Since Adobe released Lightroom Mobile 2.4, which includes support for editing RAW files, I have been experimenting with using my iPad Pro as part of my photography workflow as I wanted to find a way to use the iPad as a desktop replacement for when I'm away from home. I wanted to share with you my experience, which has been mostly successful so far.
The workflow allows me to use my iPad Pro to make edits of RAW images (.cr2) captured with my digital camera for editing and sharing directly from the iPad, or for editing on Lightroom Desktop on the PC when I'm back home.
Firstly, for this test the following was used:
For the test I had taken 216 photos using my Canon G7X in RAW and JPEG mode. I then realised that I had to delete the JPEG copies as the iPad will only read the JPEGs where there is a RAW and JPEG under the same file name.The workflow is as follows:
Overall I found the process to be very straightforward and the new iPad has more than enough processing power to be able to handle RAW image editing. It also has a very nice high resolution screen. In fact, during operation it feels significantly faster than my HP laptop running Windows 10. Also, unlike the desktop version, LR Mobile makes full use of screen real estate on the iPad in editing mode, which makes it easier to use than running the full Lightroom on smaller laptops.
The main limitation for me is that I still need to switch to LR Desktop to do some advanced editing such as HDR merge and panorama, but because LR Mobile syncs across the original RAW images over the Cloud, the transition between the mobile and desktop applications is seamless.
I hope that some people will find this useful. It's great to finally have almost full desktop capability on the iPad and I think it's going to really transform my photography workflow.
Great post. I started doing essentially the same a couple of days ago as we are on vacation (Canon 7D shooting RAW, SD to lightning adaptor).
Additionally, I shoot some pictures with my iPhone (mainly pano) so I have a couple of extra steps in my workflow:
1. Shoot during the day with both DSLR and iPhone (after ensuring the date and time - including time zone) are perfectly synced
2. At the end of the day, create a collection on LRM on the iPhone, and import all pictures from the camera roll. Wait for syncing completion.
3. Import RAWs from the SD card in the Photos app on the iPad as you describe (I do not delete the originals for now - might start doing that when I'm more confident with the process)
4. Launch LRM on iPad. Wait for the collection created on the iPhone to appear. Mark it for "Offline editing". Wait for pics to sync.
5. Add imported RAWs to the collection.
Other steps identical to yours
A decent Internet connection is necessary for iPhone pictures to sync up with Creative Cloud (and down to the iPad) but these are usually not too big. A *good* internet connection is required for the RAWs to sync too (50 MB each).
I have 2 questions:
Can you explain why you sync your pictures with iCloud?
When zooming in on RAW pictures in LRM, I see artifacts that suggest it's a smart preview or a compressed jpg, not the original RAW. Do you get the same? I'll compare with the desktop LR once I'm back home.
The biggest problem I have found is the upload speed to CC servers for RAW files. I imported 200 files and it was taking on average 1:45mins per 20mb photo. Unfortunately my upload speed is only 3.38mbps compared to 52.52mbps for download. This is a big drawback as it means I need to leave the iPad on (without it going into lock mode) for hours.
I have also noticed that LR Mobile displays a low resolution preview of the RAW file – perhaps the JPEG? I have checked on LR Desktop and I can see that the original RAW file has synced to the desktop.
I have iCloud Photo Library enabled on my iOS devices so every photo in my camera roll is backed up to iCloud automatically and it also syncs photos across my devices.
What does enabling offline editing do when the source file is already on the device?
Ok, I use Dropbox for backup and syncing across devices. I toyed a bit with iCloud but found it too complicated for the benefits. I also have a Flickr account, which I use as Apple TV screen saver (it was one of my use cases for iCloud).
The offline editing, as I understand it, forces a download of the full resolution image onto the device. I use it to ensure that I see (and can edit and publish) pictures from both the DSLR and the iPhone on the iPad.
This workflow is very much a vacation one (publishing reasonably good pictures while I'm away from my home computer).
