One of the first things I noticed about the TourBox controller is how heavy it is. This is great, because it stops the controller sliding around on a desk. There are some grips underneath the console, but the weight helps. I also liked the slick, matte black finish, which is less slippery than gloss.
The controller is approximately 11 cm x 8 cm (and around 4 cm high to the top of the center knob).
TourBox is quick and easy to install. You simply to go to the TourBox website. Download the drivers and the software for the controller and follow the steps. In all, it took around four minutes for me to download and install everything needed for the console to work.
So, within a few minutes, you are ready to start using the product.
How does TourBox work?
In simple terms, the console replaces the shortcuts that you would type on a keyboard. By using the different dials and buttons, you can replace up to 42 different shortcuts. So, there are plenty of options (depending on how efficient you are with using keyboard shortcuts).
Selecting a shortcut is then a case of clicking different combinations on the controller. For example, in Lightroom, Command/Control+Alt+V is the shortcut for pasting settings from a previous photo to the one you are on. But you can achieve this with one button using the console if you wish.
Perfect for Lightroom (and Photoshop)
One of the great things about this console is that it comes with functions for Lightroom and Photoshop already programmed in. You can literally open Lightroom and start using the console as soon as it is installed.
You might be asking: Aren’t there more than 42 shortcuts in Lightroom? What the people at TourBox have cleverly done is program shortcuts for the most commonly-used functions.
Things like temperature, tint, exposure, and contrast are controlled by pressing the relevant button. You can then turn the controller dial to adjust the slider. The other nine sliders in the Lightroom Basic panel are controlled by holding a button and clicking a direction on the Dpad.
So, as an example, if you wanted to adjust the saturation, you would hold the top button and tap the “right” arrow on the Dpad. This selects the saturation slider, which you can then adjust with the dial. Once you have selected the slider, it remains selected until you choose something else. So there’s no need to keep the buttons pressed down.
But how will I remember all the combinations?
First, no need to worry. There is a handy Dpad guide that stays on the screen to show you the different functions. It will change to different combinations when you press any of the buttons on the console.
Even though the guide is on the screen, in reality, you will learn the combinations really quickly. Because let’s be honest: It is much easier to remember to click one or two buttons than four different ones.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of the editing you will do is in the basic panel. So you will be clicking these different combinations all the time. After around 15 minutes, I noticed that I began to use the console without needing the guide.
Customize TourBox to your needs
The console has plenty of space for your own shortcuts (i.e., settings that you might use often). So you can change any of the preset shortcuts to fit your most commonly used adjustments.
For me, one of the most used functions of Lightroom is copying the develop settings from the previous photo to the current one. I programmed this into the Tall button + C1. I have also programmed next photo and previous photo (normally the left and right arrow on a keyboard) as C1 and C2.
So I can use the console without even needing to take my hand off of it.
Faster and more efficient workflow
You may be thinking: What the point of all this is? After all, your mouse and keyboard can do all these things.
For me, the benefit of a console like this is three-fold. First, it makes it much easier and quicker to edit through photos. This is because you are not moving your hand from the mouse to the keyboard all the time, which cannot be avoided for shortcuts that need many keys to be pressed. Plus, the controller makes it easier to remember shortcuts; I struggle to remember any shortcuts which are more than two keys, so this is ideal.
The second benefit is that you have much more control when adjusting the sliders with the TourBox console (compared to the mouse). You can fine-tune the sliders in a way that’s difficult to do with a mouse.
The third benefit of TourBox is that you can use it in conjunction with a tablet (and pen) for editing. This makes using a tablet quicker, as you can switch between commands using the console.
99% of my editing work happens inside Lightroom. But you can also use TourBox with other creative software such as Photoshop, Capture One, Final Cut, and more. You can create different presets for each of these programs, and TourBox automatically detects the software you are using and switches to the relevant settings. So switching your editing from Lightroom to Photoshop becomes seamless and happens without interruption.
I often get excited about new photography gadgets. But over the course of a few days and months that enthusiasm wanes, and I usually stop using the new gadget altogether. I always revert back to the old way of doing things.
But I must confess: Having had the TourBox controller for a few days now, it might become a permanent fixture in my workflow. I am finding that I am going through my editing much quicker than usual. Either I have become considerably quicker in a few days, or it is due to the TourBox console.