a8 April 2014

Adobe Lightroom Mobile first impressions

Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Today I was surprised to read the news that Adobe released Lightroom Mobile - project they announced quite some time ago - which is iPad version of Lightroom (I read somewhere that they're working on Android version too).

Without much thinking I downloaded it onto my iPad to test it out. First surprise - you need Creative Cloud subscription to use it for free. I have so it wasn't big deal but for those of you who haven't - it might be because as far as I know you won't be able to use this app without valid CC subscription - you simply can't buy it as a separate product! You also need desktop version of Lightroom installed on your computer because mobile version syncs with it.

It might sound like a step in wrong direction from Adobe but... do you remember all the hassle when Creative Cloud was initially announced? Many photographers, who use only Lightroom, claimed that for them this model is very unfair as it doesn't offer them as much as it offers eg. designers. Now - this changed. There is another product in Adobe's portfolio targeted towards photographers. And only them.


Now let's go to some details. User interface is very simple, nice and in fact more intuitive than in desktop version. You can easily edit your photos in just a few clicks. The application is also much simpler than desktop version so it's easier to learn.

Lightroom Mobile lets you edit images that you either have already on your iPad or which you get from your desktop by syncing Lightroom Mobile with Lightroom desktop version. To do this you need to download just released Adobe Lightroom 5.4, create collection in it and set it as "synchronizeable". When you connect iPad to your computer, all images from this collection will be transferred onto iPad.

Once you have your photos imported, you can see them as a grid or you can edit them in some equivalent of desktop version's Develop module.

In this develop-like module you can not only flag your photos (Pick/Reject) but you can also adjust all basic settings like White Balance, Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Saturation or Clarity. You just click on the name of the setting and slider appears to allow you make adjustments. You can also Crop your image.

Not surprisingly not all features from Lightroom desktop made it to mobile version (iPad probably is too slow and has too few memory to support some of them). Unfortunately you cannot edit colours in the image as freely as in desktop version of Lightroom (you can change Vibrance or Saturation but you cannot increase eg. saturation of yellows only). Lightroom Mobile also misses sharpening, denoising and selective adjustments.

Once you finish editing you can share your image (at least in theory because when I tried the app crashed in my case) or what is more useful you can sync your changes with Desktop version, so all edits will appear there as well allowing you to finish editing photos on your main computer.


So time for a short summary. In my opinion Lightroom Mobile is a great tool that will be very useful for many photographers. It's true that iPad version misses a lot of features from Desktop version (for me it's especially selective adjustments and ability to change colours in the image) but still the ability to make some basic editing will be invaluable for many - you will be able to show first version of your images to the client. Also the fact you can quickly pick your best photos and reject the worst on location will save you some time back at home. And yes, you don't need to pay for it more.

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