Using Lightroom is a joy compared to Photoshop. But it isn't a joy compared to, for example, cheesecake. It's definitely nice to be able to adjust nearly every aspect of an image with convenient sliders, to have all of the settings right in front of you without having to open lots of dialog boxes. At the same time, though, your mouse hand can get pretty tired, and that never happens with cheesecake, now does it?

Never fear, there is finally a solution. Well, the beginning of a solution. A solution in the early stages of beta testing, but a solution nonetheless, and it doesn't involve uninstalling Lightroom and eating more cheesecake. Although you are welcome to eat more cheesecake anyway if that's your thing.

No, friends, what I'm talking about is Knobroom. What is Knobroom? Knobroom is a plug-in for Lightroom written by Jarno Heikkinen. Now hold on, I know what you're going to ask: “What is that picture to the right?” It's a good question. That is a Behringer B-Control Rotary BCR2000 32-channel MIDI encoder panel.

Oh, you want to know what Knobroom does! You haven't guessed yet? Knobroom connects the sliders in Lightroom to MIDI control channels. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and is essentially the standard by which electronic instruments communicate with one another (and with computers). The Behringer shown on the right is just one example of a MIDI control panel that would commonly be used to control volume, pan, vibrato, loudness, and other such attributes in music software.

Of course, it's just a USB device that communicates through the well-documented MIDI protocol, so Jarno wrote a plug-in that takes that information and allows you to say “when knob 1 is turned, change the exposure slider.” This allows you to move settings up and down with the knobs without having to move the mouse or even have the appropriate panels in the develop module open.

How cool is that?!

I'm seriously considering the purchase of a Behringer BCR2000 as that is the model Max Edin used in his demonstration video, which sort of proves that it works. There are some issues and the software is in a beta stage of development so you have to expect some bumps in the road, but it looks very promising.

Read more on Max Edin's blog: Using Hardware Controllers with Lightroom. Check out the Knobroom home page for more of the gritty details.