Last September Adobe’s Tom Hogarty demonstrated a Lightroom app on the iPad, and a couple of months ago what looked like a draft announcement made a brief appearance on Adobe’s web site. It was promptly removed, but not before people had taken screenshots saying it would be available at $9.99 a month. That seemed a lot for an iPad app on its own, but it was clear something was coming and wasn’t too far away.
More recently Adobe had failed to released a Lightroom 5.4 Release Candidate at the same time as the corresponding betas of Adobe Camera Raw and the DNG Converter. Early adopters of the Nikon D4s and Fuji’s XT1 were left unable to process their shiny new raw files in Lightroom, and of course they blamed Adobe for their slowness rather than Nikon and Fuji for their failure to offer DNG as an option. I had a few emails asking why Adobe hadn’t rushed out a Lightroom 5.4 beta. Clearly, there was something unusual happening.
The answer came last night – 5.4 has been released with an iPad app, Lightroom mobile.
I quite like it, even if I think Adobe have made some avoidable mistakes, but I’m going to focus on the gotchas. After all, there will be enough gushing stuff elsewhere, or tap by tap instructions and even books on it (frankly, if you need a book to understand an iPad app, there’s something seriously wrong with either the app or you). So it’s gotchas here….
What it’s for
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking Lightroom mobile is any substitute for the full Lightroom experience. It isn’t and it doesn’t claim to be so.
Photo editing need not mean exactly the same work that you would do with all that desktop horsepower The space for tablets is quick and dirty broad adjustments, done at your leisure in moments when you’re not chained to your computer. Doing broad adjustments on the iPad and (just-as-importantly) thinking about the picture’s needs, you can put your serious face on again later when you are back in front of your colour-managed monitor – all that’s left to do is the fine tuning.
Secondly, the app really isn’t just about editing. I find its best use is presentation – just running a quick slideshow on the TV or showing your pictures directly on the iPad. Yes, I know there are apps that do this (I have 3-4 of them), and it’s not rocket science to get pictures into them from LR via Dropbox or whatever (I figure it out afresh each time I tweak my iPad portfolios), but when IT-savvy people like me find that a pain…. None of these methods is remotely as simple as clicking a button next to the collection.
Third, it’s for casual evaluation, just flicking through images when you’ve escaped from the desk and deciding which you like or not. Here Adobe dropped the ball – you can only use flags – but it can still be used.
So that’s why I think of it as Lightroom for the pub or for the train or for when you’re sitting in the garden. Use it for:
- Basic panel adjustments
- Pick and reject flags
- Running slideshows on TV