My trip out to Biennial marked my first major trip sans MacBook. Given one of my reasons for traveling to Biennial was to take photos with my DSLR, this was a huge deal. And yet, the combination of iOS and Lightroom Mobile erases my need to have my MacBook with my when I’m away. I can transfer images off my SD card with the USB 3.0 to Lightning adapter, create a new album in Lightroom, and import those photos into it. When I’m on Wifi the new album syncs with Creative Cloud, preserving them for when I get home. If I’m feeling impatient I can even connect to my MacBook through Screens, open Lightroom, and allow it to sync the new photos from Creative Cloud. It’s a very nice way to work, and the initial import on to my iPad is actually faster than on my Retina clamshell.
This workflow isn’t perfect, but the deficiencies in it actually lie in Lightroom’s iOS offering, rather than iOS itself. In fact, the touch interface of iOS is my preferred UI for making my photo adjustments. There is something appealing about physically touching a photo I captured in order to change it’s character.
There are three deficiencies I find remaining in my iPad first workflow.
First, there is no way to convert imported images to DNG. This might not be an issue for many people, but I find Adobe’s DNG format an excellent way to store my RAW files. It enjoys wide support, and DNG files are often smaller then the proprietary formats used by digital cameras. Apple, in fact, used DNG as the format for any RAW photos captured on the iPhone. I’d love to see this implemented, as it would take away another step when I get back to organizing my photos at home.
Second, I lose controls for noise reduction and sharpening. While Lightroom’s desktop app presents sliders to control these two adjustments, but in Lightroom Mobile they exist only at presets for “Low,” “Medium,” and “High.” These presets create good results, but I miss the ability for deep tweaking.
Third, even though the feature has been added to the iPhone, the iPad version of Lightroom Mobile continues to lack the ability for adding image titles and descriptions. This makes updating my Flickr or Smugmug accounts with new content a bit of a chore. While I perfer the editing interface on the iPad over the iPhone, I would very much like to see these features added to my iPad workflow!
Even with my three deficiencies, each of which can be fixed in the future, the truth is still this. I travelled three time zones from home, took a large number of RAW photos with my Nikon, and had them organized and edited before I ever got back to my “real” computer. That is pretty cool.