RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Started Aug 6, 2016 | Discussions
scotthunter New Member • Posts: 22
RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions
6

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:

  • iPad Pro 9.7" running iOS10 Beta 3, iCloud Photo Library enabled
  • Lightroom Mobile 2.4 with Creative Cloud subscription
  • Lightroom CC 15.6.1 on Windows 10 PC.
  • Lightning to SD Card reader (2016 version)
  • SanDisk Extreme SDHC-I SD Card
  • iCloud account with 50Gb storage plan
  • 50Mb fibre broadband connection

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 as it assumes they're duplicates.

The workflow is as follows:

  1. Insert SD card into Lightning to SD Card reader and insert to iPad.
  2. The iPad will bring up the Import dialog and the thumbnails of your RAW images will start to load. Choose Select All and Import Photos (you do not have to wait for all the thumbnails to load). It took 2 mins 45 secs to download 213 RAW files to the iPad, which are about 19Mb each; this is about 1.3 seconds per photo. Bear in mind this was USB2 as the smaller iPad Pro does not support USB3. Provided you are connected to WiFi and have enough iCloud storage space, the original RAW images will start to be backed up to iCloud instantly - you can check this by going to www.icloud.com.
  3. From the Photos app, select Albums > Last Import > Select > Select All > Add To > New Album (name new album).
  4. With the photos now in an album, you can go through and cull the images that you don't want (note: deleting them only sends them to the Recently Deleted folder, which permanently deletes the photos after 30 days).
  5. Open Lightroom Mobile. Either import the images into Lightroom by creating a new Collection: Add Photos (my preferred method), or by choosing Camera Roll > (drop down) > Select Album (choose album or open Recently Deleted).
  6. You will notice a small RAW symbol in the middle of the thumbnails indicating that they are RAW files. Click ... > Select All > Add Photos.
  7. The images will be added to Lightroom Mobile and you can start to make edits on the iPad. The original RAW images (not Smart Previews) are then synced to Lightroom Desktop via Creative Cloud and will appear in your organised folders as if you have imported them directly to the PC. This process will take a long time therefore it is highly recommended to be using a fast fibre optic Internet connection if you want to upload hundreds of RAW images via the iPad. (It is important to note that the original RAW file will now be backed up on your PC in the same folder organisational structure as you would expect if you were to import directly to Lightroom Desktop - this can be customised by going to Edit > Preferences > Lightroom mobile > Location). Any edits you have made on LR Mobile will be synced over to LR Desktop.
  8. Once the photos have synced to Creative Cloud severs, you can then delete them from your iPad's Camera Roll to free up storage space (or, if you have enough iCloud Storage, you can free up storage by letting iCloud automatically manage your device storage so you never run out of space).

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 its cloud servers, the transition between the mobile and desktop applications is seamless. Another annoyance is that the LR Mobile will stop syncing when the iPad goes into lock mode; the only way to stop this happening is to prevent the screen from turning off. I hope Adobe release an update to allow the app to run in the background.

This workflow is also dependant on a fast Internet connection, particularly if you have hundreds of RAW images that need to be downloaded from Creative Cloud to your PC. This part seems to take much longer than the upload from the iPad.

Since writing this I've also noticed that the iCloud backup appears to have only synced the JPEG previews. This is not the case with the Creative Cloud backup, which has successfully synced the full RAW files. I will need to investigate this further as iCloud advertises that it's capable of syncing original RAW images.

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.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Apple iPad Pro Canon PowerShot G7 X
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Jos van Eekelen Regular Member • Posts: 295
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Thanks for sharing. What is your experience with regard to editing, since the iPad has no mouse or other pointing device? Can you make fine tuned adjustments as you would have done with a proper PC with keyboard/mouse/etc?

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OP scotthunter New Member • Posts: 22
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Hi Jos.

I personally find the iPad Pro a joy to use. I much prefer using touch screen to using a mouse, and it's certainly easier than using a laptop touchpad. The sliders offer the same degree of control as the desktop version, from -100 to +100 for most of the tools. It also superimposes the slider bar onto the photo to maximise the photo viewing area. You can also use the Apple Pencil but I haven't tried this yet.

Scott

Brandon birder Veteran Member • Posts: 4,098
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Good post Scott  I have just got an iPad Pro and am on creative cloud. I was wondering myself how to use it In my workflow and your post is a good starting point. So thanks.

one difference is I will use the new lightning to camera/usb3 adaptor. So I can use a variety of cards or the camera.

John Kubler Regular Member • Posts: 295
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Thank you for sharing, Scott, very useful feedback.

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JMK

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Art Jacks Senior Member • Posts: 2,634
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Brandon, not wishing to go off topic but the lightning to USB3 hub you mentioned, is this an Apple product or a 3rd party product ? thanks

Miki Nemeth
Miki Nemeth Senior Member • Posts: 1,292
RAW editing on the iPad 9.7 (USB2) with Lightroom Mobile CC

scotthunter wrote:

Since Adobe released Lightroom Mobile 2.4, which includes support for editing RAW files,

I think this may only be applicable on iPad and/or with Adobe CC subscription.

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.

Exactly this is what I have been experimenting with recently, too. I have the Samsung Note Edge with the excellent S-Pen, a brilliant pointing device, even with right-click, and hovering-over functionality. I spent a number of hours in an Apple show-room experimenting with the iPad Pro 9.7, and it's an amazind device with the Apple Pencil, without the pencil, it is just another tablet. The iPad Pro is special/unique because its  iMovie can edit 4K videos, too: this is not available on (any) Android so far.

I wanted to share with you my experience, which has been mostly successful so far.

Absolutely enjoyed your essay. Thank you so much.

