Adobe Looking to Bring Lightroom-style RAW Editing to a Tablet Near You


Tablet computers may soon rival desktop computers in RAW editing potential. Adobe has revealed that it’s working on bringing Lightroom-style photo editing to tablet devices, and the software would include powerful RAW photo editing features that are currently found only in the desktop versions of Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw.

Adobe Lightroom product manager Tom Hogarty appeared on the online show The Grid yesterday and gave Photoshop guru Scott Kelby a sneak peek at a very rough-around-the-edges version of the app.

Here’s the 50-minute episode (skip to about 19 minutes in to go directly to when the demo begins):

The app appears to contain most (if not all) of the powerful sliders found in Lightroom’s Develop module, albeit in a very stripped down user interface. Rather than a single panel with multiple sliders, the app features a list of controls and one slider on the screen at any given time.

The list seen in the prototype comprises: exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, vibrance, clarity, temperature, tint, sharpen, luminance noise reduction, color noise reduction, whites, blacks, auto tone, and auto white balance. There were also buttons for flipping the photo and cropping it.

Zooming in all the way on a Leica RAW photo

Zooming in all the way on a Leica RAW photo

Hogarty’s demo used an iPad 2, and revealed the ability to use a number of sliders (e.g. exposure, clarity, shadows, highlights, white balance), the ability to check the details of your photos by zooming 100% in (in the demo, Hogarty zooms all the way into a 36-megapixel RAW photo), and cloud-based editing that syncs changes between tablets and desktop computers.

Since Lightroom changes are stored in text-form as simple parameters, syncing the changes across devices would be relatively fast (i.e. it wouldn’t involve sending entire photos across the web).


The software is in relatively early stages of development at the moment — some of the menu items would have made the iPad “explode,” Hogarty says — but tablet-based RAW editing is surely on Adobe’s roadmap now, and it shouldn’t be too much longer before we can start doing “heavy lifting” post-processing tasks while holding a tiny tablet in our hands.

(via The Grid via CNET)

  • Mick Orlosky

    “Since Lightroom changes are stored in text-form as simple parameters, syncing the changes across devices would be relatively fast (i.e. it would involve sending entire photos across the web).”

    Do you mean “it would NOT involve sending entire photos across the web” ?

  • frod

    Sure, if you can get one with 8GB ram.

  • vivanteco

    Would be nice if they created a metro app for Windows – I would love to use Lightroom on my Surface

  • Guest

    This is a step in the right direction, but when I use lightroom, I am usually batch processing for color correction and contrast, etc. I don’t think the hardware is quite there yet to be able to do that yet on a tablet with a photo session of about 200 shots at 24 megapix at 16bit.

    What would be cool would be to work with your media offline and do all your adjustments on your tablet when it’s convenient. And then when you get back home you could set your more powerful desktop and 1TB hard drive to do all the work of rendering out the full resolution color corrected images.

  • Mick Orlosky

    With comments about RAM on a tablet being insufficient, some of you seem to be missing the whole “a-ha” point of editing the raw files on the tablet — you don’t have the whole raw file in the tablet’s memory while you’re editing! The huge raw file will be in the cloud. Your edits are on a dynamic representation of the raw file. And for something like when you zoom in, the app goes and gets just the detail for that zoom, not the whole file. The tablet only needs to keep a fraction of the whole raw file in memory at any one time. Memory and processing power become much less of a barrier with this approach.

  • Rob

    Sounds wonderful, but will they also give us the ability to rate images, do a quick selection and/or add keywords? In my opinion this would really help, sort and select images on the road and do the RAW development in the office.

  • Jamie De Pould

    I’d really love a sort of pre-LR iPad app. Something where I could go through and add in some quick metadata, ratings, flags, minor edits, and have that translate over into my full LR catalog on import.

  • lidocaineus

    Er, do you have any basis for this kind of interaction? I work with high speed interconnects with specialties in latency reduction (basically making things you work with have no appreciable lag between input and result). There is no way you could work on an image stored remotely and pulled down over the internet as you work on it with the detail required for RAW work, at least with the average person’s network connection speed (it’s about 10x worse over Wifi too). Quick touch ups? Sure – that’s available now. But most people working with RAW images are doing so at minute levels or giant batch processing. The latter will work fine.

    The former? Remember back in the dialup days when you’d wait for a JPG to resolve? That’s how it’s going to be with a very large RAW file as you move around in it doing edits. Please don’t toss out cloud hype like a marketing drone.

  • David Thunander

    Would be awesome to be able to select pictures and start the editing on the way home from a job.

  • Jeffrey Friedl

    Come on, Michael, you know better…. “raw” is a word, not an acronym. It shouldn’t be “RAW” unless you’re yelling or ignorant (neither of which applies here, so why “RAW”?)

  • Michael Zhang

    Hi Jeffrey,

    Thanks for the feedback :) You’re definitely right in saying it’s not an acronym, but it’s still used both ways.

    Wikipedia uses it as a word and leaves it as completely lowercase:

    A Google search shows it being used both ways in titles:

    However, all the major camera manufacturers call them RAW photos rather than “raw” photos:

    Elsewhere too:

    Not trying to argue with you… just sharing my perspective, haha. Thanks again Jeffrey!

  • Jeffrey Friedl

    All the camera manufactures you cited are based in countries whose native language is not English… they probably see it used on sites like yours and think it must be right that way, so the error is perpetuated. I suppose you’re right in noting that it’s been perpetuated into some kind of acceptability. I weep for my language.