Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2 Review

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2 Review ImageKubota RPG Speedkeys 2 Review Image

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Introduction

Busy photographers are always looking for ways to speed up the workflow and spend less time in front of a computer and more time behind a camera. Applications like Lightroom have improved the process tremendously, making cataloging and image adjustments easier and faster than before. If you have adjustments that you apply frequently, you can use presets to make it a single click process, applying a number of adjustments in one operation.

Kevin Kubota has been providing presets and tools for both Photoshop and Lightroom users for quite a while now, and one of his products is a combination of a package of presets for Lightroom and a mini keyboard from RPG Keys that looks much like a numeric keypad on your keyboard. Available as a bundle for $349, or with just the presets as the Presets Workflow Collection for $49, you get over 100 presets that do everything from black & white conversions to skin tone enhancements (and a number of interesting edge effects).

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2

There is a bit of setup work to do in order to take advantage of the Speedkeys component of this package. You’ll need to be sure to run the separate Speedkeys application before starting Lightroom, otherwise the keys won’t be seen. The presets will still function as they normally would, but since you paid an extra $300 for the keys, you’ll obviously want them available. The Speedkeys require a USB 2.0 port for the dongle, but the keyboard itself is wireless and runs off of a pair of AAA batteries.

Also included with Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2 are three more sets of keys that are labeled with presets and several blanks for using your own presets with the keys, and a “plucker” for popping the keys off to replace them.

The keys have a number of common adjustments preassigned to them – Exposure, Blacks, Fill, Next, etc, and several of Kubota’s develop presets. The adjustments can be applied in either the Library or Develop modules with different degrees of customization available to you. Personally, I find the default settings to be too large in the change they make. For example, exposure adjustments are made in full stop increments. By selecting the key in the Speedkeys application, you can change how strong of an adjustment is made, and you can customize what each key does, assigning it a completely different function if you like.

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2

Within the Speedkeys application, a description of each of the presets is available in the typical Kubota style – Kevin obviously enjoys his work. You also have the ability to set various parameters for the presets – the Gradient, Adjustment Brush, and Develop settings. Bot Gradient and Adjustment Brush can be used to fine tune how the preset is applied, and the Develop option allows you to select a different preset than the one that is currently applied.

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2 Review ImageKubota RPG Speedkeys 2 Review Image

Mac users, we’re pleased to announce Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for just $69£52, and now comes with 12 portrait presets created by Scott Kelby, plus 1 month of access to KelbyOne photography training.

Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10 on Luminar.

We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended”. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of extra keys that are included with Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2. Using the supplied tool, you can pop a key cap off and replace it with another. The Speedkeys application is then used to reassign that key to the new function. The package includes over 100 of Kubota’s presets that cover a wide range of adjustment and finishing options, and you can also use your own provided they follow a naming convention that uses only letters and numbers – no special characters allowed.

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2

The variety of supplied presets is impressive and all do a good job. I particularly like the B&W options finding that they suit a wide variety of images. You’ll need to experiment some with the presets though, since the names might leave you wondering exactly what type of adjustment you’ll be getting (I had no idea what to expect from BW BaBoom 1 for example).

Be sure that you read the directions though – you need to have the preset list expanded or they won’t be applied. I’m one of those people that tends to just jump in and start using something, not reading the directions unless I have a problem. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise when they didn’t work the first time through (although the adjustment keys did work, so I knew it wasn’t a major issue).

Conclusion

Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2 takes a bit of getting used to, but you can dramatically speed up your workflow with the Speedkeys. Once you memorize the layout of your keys, it’s a simple press to make your changes. For the busy photographer with a set workflow, this could easily save you hours a week in editing time. For the casual user, the presets are a great investment, but the additional $300 for the Speedkeys may be more than you’ll find acceptable. At $200, I think Kubota RPG Speedkeys 2 would be a fantastic combo, and easily worth the price.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Features 4
Ease-of-use 3.5
Value for money 3

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