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Review: Kubota RPG Speedkeys for Lightroom 2

By Kim Larson

When Adobe Lightroom was formally introduced in 2006, it was applauded as a great tool for enhancing photographers’ workflows. Now there’s another tool on the market that can further speed your work in Lightroom: Kubota RPG Speedkeys for Lightroom 2.

Kubota RPG Speedkeys for Lightroom 2 was designed to help you work faster in Lightroom by combining the popular RPG Keys product with Kevin Kubota’s Lightroom workflow. It’s a small wireless keyboard that is pre-programmed to run time-saving adjustments in Lightroom, such as increasing or decreasing exposure, and shortcuts to perform popular  Kubota Lightroom Presets. (The product includes Kubota Lightroom Presets v3.) With just a press of the button, you can adjust things like the exposure and color temperature of an image—a great time savings over manually adjusting the Lightroom sliders with a mouse.

Installation of the Speedkeys goes quickly, but it is very important that you follow the instructions. Install the software before plugging the keyboard’s USB receiver into your computer, and when the software asks you to choose a directory for installation, make sure you choose the correct Adobe directory. It’s also important that you do not restart your computer with the USB Receiver connected, as it does affect how your computer starts if left plugged in.

To use the Speedkeys, you simply plug in the USB Receiver, start the Kubota RPG Speedkeys application, and open Lightroom. If you’re using a Macintosh, take you need to open all the little menus in the Quick Develop area of the Library module for the keys to work. Then you are ready to process away!

Although it takes time to learn the keys and train your fingers to use them, you become faster the more you use the keyboard. With the OPT 2 and OPT 3 keys, each key has three functions. This maximizes the use of the keyboard, but does take some practice in getting used to the key combinations. Before trying Speedkeys I thought I was very efficient in using the regular keyboard shortcuts in Lightroom, but after processing only three weddings with the Speedkeys I was able to decrease my workflow time by a half hour for each wedding. I am very happy with the results!

What I love most about the Speedkeys product is that it is the size of a handheld calculator. I don’t have a lot of real estate on my desk, and the Speedkeys keyboard fits well without taking up much space. I also enjoy the shortcuts provided with the Speedkeys. My favorite keys are the exposure adjustments, the Vitamin K preset, and of course the Undo button! The Undo button makes trying out the many presets on a photo and undoing them a snap! And Kubota Image Tools has just announced version 2.0 of the Speedkeys, a free upgrade for those who already have the first version. You can use the presets that come with Speedkeys, or customize your own keys to run the shortcuts and presets you want!

If you are looking to decrease the amount of time you spend at a computer, Kubota RPG Speedkeys for Lightroom 2 can certainly help. It retails for $349 and can be purchased at kubotaimagetools.com.