I don't think iCloud Photo Library is complicated. In fact, it just runs in the background and backs up your iOS photos automatically. But instead of downloading the photos to your PC, it allows you to view and download them via your browser.
So does offline editing allow you to work on original files uploaded to LR Desktop, as opposed to Smart Previews?
My main concern was ensuring I understand where the full res originals were as opposed to "smart previews" (not called that way on iCloud). I then switch to Dropbox for pics (also uploading in the background) but I now disabled it too to exclusively use LRM. Let's see how it works in a daily use context.
I don't know if it downloads full res from the desktop. I know it downloads full res of the JPGs uploaded from the iPhone (even large pano JPGs). I'll need to get back to my laptop to test more. It's a pity there is no clear description from Adobe of this (the FAQ touches on it but is not specific enough). It seems to be a damn good product though. Looking forward to further evolutions - the desktop version might become only relevant for specific cases and actual catalog management.
There is actually an option with iCloud Photo Library to automatically download every image saved to an iOS device. They get saved to a folder in Photos on the PC. I don't have this enabled as duplicates will start to build up. But essentially, all iPad / iPhone photos are still backrd up in the Cloud and can be viewed on iCloud.com. I haven't decided if this step is strictly necessary but iCloud storage is really cheap so I may as well keep it going.
I think I will only only keep a selection of finished photos permanently stored on my iPad as high res JPEGs and keep all my original RAWS on my PC.
I'm trying to find a good stand-alone HDR app for iPad which lets you add two photos from the Camera Roll for merging - do you know of any that work as well as the Lightroom tool? Same for panoramas.
I'd also like to have an ability to resize photos to 2048px long edge for sharing on Facebook.
Thanks great post and good discussion. I decided a few weeks ago to attempt a pure iPad Pro/LRM approach for a trip to Europe. I wrote up my detailed experience at this location: http://elmundochico.com/?p=2367
bottom line, my experiences were similar, but I found some serious shortcomings in the file management area...lost files (failing to load), and slow/difficult transfer back to the desktop. I'm sure Adobe will end up fixing some of these things, but right now they represent a real limitation.
Hi Chuck. Doing exactly the same - went on vacation with iPad only and posting daily top pics on FB. Experience is great and I'm just discovering the other apps such as Photoshop Fix.
Your experience makes me a bit wary though and I hope I won't have to resort to reimporting from scratch when I get home next week! I'm at 408 pics so far.
Nice web site!
Thanks for sharing your experience with LR Mobile. Have you figured out a way to prevent LR Mobile from generating Smart Previews of RAW files which have been directly imported to the iPad? I find these too low resolution for detailed editing; the low quality of the preview is glaringly obvious on such a high resolution display. I appreciate that once you delete them from your Camera Roll you are having to rely on Smart Previews pulled from CC, but until then surely you should be looking at the original file? I found that enabling Offline Editing for the collection didn't make any difference.
I have also found that uploading the RAW images to Creative Cloud to be the single biggest issue in terms of a viable workflow. I think it would be ok for a handful of images, but not from a long day shooting, especially not a holiday album. Despite my download speed on my fibre optic connection being 52mbps, I only get around 3.2mbps uploads, which isn't good when you have have about 200 RAW files to sync. I certainly wouldn't bother trying on a 3G connection or dodgy WiFi hotspot if I had a whole bunch of images to sync. I agree that the culling should be done in Apple Photos before import.
I have tried sharing to Facebook from LR Mobile but forget it because it adds too much compression, much like the Facebook app for iOS. Here's a tip: instead, export the image to your Camera Roll and share the photo via the Facebook website on Safari. I do the same on my iPhone although it uses the mobile optimised site. The quality is much better than doing in-app sharing. I also heard it's better to resize photos to 2048 long edge before sharing to Facebook and there is a third party app that will do this, although I'm not convinced it's necessary.
I agree that all we need now is HDR Merge and Panorama, however there are third party apps that do this now. Has anyone tried them and had any success?
Hope this helps.
