Today Adobe announced Lightroom Mobile – an iPad app designed to be a companion for the desktop version of Adobe Lightroom.
The big idea with this app is that it will allow you to sync photos from your desktop Lightroom to your iPad. You’ll be able to sort through photos and make basic editing adjustments on your iPad and have those changes be automatically synced back to your desktop Lightroom app.
Here’s what you need to know about the new app:
- You can find it here: Lightroom Mobile
- The app itself is free but it requires a membership to Adobe’s Creative Cloud since the photos from the desktop version are synced through Creative Cloud. The cheapest membership you can purchase is the Photoshop Photography Program (which includes both Photoshop and Lightroom for $9.99/month). The full Creative Cloud subscription includes all the major Adobe professional products for $49.99/month.
- It’s important to keep in mind that this is the first version of the Lightroom iPad app – with this first release the feature set is limited compared to the desktop version. For example, with the iPad app you can apply pick flags to images but not star ratings. And while all the basic editing adjustment sliders are present, adjustment tools like the adjustment brush or point tone curve are not included.
- The Lightroom iPad app is designed to be an access solution, not a backup solution – your full sized photos are not being stored in the cloud. Lightroom is creating compressed versions of the original files (smart previews) and sending those smaller versions to the cloud to be synced with your iPad.
- The app requires an internet connection to sync changes back and forth, but you are able to download galleries to your iPad for offline viewing. It’s pretty easy to manage which galleries you download to your iPad so that your iPad isn’t completely filled up with your Lightroom photos.
- If you’re just getting started with the Lightroom Mobile app you should check out this quick start guide
Now we haven’t had the chance to personally use the iPad app, yet but here are a few first thoughts about it in a pro vs. con format:
We’ll start with the Cons:
- This app requires a subscription to Adobe Create Cloud.
- There’s no star rating system in this first version, which is a very useful way to organize photos.
- There is no adjustment brush, which is a really powerful tool (and possibly no graduated filter tool, spot removal, or radial filter – but I haven’t confirmed this yet).
- You cannot use your own custom created Lightroom presets – only Lightroom’s default presets – this is a bummer, since I’ve never been a big fan of the default presets, and much prefer to create my own presets.
- The app is only available for iPad (not for Android). They plan on releasing an iPhone version later this year.
Now the Pros:
- This is Lightroom on the iPad! That one point is strong enough to balance out all the negatives! More than anything, I’m really excited to see this as the starting point for a mobile version of Lightroom. I like that Adobe has approached the concept with restraint and not tried to do everything the desktop version can do right off the bat.
- It supports multitouch, so there’s a lot of great potential there.
- The built-in social sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr might make it easier for you to share your photos (something surprisingly more challenging to do on the desktop version)
- Because of the super high resolution of the iPad displays, photos on the iPad look beautiful – way better than on computer monitors! It sure is fun to work with photos on the iPad!
This being the first version of Lightroom Mobile, I feel it will be more of a novelty than a tool you could use in a professional capacity. Adobe has specifically stated that it isn’t yet designed to be a stand-alone tool that photographers could take into the field like they could a laptop with the desktop version of Lightroom. The fact is that if you’re a professional you’ll likely need the full power of Lightroom, and laptops are already so easy to use when working with clients.
I think there are two big uses for this app:
1. The app has the ability to edit mobile photos and have those photos (full resolution originals in this case) uploaded back to your desktop computer. You can even automate this process, so that you no longer have to remember to plug in your phone to upload all your images. It will be super easy to get your iPhone photos onto your computer, and safely backed up.
2. The obvious big use for this app will be to simply have access to a mobile version of your photos to “show and share” wherever you are. There’s a built in slideshow feature that should help make that experience a pretty good one.
At this point it’s really just a bonus that you can make basic editing adjustments and have those adjustments synced back to your main computer. I’m sure that as the app progresses Adobe will figure out ways to add in more features and make the app more useable – to the point where maybe we won’t need desktops for photography anymore.
What do you think about the new Lightroom Mobile iPad app? Is it something you could fit into you workflow? Please share your thoughts in the comments!