UPDATE 2: Someone from Palette responded and had obviously not read my original message and basically told me to try the things that I explained in my email that I had already tried. First Strike.
UPDATE:Yesterday, March 14, I was prompted to install an update and update the firmware on the Palette core module. After the process completed, the software will no longer see the Palette hardware and it is completely non-funtional aside from lighting up. I’ve contacted Palette Support but being the weekend, they are likely not available. And I have 2200 airshow images to cull, sort and edit. Sigh!
I’m a gear junkie. I see new stuff all the time that I think I absolutely must have. Most of the time, I find that things aren’t as useful as I thought they would be. Recently, I purchased a piece of gear that just really changed the game. Whether it is shooting sports, an airshow, an event, or even a wedding. I usually end up with a ton of shots that I then later have to cull through and then edit. In most cases, it’s hundreds of hours of tedious editing, tweaking and then re-tweaking. Then I’ll view images full-screen and tweak them more. Shooting an offroad race, I may have over 2500 shots to cull through and get the number to between 300-500 images. Palette Gear makes editing so much easier every step of the process. What is it?
Palette is a series of modules consisting of buttons, dials and sliders that connect together using magnets so they can be arranged in whatever order and layout you want. Once you lay them out the way you like, then you can assign functions in whatever software you are using to the controls in your Palette Gear. So instead of clicking on a slider on the Lightroom interface to adjust Explosure, I’d instead assign one of my Palette modules to Exposure and instead just turn a dial or slide a slider to modify exposure. So you might ask how many control modules there are because Lightroom has a LOT of sliders. There are three levels of kits – Starter, Expert and Professional. The starter kit comes with 2 buttons, a slider and a dual function dial. The Expert has 2 buttons, 3 dials and 2 sliders. Lastly, the Pro has 4 Buttons, 4 slides and 6 dials. Each kit also has the core module which has an LCD display that gives you info about your controls. So even if you have the Pro kit, you can only use a total of 14 Lightroom controls, right? No, the Palette software allows you to have multiple configurations for a given application. So you can have a configuration for adjusting basic image controls such as Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, etc, then another color and then another for sharpness, detail and noise. So you can toggle between multiple Profiles/Configurations cover all of the controls. Even better you can assign one of your controls to toggle through the profiles for that app. This means that I can have one profile just for culling images. Button 1, Flags the imaga as good, Button 2 rejects it, Button 3 goes to the next image. So instead of clicking through images and then clicking the little flag to accept or reject. I can slap one button to Flag the photo as a keeper, then slap another button to move to the next image, all the while in full screen mode where I’m looking at the best possible copy for review. It cut my culling time to about 1/4 of what it was before and basically made it like playing an old arcade game.
The actual editing works much the same way. I start the actual editing in my Basic configuration which has controls for Exposure, Shadows, Clarity, Tint, Color Temp, Whites, Blacks, Hightlights, Saturation and Dehaze. I slap the Next Profile button and go to the Detail profile where I adjust sharpness and noise. Next is my Tone curve config and lastis Grain, Balance, Lens Vignetting, etc. I can do all of this while the Lightroom interface is hidden and I’m in Full size mode with the image taking up 100% of the screen. Turning a dial I see how it impacts the full sized image in real time. It sped up my imaging time immensely and even better, gave welcome relief to my hands and wrists not having to use a mouse for hours at a time. All of the controls feel to be very good quality and feel solid. The dials seem to be the most versatile by also having a push and turn mode that when you push the dial in and simultaneously turn the dial, doubles the amount the turn changes the effect. All controls also have an LED border around the module that you can assign to be one of 6 or so colors for easier identification.
The product is fairly pricey with the Professional kit being around $500, but if you calculate how much it cuts cost based on the amount of time it saves you, it quickly pays for itself. You can also purchase the starter kit and then buy additional modules for around $49 each and slowly piece together exactly the controls you want. If I had an award to give for product of the year, Palette would be it. For more information, check out PaletteGear.com