Lightroom cellular assessment: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

Lightroom mobile review: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

Speak about timing. Virtually as quickly as I satisfied myself I might use an iPad Air in my life, Microsoft and Adobe made my day with cellular variations of two of my most-used PC/Mac packages — Workplace and Lightroom. Not lengthy after Microsoft revealed an iPad model of Workplace, Adobe adopted up with a pill-pleasant model of its fashionable Lightroom photograph editor. Like Workplace for iPad, Lightroom cellular (its official identify) is extra workflow companion than PC alternative, letting photographers experiment with pictures from anyplace there’s an web connection earlier than finalizing tasks again at residence base.

With quite a lot of strong photograph editors already obtainable for the iPad, although, the free-to-obtain Lightroom cellular wants to supply some distinctive benefits if Adobe hopes to lure people into its subscription-based mostly Artistic Cloud service. Is the brand new app as much as the duty? I added it to my common photograph-modifying workflow to seek out out.

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Lightroom cellular assessment


Lightroom cellular


  • Intuitive, minimalistic interface
  • RAW-picture modifying on the go
  • Pictures do not rely towards allotted cloud storage


  • No consumer presets
  • Lacks a number of key desktop choices like curves and native changes
  • Restricted export choices
  • Free to obtain, however requires cloud subscription for full use


Lightroom cellular is a surprisingly succesful companion to Adobe’s widespread photograph editor, providing most of the instruments of its massive brother, whereas neatly sidestepping the difficulty of dealing with giant RAW information. These hoping for a standalone picture editor might be disenchanted, however people already tied to Adobe’s cloud providers should not hesitate.

Getting began

Lightroom mobile review: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

Adobe’s emphasis on Lightroom cellular as a companion relatively than a standalone app is clear from the get-go. Earlier than I might do anything, the app requested me to replace my desktop version of Lightroom to model 5.four and sync a set. The 5.four replace provides a brand new checkbox choice within the Collections menu, permitting customers to decide on which photographs to sync with Lightroom cellular.

One of many largest obstacles relating to critical photograph modifying on a pill is the shortage of space for storing — particularly on non-expandable slates just like the iPad. The RAW picture format most popular by many photographers produces information which might be usually many occasions bigger than a compressed JPEG model of the identical picture, and people bigger information add up shortly. My Fujifilm X-E2, for instance, churns out RAW photographs that common round 31MB every. A single photograph shoot leading to one hundred photographs would take up about three gigs of area — a big little bit of actual property on, say, a 16GB iPad.

Fortunately, Adobe leverages its cloud providers to offer a workaround it calls Sensible Previews — stand-ins for the unique RAW pictures which might be a lot smaller in measurement, however nonetheless permit for the non-damaging tinkering that makes RAW-picture modifying so interesting within the first place.

Lightroom mobile review: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

Whenever you sync a Assortment in your desktop, a Sensible Preview is created from the unique RAW file and uploaded to the cloud. Adobe factors out that these uploads don’t rely towards the 20GB of Artistic Cloud storage it presents. As soon as these smaller information are within the cloud, Lightroom cellular downloads them and also you’re free to do some finger-based mostly photograph modifying.

I synced a current photograph tour by means of downtown Tacoma, Washington, and waited for the 50-shot Assortment to seem on my 64GB iPad Air. It took roughly seven minutes for the photographs to add after which for Lightroom cellular to obtain the smaller Sensible Preview information. Adobe says the dimensions of Sensible Preview pictures varies relying on the digital camera used, however most ought to fall inside 1MB to 2MB. Its inner testing with an X-E2 resulted in roughly 1MB information. With the pictures loaded on my iPad, it took anyplace from 10 to 30 seconds for modifications I made on the iPad to mirror on the desktop aspect, and vice versa.


Lightroom mobile review: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

After you have a Assortment of pictures to edit, it is time to get to work. Lightroom cellular’s UI apes the desktop model by placing a lot of the emphasis on the pictures themselves. The primary display options giant tiles representing any Collections you have got synced with the app. When you decide a Assortment, you head to a thumbnail gallery of photographs contained inside. Decide a single photograph and also you arrive at a minimalistic modifying panel.

On this modifying part, 4 small icons sit under the chosen picture. If you select certainly one of them, the photograph scales again barely to make room for a ribbon of choices relying on the icon you picked. From left to proper, you possibly can: name up a strip of thumbnails for different pictures within the Assortment; open the changes panel to tweak white stability and different choices; apply constructed-in presets; and crop and rotate pictures.

