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Review: Tangent Ripple for Capture One

I think I can say that the world’s first Capture One + Tangent controller review is showing up right here on midi2lightroom.com. I've purchased a Tangent Ripple and a Capture One subscription in order to make a review to you despite that this website deals with Lightroom.

With the introduction of Capture One Pro 10 the hardware-based controlling of the highly anticipated software became a reality. You need to know that Capture One still does not support MIDI controllers. You are able to control the RAW converter solely with Tangent video controllers. To be honest these are not cheap gadgets. The Tangent Element system - the controller that Phase One advertises C1 Pro 10 with - costs about 3300 dollars. However there are cheaper solutions and some ‘backdoors’ too. Here they are. 

For example there is Tangent’s cheapest controller, the little Tangent Ripple, that costs only USD350. It's about the price of a mid-range MIDI controller for Lightroom - frankly this the level of the average photographer. Unfortunately the Ripple has less buttons and knobs than its bigger brothers (like Element or Wave), but it is fairy usable and - as I already told - there are some 'backdoors' too in the system. 

As the Ripple has arrived to me, I quickly realised that it is really an overpriced product. That sucks but unfortunately there is no alternative for Capture One so 'That’s all Folks'.

I understand that if you need to take the Ripple with you, then its lightweight plastic construction may be an advantage (nope, it’s not Chinese, it’s made in the UK). Moreover I know that this is Tangent's entry-level product and the Tangent Element system is more of a high quality product, made of metal, where the panels has status-LCDs and they connect to each other with fancy little magnets, but to be honest the Element system is also very very overpriced for USD3300, at least compared to MIDI controllers. This tiny plastic controller - the Ripple - costs almost as much as my huge Behringer X-Touch Compact MIDI controller which is entirely made of metal, has 9 motorized faders, 16 encoders with LEDs and a huge amount of buttons. And as for the fancy status-LCDs…Novation Zero SL controllers also have LCDs, yet they cost only 200 dollars (unfortunately it has been discontinued). As for the magnetic connection, well Palette Gear’s pieces work like this as well but only for 300-500 dollars. So from this point of view the Tangent controllers are overpriced. From the other hand though they are quite cheap compared to other video controllers on the market. A Blackmagic Davinci Resolve control surface costs tenth as much.

The Ripple seems very lightweight as you take it out from the box, but if you put the three golfball-sized (and -weighted) trackerballs in it, then its rubber foot stick to the table-surface, then this little guy seems quite sturdy. The jogwheels and the trackerballs move smoothly so all in all try not to think that you pay 350 bucks for a lightweight plastic stuff, but consider the serious programming behind it and the fact that this is the only one solution for using Capture One with a tactile interface. The possibility that costs 350 dollars.... and it does worth it however.

I would emphasize the previous sentence: ‘the serious programming behind it’.

After two years of using MIDI controllers with Lightroom I can say Tangent's operation is kind of a totally different world. Everything works better somehow. Using MIDI controllers is feels now a DIY-stuff, while Tangent is the ‘mature factory product’ from this point of view. There are no bugs, no jumping values, no sesitivity problem, it does not run the processor after quit, there is no slow reaction and no white balance controlling issues. There is sensitivity. Sensitive controls and as smooth-moving Capture One sliders as I haven’t seen before in LR.

The backdoors

I’d quicky explain here how you can skip the expensive Wave or Element controllers with a minimal compromise. Desipite the fact that the bigger amount of controls the more fun to work with a controller, the Ripple has only 3 jogwheels and 3 trackerballs and a couple of buttons, yet it is quite usable. Why?