Sounds like we have about the same experience with LRM. Great piece of software, with potential, but certainly can be improved.
I don’t think there is any way to “turn off” the smart previews. I was able to use them for editing all right. When you look at the desktop image you are also looking essentially at a preview of the original file.
I got all my 1200 images uploaded and on my desktop through the cloud…it only took a few days! probably not the best way to do things, but now that they are all uploaded…pretty cool. I can edit them on the ipad sitting downstairs in front of the TV, and have the edits show up almost immediately on my desktop, upstairs. My internet speed is supposed to be 200mbps, but it stumbles along at around 50-75 most of the time. Part of the problem my be the location of my desktop…too far from the router.
A helpful discussion Scott.
Looks like Adobe is making good progress and this is an area that should continue to evolve. At present I’m still carrying around my MacBook Pro for editing on the road although I could see an iPad use for smaller raw shoots.
At present the drawback is not being able to bypass the Photos App on iOS. I’m assuming file duplication (and storage space) occurs by importing into LR Mobile although the images could subsequently be deleted from Photos once inside LRM and syncd to desktop.
Maybe Apple will permit direct import into third party apps at some point in the future.
I don't think duplication occurs when you import photos into Lightroom Mobile as it works like a database, just like the desktop version, and the pictures never leave the Camera Roll until syncing with CC is complete. At that point you can work off the Smart Previews pulled from the Cloud. At least I think that's how it works. Essentially all the mobile app lacks is a direct import function, but the images would still be saved into the Camera Roll, like the pictures are saved onto the C:\ drive on the PC when working on the desktop.
OK thanks Scott. I always felt Apple hid masters somewhere in a package contents file, but maybe using camera roll is the trick. I will keep following Adobe’s future developments. There is a new app for Lightroom Apple TV.
There is an option to clear cache in the app settings. I think this may free up any duplicates, if there are any.
AlainD2, as in the desktop version, importing images into LR (or LRM) does not create another version of the image. The original image remains where it was, untouched in the iPad's photo library (or desktop hard drive). The originals must reside somewhere, and on the iPad that's in the library. Importing does create a small "smart preview" which is used by LRM, just like the desktop version. There is some duplication. The duplication is that small preview file. When you initially import raw files into the photo library IOS create a small Lo-res jpg preview file so you can see the raw file in the library. There are therefore two preview files. One created by the iOS import and another created by the LR import.
So, after getting back home:
Synchronization went fine:
- 620+ pics downloaded to my laptop in a couple of hours. Much slower than copying from a memory card, but all went smoothly and to the right folder (iPhone and DSLR ones) - and I was unpacking suitcases anyway!
- about 70 still needed to be uploaded to Adobe Cloud from the iPad. That went very fast (a few minutes). I waited for the download to complete before staring the upload, to avoid issues.
- I hadn't deleted any pictures on the iPad (just marked them as rejected) in order to ensure I had the same number of pictures in each collection across platforms, in case of sync issues. That didn't happen so, next time, I'll probably delete them in Photos on the iPad as most of you suggested
- I rename pictures when importing on the desktop (yyyymmddhhss-999) as it helps finding them back across platforms. LRM kept their camera name so I'm not sure what to do: live with dual naming depending on workflow, or stop renaming all together
- I convert RAWs to DNG on import, which I now need to do manually
- after import (and double checks), I deleted the LRM collections from the desktop and manually deleted all pics from the iPad and iPhone camera roll. Smooth.
