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Product Review: Kubota RPG SpeedKeys for Lightroom 2

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Every once in a while someone really thinks out of the box. I know a lot of people talk about it, and sometimes they come up with cool ideas, but seldom is it really thinking outside the box. One item that comes to mind is a product like the Wacom tablet. I have yet to find anyone who has used one who has told me, "I tried it, but I like working with the mouse better." It is a simple idea that makes working much easier.

Well I think that I have found a product here that really does speed up productivity when working in Adobe Lightroom 2. Editing images in Lightroom is great, but sometimes having to use your mouse to increase something like the brightness can be tedious. I have always thought there should be a better way. Now there is.

I have worked with products from Kubota Image Tools and have found them to be very productive, very intuitive, and very creative. Everything from the Pro Paks to the AutoAlbum, these tools have been all about improvement in productivity for professional photographers. A little secret — these products work just as well for non-professionals and just about anyone who wants to spend some time to learn them.

Kubota RPG SpeedKeysKevin Kubota, the action hero behind Kubota Image Tools, has put together a truly remarkable product here called Kubota RPG SpeedKeys for Lightroom 2. RPG SpeedKeys is a standalone wireless keypad that is programmed to interface with Lightroom 2 and a number of Kubota Lightroom presets.

What do you need to run the Kubota RPG SpeedKeys? That’s simple:

• Windows or Mac.
• Adobe Lightroom 2.
• Available USB Port.

When I first heard about this, my initial thought was, “Well, it sounds pretty cool, but how will it really work?” It took me all of about five minutes to install. It was very easy to do. Just plug in the CD and it walks you right through the installation. There are actually two things that you have to install. The first is the Kubota Lightroom Presets and then the RPG SpeedKeys interface itself.

Once that is done, all you have to do is open up Adobe Lightroom and select something that you want to work on. The keys on the pad are very well laid out and each fingertip button has three possible functions. There are two option keys which are larger but are very well placed, such that with a bit of practice, you can use one hand to get to any function.

Now what does it do? Well simply put, it lets you apply common adjustments like exposure, fill, black, and so on from one easy keypad. Not only that, but you have easy access to the Kubota Lightroom presets that you installed as well. At this point, it might be better if you watch it in action from this video:

Frankly, the Kubota RPG SpeedKeys for Lightroom 2 is as easy as the video shows. An additional feature is that you can set up your increments from within the SpeedKey’s interface. That is, if incrementing your brightness by one stop is too slow for you, you can change it to two, three, or whatever you feel comfortable with. All you have to do is just right-click on the SpeedKeys icon to open interface options and set it up.

In addition to this functionality, you get all of the Kubota Lightroom presets from volumes 1 and 2, but also some additional ones that are new to this product. These presets work much like the actions from the Pro Paks and are just as easy to use.

The Kubota RPG SpeedKeys for Lightroom 2 goes for $349 and can only be purchased at the Kubota Image Tools Online Store. It is aimed at the professional photographer and when you think about the fact that if it saves you 10 minutes per day in image processing time — it’ll save you much more on many days — that comes up to over 40 hours per year. That’s like a whole week of vacation.

If you are looking for a better way to enhance your workflow in Lightroom 2, if you want to reduce your post-processing time to have more time for billable hours, shoot more pictures, or just relax with your family, then you really need to check out Kubota RPG SpeedKeys for Lightroom. I highly recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.