6 Replies Latest reply on Aug 12, 2016 12:04 PM by Dr Tone

    A RAW workflow on the iPad - my initial impressions

    scotth51774914 Level 1

      Since Adobe released Lightroom Mobile 2.4, which includes support for editing RAW files, I have been experimenting with using my iPad Pro as part of my photography workflow as I wanted to find a way to use the iPad as a desktop replacement for when I'm away from home. I wanted to share with you my experience, which has been mostly successful so far.


      The workflow allows me to use my iPad Pro to make edits of RAW images (.cr2) captured with my digital camera for editing and sharing directly from the iPad, or for editing on Lightroom Desktop on the PC when I'm back home.

      Firstly, for this test the following was used:


      • iPad Pro 9.7" running iOS10 Beta 3, iCloud Photo Library enabled
      • Lightroom Mobile 2.4 with Creative Cloud subscription
      • Lightroom CC 15.6.1 on Windows 10 PC.
      • Lightning to SD Card reader (2016 version)
      • SanDisk Extreme SDHC-I SD Card
      • iCloud account with 50Gb storage plan
      • 50Mb fibre broadband connection


      For the test I had taken 216 photos using my Canon G7X in RAW and JPEG mode. I then realised that I had to delete the JPEG copies as the iPad will only read the JPEGs where there is a RAW and JPEG under the same file name.The workflow is as follows:


      1. Insert SD card into Lightning to SD Card reader and insert to iPad.
      2. The iPad will bring up the Import dialog and the thumbnails of your RAW images will start to load. Choose Select All and Import Photos (you do not have to wait for the thumbnails to load). It took 2 mins 45 secs to download 213 RAW files to the iPad, which are about 19Mb each; this is about 1.3 seconds per photo. Provided you are connected to WiFi and have enough iCloud storage space, the original RAW images will start to be backed up to iCloud instantly - you can check this by going to www.icloud.com.
      3. From the Photos app, select Albums > Last Import > Select > Select All > Add To > New Album (name new album).
      4. With the photos now in an album, you can go through and cull the images that you don't want (note: deleting them only sends them to the Recently Deleted folder, which permanently deletes the photos after 30 days).
      5. Open Lightroom Mobile. Either import the images into Lightroom by creating a new Collection: Add Photos (my preferred method), or by choosing Camera Roll > (drop down) > Select Album (choose album or open Recently Deleted).
      6. You will notice a small RAW symbol in the middle of the thumbnails indicating that they are RAW files. Click ... > Select All > Add Photos.
      7. The images will be added to Lightroom Mobile and you can start to make edits on the iPad. The original RAW images (not Smart Previews) are then synced to Lightroom Desktop via Creative Cloud and will appear in your organised folders as if you have imported them directly to the PC. (It is important to note that the original RAW file will now be backed up on your PC in the same folder organisational structure as you would expect if you were to import directly to Lightroom Desktop). Any edits you have made on LR Mobile will be synced over to LR Desktop.
      8. Once the photos have synced to Creative Cloud severs, you can then delete them from your iPad's Camera Roll to free up storage space (or, if you have enough iCloud Storage, you can free up storage by letting iCloud automatically manage your device storage so you never run out of space).


      Overall I found the process to be very straightforward and the new iPad has more than enough processing power to be able to handle RAW image editing. It also has a very nice high resolution screen. In fact, during operation it feels significantly faster than my HP laptop running Windows 10. Also, unlike the desktop version, LR Mobile makes full use of screen real estate on the iPad in editing mode, which makes it easier to use than running the full Lightroom on smaller laptops.


      The main limitation for me is that I still need to switch to LR Desktop to do some advanced editing such as HDR merge and panorama, but because LR Mobile syncs across the original RAW images over the Cloud, the transition between the mobile and desktop applications is seamless.


      I hope that some people will find this useful. It's great to finally have almost full desktop capability on the iPad and I think it's going to really transform my photography workflow.