- culling definitely much faster and decisive on the iPad
- I think my picture cropping was better on the iPad than on the laptop. The ability to zoom on the cropped area to fine tune it and the natural gestures make is more "organic"
- but I re-did all other corrections (resetting all the Picked pics - the ones I publish on FB and Flickr). I indeed make much more refined adjustments on the computer, can use a few presets I have made (well - copied and tuned), and can apply lens correction. I left the pics as such on FB (to keep likes and comments) but uploaded the re-edited pictures on Flickr. I probably need to practice more
- I can live without stitching and HDR functionality on LRM - these are edits I would do on a large screen with a mouse
Other workflow aspects:
- I used to sync iPhone pics with Dropbox upload and Hazel (fantastic utility on the Mac) to move them automatically to the Lightroom watched folder (JPGs only - screen captures would go to the desktop and videos to a home videos folder). This worked great and happened automatically in the background
- for longer trips, I think I'm a LRM convert
- but I need to think how to approach the daily random pictures: stick to Dropbox/Hazel (forget LRM), same but edit specific pics in LRM and manage resulting duplicates on the desktop, or completely replace Dropbox with LRM for pictures (but this might be tedious and I still need a solution for videos)
To make LRM ideal for me, I'd need:
- remove pictures from the iOS camera roll once imported in LRM - would significantly streamline workflow and make it more flexible
- make individual LRM editing steps visible in LR desktop
So after my last post I went back and retread and found a helpful comment stating my photos can stay in the camera roll, and they are not being duplicated. So if that's the case-
if I take a photo on my phone and want to edit it on my iPad in a collection along with images taken on a dslr and directly imported, do I leave the "download full res" on or ofF on both devices? I guess my confusion is really just based on the download full res on or off switch. It makes sense if I am creating a collection on my desktop and syncing TO my iPad, where the original file is on my desktop. But if I'm directly importing the files I'm confused what it does.
I have an Android device; so I can’t confirm the duplication aspect, but I’ve read that it’s possible to delete images from the Photos App after importing into LR Mobile. Apple does not allow the Photos App to be bypassed when importing from a camera storage card. So where are the photos stored – in a package contents folder?
-Photos taken with the iPad/iPhone will normally be jpeg.
-Photos synced from the device to the desktop will be original jpeg or raw files. Thumbnails in LR Mobile will indicate a large raw file with “Raw” in the center.
-Photos synced from the desktop to the device will be smart previews.
I will mostly want the smaller more efficient smart previews on my device so will import raw files as far as possible directly into LR desktop. At present I would only start a raw workflow from my device in limited situations. Wi-fi speeds, when travelling are often not great. Even at home I have a 100mb download speed but the upload stream is 5mb.
The first stage of the process of getting RAW files from your camera into LR Mobile is to import the photos into the Photos app on iPad. Even if LR Mobile allowed direct import they would still need to be saved somewhere locally while the photos were being uploaded to CC. Once sync is complete the files will be safely stored in the cloud and will be downloaded to LR Desktop when it's open and you have sync enabled.
It makes a lot of sense to sort through your photos and delete the bad ones from within the Photos app BEFORE you import them into LR Mobile. Believe me, it takes a long time to upload hundreds of 20Mb RAW files when you have a crap upload speed, and you have to keep the iPad on and awake during sync. My workflow involves importing the photos into Photos, putting all of those photos into an Album, then going through each one and selecting Favourites. You can then choose these Favourites during import when you choose Favourites under Camera Roll in LR Mobile, ensuring that they go into a named Collection. I then look through the rest of the photos in the Photos app and decide if there are any others worth syncing to the desktop for permanent storage. I find it pays to be selective and decisive when using this workflow. It's also worth buying the 50Gb iCloud Storage Plan which gives you a bit more breathing space – it's really cheap at the moment at £0.79 for 50Gb. iCloud Photo Library will automatically manage your iPad storage so that you never run out of space. Saying that, I personally wouldn't store all of my RAW files permanently on an iOS device as the photo management tools in iOS are really limited. Once I have synced the images I want to keep, I can delete them from the iPad. I would rather keep edited JPEGs on there than hundreds of unedited RAW files. The 9.7" iPad Pro certainly makes a beautiful photo viewer.
Thanks all soooo much. I've been waiting for this. I'm getting ready to purchase a 12" MacBook or a 9.7 iPad Pro (currently on a mini 4), and I really want to get this figured out. There's A few things I'm still confused about.
