Knobroom is a direct manipulation add-on for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, allowing access to Lightroom photo development settings with a MIDI-controller.

Main motivation for developing Knobroom is improving ergonomics, which in the end will improve your creative workflow. Sliders are quickly accessible and easily adjustable without causing mouse-related injuries or stress on your wrist.

Currently Knobroom is in ALPHA stage, meaning it is not yet recommended for production use.

31 thoughts on “Knobroom

  1. This is fantastic. Prior to starting my photography business I used to work at Lexicon, and later on, Euphonix. Lightroom is so extremely clunky, I find it remarkable that they don’t have keyboard command assignments yet. Anyhow… I always thought that a MIDI controller with faders might be the ultimate interface for LR. I bought the Nocturn to give it a try… well done! So much potential here. Do you know if there’s any way to supress LR from adding knobroom moves to the history? I’m guessing that’s a bit of a bottleneck. I’d use this every day if the response was a bit faster and I gather that the bottlenecks are all within LR.

    1. The history is feature of Lightroom API and as long as the plugin is using it, there is no way to disable history. There is however possiblity to control sliders using window messages, but it is not currently implemented. It is theoretically a bit faster, but it also has some other issues, like the sliders have to be visible.

      The MIDI interface is indeed not the bottleneck, I made a prototype of GPU based processing which runs 60 fps easily, but its hard to get exactly same rendering as in Lightroom, so not much point using own rendering code.

          1. Really?? Yikes!

            Capture One is so much better in terms of image quality, but they really need to get their head out of their ass on so many things! 🙁

  2. I’m so excited about this I could wet myself. As I’m not a Lightroom user anymore, but a Darktable ( user, I wonder if you would consider linking this with that quickly developing, open source project.

    1. I’m using only Lightroom myself, so its probably best that someone with Darktable knowledge does it 😉

      I have to check it out sometime though, just in case I get bored of Lightroom…

  3. This looks so cool I’m actually looking into buying a midi controller because of it.

    The only problem is: which controller?
    The nocturn you mention in the hardware page looks really nice, especially for the price. The korg nanoKontrol, on the other hand, is slightly cheaper and has sliders.

    So which one integrates with lightroom/knobroom best? Are there any features of each controller that aren’t supported (the nocturn’s pages, for example)? What can’t be reprogrammed? Anything I should know quality-wise?

    1. Nanokontrol won’t change to correct position when you are moving between photos, the sliders and knobs are not motorized.

      Nocturn’s pages are its internal implementation, it works just fine.

      1. While the knobs aren’t motorized, don’t the LEDs change accordingly? Or do you have to reset the knobs yourself each time you move to a different photo? o_O

        1. LEDs change, if the controller supports them (Knobroom sends MIDI out when photo changes in Lightroom, and MIDI in is received when you adjust knobs).

          I think nanoKontrol is still just physical knobs and sliders, meaning that it has no LEDs showing the range and knobs have limited physical range. There are just some LED buttons, but since Knobroom doesn’t really support much buttons, there is not that much use for them.

  4. It seems like having buttons assigned to labels is a bit of a waste, since there are already quick keyboard shortcuts for that.

    Would it be possible to set it up so that pressing a button switches what develop panels are open, and what the knob assignments are along with it?

    Obviously using a solution like the BCF2000 would be best, because then you could just switch panels and have enough nobs for everything, including crop, spot, brush and gradient. You could even have a designated panel ‘off/on’ button so you could preview adjustments on the fly. Maybe even a dedicated knob for rolling through the edit history?