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.

Doesn't your Canon have excellent in-camera raw editing? Have you considered using it, and upload only jpegs? Copying raw files around consumes a hell lot of resources, and slows down the process, which takes away a lot from the charm of mobile photography experience.

Bear in mind this was USB2 as the smaller iPad Pro does not support USB3.

Huh, this is a show-stopper to me; no way I'd spend $1000 in 2016 for a tablet without USB3 speed. Thank you so much for pointing this out.

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.

Yes, agree. However, I was quite happy with the performance of my Samsung Note Edge, too for (raw) photo editing with the Photo Mate R3. The UI of Photo Mate is quite clumsy, unfortunately vs Lightroom Mobile/Snapseed.

LR Mobile makes full use of screen real estate on the iPad in editing mode

Exactly my experienece on the Samsung Note, but definitely the 9.7 screen is far better for photo/video editing than Samsung Note.

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,

Don't you have dedicated iPad apps for these jobs on the iPad Pro?

but because LR Mobile syncs across the original RAW images over its cloud servers,

I'd prefer a synching service via direct export-import over USB (preferrably USB3) or directly on the gigabit LAN when at home. Would it be possible?

iCloud backup appears to have only synced the JPEG previews. This is not the case with the Creative Cloud backup, which has successfully synced the full RAW files. I will need to investigate this further as iCloud advertises that it's capable of syncing original RAW images.

The myriads/couple of problems with RAW handling lead me to the direction that if I want really light fun-to-use mobile photography, I'd better start using raw processing in my camera, a Nikon Df; it has excellent and very fast high quality in camera (pre)processing, and I am downloading only the pre-processed jpgs from my camera onto my mobile phone for fine tuning and additional "artistic" post processing (Snapseed, Lightroom Mobile, and many other dedicated apps). I can keep my raw files on the camera for backup, but actually I don't need raw files any more, I took new photos every day, week, no time to go back. Shoot, edit, process, publish, print (Canon SELPHY CP1200 is brilliant) on-the-go, and go for the next project; no need to look back.

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.

Absolutely useful. I have no time for postprocessing on my desktop for the fun photography I am doing, I prefer using my Samsung Note while on the go, which gave a boost to my enthusiasm to my declining interest in photography.

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John_Hoffman Contributing Member • Posts: 918
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Art Jacks wrote:

Brandon, not wishing to go off topic but the lightning to USB3 hub you mentioned, is this an Apple product or a 3rd party product ? thanks

An Apple product. It has a USB port and a female Lightning port so you can power/charge the iPad through the adapter.

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John Hoffman
Conway, NH

Art Jacks Senior Member • Posts: 2,634
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions
1

John, many thanks for the information.

Dr Tone Regular Member • Posts: 224
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

I was testing RAW+jpg from my A7R2 last night.  When I attached my SD card to my iPad Pro it only displayed one image.  So I imported the one image assuming it would be the jpg.  I opened Lightroom mobile and added the imported image, the image had the RAW label after import.  When I told my iPad to delete image after import both the RAW and jpg files were deleted off my SD card.

Not sure why you only got JPG?  Maybe this is a regression in iOS 10? I'm running 9.3.4.

Maybe report it to Apple, not that they actually listen very often.

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whazzup Contributing Member • Posts: 553
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

This is a nice thread, nice write-up.

Can you import from the memory card directly to Lightroom, thus bypassing Photos? Do you need to use Photos as an intermediary?

Thanks

John_Hoffman Contributing Member • Posts: 918
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

As of the current iOS (iOS 10) you need to go through Photos.

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John Hoffman
Conway, NH

col4bin
col4bin Contributing Member • Posts: 646
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Thanks for this.  I know the post is 10mos old but very relevant to me.  A couple months ago my iPad fell to the floor and not only shattered the screen but blew apart the bezel.  I was holding off on a new one waiting for the 10.5" iPad Pro.

I plan to use this as a replacement for a laptop when I travel.  I don't edit on the road  but I do like to dump my memory cards each day. The iPad with LR Mobile in my workflow will allow me to do this as well as begin culling our the selects and deleting the missed shots.  I am going to get the 256gb version which should be more than enough for a trip with plenty of room to spare.  I also have the 50gb iCloud plan....at .99/mo, it's worth it for me.

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Frank
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Lancaster
Lancaster Forum Member • Posts: 82
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

col4bin wrote:

Thanks for this. I know the post is 10mos old but very relevant to me.

As it is to me. I missed this post the first time around and I could have used it. Nicely written workflow procedure.

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Rick Grant
Calgary

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whazzup Contributing Member • Posts: 553
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

I got the lightning to USB 3 camera connector.  Both of my card readers need an extra power source.  Is that true of all card readers or is there an SD card readers that doesn't require external power? Or is it my early iPad Mini that is the issue?  Would I need external power with the new 10.5 iPad Pro?

col4bin
col4bin Contributing Member • Posts: 646
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

I have the apple lighting/SD care reader and I have the new iPad Pro 10.5".  The setup works great and no external power needed.

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John_Hoffman Contributing Member • Posts: 918
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

That's why the Lightning-USB3 Camera Connection Kit has a port for a Lightning cable - provides the exra power needed.

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John Hoffman
Conway, NH

whazzup Contributing Member • Posts: 553
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

Bummer.   I bought the USB 3 camera connection kit and external readers need additional power. Shoulda' gotten the card reader, but then I wouldn't be able to read CF cards

John_Hoffman Contributing Member • Posts: 918
Re: RAW editing on the iPad with Lightroom Mobile: my initial impressions

If you connect the camera directly you don't need external power.

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John Hoffman
Conway, NH

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