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Adobe Brings Lightroom to Your iPad, But Only for Creative Cloud Subscribers

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After showing off early versions on photography shows and leaking a troubling $100/year Lightroom for iPad page momentarily earlier this year, Adobe has finally dropped the iOS version of Lightroom in our laps for free.

Well, actually, that depends. If you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber, chances are this app was just dropped in your lap for free. If you’re not, then Adobe has turned something of a cold shoulder to your plight… you can’t even buy it.

Lightroom Mobile — Adobe’s new addition to the family that brings many of the powerful RAW editing tools you’re used to on the desktop version to iOS — is finally official, and having seen a demo of it in action we have to say it’s also quite impressive.

The most common adjustments like Exposure, Contrast, Saturation, Clarity, Sharpening and so on and so forth are all available on the iPad version, and they’ve been implemented in such a way as to not take up all the precious little memory that your iPad boasts. Plus, the entire interface is built to be as touch friendly as possible, with swipes, taps and multi-touch gestures allowing you to do everything from flagging a photo to looking up metadata.

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Pretty much everything that happens on Lightroom Mobile happens over the air using Smart Previews as the iOS app syncs seamlessly with the desktop version. You never have to work with a full-sized RAW file and all of the megabytes that entails; instead, Lightroom Mobile will create and show you Smart Previews of every image in the catalogs you choose to make available on mobile.

That, of course, comes with the caveat that you have to be online when you’re using the app, but if you know in advance that you’re going to be without Internet for any given time, you do have the option to download individual catalogs for offline editing.

All of the edits sync automatically with the desktop version almost the instant you make them, or in the case of offline editing, just as soon as you regain an Internet connection. And any photos that are being synced between the two versions will also be available to view in your web browser at lightroom.adobe.com.

Here’s an intro video, as well as four tutorials that will make sure you hit the ground running when you first open the app:

It’s worth noting that this isn’t, and in fact isn’t meant to be, a replacement for the desktop version. There are features that are missing including, most conspicuously, the ability to sync your iPad with your SLR and pull files.

That’s why this is being branded as a “companion app,” because while it will definitely make your life easier when you’re traveling or you want to do some light editing on the couch at home, it won’t enable you to ditch your computer entirely.

It does, however, bring some minor additional functionality like instant sharing to social networks, a slideshow feature that lets you show off your work more easily and the ability to import directly from your Camera Roll in case you have some mobile photos you feel deserve the Lightroom treatment.

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As we said at the top, Lightroom Mobile is available right away, but only if you have a Creative Cloud subscription. Members of the oft-renewed Photoshop Photography Program or subscribers with a CC Complete, CC Student and Teacher or CC for Teams Complete plan will all be able to download the app and start using it right away.

Compatibility for now is limited to iPad 2 and above running iOS 7 (coming soon to iPhone, with an Android version currently in the works). You’ll also need to update your current desktop version of Lightroom to 5.4.

To learn more, head over to Adobe’s LR Mobile website or blog by clicking here and here, respectively, or download the app for yourself from the iTunes App Store. If you don’t have a creative cloud subscription, you can ‘get started with Lightroom Mobile’ at this link.