Lightroom for the iPad

Lightroom, the leading* program for editing** and cataloguing photographs, now has an iPad app. It’s superb – like most software from Adobe.

It isn’t meant to be a full replacement for the desktop app but it’s a slick tool for editing and showing photos on the move.

You can

  • sync selected collections of photos from desktop to iPad
  • view collections as a slide show
  • pick and unpick photos
  • edit photos using the main sliders; you can’t use custom presets, tone curves and the more detailed sliders

And all changes are synchronised back to the desktop and vice-versa. IMPORTANT CATCH: photos are not automatically downloaded for offline editing. To enable this, in the list of collections on the iPad, in the bottom right of a collection’s image, tap the three dots and ”enable offline editing”.

Tagging and starring photos, as well as an iPhone version, are coming later.

This clever part is that you’re not directly editing huge RAW files on the iPad. It uses Adobe’s “smart previews”, which are small (2%) versions of the originals that somehow retain enough data for you to see the effect of your edits.

If you use Lightroom, try it.

One caveat: you need to subscribe to Creative Cloud to use this app, but that’s the way Adobe is going with its applications. 

*Ok, some prefer Apple’s Aperture… but, for serious photographers, these two are far ahead of the competition.

**No, not Photoshop. Lightroom is designed specifically for photographers as a digital version of a traditional darkroom. It gives you a workflow with tools for  importing images from a camera, cataloguing them, selecting the best, developing them and then uploading them to web sites or printing them. The developing tools are the nub of it: you use sliders to effect what took hours of skilled work in a darkroom. Only rarely will you need to switch into Photoshop to retouch individual pixels.