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Software Review: Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

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At long last, Adobe has released its new Lightroom Mobile for iPad. What this means is that you now can access and work with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 without having to be on a traditional computer. Of course you still must run Adobe Lightroom (version 5.4 and above) on a traditional computer, but with the mobile version you can set up collections that will automatically sync between the two products.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

This mobile app is available to anyone with a supported Creative Cloud Plan. These plans include the CC Photoshop Photography Program, CC Complete, CC Student and Teacher Edition, and CC for Teams Complete Plan. There is also a free trial from Adobe.

How this all works is that you first need to download the latest version of Adobe Lightroom, which is at the time of this writing 5.4. Of course this update of Lightroom contains the usual bug fixes, camera support, and lens profiles which you can find more about on the Adobe blog site. It also contains one other important update: a dropdown on the identity plate.

It is from this dropdown that you can set up and sync with the Adobe Lightroom Mobile application. You simply use your Adobe ID to sign in, then just choose or create a collection that you want to sync with. For mine I chose three photographs I took at a horse trial in Santa Fe, NM and dropped them into a collection. Next to the collection is one of two symbols. A square means that the collection is not being sync’d, and a little line with the two barbed ends means that it is being sync’d. If you have created a collection from the Lightroom Mobile app, you will see a set of collections listed under the heading “From Lr mobile”.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

To complete this circle you must download the Lightroom Mobile app from the iTunes App store and install it on to your iPad. This app works with the iPad 2 and above as well as the iPad Mini. When you launch it, the app will ask you if you want to sign in, which of course you will have to do to use it. You will use the same Adobe ID that you used on your computer and as soon as you do, the collection(s) you created on your computer will begin to download to your iPad.

Now any changes that you make to the images on the iPad will be reflected in the image on your computer the next time it syncs. If you are in proximity of a wireless connection, you can make the changes on the iPad and you will see the change appear on your screen as the computer performs its sync depending on how often this happens with your computer.

When your collection loads, you can just tap on it to see the images contained within. Tap on the image you want to work with and it will load. At the top on the title bar you have a back button on the left, the filename of the image in the center, and an up arrow on the right. The up arrow contains a pull down menu that will let you share your image, copy or move it to another collection, remove it from this collection, or play a slide show. Below the filename is a little triangle pointing down. Here is where you have filter and sort options for your photos.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

Above the image itself you have information about the image on the left and a histogram of the image on the right. In the middle of the image, if you swipe your finger up you can flag the image as a “Pick.” If you slide down, you can flag it as a “Reject,” and if you have done one of the two already, you have the ability to “Unflag” the image.

At the bottom of the screen, you have a flag/unflag/reject symbol on the left side where you can rotate between the three states. In the center you have four tiles. The first is the filmstrip tile on the left. Next to it is the adjustments tile. The third tile is the presets section and on the right is the crop tile.

The filmstrip is pretty self-explanatory as it works much like the filmstrip in the Lightroom desktop software. The same can be said for the crop tile. The adjustments tile allows you to make basic adjustments to your image. They include white balance, temperature, tint, auto tone, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance, saturation, previous, and reset. Previous gives you the ability to apply the same adjustments as you did to the last image, and reset undoes all of your changes to this image.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

Some of the controls, such as the white balance and the preset controls, come as popups where you make a selection. In the white balance popup the selections include daylight, cloudy, auto, etc. In the presets they are type selections. For example in the color presets you have selections such as “Aged Photo,” “Cross Process 1,” and “Bleach Bypass.” You make your selection and it will apply it. As in Lightroom, you can then go to your adjustments and make additional modifications.

You can also make collections on your iPad from the photos on your camera roll. To do this, from the main screen, click the little plus sign in the upper right hand corner. You will then be asked to name your collection and once that is done, you click on the collection to add from your camera roll. If you click on the identity plate on your iPad you also have additional options on syncing, presentation mode, as well as other options like signing out.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad

While I think that there is room for improvement to Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad, I found it to be a remarkably functional product as it is, and it really enhances my use of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5. At this time it only handles pictures and does not sync videos, but overall it does what it does very well. I used it to take some shots of a local band I was videotaping and by the time I got back to the house the images were already loaded onto my desktop computer.

I added some more from my DSLR to the collection and those automatically got added to the iPad. The next day I had to get the oil changed in my car and so I worked on some of the images while I waited and again, when I got back to the computer, the images were updated and ready to go. This is one of the areas in which it really shines. It is for this reason that I very highly recommend Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • Dan S

    I bought an iPad Mini recently to handle my RAW files from my Nikon D5200. I do not have a PC, and do most of my stuff in the cloud, via a Chromebook. Everything really except photo editing, hence the purchase of the iPad Mini. I was wondering if there was a way to use Lightroom without having a PC as well, or do you need to use Lightroom on the PC to edit photos and then sync them for editing to the iPad? I’d prefer to not buy a PC as they just are more than I would ever need. If you know if it’s possible to just use the iPad, and CC, that’d be great!