When Lightroom mobile added RAW editing capabilities earlier in 2016, it piqued the interest of photographers across the globe. Finally, it seemed, we were inching closer towards the promise of being able to truly leave our laptops behind in favor of an iPad when traveling.
Of course, just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea or a pleasant experience - witness our original foray into posting to this site entirely from an iPad. Nonetheless, our recent dalliances with the mirrorless Fuji X-T2 got us thinking - what would it be like shoot and process a few RAWs from start to finish using nothing but an iPad, the X-T2 and Lightroom mobile? Would the end results be acceptable? Would we lose our sanity in the process?
The long story short is that it is entirely possible to do so - the images in this post (itself also entirely published from the iPad) are proof of this. But as to whether the effort is worth it… that is a different question.
As one might expect, caveats abound:
- LR Mobile doesn’t support exporting images to the camera roll with metadata (i.e. EXIF data) attached.1 For us, EXIF data is crucial so this is very nearly a deal breaker2
- LR Mobile syncing isn’t perfect - while it’s true it will more or less sync your edits back to your desktop version of Lightroom, all the edits get collapsed into a single, non-editable “LR Mobile Import” change. So it’s either take it or leave it - you won’t be able to fine-tune your edits from LR mobile on the desktop.
- Import of any files using the Lightening to SD card Camera Reader is agonisingly slow, even over so-called USB 3 (enabled only on iPad Pros) and with JPGs - RAWs, as you can imagine, are 10x worse. You would want to at most only import a few of your most critical photos to the iPad and deal with the rest when you get back.
- LR Mobile supports only a limited number of stock presets and absolutely no third party presets. So if that’s your jam, you’re out of luck.
- Some features are maddeningly missing from LR Mobile - colour tagging of images for whatever inexplicable reason, as well as sharpening (even more inexplicable though workarounds exist, such as this one)