    But stepping back and simplifying things in terms of the controller you have and are testing with; it would be nice to press a button and have…
    #1 – “Basic” Panel opens
    1: Temp 2: Tint 3: Exposure 4: Recovery 5: Fill Light 6: Blacks 7: Vibrance 8: Saturation

    #2 – “Basic” and “Tone Curve” open
    1: Brightness 2: Contrast 3: Clarity 4: Highlights 5: Lights 6: Darks 7: Shadows 8: Point Curve presets

    #3 HSL / Color / B&W
    Knobs for each color and maybe the Page +- buttons or the “speed dial” to switch between the 3 sections. (Though I think it would be great if the speed dial could move forward and backward on the filmstrip between images – speaking of which, could the speed dial be configured to switch states? Then you could use the buttons for other things, like panel toggle on/off and I don’t know what else off the top of my head…)

    #4 etc…

    1. Having just bought a Nocturn, this is exactly what I’m hoping for…
      Jarno, hopefully you can achieve this one day.
      BTW, Charging $10+ for the pluggin is no problem at at…

  5. Thanks, this is brilliant! I’ve been using it for a couple months now, and it really speeds up my workflow. But more than that, I just enjoy the tactileness of my photo experience! Love to see what refinements you’ll come up with. One request – it’d be nice to be able to bind previous/next photo and flag as pick/remove flag. People can map those to the play/forward/back/stop/record/etc buttons, and would rarely have to touch the mouse!

    1. I have a Nocturn and use their software to map button to short-keys and arrow/keys. Thereby I don’t touch my keyboard in lightroom, only the Nocturn and mouse. Works really fantastic.

      Only waiting for lightroom 4 offcourse.

  6. Jarno, given that your feedback is entirely positive (with many of us practically begging to pay you!), I’m genuinely curious as to why you haven’t done any work on Knobroom lately. I personally am not upgrading to Lightroom 4 until I can use my midi controller, your software is that good.

    So, how can we help you to help us to help you? (and so on 🙂



    1. You make it sound like there isn’t anything happening, which isn’t entirely true. I’m rewriting Knobroom, and while the previous version was based on Lua plugin and Lua server (for MIDI access), glued together with HTTP long-lived queries, it wasn’t really technically solid platform. Lightroom has poor HTTP implementation, and the Lua server implementation left a lot to be desired.

      I’m currently rewriting everything, the new server is based on Node.JS. Things look pretty good on Node.JS, but there are a lot of technical gaps that I haven’t yet filled up. Also, the plugin-side has seen some improvements, it’s no longer using HTTP to keep everything together.

      Another reason for not releasing anything is that currently, my prototype versions run veeeeery slow. I have no idea why it is so slow, maybe it’s just combination of my 2009 laptop and Lightroom 4.1, I’m really not satisfied with the performance.

      1. Excited to hear things are progressing and that it is indeed functional on 4.1. Speaking of performance, are you still continuously pushing events into the history? Is your performance any worse than physically dragging the sliders or manipulating them with the mousewheel? By performance do you mean it’s delayed or the framerate is too low?

        Do you think we could prepay the $10 for a license to inspire continued enhancement?

        1. I’m using the same API to set presets, so it will generate some extra history entries. I’ve also done some testing with accessing controls directly (via Accessibility API), but it’s complicated and relies on having on-screen controls.

          Performance testing is hard, since there is no real way of telling when Lightroom is done processing. I did run some ad-hoc testing adjusting Exposure of 400×300 JPEG image on 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo Macbook, it was about 20 fps on Knobroom, 60 fps using keyboard events. (Measured using Xcode’s Quartz Debug)

          I’d like to think the shareware model as building something and if people like it, they will support it…

  7. Hey great!

    Just so you know, from my perspective, I visit this site every few weeks to see if there are any updates, and it really did seem like nothing was happening! Very glad to hear that things are moving forward. I wish I could help you code, but I am just a photographer 🙂

    Given the huge speedup to our workflow that we Lightroom users get with knobroom, surely there is a company out there that will work with you to bring it to market (Novation comes to mind…).

    Thanks for the update, here’s hoping you soon solve all bugs!


  8. Hi Jarno,
    if you want some beta-testing I’m working in a post-lab with any MacPro/MacBook and Lightroom 4 setups. Also got a BCF2000.

    Would be more than happy to give some time or some money to help Knobroom get released.

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