Big news today for iPad and iPhone users: you can now import raw files from your camera or memory card into Lightroom mobile and edit them, and these original files and their edits will sync back to Lightroom on your desktop. This was already possible with JPEGs, but now that we have raw support, you might be able to travel without your laptop!
Download the 2.4 update for Lightroom mobile from the App store.
Here’s a list of what else is new for iPads and iPhones:
- Lightroom mobile iOS 2.4 adds two of Lightroom Desktop’s local adjustment tools – the radial filter and graduated filter (renamed the radial and linear selection tools, respectively)
- New import settings to turn on lens profile corrections and add your copyright
- Also turn on/of lens profile corrections in Edit view
- New keyboard shortcuts for iPads with a keyboard connected
- In the camera, a new pro mode that lets you control the shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and focus all manually, in a new interface.
- A Lightroom camera widget to allow you to launch the camera directly, without having to open Lightroom mobile
- You can now export full resolution files – if the full resolution file is available in mobile, desktop or web, it will be downloaded and served to export.
Import Raw Files onto Your iPad or iPhone and Work with Them in Lightroom Mobile
This new functionality is intended to allow you to work with your photos before you can get home to your desktop computer. It does of course require that you have enough space on your iPad for the raw files – check how much space you have by going into LrM settings – in Collections view tap on the LR icon in the top left – you’ll see disk usage at the bottom of the panel. Note that initially you’ll need twice as much space as your raw files require, since you’ll actually start out with two copies of each file – read on for details on why, and see the section towards the bottom of this article for space-saving tips.
Raw files from all cameras supported by Lightroom Desktop 6.6 / 2015.6 are supported in Lightroom mobile. (If your camera is too new for 6.6/2015.6 to support it, Lightroom mobile won’t support it either.)
Importing and loading will be much quicker on newer iPads than on old ones – I have an original iPad mini, and importing takes about 15 seconds per 12 MP file, and every time I choose a raw file in LrM to edit, it takes a while to load.
Here’s how to get your raw files into Lightroom Mobile:
- Connect your camera or a memory card to your iPad. To connect your camera, use a Lightning to USB camera adapter. To connect an SD memory card, use a Lightning to SD card camera reader. These adapters are available on Amazon for around $30. I haven’t researched all the options, but I bought this SD card camera reader and it has worked fine so far.
- Open up the Apple Photos app, tap on Import in the bottom right, select the photos you want to import, and import (into your Camera Roll).
- Open Lightroom mobile and import these photos from the Camera Roll (unless you already have Lightroom mobile set up to automatically import from the Camera Roll).
- On your iPad Lightroom mobile stores its own copy of the files, so after this import go back to Apple Photos and delete the photos from your Camera Roll (really – otherwise the already-limited space on your iPad will get used up twice as fast.) When prompted, don’t let Apple Photos delete the photos from your memory card though – keep these as a backup.
- Rate, flag and edit your photos using Lightroom mobile. You can also now share/export full-resolution files from these source files.
- When you are connected to the internet and signed in to your Adobe account, the raw files and edits will automatically upload (sync) to the cloud and then down to Lightroom Desktop (and your hard drive.)
See the section towards the bottom of this article for some space-saving and workflow suggestions.
iPhone/iPad Import Preferences
Now that we can import directly into Lightroom mobile, it’s handy to be able to add our copyright as we do so and to also turn on lens profile corrections. To do so:
- Go into the Settings panel by tapping on the LR icon in the top left in Collections view.
- Tap on Import
- Choose to enable profile corrections for all files or just raw files
- Turn on Add Copyright and type yours in.
iPhone/iPad New Local Adjustment Tools
If you use the radial and graduated filters in Lightroom desktop, you’ll appreciate being able to do the same in Mobile to make edits that affect just local areas of your photos. The radial filter has been renamed “radial selection” tool in LrM, and the graduated filter has been renamed the “linear selection” tool.
- In Loupe (single photo) view, tap on the new Local Adjust tab in the bottom right.
- In the row of editing choices (Exposure, etc) tap on the left-most rectangle to bring up the Radial / Linear choice.
Radial Selection Tool
This works almost exactly like the radial filter tool in Lightroom desktop. It’s designed to allow you to make edits to a circular or oval area in your photo, or to the area outside of this.
After choosing Radial Selection from the above menu, drag outward from the center of where you want to place the filter. Fine tune the placement, shape and feathering by following the instructions in the graphic below. Set one or more edit settings (such as Exposure to brighten or darken) to be applied inside or outside the circle or oval.
Linear Selection Tool
This also works like its Lightroom desktop “graduated filter” counterpart. After choosing Linear Selection from the above menu, drag downward in the photo to make a selection of the top of the photo, or upward to select the bottom. You can also draw selections to affect one side or the other or diagonal ones. If you find that you want the opposite of what you got, drag the top line down below the bottom line to flip it.
New Keyboard Shortcuts for iPads with Keyboards Connected
Use 1-5 to add stars, 0 to remove; P, X and U for pick, reject and unflag; Ctl/Cmd-C and Ctl/Cmd V for copy and paste; Y to toggle on/off before and after; G for Grid; right and left arrow keys for next and previous photo
Workflow and Space Saving Ideas for Working with Raw Files on iPads and iPhones
Now that I have gotten through what’s new, here are some more tips for working with raw files on your iPad (or iPhone):
- If your iPad is slow, consider culling out the obvious rejects using Apple Photos before importing into Lightroom Mobile. This process will be faster in Photos because it doesn’t actually process your raw files, it works with the embedded JPEG previews.
- If your iPad isn’t slow and you want to use Lightroom mobile to review your photos and get rid of the rejects before it syncs your picks to your Desktop, disconnect your iPad’s wireless connection
or sign out of your Adobe account in Lightroom Mobilebefore you import. Delete the rejects from the Lightroom Photos master collection (not just any separate collection they may be in), then connect or sign in and let LrM sync the remaining ones.
- Raw files will take up a lot of space on your mobile device. If you have an internet connection, you can import some, edit them and let them sync to the cloud, then delete them from Lightroom mobile – delete them from the Lightroom Photos master collection and clear the cache to free up space. To clear the cache, tap on the three dots on your collection and choose Clear Cache.
- Another way to free up some space but still have these photos available to edit in Lightroom mobile is to clear out the full resolution originals and just use the the smaller compressed “smart preview” versions of these files in Lightroom mobile. The full res versions will still sync to the cloud. There are two ways to achieve this:
- Go into Settings and turn off “Download full resolution files” before you import. You’ll then be working with smart previews on your iPad, but the full resolution raw files will be synced to Lightroom Desktop.
- If you want to initially work with the raw files as you edit, but then switch to storing just smart previews on your iPad, then follow this process anytime after the originals finish syncing to the cloud:
- Go into Settings and turn off “Download full resolution files”.
- Clear the cache for your collection – in Collection view, tap on the three dots in the lower right corner and choose Clear Cache. This will clear out the originals and LrM will be passed smart previews from the server.
- Be sure you have deleted the copies from Apple Photos, or Lightroom mobile will just reload the full resolution raw files from there.