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As you are aware, there are two ways to buy Lightroom.
The first is to buy a perpetual license, which means that you pay a set one-off fee to use the software for as long as you want. The second way is to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan. With this, you pay a monthly fee that allows you to use Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC, Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web for as long as you keep up the subscription.
The subscription plan is somewhat controversial, and I know from comments on previous articles that some of you don’t like it. However, as it gives you access to Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web (as well as Photoshop CC) it’s worthwhile exploring the benefits of this licensing model.
Photoshop needs no introduction, but Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web are less well known. So let’s take a look at what they do, and how you can use them in your workflow.
Note: Lightroom mobile is now available for most Android and iOS smart phones and tablets. Up to date operating systems may be required.
In Lightroom CC you can synchronize any Collection with Lightroom mobile.
Synchronized Collections appear on your mobile device (internet connection required) and you can download them for offline viewing.
One practical application of this is that you can create a Collection containing your best photos to show people interested in viewing your portfolio. You can add or remove photos in Lightroom CC, and the updates are automatically pushed to Lightroom mobile. Very little work is required on your part, as most of the process is automated.
Unless you have a device with a lot of storage space you probably don’t have room to store hundreds of full-size JPEG or Raw files in addition to what’s already on there.
Lightroom mobile works around that by using Smart Previews; a compressed preview of your photo that measures 2540 pixels along the longest edge. Crucially, Smart Previews are only a fraction of the size of a JPEG or Raw file (around 2%).
When you synchronize a Collection with Lightroom mobile, Lightroom CC generates Smart Previews of the photos it contains (if they don’t exist already) and uploads them to Adobe Cloud.
In turn, Lightroom mobile accesses Adobe Cloud and downloads the Smart Previews when they are required. They are cached and can be deleted when you need to free up memory. This system ensures you can use Lightroom mobile on devices without much spare storage space.
You can also download Smart Previews to your device and store them to enable off-line viewing and editing. This requires more storage space (although not a lot), but doing so both speeds up Lightroom mobile, and lets you view and edit photos without an internet connection. If you have a device with 64GB or 128GB storage, you have space for tens of thousands of Smart Previews.
Note: Lightroom mobile can be set to use a wi-fi connection only, so it doesn’t consume mobile bandwidth.
If you use the Lightroom Library module to view images you will be aware that even on fast systems it’s not always as fast as you would like. Viewing images in Lightroom mobile is much faster. There’s virtually no delay in previewing images as long as you have enabled offline editing.
This means you can view photos and assign Flags or Ratings very quickly, greatly speeding up the amount of time it takes to view images from a shoot, and decide which ones to process.
Any changes you make to metadata, including Flags and Ratings, are automatically updated in Lightroom CC (internet connection required).
Yes, you can process your photos in Lightroom mobile as well. All edits are synchronized with Lightroom CC. However, you don’t have the full functionality of Lightroom’s Develop module. But you can carry out the following:
Note: Most mobile devices are not colour calibrated, so critical processing work should be carried out on a computer with a calibrated monitor.
You can create a Lightroom mobile Collection that automatically populates with photos taken with, or added to your mobile device. Lightroom mobile uploads them to Adobe Cloud when you go online, and when you open Lightroom CC it downloads them and saves them on your computer. This works with JPEG, PNG and video files but not Raw files.
When you synchronize a Collection with Lightroom mobile you can also make it available for public viewing. Lightroom generates a unique link for you to share with people so they can view the Collection in a web browser. Viewer’s logged in with an Adobe ID can comment on photos and mark favourites.
Log in to the Adobe Lightroom website using your Adobe ID to access all your synchronized Collections. You can assign flags and ratings, make comments, mark images as favourites, and view essential metadata such as exposure settings. However, you can’t carry out any processing. You can also download a large JPEG file (generated from the Smart Preview).
You may be wondering if you can use Lightroom mobile to edit or view photos taken in the field. The answer is you can, but with restrictions. The major one is that you can’t import Raw files into Lightroom mobile, even if they have been downloaded from your camera to your mobile device.
But you can import JPEG files. This is the workflow. It’s not as straightforward as it could be, but it works.
Do you use Lightroom mobile or Lightroom web? What do you use them for? I’d love to know – please tell us in the comments.
The Mastering Lightroom Collection
My Mastering Lightroom ebooks will help you get the most out of Lightroom. They cover every aspect of the software from the Library module through to creating beautiful images in the Develop module. Click the link to learn more or buy.