Adobe just launched version 2.4 of Lightroom Mobile for iOS, and for every RAW-shooter with an iPad, this may prove to be a small revolution. The release includes what Adobe calls “Raw Technology Preview”, which allows you to import and edit RAW-images directly on an iPad or iPhone.

I’ve spent a couple of days testing the new app and would like to share some thoughts on how this may fit into my workflow. All testing is done using an iPad Air, the Fuji X-T1 and Fuji X-Pro1.

Workflow

The process of importing is similar to JPEG; import the photos onto your iPad and then add them to Lightroom. Alternatively you can set up Lightroom to auto-import any pictures that are added to the device.

Lightroom mobile import window

Adding RAW images is a breeze

After adding my images to a new collection, I quickly browsed through them, rejecting some and adding stars to others. The (preview) RAW-images loaded immediately and the review process felt comparable to using JPEGs, meaning I could swipe from image to image without any slowdowns. I really enjoy the review workflow in Lightroom Mobile;  it’s incredibly efficient to browse through images and using one thumb for flagging (pick, reject) and one thumb for starring (1-5).

Speed Review in Lightroom Mobile

Speed Review in Lightroom Mobile

The main problem I found was that the actual loading of the full RAW-image took quite some time. E.g., in order to be able to check focus, I had to wait for 10-12 seconds. However, seeing as this is on an iPad that’s almost three years old, I’m not surprised.

Editing

Editing was a similar experience to using JPEGs, the only difference being the amount of adjustments you are able to make to an image. Again, loading the RAW image for editing took quite some time (10-20 seconds). Once loaded though, making adjustments was surprisingly smooth and responsive; changes appeared to be instantaneous.

Editing blueberry in Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Editing blueberry in Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Revolution?

While I was organizing my images, reviewing them and making edits, Lightroom was uploading the original RAW-files via Creative Sync. This meant that when I came home and turned on my desktop PC, which is where I store my main Lightroom catalog, all the images from my recent trip was automatically downloaded and a new collection appeared. To me, this is getting close to an incredibly convenient workflow, especially when travelling For shorter trips there may no longer be a need to bring a laptop to do “pre-organizing” of images. It also feels like this brings us one step closer to having a shared catalog across multiple desktop/laptops, which is currently my number one feature request for Lightroom!

Summary

The previous paragraph summarizes what I believe to be the primary benefit of the new RAW-workflow in Lightroom Mobile. Other good bits are:

  • Both global and local adjustments.
  • Organizing, review and starring.
  • Once imported, all your edited (RAW) images can be shared with any other application on you iOS device.

There are also a few things missing that I hope to see added or improved in a future version:

  • No support for adding or editing metadata.
  • (Metadata and develop) presets on import.
  • Shared presets (metadata and develop), keywords etc. with my desktop catalog.
  • Importing is a 2-step process; first the apple photos app, then add to Lightroom (I have a feeling this is something Apple forces…).
  • Speed… again, this is most likely a limitation of the hardware and not the software itself.

If you’re still reading, I thank you for your interest! For a more thorough walk through of this workflow, please read this blogpost by photographer Elia Locardi.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile supports the same RAW-formats as Adobe Camera Raw.