Adobe Lightroom Mobile: Image Processing on the Go (including Android)

February 18th, 2015

Last month, Adobe released a new version of its Lightroom app for mobile devices. For the first time this app is not only available for iPhones and iPads, but for Android devices as well. But how efficient can image processing on tablet or smartphone actually be?


Lightroom Mobile: Free of Charge, but Can Only Be Used with a Subscription

The Lightroom app is free of charge and can be obtained in the respective app stores, but can only be used if you have a subscription for Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Moreover, you need at least version 5.4 of the desktop application of Lightroom. In exchange, you can then freely edit photos on desktop and mobile device. However, you will have to login with your desktop application via your Adobe ID into the Lightroom network – even if you are already logged in to Creative Cloud. Via Lightroom network you can then synchronize all photos between your desktop application and mobile app.

Log in for synchronizing in your desktop application

Furthermore, you can access all synchronized picture collections through a web interface. They can then be shared on social networks or given to specific persons in form of a link.

Editing Photos via App

Just like the classic Lightroom application, the mobile app supports numerous RAW formats, and can of course open JPEG and PNG files. In most cases, you will want to edit pictures taken with the smartphone itself, anyway.

basic settings in the app

If you open a picture within the app, you are offered quite a few familiar options for editing. Every feature of the basic settings is available, so that you can alter temperature, white balance, and shading as well as the different values for tonal value and presence.

In addition to the basic settings, there are more than 40 presets, divided into five categories. With these presets, pictures can be adjusted to a certain color scheme or altered with effects such as grain or vignette. The presets of the app are not as comprehensive as those of the desktop application, but nonetheless quite extensive.

Presets in the app

As a third point, a crop tool is included. Just as in the desktop version, you can apply different aspect ratios to one image section. You can not rotate your picture, however. As always with Lightroom, changes are not saved destructively. For that, the app uses so called smart previews, which can be synchronized with the original pictures through the desktop application.

Crop Tool in the App

The slideshow feature has also been included in the mobile app. That way, collections can easily be presented or simply shown to others.

Handling with Two- and Three-fingered Actions

While on your desktop, you have mouse and keyboard to input data and make adjustments fast and easy, on tablets and smartphones the only device for input is your hand (or a touch pen).

Due to that, some of the features of the Lightroom app can be accessed via two- or three-fingered actions. For example, metadata or histograms are reached with a double tap with two fingers. The third finger is employed to show a pre-post comparison while editing. If you stop the tap, you are returned to the current state.

Rating and Flagging Pictures

The Lightroom rating system is also included in the mobile app. Additional to the rating scale up to five stars, pictures can be flagged as “picked” or “rejected”. With simple upward or downward gestures, you can quickly sort pictures within a collection.

Intuitive Handling for Easy Editing

All in all, the handling of the app is highly intuitive and can be understood quickly due to the many short help tags that are offered while you use it for the first time. The synchronization with the desktop application ensures easy alternation between mobile and stationary device.

I would not attempt professional image editing with the app. But if you want to share your smartphone pictures in social networks, the Lightroom app offers many ways to bring out the best in your pictures while you are on the road.

By the way: As shown, LightZone and Darktable are veritable alternatives to Lightroom. While they are not mobile, the are actually completely cost-free.

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Denis works as a freelance web designer since 2005.