Lightroom Goes Mobile, Hits the Ground Running

By Stan Sholik

Attention Adobe Photoshop Lightroom users—you can take it with you! With the release of Lightroom 5.4 and the free Lightroom mobile app, Adobe is making it possible to perform Lightroom edits away from your desktop or laptop computer. While there are some strings attached to the program, and the full range of Lightroom controls are not yet available, it is a pretty cool extension of your abilities if you need offline editing.

To use Lightroom mobile in conjunction with Lightroom, you must have one of the following Creative Cloud plans:

  • Creative Cloud—Photoshop Photography Program (Photoshop CC and Lightroom bundle)
  • Creative Cloud complete plan
  • Creative Cloud Student and Teacher edition
  • Creative Cloud for teams complete plan

If you have one of these plans, you can download and install Lightroom 5.4 from the cloud and Lightroom mobile from iTunes and you’re on your way. At present Lightroom mobile is only available for iPads 2 and later, but an iPhone version is promised.

If you own a boxed version of Lightroom you can create an Adobe ID and download a 30 day trial of Lightroom 5.4. If you decide it is not for you, Lightroom will revert to your previous version after 30 days.

Lightroom 5.4 only adds functionality for Lightroom mobile. One of the additions is a change to the Identity Plate that allows you to sync with Lightroom mobile. Another is a Sync collection icon next to the name of each of your collections. Images can only be synced from a collection, but the images can be any file format Lightroom supports, including raw files. During the sync process, Lightroom automatically creates Smart Previews (introduced in Lightroom 5) and uploads them to the cloud.


Lightroom 5.4 adds access to Lightroom mobile after signing in through the revised Identity Plate.


To sync a collection to Lightroom mobile, you select the icon next to the collection name.

When you sign into Lightroom mobile on your iPad, you can view the collection, but in order to work on the images you must download the Smart Previews to the iPad. Edits and picks that you make on the iPad automatically sync with the Lightroom catalog on your desktop, and any changes made on your desktop automatically sync with the images on the iPad. Lightroom mobile also allows you to add images from the iPad camera roll, adjust them with familiar Lightroom controls, and sync them with the collection on your desktop or laptop computer running Lightroom 5.4.


With images uploaded through Lightroom 5.4, opening Lightroom mobile app shows them in the cloud. You can view the collection as a grid or slideshow without downloading it to yout iPad. To edit images in Lightroom mobile you must download the Smart previews from the cloud to your iPad. Photo ©Stan Sholik

The Adjustment controls in Lightroom mobile provide the image enhancements found in the Basic panel of the Lightroom Develop module along with a small color histogram. There is also a Presets control with six of the Presets groups that ship with Lightroom, and a Crop control with the ability to crop with defined aspect ratios, or manually. I found the available controls complete enough to do meaningful work with Lightroom mobile, especially considering this is version 1.0. We will all have a wish list of controls for future versions.


With the Filmstrip control active, the interface has a resemblance to Lightroom. A tap on the screen removes all distractions from the image. A double tap brings up a 1:1 view of the Smart Preview. Pinching accesses intermediate magnifications. Images ©Stan Sholik


A full range of adjustment controls is available in Lightroom mobile. You tap a tile below the image to access the adjustment, then drag or tap on the scale above to perform the adjustment. Images ©Stan Sholik


The Presets control offers six of the Presets groups that ship with Lightroom. Images ©Stan Sholik


Common aspect ratios are available with Crops control as well as the ability to crop manually. Image ©Stan Sholik


Navigation in Lightroom mobile is as well thought out as the initial set of controls. There are single finger taps, double finger taps, swipes both horizontally and vertically, and more. You control image adjustments by tapping or dragging your finger along a slider below the image. The same slider is used for each adjustment with its function changing depending on the adjustment tile you activate. And the adjustments are seen in real time even on my iPad 2.

Lightroom mobile is a solid start for the creation of a truly mobile image editing platform. It gives those detractors who refuse to pay fees to subscribe to software further reason to complain on the blogs, but Adobe is performing a valuable service and providing ‘free’ storage to photographers who need the ability to edit offline. Next we need a means of loading Smart Previews directly from our cameras through Lightroom mobile to the cloud so we can adjust them and send proofs to clients and social media, and the ability to sync collections on more than one computer to Lightroom mobile, and to the ability to perform local adjustments, and the ability to upload our custom presets, and the rest of my wish list.

Stan Sholik is a commercial/advertising photographer in Santa Ana, Calif., specializing in still life and macro photography. His latest book, "Photoshop CC: Top 100 Tips and Tricks" (Wiley Publishing) is available soon.



Mobile app compatibility

Lightroom mobile:

Requires iOS 7 or later

Is compatible with iPad Air, iPad 4, iPad 3, and iPad 2

Is also compatible with iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 1



Processor: Intel® Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor

Microsoft DirectX 10 or later-capable graphics card

OS: Microsoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1 or Windows 8, Windows 8.1

RAM: 2 GB (4GB recommended)

Hard Disk: 2 GB of available hard-disk space

Display: 1024 x 768 monitor resolution

Internet connection required for Internet-based services



Processor: Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support

OS: Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or 10.9

RAM: 2 GB (4GB recommended)

Hard Disk: 2 GB of available hard-disk space

Display: 1024 x 768 monitor resolution

Internet connection required for Internet-based services



This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 23, 2014 10:21 AM.

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