I know that all of the iPhone 7 hype is on the portrait mode and DNG file capture that the new camera has, but I was particularly interested in another aspect of iOS's photo capability. Having been stuck on a Nexus 6 for the past year and a half, I missed out on a lot of the new tricks that the iPhones were offering. Specifically, Lightroom Mobile's new raw file support, giving it similar editing capability as the desktop version of Lightroom.
Sean Molin posted an article not long ago with Elia Locardi's experiences with the app as a piece of a larger, Adobe based workflow. The way Elia uses it is brilliant and goes to show how much smartphones and tablets have integrated into our photography, but I want to look at using the app as a start to finish editing and delivery system for quick and simple social media editing. Late last year, I reviewed three of the most popular editing apps available for mobile devices and found Lightroom Mobile to be a worthy option. Snapseed, however, being the first of the three that I reviewed (VSCO, Snapseed, Lightroom Mobile) to offer raw compatibility with the files from your phone camera, gained a clear lead as it offered much more editing power. The caveat is that Snapseed only supports the raw files from your phone and not raw files from other cameras. This is where Lightroom Mobile really has the competition beat. With the newest version of the app, Lightroom Mobile supports all of the same raw files as the desktop version.
Even better, Apple makes an SD card reader that allows you to offload images from your camera directly to your photos app on iOS. Don't expect to get anything done in a hurry though as the card reader is incredibly slow. It takes around five to ten minutes to show all of the photos for you to select which ones you want to import. Sadly, there's no other option at the moment, short of uploading files to Google Drive on your desktop and importing them on the mobile app. Once you do have them imported, they're marked as raw files when you open the import dialogue in Lightroom Mobile.
From here, there are most of the usual develop module tabs including basic adjustments, tone curve, split toning, and black and white level adjustments. Lens corrections are available as well, but the lens info must be embedded into the file as there is now way to select which lens profile to use. This is a little frustrating for me as I often use my Rokinon 12mm for landscapes and interiors, and have no way to apply the correction that the desktop version has as the lens has no electronic communication with the camera. This aside, the rest of the app functions smoothly and never feels cluttered or clunky. The cover image for this article illustrates just why I love this app so much. I really don't think there is any limit on what you can do with Lightroom Mobile aside from spot healing and lens corrections. The raw files are just as flexible and the highlight and shadow recovery shows no noticeable difference in the way that Lightroom Mobile processes raw files.
What I Liked
-A lot of power
What Could Be Improved
-Lens Corrections for Manual Lenses
-More Functionality (We have the famous dehaze and local adjustments, but it would be great to see more desktop features spill over to mobile)
I've included a few portrait images in this review just to show what the app can do, though I wouldn't use the app to finish and deliver studio portraits because of it's lack of retouching capability. I see Lightroom Mobile being hugely popular with travel photographers, bloggers, and Instagrammers as a way to vastly improve the quality of their content. This will now be my go to photo editor when I'm on the go. As much as I appreciate manufacturers putting WiFi transfer capability in cameras, this is too good to ignore and carrying around the small SD reader places no extra burden on me. For those of you on iOS, I highly recommend the newest version of Lightroom Mobile as a start to finish editor for your social media.