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Imagine driving a car…but with a cursor instead of a steering wheel and pedals. That’s exactly the difference between using Lightroom with a mouse or a controller.

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

It’s important to know that using a controller is only possible with Lightroom at the moment. You cannot connect MIDI controllers to Capture One, Photoshop or any other RAW-editing softwares due to technical reasons (except one controller solution, which we will talk about later). There is a good chance that a Capture One (C/O) user will never experience the possibilities of hardware-based controlling, because 3rd party apps and plugins can’t be developed for C/O unless a very costly yearly fee is paid to Phase One. On the other hand, access for Lightroom is free for developers.

Why is it any good to use a MIDI controller for Lightroom?

In the world of cinematography it has been a common practice to use hardware equipment for post processing, just like in the music industry. The world of photography is just about to experience this possibility.

The main point is the ease, quickness and ergonomics of controlling virtual Lightroom sliders and functions by using physical sliders, knobs and buttons.

Using a controller is much better than managing the process with a mouse or a touchpad, because LR sliders are small and quite hard to grab with a cursor, not to mention scrolling up and down on the Develop panel in order to access one slider or another.

When you use a MIDI controller you may add these virtual Lightroom sliders (eg. Exposure, Contrast, Saturation or even Noise reduction, Sharpness) to each physical slider or knob on your controller so all your Lightroom sliders will be right at your hands. Just grab the slider and push/turn it, so you adjust the connected Lightroom slider’s value or enable a function. You can enhance your photo, brighten or darken it, adjust its contrast, color tones or white balance (and many other options) by a single hand movement.

Less sliders/knobs on your controller than you’d use in Lightroom? No worries! There are several solutions, and we’ll talk about them soon.

Moreover, there are also buttons on MIDI controllers (usually), so you can add Lightroom functions to them. Syncing, copying and pasting settings from one photo to another, as well as enabling the Crop tool, the Brush tool, the Gradient Filter tools or even rating the photos with stars/flags/color labels, or adding presets (eg. VSCO, SLRLounge) to the photos with a single press-button. While you could do these only by using keyboard shortcuts in the past, now all of these functions will be right at your hand in the form of dedicated buttons. Imagine adding your favorite preset to your photo with a single button (you don’t need to look for it in the list of all your presets) then you could copy and paste the settings on the next 5-10-20 photos also by only pressing real buttons!

Those who never used a MIDI controller before cannot imagine how it speeds up the selection and post processing phase, and makes the whole picture-production process really fun to do. Even if you only wish to process a couple of photos, a MIDI controller will be a great help for you, but if you are facing hundreds of wedding pics or event photos, a controller will truly feel like God's blessing. As an analogy, I could come up with driving a car with a steering wheel and pedals vs. ‘driving’ it with a mouse and a keyboard. If you have ever tried playing a racing computer game with a dedicated steering wheel and pedal, you’d know the difference. But here is another analogy: sure you know the difference of typing a text with a real keyboard vs. typing on a virtual keyboard with a mouse cursor. It’s not the same thing, is it?

On these pages I’ll show you how to connect a MIDI controller with Adobe Lightroom and also you’ll know what MIDI controllers are worth to buy (there are many-many types available). There are already plug-and-play solutions on the market for higher prices, but the majority of the photographers assemble their own setup since it's really not a big deal. And this way you’ll get a perfectly customized solution. You do not need to be a programmer, you’ll only need a little patience for the first time. Whether you have a PC or Mac there is a solution for you.

But what about the cost? Connecting Lightroom with a MIDI controller is free of charge (thanks to some freeware plugins), so you only need to purchase a MIDI controller which costs approx. 50 - 500USD, so every photographer can find one for his/her taste.

Are you getting interested? Then welcome to our pages, welcome among the increasing number of photographers in the world who prefer hardware-based photo-processing over a mouse and cursor. Let’s continue the fun with the software-side of the story.

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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...


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...


Learn more, and get our PRO-offer for only $8.99. If you register, you will get access to complete installation guides with videos, more explanation about the topic, and description of suitable MIDI Controllers on the market as well as downloads and forum. This is the easiest way to start MIDI-controlling your Lightroom.