1. If I have "download full resolution" turned off, does that do anything for me if I'm importing the files directly from an sd card? I'm wondering if that means the full raw files go to creative cloud, leaving just smart previews on my iPad, allowing more space. If this is the case I wouldn't be as worried about getting the 256gb version.
2. I'm very confused about the need to delete the images from camera roll after importing them to LR. I just want to make sure I'm not storing two full size raw copies of every image. I get why you would delete them, but am confused if it is necessary.
3. I also use LR mobile on my iPhone but definitely don't want all of my raw files I import to my iPad to download to my phone. I'm assuming to prevent this, I have "download full res" turned off on my iPhone. But in that case will the full res jpegs I add to the collection that were taken with my phone still transfer full res files to my desktop?
It seems like Adobe could solve a lot of problems with two additions here. Adding the direct import, and also a way to make it so I can import to iPad, make adjustments, then when I get home plug the iPad into my computer to transfer the files, just syncing the edits via the internet.
Any help you guys can provide regarding the best way to optimize the full res confusion would be great. Thanks!
I personally use iCloud Photo Library only for photos i really want to keep easily organized for quick viewing. Also video as I've discovered Lightroom mobile is super slow at syncing video especially 4k taken on my 6s. I then use Lightroom for the rest. Once I take a photo, either inside the Lightroom mobile app or camera plus app depending on the type of image I'm capturing I then go into Lightroom and sync only the photos I want to use to edit. Then I edit them on my mobile or computer and then export a copy to iCloud Photo Library.
I have two questions regarding a RAW and JPEG workflow, if anybody could help.
Usually, my workflow in the field involves getting in-camera selected M size jpegs onto iPad (via wifi card or wifi adapter) from an assignment, editing these in LR mobile and sending them via ftp (which currently requires an additional step since LRM has no builtin FTP or captioning capability, come on...). So when I later get back to my computer, I would love to just sync the edits (and cull) from the CC edited jpegs to the original RAW files imported from the primary (CF) card. Is there a way of doing that?
Second thing is, can I import RAW files into LRM in another way than just using the very clunky iOS import interface? I am thinking about Shuttersnitch, eye-fi/wft-x and sending just protected (tagged) files directly from the camera. Would these stay raw or does iOS convert them when saving into camera roll?
Great post, thank you Scott.
i have been trialling the same thing:
1) import to photos on ipad
2) initial look through and edit
3) import to autosynched lightroom iOS collection which in turn auto syncs to desktop
my problems are so far:
1) as other have noted, terrible resolution images in Lightroom iOS making editing a waste of time and reduces LR iOS to a great photos rating app
2) as others have noted, nightmare syncing times...4 days and counting for 200 test raw images?!
3) difficult to manage import process on LR desktop. I hold my master images on a NAS and the mac disconnects from the network folder frequen which in turn means that LR errors. I'm currently trying amphetamine (like caffeine) to solve the network disconnects but the problem is actually syncing between the iPad and CCloud...tests still in progress
i am also trying to work out how to apply presets to the files that are auto-sync'd. I have a renaming and folder structure that gets applied for imports from directly attached cameras - so far this doesn't appear to happen with syncing.
also, I appear to be unable to apply import development presets too...again testing at the moment.
i am considering giving up on Adobe sync and using something like the great PhotoSync app. I havent tried it yet but I'm guessing my workflow would then become something like:
camera > iPad photos > photosync to Nas box > import to Lightroom desktop > sync to LR iOS.
doing that would mean that I'd do initial vetting on photos in the same way but i'd lose the flag up/down in LR iOS. It would overcome the network'd nas disconnecting though.
i'll update as the experiment continues but I'd be interested if anyone has feedback on what I'm doing.
I agree with you Crom.
The main issues seem to be:
- Painfully slow upload to CC
- Working on low-res JPEG previews
- Lack of general sharpening tool
For those reasons I tend to only use the iPad if I am away from the PC and feel the need to share an image quickly. It would also be handy to use on holiday for when I had some downtime in the evenings and wanted to go through my images from the day.