        • 1. Re: A RAW workflow on the iPad - my initial impressions
          Jao vdL Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Thanks for this very useful detailing of your workflow. I've been playing with it too and have been quite surprised at how smooth and fast LR/mobile is on my iPad Pro. It actually feels faster than my retina MacBook Pro. I have the smaller iPad Pro with the wide gamut screen and I am surprised at how good the color reproduction is on that. Everything is clearly color managed and even without specific calibration the color is as good as my fully calibrated and color managed wide gamut monitor on my desktop. Sure quite a few things are still missing but it appears ingesting images on your iPad and doing simple edits in the field is actually becoming a viable option. Even better if you have a cellular connection, you could immediately get your images online this way.


          I wonder if you could use a eyefi sd card now too. Ingest raw images over wifi to your iPad (does this work-anybody know?) and then  go through Lightroom to get your images online. Could be great for event photographers. Might even be better if Lightroom mobile would build in support for these cards directly so you don't have to go through the camera roll but that's probably a pipe dream ;-)

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: A RAW workflow on the iPad - my initial impressions
            scotth51774914 Level 1

            Yes, I definitely enjoy using it more than the laptop on its own with its horrible trackpad and cluttered screen. Although if I'm at home I would still prefer to use my laptop plugged into my 24" IPS monitor.


            I agree with you about the screen of the new iPad Pro 9.7; it has a lovely colour pallet and it certainly allows you to see every little detail in your photos.


            I don't have any issues with using the Lightning to SD Card reader to load photos straight into the Camera Roll because I like to be able to look through them using the Photos app and delete the bad photos before I import my favourites into Lightroom Mobile.


            I really hope Adobe adds the ability to do HDR merge and panoramas into LR Mobile. It also needs a proper sharpen tool. I suspect it's only a matter of time though

            • 3. Re: A RAW workflow on the iPad - my initial impressions


              I'm just getting started with Lightroom (I've just been using Apple Photos app and an array of editing programs) and I have a very similar setup to yours except (1) I'm still on the current iOS9, (2) I'm using a Macbook Pro and (3) I use the latest camera connection (USB) lightning interface. I'm finding the iPad Pro really good to do the initial editing on with or without the Apple Pencil! The syncing works well (if a little slowly) but not possible if you are out in the middle of nowhere with no wifi it seems!


              Just a couple of comments:


              I'm using a Sony A6000 storing raw and JPEG versions and I find I don't have any problems transferring both to the iPad Pro. Maybe it's to do with the iOS10 beta?


              Lightroom mobile seems to keep a local copy of the original file which isn't "optimised" like Apple Photos so the app files can grow quite large very quickly. I've synced about 200 raw images and the usage is up to 4GB already. I got the largest memory size available (256GB) but smaller iPads might need to be carefully managed. I don't know if iOS imposes a limit on app memory usage?


              It would be better if there were tighter integration with Apple Photos on the mac - it is very cumbersome to add my old photos to the Lightroom environment!

              • 4. Re: A RAW workflow on the iPad - my initial impressions
                scotth51774914 Level 1

                I only shoot in RAW as I can't stand having duplicates of photos stored all over my hard drive. I then save my edited RAWs to JPEG when I want to publish them on the web or just store for viewing only. But when I tried to transfer both the SD Card adaptor was only showing the JPEGs.


                I wish the Photos app on iOS was a bit less simplistic. It would be nice to see info such as file type, and a sort / filter ability. Also, instead of seeing All Photos, it would be better to have an unsorted folder so you know which ones are in albums and which one are unsorted.


                Have you found an app that can do HDR merge with two RAW files?

                • 5. Re: A RAW workflow on the iPad - my initial impressions
                  ThePM Level 1

                  The reason I shoot in raw+JPEG is that I automatically backup my pics from Photos to Flickr but Flickr only supports the JPEG versions. Thus, if the worst happens, as a last resort I'll at least have a JPEG copy!


                  I haven't tried doing HDR on the iPad, always done it on the Mac (I use easyHDR but I'm keen to try Photoshop's implementation). HDR takes a lot of processor power, maybe the iPad Pro could handle it.

                  • 6. Re: A RAW workflow on the iPad - my initial impressions
                    Dr Tone Level 1

                    It's definitely an iOS 10 issue as RAW + JPG work fine for me on iOS 9 as well.


                    Please use the feedback app on iOS 10 beta and report it as an issue.  I would hate for iOS 10 to go gold with this issue.