Lightroom Mobile's Amazing Raw Editing Workflow from Start to Finish

Back in July of 2016, Adobe released a major update to Lightroom Mobile for iOS that allows it to work directly with any and all raw files supported by the desktop version and to also sync them seamlessly with the desktop. But what does this actually mean for real-world use? What problem are we actually solving? Let's go on a trip with epic travel photographer Elia Locardi and find out.

It's really pretty amazing how far the digital photography workflow has come in just the past decade since the very first beta of Lightroom was released. We can now shoot on our very best cameras in remote corners of the earth, and without taking a step begin editing on one pound pencil-thin computers with large 13-inch screens, and then as soon as we've got a cellular data signal (if we ever lost it in the first place), share museum-quality representations of our work to the entire world. All of that can happen in minutes, and we're talking consumer-grade infrastructure.

So what does this actually look like in practice? In this slick and impressively edited 30 minute tutorial video, Locardi shows us how to recreate one of his famous images of the underground metro in Stockholm, Sweden using Lightroom Mobile in the field. I really appreciate the fact that when he says "workflow" he really means it, as that includes the capture. While a lot of us don't need to know the settings of the camera or how to compose the shot, let's not forget that it can be helpful to beginners. Ultimately, those files travel from the camera, to Lightroom Mobile, to Lightroom Desktop, and then to Photoshop for final tweaks.

After you've learned your fill, be sure to check out Locardi's websiteand follow him on Facebook,500px, and Instagram. He is genuinely one of the finest travel photographers on earth and is someone worth keeping up with.

There are a few release notes with regards to Lightroom Mobile itself I'd like to touch. Android has some of this functionality, but only with cameras that shoot native DNG. I'm sure they'll rollout full raw support at some point, but since it's a totally different development team, the timeline is up to them. This version 2.4 update for iOS also brought support for radial and linear gradient filters, which is a huge deal for those of us that use them heavily. And yes, there's the elephant in the room that Lightroom Mobile does not yet support user presets and custom camera profiles. This does relegate it to only quick social media use for many photographers who rely on these tools for their signature look and feel, that is until they get to a desktop to finish it up.

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Chris Himstedt's picture

Stop posting this "AMAZING" stuff. I can't afford to keep up and am buried in mountains of "wish list"!

Ariel Martini's picture

lightroom mobile can read your raws, but
- you need a special card reader
- there's no user presets/camera profiles
- editing is very limited
- you can't finalize the picture on it
summing up: not amazing

Mike Leland's picture

Yes, you need a lightning compatible reader; so either a lightning to USB or a lightning SD reader.

There ARE user presets/camera profiles (I use them daily)

Editing is pretty close to what full LR allows. (my presets with curves adjustments transfer over just fine)

You can finalize images in LR mobile. I have delivered over 100 commercial jobs from my iPad Pro. Is it ideal? No. Not really. But it's getting there.

Ariel Martini's picture

how you use presets? sync settings with previous photos?

Mike Leland's picture

Sorry, I'm just now seeing this!

Yes, I have been just syncing. It's a workaround and hopefully not a permanent one.

Sean Molin's picture

It's by no means "complete," but native raw support in the field and automatic syncing the files with your desktop has made this a real tool instead of a toy. And that's pretty amazing.

Editing is becoming less and less limited with every release. This newest release brings in radial and linear gradients, even.

Brynjar Ágústsson's picture

This is clearly just made for the American market where Adobe is offering Creative Cloud account for $ 9.99. I am pretty sure that this is not available for Europe.

I pay 93,- Nok in Norway for the Photography cloud deal :-)

Ciaran McGrenera's picture

I think I pay €12.29 for the same here in Europe.

Alexandros Harlaftis's picture

A big step towards mobility.

Can't see however how full retouching on mobile can be done, ever.
Healing brushes, masking, etc, I can't see how one can do it on a mobile screen ( even on a 10.1" tablet )

Spy Black's picture

I still don't see how people consider editing 20 meg and higher res files on a 10-inch or smaller screen, most of them uncalibrated, to be a really great idea...

Mike Leland's picture

12.9" and it's calibrated.

Spy Black's picture

Oh yeah, that makes big difference. I appreciate your humor...

Marc Derydt's picture

Very interesting. Could you please clarify how one can import RAW files directly in LR mobile and open them without going through the desktop application first. Thank you.