Almost home with Lightroom Mobile

A few weeks back Adobe released an update to their Lightroom Mobile app for iOS. Updates happen all the time, but this update added an ability which Lightroom users had long desired. It could import RAW photos. Suddenly, photographers could use a camera connection kit to import their RAW photos to an iDevice while out on the field. When the app again connected to the Internet via Wifi these imported images sync back into a user’s Lightroom library through the CreativeCloud.

The implications of this feature are staggering. Lightroom Mobile includes a remarkable array of it’s siblings non-destructive 1 editing tools — including advanced edits like lens corrections 2, tone curves, and even noise reduction. This means a photographer can do most of their adjustments in transit 3 and sync these photos to their main library when they arrive home. My first experience with this workflow came on my way back from a baseball game in Reading, PA. I pulled my SD card from my camera, threw it into my iPhone SD card reader, and imported the images on to my iPhone 6s Plus.

While my friend and I chatted, I chipped away at my edits for nearly one hundred photos. I adjusted my white balance, cropped out unwanted interlopers, and adjusted my shadows and highlights. I even flagged which photos I wanted to include in my Flickr set when it came time to share them on the Internet. Best of all, I even texted my edited images to some friends as I travelled! When I arrived home, and synced my full library with my mobile edits, I tweaked the tone curve 4, added some metadata, and created my Flickr set to share on the web. What normally would have taken me well over an hour after I arrived home home ended up taking no more than a few minutes.

I was hooked.

Yet, there are some abilities missing which would make Lightroom Mobile absolutely indispensable to my workflow.

Metadata editing

First and foremost is the ability to add aforementioned meta data. As far as I can tell, I can’t add keywords, titles, or image descriptions to my images. As I typically add these to the photos I share on Flickr, I find myself unwilling to publish to the site directly from my iPad. Yes I could add them later, but once photos are published I tend to leave them alone.

Seeing the EXIF data

In grid view a two-finger tap 5 will bring up f-stop, ISO, and shutter speed 6. Until a friend showed me how to cycle through the EXIF data, however, it appeard to me as though this information was unavailable when viewing a single image. It turns out, however, EXIF data can be brought up by single tapping direcly on the file name information after activating it with a two-finger tap. As a two-finger tap cycles through EXIF data in other views, I’m not certain what the reason is for this change in behavior.

Deleting rejects

I’d love a “delete rejected photos” option in Lightroom Mobile. It would remove the need to delete theses images after I go through the process of syncing them to my full library. Yes, I could filter a collection to display only rejected images and manually select those for deletion, but a single tap would be most welcome.

Sync adjustment settings

One of the features I love about Lightroom’s desktop application is the ability to sync settings between multiple photos. While adjustment settings can be copied and pasted between photos one at a time in mobile app, there is currently no way to select a sub-set of photos and apply copied settings to all the highlighted images. Doing this process piecemeal is far from intolerable, but the ability to do apply adjustments in batches would be a significant time-saver.

Final thoughts

The absence of these desired features is far from a deal-breaker, and even without their presence adjusting my RAW photos “out and about” is absolutely marvelous. If you are on Adobe Creative Cloud, and if you aren’t the Photography Plan is a steal at $9.99/month 7, you should really consider making Lightroom Mobile part of your photography workflow.

  1. “Non-destructive” is precisely what it sounds like. Changes which are made are visible in the editor, but don’t actually change the file. The original image is always able to be retrieved. 
  2. Which Lightroom Mobile applies automatically if the lens is identified. 
  3. If they aren’t driving, that is. 
  4. I hadn’t discovered that tool by that point. 
  5. Which I only discovered buried in the Gestures menu inside the app 
  6. Focal length is strangely excluded for some reason. 
  7. Subscribers get both Lightroom and Photoshop. 

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