I normally don’t get too excited when a new version of Adobe Lightroom mobile comes along, but today is different. Why?
Well, today sees support for two features that I, and I suspect many other customers, have long been waiting for. These are Raw support (albeit as a technology preview) and Local Adjustments. Unfortunately, they’re only available to ‘Adobe Creative Cloud’ subscribers.
Other minor features introduced in version 2.4 that all users can avail of include:
- support for keyboard shortcuts. This feature requires an external keyboard, and is activated by pressing down on the ‘Cmd’ key,
- the ability to add your own copyright to photos, and
- support for the latest Camera Raw version.
New features are all well and good, but unless instructions on how to use them are provided then users will likely struggle to understand how they work. So, taking each of the new features in turn I’ll try to explain the workflow.
Raw support allows you to import and edit Raw photos taken with your digital camera. These photos can then be synced back to ‘Lightroom CC’ on your desktop computer. Of course the Raw photos must first be imported onto your iPad, and it is here that things are a tad complex. (Remember, I did mention above that Raw support is a technology preview, which means it’s not necessarily how it will work in the future).
To import your Raw photos on to your iPad you’ll need to use an Apple ‘SD Camera Card Reader’ or ‘iPad Camera Connection Kit’. Depending on which version of the iPad you have you’ll need to import the Raw photos directly from the memory card or directly from your camera into the Apple Photos App ‘Camera Roll’. Either way, the SD Camera Card Reader or Camera Connection kit is essential.
When the Apple Photos App import process is complete you then switch to Lightroom mobile. Here you should notice that a ‘Raw’ badge overlays part of the thumbnail for each Raw photo.
Next, make sure that you have enabled support for Raw photo import in Lightroom mobile. Below screen grab shows where this can be done.
At this point you can either select all of the imported Raw photos or a smaller number. In below example, I selected all of the Raw photos.
When all of the photos have been added to Lightroom mobile you’ll find that an additional badge (Lr) overlays each of the photo thumbnails.
If you’re satisfied that all of the Raw photos have been imported into Lightroom mobile you can delete the originals from Apple Photos App, thus saving some space on your iPad.
When an internet connection becomes available your Raw files will be synced to the Adobe Cloud and ultimately back to Lightroom desktop. If you have any other mobile devices with Lightroom mobile installed smart previews will be synced to these devices.
As with Raw support, Local Adjustments has been on my list of must have features for a very long time. In this version Adobe have chosen to include what they call Linear and Radial Selections (in Lightroom desktop these are called Graduated and Radial filters). Personally, I don’t see why Adobe didn’t stick with the names that users already know. If name changes were deemed essential then Linear and Radial Gradients are more meaningful, at least to me.
Okay, so having got my rant about naming conventions out of the way it’s time to look at each local adjustment in turn. I’ll start with the Linear Gradient, uhh, I mean Selection since it’s the default.
To activate Local Adjustments switch to Edit mode and tap on the ‘Local Adjust’ button. A new button appears on the lower left and tapping on this results in a menu popping up. It has two options at present with the top one (Linear Selection) selected by default.
Next, you tap on the photo where you want the centre of the gradient to be located. The width of the gradient is adjusted by dragging the top or bottom line up/down, and the centre of the gradient can be reposition by dragging the black dot up or down the screen. Additional gradients can be created by tapping on the ‘+‘ button at top left of screen, and the ‘trashcan’ is used to remove a gradient.
Next up, the Radial Selection tool. I find this tool is particularly useful for edge burning portraits, although it has its uses in other types of photo.
The Radial Selection tool is activated and the gradient positioned in the same way as the Linear Selection. At top left of screen you’ll see an additional button. This button allows you switch the gradient from inside the selection to outside and vice versa. To increase the feathering (soften edge) of the gradient drag the larger handle point on the selection counterclockwise, and clockwise to to harden the edge. (Note: in above and below screen grabs the handle point is on top edge of photo.)
Both Linear and Radial selection tools support the full range of slider adjustments currently available in Lightroom mobile.
So, having described the two new features I was so keen to see introduced I posed myself a question – Do I think Raw support and Local Adjustments means that Lightroom mobile is now ready for the ‘big time’? Sadly, I don’t believe so, at least not just yet. Sure, both features are very welcome and certainly make Lightroom mobile more useful to me than before. On the other hand, some users might have a different workflow or less demanding requirements. For example, if your iPad has sufficient space to store the imported Raw photos then leaving your laptop at home while on a short vacation might be OK. For longer vacations or large professional photo shoots I think many will likely find the iPad short of storage capacity. So, syncing photos to the ‘Adobe Cloud’ and later Lightroom on your desktop computer means that sufficient bandwidth will be essential both on location and at home/office. This means that if you’re a professional or advanced amateurs you will likely find that taking a laptop on vacation/location still provides a much more productive and efficient workflow than mobile. To be fair, I don’t think the Adobe folk developing Lightroom mobile see it as the ‘laptop killer’, but Adobe marketing might well have a different story to tell.
Disclosure: As an Adobe Community Professional I receive a free subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.