Thoughts on Lightroom Mobile

Adobe released a new Lightroom for iPad app called Lightroom Mobile. I haven't tried it because I don't use Lightroom (the last one I purchased was version 2). But from what I've read so far it seems Adobe missed the mark.

Let me start by saying I commend Adobe for beating Apple to it. I've wished for an Aperture for iPad for a long time and I'm still waiting. Over the years there have been third party apps like Pixelsync (now dead) and Photoscope that have tried to fill the gap. But an official Aperture for iPad from Apple has long been missing. Kudos to Adobe for getting Lightroom Mobile out there.

Having said that, I don't think Lightroom Mobile is a winner.

Here are my thoughts on it, but take them with a grain of salt. My opinion is based on what I envision an iPad version of Aperture being and on reading the feature set of Lightroom Mobile.

First, the app is free... with a catch. You need to be a Creative Cloud subscriber to really make use of all the features. This means at a minimum you'll have to pay US$10 a month (for Lightroom and Photoshop only) and up to US$600 a year for the complete plan.

This is a weird move since Adobe still sells Lightroom as a stand alone product. I guess I does make sense from Adobe's perspective as a way to get LR owners into the monthly payment plans of Creative Cloud. But from a customer's perspective is just annoying. I would be really pissed off if I was a Lightroom user.

Second, developing (to use Lightroom's parlance) is limited to the adjustments in the Basics panel only. You can adjust things like exposure, contrast, and vibrance but you don't get advanced tools like localised adjustments, lens correction, vignettes and surprisingly, curves. How the hell did curves not make it? There are hundreds of apps out there that do curves on iOS, so it's not like the device isn't powerful enough.

This, of course, means you can't use presets in Lightroom for Mobile. I'm not sure what happens with photographs that have presets applied in the desktop. If you sync them to the iPad do you only push the unedited version? Not sure how that works.

Finally, it looks like editing metadata is also limited. You can assign picks and rejects, but no star ratings for example. I've read different thoughts on this one, so I'm not sure how limited it is. But if anything, full metadata editing is one of the key things I'd like to see in a mobile version of my photo management software.

As I said, if I was a Lightroom user I'd be disappointed at the features and angry at the pricing model.

Here's hoping Apple releases Aperture for iPad soon with the right features and price.