Palette Gear For Post-Processing Workflow
Wedding photographers in particular process large amounts of images from their photo shoots. As a group, it seems they’re always seeking a way to streamline the post-processing workflow in order to save minutes that lead to saving hours. Well, there’s a new kid in town for your photo editing desktop, and that kid’s name is Palette. Palette gear brings adjustments from your Lightroom software app and assigns them, to your custom specifications, to physical hard switches, knobs, and sliders. Importantly, this now helps distribute the tasks to both hands and not just to our dominant hand. Thanks to my brother R.L.Caron from R.L.Caron Imaging in Naples, Florida, whose setup is seen here and whose experiences I am relaying here. Also shown in this photo are the user’s Wacom graphics tablet and Contour Pro keypad, which are not the subject of this discussion. Initial reports are that this is indeed one very slick and efficient workflow system.
This product had been promised to have widespread availability by its manufacturer during the latter part of 2015 and deliveries started reaching customers in the first few days of 2016. Delays are inevitable but all indications are that they were all related to ensuring a smooth operation from the start with quality, installation and operation as flawless as possible. The good news is that Palette gear is now widely available. Typically one first buys a starter set in one of three levels (starter, expert, and professional), to which additional modules can be purchased separately and added at will, if needed.
The Palette gear switches are fully customizable based on each user’s definition of their most used controls. While we are addressing here their use with Adobe Lightroom, they indeed work with a variety of photography (and graphics) applications. Not only is the function of each customizable, the module arrangement is fully designed by the user as each part attaches magnetically to its neighbor. The interface modules consist of a rotary knob; an “arcade” button”, and a slider. The “feel” of the switches and knobs is exquisite, silky and gradual level of control. Palette has thought of pretty much everything: once a module has been assigned a function, you can snap it out of its current location and attach it somewhere else, and the function will be remembered. The edges of each module can be set with user-defined colors to categorize their function. There is of course a required main module, the ‘core’, which is the one that connects via USB to the computer, shown with the red outline, above. This core module displays the logo of the application it’s been programmed to work with, along with the saved name of the assignments given to the switches (the profile, such as ‘Develop 1’ as seen in the setup app seen below).
Software included with the Palette gear is very straightforward to use and easy to understand. Here’s a screenshot of the app that shows the assigned function of each module.
Above, the ‘Wild Card’ knob is set to control whichever function the system’s pointer device (i.e. mouse or pen) is hovering over; how cool is that? The following screen illustrates how straightforward setting the function really is for each control module/switch/button.
Cost of entry into this system can be attractively low. There are various kits bundled with differing amounts of switchgear. Then there’s always an ultra-basic setup, a great low-cost point of entry, consisting of only a main module and one knob, which can be programmed to respond to whichever control your pointing device happens to be hovering over, like mentioned in the Wild Card setting earlier.
R.L. says this about the smooth operation of these keys: “I love the smooth operation of all the controls, especially the dials. In fine mode, the default, the changes (to exposure, contrast, clarity, color balance, etc.) are delightfully subtle — prompting a new awareness of each characteristic. Controlling these adjustments in the conventional manner — directly on the software — appears crude by comparison. I certainly have not abandoned the direct mode — but it’s terrific to have a higher level of artistic input so close at hand and so simple to implement.”
If your photographic post-processing involves high volume through-put, and if you value your time (as you should), a closer look at the Palette line of physical switches may be a great consideration! You can buy directly from Palette or from on-line superstores like B&H. Have fun and let us know your experiences! Palette works with both Macs and PCs.
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