Lightroom Goes Mobile

With the recent release of Lightroom 5.4 your images are no longer tethered to your computer. Adobe now offers an iOS app called Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom on the Web. You now have a somewhat convenient way to work on your images from an iPad. You can run Lightroom Mobile on all versions of the iPad (except the 1st generation) and the iPad mini. The Lightroom Mobile app is available for FREE on the app store.

This is a pretty complete offering considering that it is version 1. It makes me hopeful that the team has much more in store for us. After all, consider how much Lightroom has changed and improved since its version 1 release.

Julieanne Kost offers a nice exposition of the features in Lightroom Mobile on her Adobe TV channel. Spend a few minutes and watch all four episodes to get an introduction to what Lightroom Mobile can do. Here is episode 1 to get you started.

Lightroom mobile extends your existing workflows beyond the desktop.  Lightroom mobile allows you to utilize your iPad to do all sorts of great things and have the changes sync back to your Lightroom catalog at home, including: nor

  • access images in your Lightroom catalog
  • make selects, reject unworthy photos
  • apply a preset
  • refine your adjustments using all your favorites from the Basic panel, including Highlights, Shadows, and Clarity
  • import new photos directly from the camera roll

As with many tablet apps, Lightroom Mobile hides many of its capabilities and the workflow is not immediately intuitive. I suggest that the first thing you do after downloading it is to open the settings menu and click on the gestures option so you can learn the "secret" handshakes.

You will soon get the hang of the interface. Lightroom Mobile provides access to data, histograms, adjustments, presets, cropping, flags and more.

Yes. You are limited to the built in set of presets and there are no flags or stars. But, remember, this is only version 1.

If you want a really deep dive into Lightroom Mobile (and Lightroom on the Web) I would heartily suggest you run over to Victoria Bampton's site The Lightroom Queen and buy a copy of her newest eBook Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1 for iPad - The Missing FAQ

It's a bargain at £3.95 (or about $6.75). Full of screen shots, tips, gesture advice, and more. Victoria's Missing FAQ books are a must have.

Lightroom on the Web is a much less exciting offer. It is available at and offers very basic functionality. Your images and collections are populated on the site as you synchronize them with Lightroom Mobile. There is no editing capability and you cannot even share a single image. Sharing is done at the collection level. You can see which collections are shareable (i.e. Public) by the small share icon in the corner.

There is also a basic slideshow capability with no way to customize. All in all, this is the weakest link in the mobile toolset.

While I am excited that Lightroom has made its way to the iPad I have to say I am disappointed in Adobe's strategy here. In order to use Lightroom Mobile you must have a paid subscription to the Creative Cloud. The least expensive membership is the Photographer's special offer at $9.99 per month (and that offer expires in a few months). True, you get a lot as a Creative Cloud member but that's not the point.

Lightroom still remains a stand alone application as well as being offered through Creative Cloud. It has numerous ways to share images with many different services and sites. Even a free Creative Cloud membership comes with 2Gb of online storage. So why didn't Adobe offer Lightroom Mobile without forcing users into a paid Creative Cloud membership? I don't really know. I believe that the Creative Cloud is a great deal overall. However, if I were a Lightroom user and did not use anything else I would be upset by this tie in for Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom on the Web.

So if you are a Creative Cloud member you should not hesitate to give this a try. If you aren't a member you can still try it for 30 days. But don't wait. If you decide you like it you'll need to grab that $9.99 deal before it expires.