Because:

Capture One's interface is different

Differrent than Lightroom’s. Usually you don't use as many sliders as in Lightroom, there is neighter Vibrance, nor Whites and Blacks. Usually you'll need to map only 10-15, or max 20 sliders on your controller’s knobs while using Capture One (just for comparison: in Lightroom I map 59 sliders)

One encoder (eg. a jogwheel) can adjust different things

There are three jogwheels and three trackerballs on the Ripple. By default the three trackerballs control the Color Balance’s color tools (Shadows, Midtones, Highlights) and the three jogwheels control the Color Balance’s lightness tools. I suggest you shoud keep this set up because Color Balance is a powerful tool of Capture and it is well tailored for trackball use intentionally. But there is an ‘A’ button on the Ripple that means Alternate. Alternative function. While you are pressing it, the trackerballs and jogwheels will act differently and can control anything else you want. Moreover there is a ‘B’ button on the Ripple that can be mapped for changing Banks on your controller. It is kinda same as the Alternate function but this one is separated and you do not need to hold the button like 'A' button. By default the Ripple is on Bank no.1 (with the Color Balance tools) but you can create as many Banks as you want and your control device will act differently in each bank. Also there is a possibility for Alternate function on these banks. So you have 3 jogwheels and 3 trackerballs and you'll have let's say 2 Banks plus Alternate functions on each Bank, this means solely for the 3 jogwheels you can map 3x2x2=12 Capture One sliders.

The trackerballs are special

You can add also the trackerballs to the above mentioned equation keeping in mind that these trackerballs are two-dimensional. This means that Capture One can differentiate their horizontal and vertical movement and you can map different functions to each direction. For example the horizontal movement adjusts Exposure, the vertical adjusts Brightness, or one direction is for the Shadows the other is for the Highlights. Like this the three trackerballs can adjust 6 Capture One sliders, and 12 by using Alternate function, and 24 by using 2 Banks AND Alternate functions on each Bank. However I do not recommend to map different functions to different directions because it is hard to divide the two movements when you move the balls. It’s fair enough to map only one function to each ball.

So how do I remember all the functions I’ve mapped?

Tangent helps you in this. As I told there are LCD displays on Element and Wave models that show the function (and value) of each controls. Fortunately Ripple also provides you a so called HUD (Head Up Display) on your monitor that looks the same as Element’s display. When you touch one of the controls on Ripple, the HUD will pop up and show you the mapping of jogwheels and trackerballs and the number of Bank you are on. Moreover the HUD shows the Capture One value as well both with numbers, percentage or progress bar. You can choose. This is cool becuase when you adjust a C1 slider with the Ripple, the software will not jump to that Tooltab on the Sidebar like Lightroom does, so you can see the value on the HUD and look the effect on the picture. You'll see the actual slider in Capture One only if you switch to the Tooltab that includes it, or if you push a button that is mapped for changing Tooltabs.

 

Buttons

Now we’ve already arrived to the next important issue: the buttons. The little Tangent Ripple has hardly any buttons. We have talked about the A and B buttons in the middle - you don’t want to change those, as they switch Alternate and Bank functions. So there are only 6 other buttons left on the controller next to the jogwheels. These are Reset buttons by default, one resets the trackerball change, the other resets the jogwheel change. Unfortunately this function is fixed so you cannot change them. Yes, essentially the Ripple has no programmable buttons. Only A and B buttons can be reprogammed but those should be mapped for Alternate and Bank change functions as by default. 

Buttons are however important parts of RAW-controllers because usually you can map a bunch of things to them. Eg. adjustment copy and paste (apply), rating, zoom, export and many more.

So what to do next? How you’ll have usable buttons with the Ripple? The first solution that pops into your mind is very expensive: you buy the Tangent Element-Bt, the button panel of the Element system. It costs USD 660.

Fortunately you do not need to do that. Because there are small MIDI controllers with buttons on the market with the fraction of the cost (eg. Korg nanoPAD2 for USD60). Yes, I have good news for you: you can connect BUTTON-BASED MIDI controllers to Capture One! There are small apps that translate MIDI commands to keypresses or keyboard combinations on an OS-level. For example midiStroke for OSX, or Bome Translator Classic for Windows. So you can map eg. Shift+Cmd+C and Shift+Cmd+V to two separate buttons and that will work on operation system level including Capture One. And C1 has a huge amount of keyboard shortcuts that you can assign to buttons.

