Gear review by Jason DiMichele
There’s no shortage of accessories and gadgets released into the photographic industry. A lot of the camera gear is exciting and fun to buy. Although spending money on equipment designed to maximize workflow efficiency isn’t necessarily fun, sometimes they are some of the better investments. The ShuttlePro v2 looks very promising, but is it one of those products that’s money well spent?
Contour Design’s ShuttlePro v2 ($99 US) is a controller used to speed up repetitive tasks at the touch of a button or turn of a dial. It’s comprised of 15 buttons and a jog/shuttle wheel, all of which are completely customizable. Made of plastic, the ShuttlePro is light and portable, easily used in both the studio or on the road. The attached USB cord is a generous six feet long, allowing for flexible workspace placement. Windows and Mac systems are supported.
The ShuttlePro’s main target audience is photographers, videographers and multimedia professionals, but it can be configured to work with almost any application, making it useful for some general computing as well. The ShuttlePro is a complementary controller, meaning that it needs to be used in conjunction with a keyboard, tablet, mouse, etc.
The ShuttlePro is a low-profile device with good ergonomics. The jog/shuttle wheel and the buttons are all easily accessible with minimal hand movement. It can be used equally well by left or right-handed individuals due to the symmetrical design. A nice feature of the ShuttlePro is that most of the buttons are covered with clear snap-on plastic caps. You can place little paper tags (some come in the box) underneath these caps as a reminder of what you’ve programmed the button to do. This is especially handy if the applications you use can be programmed with similar functionality. The jog/shuttle wheel is spring-loaded and turns smoothly. The outer wheel has a ribbed pattern and the inner one three dimples, both allowing for more accurate control.
Installing and configuring the ShuttlePro is straightforward as the interface is well organized. After downloading and installing the driver, you’ll use the ShuttlePro Control Panel to customize your device. When launching the Control Panel, you’ll find three tabs at the top of the application, titled “ShuttlePro v2,” “Key Composer” and “About.” The default “ShuttlePro v2” tab is where you select the application you’re using or want to customize settings. You simply press/turn the physical buttons/dial on the ShuttlePro and then select the action you want to happen. Both the application you want to configure and the available actions are presented via drop-down lists. The “Key Composer” screen allows you to create macros that can be assigned to a ShuttlePro button for complicated actions. A macro is basically a series of keystrokes that will happen in succession when you press the assigned button on the ShuttlePro. The “About” tab specifies the driver version and provides information for obtaining technical support.
Even though the ShuttlePro driver automatically detects which application you’re currently using, there’s a slight chance the ShuttlePro controls won’t behave as expected. If this happens, click on the driver icon (bottom right of screen in Windows, and top right of screen on Mac) and ensure the correct application configuration is selected. If not, simply select the correct one from the displayed list.
After spending some time with the ShuttlePro, I found it to be a fantastic addition to my workflow. It took a week or two to get used to, much like a graphics tablet does, but once I had it configured for the way I work, my workflow improved. The ShuttlePro doesn’t take much desk space, can be configured as simple or as complex as you require and is very portable. Therefore, in my opinion, it’s worth the sticker price. There are other controllers available on the market that have more bells and whistles, but they also cost more, often not adding any significant functionality to justify the extra cost. The ShuttlePro v2 is a no-frills, reliable piece of gear that you’ll grow to love. In fact, you’ll wonder how you were post-processing without it.