Managing and modifying pictures are carried out utilizing a mix of gestures and toggling pop-up sliders. Typically, easy, binary actions like flagging/unflagging a picture or doing a fast earlier than/after comparability are dealt with with swiping gestures. Finer edits like adjusting colour temperature or publicity ranges are managed with pop-up rulers that span the width of the display. These full-size sliders supply a strong degree of precision for a finger-pleasant system, permitting me to, say, change the Publicity Worth from 1.00 to 1.01 with out a lot fuss.

Lightroom mobile review: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

I like the general design of the app, particularly the uncluttered UI that retains the photographs entrance and middle as a lot as attainable. Sadly, there are a couple of key choices lacking from this cellular model — omissions that reinforce its companion-app standing.

Of those shortcomings, probably the most critical may be a scarcity of synced consumer presets. Lightroom cellular ships with the identical constructed-in presets as its huge brother, however many professional photogs have developed their very own, effective-tuned presets to get simply the suitable look. On the brilliant aspect, modifications made by way of consumer presets on the desktop model do present up in Lightroom cellular, however these trying to shortly apply their signature types on the go are out of luck. Their absence on the cellular model probably means most will use the iPad app for common experimentation and depart the fantastic-tuning for once they get again to their workstations.

That “tough draft now, last draft later” strategy is echoed elsewhere within the app, together with its minimal export choices. You possibly can share photographs by way of AirDrop or apps like Messages and Twitter. Pictures can be saved to the Digital camera Roll or despatched to a printer. Once I exported a number of pictures to the Digital camera Roll, I used to be left with roughly 2.8MP JPEGs at simply over 300KB in measurement. Examine that to the sixteen-megapixel JPEGs my Fuji X-E2 natively writes and it is clear that Lightroom cellular is not meant for exporting last photographs to your paying shoppers — particularly these with particular calls for for PPI and dimensions.

Lightroom cellular additionally lacks extra superior curve changes and native modifying (for making spot corrections relatively than picture-broad modifications). To tweak these elements, you are simply going to have to attend till you are again at your pc.

In precise use, my 64GB iPad Air has little hassle dealing with each edit I can throw at it. Changes and presets usually seem a second or two after I choose them, typically with a low-res, placeholder model of the photograph standing in till the modifications are absolutely utilized. Shifting from one adjustment menu to a different can also be brisk, and the app responds to gestures persistently. Stability — a lot appreciated on an off-the-cuff pill recreation, however completely essential on a productiveness app — is usually strong. Within the two-plus weeks I have been utilizing Lightroom cellular, I’ve had three crashes (all occurring when switching from one modifying menu to a different), however I do not work in worry of it failing at any second.

The competitors

Lightroom mobile review: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

There’s clearly no scarcity of photograph editors for the iPad, together with Snapseed (a private favourite) and Adobe’s personal Photoshop Categorical. Most of those, nevertheless, deal with the pill as the focus for picture modifying and sharing, whether or not it is on Fb, Instagram or numerous different avenues of expression.

Lightroom cellular, then again, could be very a lot an add-on — a sidekick to a way more highly effective program. It is based mostly on the premise that customers will need to end tweaking pictures on their workstations with their colour-calibrated shows and gobs of exterior storage. As a standalone photograph editor, then, a free app like Snapseed appears to make rather more sense than Lightroom cellular. However, once more, that does not appear to be the objective Adobe had in thoughts right here.


Lightroom mobile review: Adobe brings (most of) its digital darkroom to the iPad

These trying to absolutely rid themselves of a PC/Mac surroundings will not discover a full answer in Lightroom cellular. Just like the iPad model of Microsoft’s Workplace suite, Adobe’s photograph editor is each designed and priced to be a companion to extra absolutely featured desktop apps. Additionally like Workplace, Lightroom cellular’s attraction strongly depends upon how a lot you are tied into its desktop companion and the cloud. Should you’re a frequent Lightroom consumer and already signed up with Adobe’s Artistic Cloud providers (which presently begin at $10 a month), downloading the free cellular app is a no brainer. It will not be an important a part of your images workflow, however it might come in useful if inspiration strikes if you’re nowhere close to your pc.

For anybody on the fence about Adobe’s subscription plans, Lightroom cellular’s 30-day trial ought to offer you loads of time to see if it is value incorporating into your workflow. Extra informal photographers might discover higher worth in standalone apps that are not depending on the cloud or tethered to extra absolutely featured desktop variations. Lightroom lifers, nevertheless, now have a surprisingly succesful companion at their disposal.

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