If 16 buttons on a Korg nanoPAD2 is not enough for you (well keep in mind that nanoPAD2 also has 4 Banks where buttons can work differently), then there is the Novation Launchpad for you for example where you can mark the buttons or button groups with colored lighting for better identification.

Compared to Lightroom + MIDI2LR

We have only one thing left to talk about, the comparison with Lightroom’s popular MIDI plugin, the MIDI2LR. Unfortunately I must say that MIDI2LR still knows more than the Tangent Mapper (the mapping utility app of Tangent controllers). The latter is more stable and more user friendly, but lacks a couple of mappable functions. For example the levels tool, the rotation and keystone tools (perspective correction) or the color sliders. However color tools in C1 are more complicated than those in Lightroom so it would be hard to map them on tactile controls. Also you should know that this is the first release of Tangent’s Capture One mapping, while MIDI2LR has its 20th or 30th release already as it is developed continuously. So we hope Tangent will widen the range of the available (and mappable) tools in Capture One too. We are missing the Rotation and Keystone tools very much as well as the Levels!

However Tangent knows some features that MIDI2LR does not, for example adjusting the local brush tool. You can control its size, hardness, opacity and flow with your controller, which is really cool. By the way Tangent differentiates knob functions from button functions. You cannot map a button function on a knob and vice versa and there are much more button functions than knob functions. This does not affect you with the Ripple (since there were no buttons on it), if you use a MIDI-controller with buttons for C1, well you’ll not dig in the Tangent Mapper for that (rather in midiStroke or similar MIDI translator software).

Anyway the Ripple comes pre-mapped for Color Balance tool only, for the rest of the features you’ll have to map it for yourself. Don’t be afraid of it though, I told that the Tangent Mapper is very user friendly. 

Below you can find the list available Capture One sliders you can map to the jogwheels, trackerballs (or knobs if you are lucky enough for having an Element or Wave controller):

  1. White Balance: Kelvin, Tint
  2. Exposure: Exposure, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation
  3. Color Balance: Shadows, Midtones, Highlights X/Y tengely + 3x Lightness + Master X/Y tengely
  4. Black & White: 6 alapszín + Highlights Hue és Saturation és Shadows Hue és Saturation
  5. High Dynamic Range: Shadows, Highlights
  6. Clarity: Clarity, Structure
  7. Vignetting: Amount
  8. Lens correction: Distortion, Sharpness Falloff, Light Falloff
  9. Purple fringing: Defringe
  10. LCC: Uniform light
  11. Sharpening: Amount, Radius, Threshold, Halo
  12. Noise Reductions: Amount, Detail, Color, Single Pixel
  13. Film Grain: Impact, Granularity
  14. Moire: Amount, Pattern
  15. Spot removal: Radius
  16. Brush: Size, Hardness, Opacity, Flow
  17. Viewer: Zoom
  18. Overlay: Opacity, Zoom, Horizontal, Vertical
  19. Fake Keypress

Final word

In a five-stars rating system I’d give 3,5-4 stars for the Ripple. Not the highest availabe because it is overpriced, because its build quality is relatively low for its pricetag (it does not seem a premium product) and because there are few buttons on it which cannot be re-programmed, so you need to buy a separate MIDI controller for that. Its advantage though is its precise working its user friendly Mapper software…and the fundamental fact that this is the only one alternative of tactile Capture One controlling. This is the Ripple's biggest advantage.

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Introduction

Using a MIDI controller for photo processing is quite a new movement in the world. These hardwares are originally built for music editing softwares but thanks to some clever plugins they can be used for photo editing in Adobe’s Lightroom software too. READ MORE...

Softwares

We need a small plugin to connect a MIDI controller with Lightroom. The job of these plugins is to identify the signal of the MIDI controller via USB and match them to certain Lightroom prompts and functions which are in the plugin’s stock. READ MORE...

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