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Hardware requirements

We need to say a few words about MIDI controllers because there are several types on the market. It does matter how many controls they have, what kind of controls they have and whether or not they have an editor software from the factory… not to mention the price tag of course.

IMPORTANT! Do not confuse MIDI controllers with the ‘conventional’ mixers that DJs use to mix songs (DJ mixer), or with those used in sound studios (studio mixer). For a photography job we’ll need a MIDI controller, or named as MIDI mixer, sometimes called a DJ-controller or a DAW controller. It is connected to your computer/laptop via USB interface by all means!

There are several types of MIDI controllers available. Some have sliders (a.k.a faders), some have rotary knobs, some have both and some have none of them, only big backlit buttons. We should purchase one that has mainly sliders or knobs but has some buttons as well.

Number of controls

The first criteria when choosing a controller is the number of controls. There are tiny, cheap controllers on the market as well as big, expensive controllers with many sliders and rotary knobs. We’ve already mentioned that having fewer controls is not necessarily an obstacle because we can switch layouts and/or profiles to multiple them, so that they can act differently if we want them to do so. But this is a compromise at some level.

Behringer X-Touch Mini MIDI controller
Behringer X-Touch Mini MIDI controller

If we have a controller with 8 sliders, but we use 40 sliders in Lightroom, then we will need to create 5 different layouts or profiles for these 40 sliders and we have to switch between them during work. This can be a bit annoying in the long haul, so it is easy to see that more sliders/knobs equal more fun. It is simply the joy of having every tool we use right at our hand. Experiences say that switching between two layouts/profiles is acceptable, but 3 or even more layouts can be annoying during a massive workload. (However, you should consider that only 8-10 sliders are regularly used in Lightroom, the other 20-30 are being used much less…at least usually.)

BTW, you can make navigation easier among the knobs/sliders, when you put labels or paint colors on them (see above). This can be a visual help during the first days/weeks/months. We’d also like to mention here that having a bunch of rotary knobs in one group might not be the best ergonomic solution. There is for example the Behringer X-Touch Compact controller which has a set of sliders here, a line of rotary knobs (encoders) there and another pack of knobs elsewhere. Because they are separated in groups, it is easier to identify them. Ok I know, such a big controller needs much more space on your desk…

Behringer MIDI controller labelled by Pusher Labs

You also should know that you can use multiple MIDI controllers at a time. This may be important if your controller is small, or if you have one with more sliders and another with mostly buttons, so they supplement each other. The main point is to send different CC codes to your computer from each.

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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...