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Product Review: Kubota RPG SpeedKeys 2 for Lightroom

Back in 2009, Kubota Imaging Tools came up with a product that really sped up productivity and workflow with their SpeedKeys for Lightroom. It provides for a second keyboard where you can access the Lightroom commands and work with Kubota presets without having to go through the interface. Well this year they have taken that product and added new features to take it to another level.

Editing images in Lightroom is great, but sometimes having to use your mouse to increase something like the brightness can be tedious. Sure a Wacom tablet it can make it easier, but what if you want to apply a preset? You have to go back to your keyboard and menus to search for the preset that you want to apply. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just push a button and that preset is automatically applied?

That’s what Kubota RPG SpeedKeys does for you. It allows you to make changes to your image without having to navigate back into Lightroom, mouse over to your presets, and locate what you want to apply. By pressing one or two keys on the RPG unit, you’re done.

What do you need to run the Kubota RPG SpeedKeys? That is simple.

• Windows or Mac.
• Adobe Lightroom 2 or 3.
• Available USB Port.

It took me all of about 5 minutes to install. It was very easy to do. Just pop 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 that you have to do then 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, etc from one easy keypad. Not only that, but you have easy access to the Kubota Lightroom presets that you installed as well. 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.

So what makes SpeedKeys 2 so different? Well first you can swap out any individual keys. Then, you have 48 new keys for a total of 64 keys. You can now assign any preset to any key in the system which gives you much more freedom of movement. This allows you to really modify your SpeedKeys to work within your own workflow. You can also use your keys to work in both the Library as well as the Develop mode. It is compatible with both Lightroom 2 and 3. And finally, you have video tutorial support from within the SpeedKeys interface.

You also get quite a number of Kubota presets that you can work with. You get all of the Kubota Lightroom presets from volume 1 and 2, but also some additional ones that are new to this product. These presets work much like the actions from the Pro Pak’s 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, 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.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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