Sorry I'm late to this party - been a busy week.
I understand what you're doing, and why, but I'm left wondering just how much of C1's functionality needs to be de-moused and moved to the control surface. No doubt, even with your complex setup, you still need to resort to the mouse for some functions.
I use a Tangent Ripple. It's available on Amazon UK, and someone there has written a good description of it with 5 stars. It's solid and attractive, and easy to use and program, and can be set up for most of the usual C1 linear adjustments quite easily. The guy who reviewed it described his own setup, and I'm using a pretty similar arrangement. You can be up and running in 5 mins.
The downside is the the Ripple is 300 quid, which is rather more than you've paid.
(I'm not in any way commercially connected to Tangent. I'm a doctor not a mechanic Jim.)
Good questions, I will try to explain my logic / reasoning.
Well, I have not used all the available dials / pads. I still have a couple of pads and 16 dials I could utilise but I don’t feel at this stage I need to, but the option is there.
As the diagram shows the midi controller dials allows me to scroll through images, zoom in/out, and adjust exposure, white, black and mid levels, contrast, saturation, brightness, clarity, structure and HDR shadows / highlights directly. Thus, all of the “common” image adjustments are taken care of.
There are a couple of the dials that warrant further explanation.
1) Dial #17: The scroll wheel is usable anywhere. This is particularly beneficial when using a Wacom Tablet. You can just hover the “mouse” pointer over a control with your right hand and use your left hand on the scroll wheel to adjust the parameter.
2) Dials 8# and 16#: These two dials allow the brush size and hardness to be adjusted without pulling up the “right click” brush menu. This is not only more efficient but it takes away the distraction of the menu popup, locate the sliders and adjust. Also like David Grover, who works for Phase One and runs a lot of their training webinars, I don’t like pressure sensitivity to vary brush size. I use pen pressure to vary opacity (would like flow but not available at present) and can now get variable size, hardness and opacity without touching the normal UI.
The pads give me 1 click access to many functions as shown on the diagram. I will pick out a few pad functions to illustrate their advantages:
1) Pads #1, #2, #3 and #4: These give me 1 click access to baseline functions such as undo/redo/auto adjust, and pick white balance. These commands I use all the time and are much more convenient on the Midi pads.
2) Pads #7#, #11, #12, #14, 15#, #8 and #16: Working in layers.
Layers are a very important part of C1. These pads give me direct access to all the commonly used layer functions. Show the Mask, Invert the Mask, new adjustment layer, and all the brushes. Hugely beneficial for me. Just having a button to move up and down the layer stack makes life so much easier.
3) Pads #3, #5, #13, #6: These give 1 click access to functions like recipe proofing, clone / new variant, hide the browser, hide the viewer, edit with… etc.
4) Pads 10 and #11: These pads allow you to see the exposure warning and your mask. However, rather than emulate the standard function I have adjusted them so that they work as a “press and hold” function, rather than an on/off key. I prefer this as it means that I can hold down the exposure warning pad with my left hand and simultaneously adjust for example HDR highlight recovery. Having finished the adjustment just release both controls. Harder to explain than to do but once you have tried this you won’t want to go back😊 Remember, not an option with the standard UI.
With the “show mask” pad, this can be held down to show the mask with the left hand, whilst brushing in your adjustment or erasing the mask with the Wacom pen in your right hand. Another seemingly small change is that when working with layers it is good practice to label your layers so that you know what they are for. However, it may be good practice but I don’t do it, just too time consuming😊 I know when I see the mask what I was trying to accomplish.
Now just holding down Pad #11 and tapping Pad #8 or #16 moves me through the layer stack with the masks highlighted. Again, such a behaviour, which is not possible with the standard interface, may not sound much but try it and see for yourself. Masks and exposure warnings are not wanted except during the moment you are adjusting the relevant controls.
When considering the above it is worth remembering that you can use both hands simultaneously, this is very different to the standard UI. A big help if anyone has any RSI type issues.
Finally, to cost, I had looked at commercial alternatives but found them to be limited in different ways; either, not enough control options to make it worth bothering, or too bulky. I am in the fortunate position that cost is not a constraint for me but the commercial options simply did not fit MY requirements. I stress my because everyone has different opinions and priorities. The Arturia Beatstep Midi provided a very compact but highly capable control system. At 32cm(12”) x 13cm(5”) with 17 dials and 16 pads that can each have a shifted function it presents few restrictions on configuring the controller to achieve whatever you want.
I am still experimenting with the setup because of its configurability e.g. initially I did not know I could implement shift functions. So, if you ever find the Tangent limited a Midi is always an option. You can even use both at once😊