Going Mobile – First Look At Adobe Lightroom mobile
April 8, 2014
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This week, Adobe released another update for Adobe Lightroom. In addition to the normal bug fixes and the addition of more lens and camera profiles, Adobe introduced something that many Lightroom users have been curious about since it was teased back in May last year by Lightroom product manager Tom Hogarty (@LR_Tom)…Lightroom mobile.

It appears the “mobile” is intentionally lower-cased on all the Adobe marketing materials.

With such a highly anticipated event, I decide to hijack today’s regularly scheduled post and put together a first look at the new Lightroom mobile. I’ll cover my initial setup, creating synchronized collections, and close with some early thoughts and observations.


In a nutshell, Lightroom mobile pairs Lightroom 5.4 with a new Lightroom iPad app and synchronizes collections using the Creative Cloud. So, you’re going to need all three pieces to get it working.

  • Adobe Lightroom 5.4 – Download the update here: adobe.ly/1hzfmR6.
  • Creative Cloud Subscription – You can sign in to your Adobe account and enjoy a 30-day trial.
  • Lightroom Mobile for iPad – Read more here: http://adobe.ly/1hzfvnv .

Setting Up Synchronization

Once I installed Lightroom 5.4, (speaking of hijacking), my identity plate changed to present a “Get started with Lightroom mobile” bar. I clicked Sign In and signed in with me Adobe credentials.

Adobe Lightroom - Sync with Lightroom mobile

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom mobile Sign In

Once I signed in, I reset my identity plate and, because I was using the 30 day trial, Lightroom overlaid my identity plate with a mobile trial message.

Lightroom Fanatic - Signed In To Creative Cloud / Lightroom mobile

Lightroom Fanatic – Signed In To Creative Cloud / Lightroom mobile

On the iPad, I downloaded and installed the free Lightroom app and, again, I signed in with my Adobe ID.

Lightroom mobile - iPad - sign in adobe id

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom mobile – Sign In

Once I signed in,  Lightroom mobile showed my account name on the top left and an empty collections list.

lightroom mobile - no collections

Lightroom Mobile To Desktop

I started my Lightroom mobile journey on my iPad by creating a new collection by clicking on the + icon on the top right of the screen and selecting  Collection.

Lightroom mobile - New Collection

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom mobile – New Collection

Once the empty collection was created, I clicked on the Add from Camera Roll link, accepted the permission request from Lightroom mobile to access my camera roll, and selected an image from my camera roll. Returning back to the Lightroom mobile home screen, there was now a preview of the image in my collection list.

Lightroom mobile collection with preview

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom mobile Collection

Returning to my desktop, Lightroom showed the collection that I had created on my iPad along with the image that I included in the collection.

lightroom mobile synchronized collection from ipad

Lightroom Fanatic – Synchronized Collection From iPad

So far, synchronization was pretty seamless.

Desktop To Mobile Synchronization

Next, I created a new collection on my desktop. On the Create Collection dialog, there is a new option to Sync with Lightroom mobile, which I checked.

Create Collection - Sync with Lightroom mobile

Lightroom Fanatic – Create Collection – Sync with Lightroom mobile

Inside of my new collection on my desktop, I added two images, then returned to Lightroom mobile. When I pulled up the For Lightroom Mobile collection on my iPad, it had previews for the two images in the collection.

Lightroom mobile - Synchronized Collection From Desktop

Lightroom Fanatic – Synchronized Collection From Desktop

Editing With Lightroom mobile

Editing Tools

The editing tools included with this first release of Lightroom mobile are pretty sparse. It looks like most of the Basic tab options are available, but none of the more advanced tools that are available on the desktop. Making the adjustments, though, is easy enough on the iPad interface.

Lightroom mobile Editing

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom mobile Editing

In addition to the basic adjustments, Lightroom mobile includes some preset styles…

Lightroom mobile Presets

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom mobile Presets

…as well as cropping options.

Lightroom mobile Cropping

Lightroom Fanatic – Lightroom mobile Cropping


Just as it was when I created new collections and added images to them, synchronization was seamless both with edits that originated on my iPad and on the desktop. I did notice some anomalies between the values shown for some adjustments on the iPad and desktop (see white balance in the images below) but I’ll need to dig a bit more to see what to make out of it.

Lightroom Fanatic - Edits On The Desktop

Lightroom Fanatic – Edits On The Desktop

Lightroom Fanatic - Edits On The iPad

Lightroom Fanatic – Edits On The iPad

Early Impressions

Overall, I think the initial release is exactly that…an initial release. It’s obvious that the team worked hard to get this application in the wold, and now Adobe can say they are in the mobile workflow game. With an established base, they’ll be able to watch how the community uses the application and use that information to guide future development.

As fantastic as I think smart previews are, there is some segment of the Lightroom population that doesn’t take advantage of them because they don’t need to. I suspect the same will be true for Lightroom mobile.

For people that don’t have a second computer or that don’t want to carry around a laptop and don’t need more than basic editing capabilities, especially for those already subscribed to Creative Cloud, taking advantage of what Lightroom mobile has to offer is probably more likely.

Does it change anything about my workflow? Probably not. I’ve got a light laptop that has the full version of Lightroom on it, so the benefit of working on an iPad right now with a fraction of the functionality doesn’t provide much value. But, I am curious enough about it that I’ll force myself to use it, and I’ll of course continue to monitor its growth to see where Adobe takes it.

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