Adobe's RAW development software finally reaches the iOS ecosystem.
By clicking one of our links you're supporting our labs and our independence, as we may earn a small share of revenue. Recommendations are separate from any business incentives.
For many shooters, Adobe's Lightroom is an essential part of the process of photography. Their photos may start off in the camera, but the crucial steps of developing, editing, tagging, and cataloging those images is often done in some iteration of Lightroom. Now Adobe is bringing Lightroom to a whole new platform: the iPad.
Announced alongside the release of Lightroom 5.4, the mobile version of LR isn't quite as powerful as the desktop version, but it allows photographers on the go to apply most of the basic functions of Lightroom as well as begin the often arduous process of tagging and organizing photos. The mobile version can sync instantly with your desktop over your mobile data connection, or can be set to do so later over WiFi.
The drawback? The iPad version of Lightroom is only available for Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers. While CC membership cost varies depending on which programs you require, the cheapest option is the Photography Program, which rings the till at $9.99 a month for Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5.4, and some extra cloud services. The CC membership entitles you to unlimited updates of both programs, as well, so unlike the current standalone versions of Lightroom, as long as you stay subscribed, you'll receive all new features and support for new cameras.
Lightroom mobile also doesn't give you access to the full complement of editing options that the desktop version does. Adobe's reasoning is that some functions are very resource intensive and simply don't work well on the current tablets on the market. The most glaring omissions are lens corrections, user-customizable profiles, and the ability to edit a single color channel—crucial for converting a color image to black-and-white.
But if we look beyond that, you can see that there's still a whole lot of functionality included the ability to adjust white balance, exposure, tint, as well as crop or apply built-in color and effects filters. As you can expect Lightroom can handle all the same RAW formats as the desktop version, but it can also handle just about any image format that exists as well as access your phone or tablet's camera roll directly.
Currently, you'll need to at least have Lightroom 5.4 installed on your desktop to use Lightroom mobile, though there is currently a 30-day free trial. If you've got an iPad 2 or newer running iOS 7, you can check it out right here. According to Adobe, versions of Lightroom mobile are also in development for Android and iPhone, though they're not available yet. We'll have a more in-depth first impressions review of Lightroom mobile soon, but in the meantime you can get even more information about the updates or download the software by heading to Adobe's page.