I know this question has been asked before but none that I've seen has been recent. I wanted to get a ipad pro for some photo editing on the go and other work related things. I kept seeing issues with exporting RAW images. Some saying to was impossible and others having crazy work arounds to accomplish exporting. If I upload a raw photo directly to the iPad from the SD card, is the raw file saved to the cloud along with all of the edits that I've done or do I need to transfer it manually? I havent used the Lightroom mobile app and the cloud function so I'm a confused as to some of the issues I've been reading. I also read that the quality of the file was limited on the mobile app? Is this still the case or have these issues been resolved? I wanted to get an ipad but if things are as convoluted as my research has me to believe, then a laptop may be my better option. Sorry again for the repeat questions and thank you in advance for any help and advice.
" If I upload a raw photo directly to the iPad from the SD card, is the raw file saved to the cloud along with all of the edits?"
Yes. Images that are imported into Lightroom on the iPad are uploaded to the cloud along with any edits you do, assuming of course that your iPad is connected to wifi. If you use Lightroom Classic on your computer and sync it with Lightroom, the raw image along with edits will automatically download to your computer. It's a pretty slick system when you understand how it works.
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It can be a great system, if you want to do it exactly the way Adobe intends it to be used. If you go off the trail, then you can find yourself in crazy workaround land, and it can get to be a little nuts.
The primary way Adobe intends Lightroom on the iPad to be used is as a full citizen of the Lightroom cloud ecosystem. Meaning, you expect to use Lightroom on desktop/mobile platforms to upload original photo files to Lightroom Photos cloud storage, which is part of Adobe Creative Cloud, and edit those cloud-stored originals. If you do it this way, you can get to any of your photos any time from Lightroom on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, or a supported web browser, as long as you have fast Internet access. When you want a copy with edits, you export.
I kept seeing issues with exporting RAW images. Some saying to was impossible and others having crazy work arounds to accomplish exporting.
Complication #1: Because the originals are stored in the cloud, the only way to get a local copy wth edits that you can see in your iPad Files app or local computer is to export from Lightroom. On iOS, exporting is through a standard share icon, and is assumed to be JPEG by default (for social media and such). If you want another format, like TIFF or raw, you have to make sure you choose Export As from the bottom of the Share icon menu (one thing to remember). But if you select raw, you literally only get the raw original—without edits. If you want that raw with edits, you must select DNG (another thing to remember), which is sort of raw plus edit metadata in a wrapper. But raw and DNG are available only if the original is really in the cloud (see Complication #2 below). So it can be done, but it is not intuitive. Also, it has not worked consistently; in some versions the phone/tablet version seemed to refuse to export anything that didn’t have a Smart Preview downloaded from the cloud. Which was a problem when Internet access is spotty or unavailable. But offline raw export seemed to be working more reliably the last time I tried it.
If all you want is to get the files and edits from your iPad to Lightroom or Lightroom Classic on the desktop, there are no extra steps. You don’t need to export, just let Lightroom on iPad sync to the cloud, and after the images finish uploading, the desktop apps will pull them down (in Lightroom Classic, sync must be enabled).
If I upload a raw photo directly to the iPad from the SD card, is the raw file saved to the cloud along with all of the edits that I've done
Yes. The upload is automatic as long as sync is active, so if you put in an SD card with 47GB of raw files, Lightroom will want to upload all 47GB. Again, this is fine as long as you have fast Internet.
I also read that the quality of the file was limited on the mobile app?
Lightroom on the iPad is able to create images with quality equal to Lightroom on the desktop, so there is no inherent limitation. However, Lightroom on the desktop has fewer features than Lightroom Classic, and if you prefer to store your originals using Lightroom Classic, then you run into…
Complication #2: Lightroom Classic is not fully integrated into the Lightroom Photos cloud ecosystem described above. Mostly because Lightroom Classic is designed to store all your originals locally, which conflicts with Lightroom (non-Classic) which is designed to store all your originals are in the cloud. This causes several issues. One of them is that Lightroom Classic does not upload originals to Lightroom Photos in the cloud, it uploads a downsampled Smart Preview (a form of DNG). This makes it possible to edit Lightroom Classic photos using an iPad, but not at full resolution. This may be what you are hearing about.
If you store all originals in Lightroom Photos in the cloud (not locally in Lightroom Classic), that is not a problem…an iPad, phone, or desktop will always able to edit those cloud-stored photos at full resolution, as long as your Internet connection is good enough to pull down the full originals for editing.
The theme is that the problems you have heard do not happen to all users all the time. Different sets of problems happen under different specific workflows, and are most likely to happen to those who are not staying completely inside the all-cloud Lightroom ecosystem (and all that takes is being a staunch Lightroom Classic user), or those who have slow/unreliable Internet access. The more you like to be all-cloud, the smoother things will go. The more you must integrate with local applications, local workflows, and local storage of originals, the more of these complications you are going to run into.
Personally I think editing in Lightroom on the iPad is a lot of fun, but I still take the laptop if serious work needs to be done, because there are just some high-productivity aspects to Lightroom Classic on the desktop that simply cannot be done in the iPad version. Other photographers get along very well with the Lightroom cloud ecosystem and prefer to use it exclusively, not even installing Lightroom Classic. For you, again it will depend on how much you need support for local workflows vs cloud/upload workflows.
@Conrad C This is an excellent summation of how it all works, along with an explanation of the inherent challenges and frustrations. This should be on the Adobe blog for a wider audience. Nicely done!
Personally, I think editing in Lightroom on the iPad is a lot of fun too. Overall I spend more time editing on my iPad than on my computer. I don't travel with a laptop anymore because the iPad can take care of what I need while I am on the road. When I am home everything is automatically downloaded to a hard drive and managed with Lr Classic. If I plan on printing an image it gets another pass of editing on my calibrated big monitor with Lr Classic and most often a run through Photoshop too.