A few weeks ago, Adobe delighted the photography world with Lightroom Mobile. Having been introduced to a new tool for my digital darkroom I rushed to download the app to my iPad 4 and update my LR cloud to v.5.4. Much to my delight, this initial process was pretty smooth and went fairly quick, so within about 30 minutes I was creating new “test” collections and syncing them to the iPad. Now I’m sure we’ve all, at one time or another, dealt with syncing information with various devices and the frustrations that come along with it… but let me tell you, this process is seamless. Just create a collection, add the images you want in it, then click the sync box and you can literally watch them appear on your iPad via Smart Previews as the process runs. Also, whatever edits you have done in the desktop LR transfers over to LR Mobile and vice versa. So if you import your RAW files into LR with presets such as a lens correction or image enhancement, that processing will carry over to the collection on your iPad and you are essentially ready to go… essentially. From here you have two routes to go about mobile editing, you will either need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network or enable offline editing option to work on your images. Once you get past that part the fun begins.
Upon getting into the workings of this powerful little app I found that this is pretty much Lightroom Lite, and by that I mean the tools you have access to are limited... good and essential to editing, but still limited. You have an opening page with your collections listed and a few minor options, such as renaming collection or adding images from your camera roll. From there you enter the scrolling gallery then you select an image you wish to edit. Once in edit mode you have four modules…
· Main Module, which can toggle the displays the exif data, histogram or just the image via two finger taps , along with a strip of thumbnails in the collection at the bottom of the screen. Here you can swipe through the images with the option to Pick or Reject it by swiping your finger up and down.
· Adjustments Module, which gives you access to the following controls -
o White Balance, Temperature & Tint
o Auto Tone
o Contrast, Highlights and Shadows
o Whites and Blacks
o Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation
· Preset Module, which gives you 6 categories of presets, each with several specific options such as Zeroed, B&W High Contrast, Old Polar and Vignette. I believe all of these are default presets that come loaded with the desktop version of LR.
· Crop Module, which again, gives you the defaults available in the desktop LR or you can unlock the aspect to customize your own crop size. You can also rotate the image clockwise or counter clockwise.
And then this is it. Like I said, limited but essential to editing, but on the other hand how many photographers are going to fully process images on an iPad vs their desktop or laptop? I could assume most serious photographers, myself included, will not. However what I have found this to be very useful for is on the go event editing. I can sync up events to my iPad, enable offline editing then go hang out where ever I please. On the couch with the family, wait while the car is being repaired or go enjoy some patio dining… all the while culling and picking my favorite images out of the collection then performing some minor editing such as exposure, white balance and maybe some color grading.
As innovative as Adobe is, I’m quite sure as future versions are released, more features will be implemented. A few key features I’d personally like to see is curves, batch syncing, importing custom presets, spot heal tool and adjustment brush. With similar features packed into their Photoshop Touch app, I’m sure their developers won’t be too far off from figuring that out… but I don’t know, I’m a photographer, not a software developer. Adding those aforementioned features I think would help out with event editing or batch editing for time when you can’t physically be at your desktop/laptop. I could see this saving time doing the initial culling and editing then when you get to your desktop/laptop you already have your favorite images picked with basic corrections applied. Then you just queue up your music or TV and jump further in LR, PS or whatever else your workflow entails. For those who have yet to check out this nice little addition to the Adobe photography family, I hope it give you the information needed to make an informed decision on whether to add this to your workflow or not. Happy editing… Focused.
· Smooth syncing and user friendly
· Runs smooth on iPad
· Ability to cull by picking or rejecting images
· Powerful tools essential to exposure corrections
· Crop tool
· No batch sync
· No custom preset imports
· Lack of other editing tools (gradient filters, spot heal, curves, noise reduction etc.)
· No color coding or star rating
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