Adobe Photoshop Mix and Lightroom for iPad

 
Adobe Lightroom for iPad and Photoshop Mix

Adobe Lightroom for iPad and Photoshop Mix

Missing the magic of Photoshop on the go? There’s now an app for that! Two in fact. Aditya Nair tests Adobe Photoshop Mix and Lightroom for iPad to find out. 

Evangelists and marketers alike often use the words “the magic of Adobe” and while it sometimes comes across as hubris, most often the company has some tech up its sleeve to entice its audience.

Some, like Content Aware are game changing while others like Shake Reduction, show a lot of potential, even if they haven’t yet lived up to the hype. With this tradition in mind, ever the loyal fanboy, I was curious to see if Adobe latest mobile spells would leave me bewitched.

I am talking off course of Adobe Photoshop Mix and Lightroom for iPads. They are Adobe’s Creative Cloud connected mobile apps for non-destructive RAW editing photo editing and compositing respectively.

Gestures and an minimal layout make the apps speedy. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Gestures and an minimal layout make the apps speedy. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Wherever You Go? Well, Almost
The apps also aim to extend a user’s desktop editing and take it mobile, through the use of Creative Cloud. Once you saving images on to your CC account you can then access them on your tablet whenever you need too.

You could, for example,  upload a catalogue of images from a shoot and use the apps to view with your client. While you are there, you can make a selection of the best images, and even rough edits. The apps save these rough edits and let you go back finetune them without having to start from scratch. Since it is non-destructive editing you can get rid of any edit without affecting the quality of photograph.

Photoshop Mix is designed to be more of a photo compositing software, which is made easy by the its Cut Out function. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Photoshop Mix is designed to be more of a photo compositing software, which is made easy by the its Cut Out function. Photograph/Aditya Nair

You can also use the app to access PSDs or even edit images from your Camera Roll. The only problem is that you need to sign into your Creative Cloud every time you need to use them. Which means needing a WiFi or 3G connection at all times. The other caveat to these apps is that while free to download, you need to subscribe to at least one of Adobe’s subscription plans. The Photography plan for Rs. 499/- per month is the cheapest.

Overcoming RAW Roadblocks
There have been some obstacles that have prevented photographers from using their mobile devices to make edits for their serious work. The most significant of which is that the computing power of tablets hasn’t been enough to process heavy RAW files.

The way Adobe gets around this is by using an ingenious hack, which they call Smart Previews. The apps import a compressed file for you to preview and edit. This is then sent back to CC with all the editing info stored which you can later access from your desktop.

Using Smart Previews, the apps save edits made to them, letting you go back and tweak them later on your desktop. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Using Smart Previews, the apps save edits made to them, letting you go back and tweak them later on your desktop. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Lightroom for iPad
With the desktop Lightroom 5.4 or higher you can sync entire collections with your mobile. Once synced, the images appear on your iPad through Creative Cloud and can be organised by date, flag status, file name and other parameters.

For editing though, Lightroom offers only basic tools like Exposure, Shadows, Highlights and Colour Temp which can be found in many photo editing apps.

The layout of the software is quite intuitive and uses gestures, swiping and taps, as an alternate for the shortcuts used on the desktop software, to speed up editing. These adjustments are easy to undo as well. You can double tap on any option to get rid of the adjustment all together.

However, while it is a good start, Lightroom misses key features that would have made a world of difference. Curves, Camera RAW controls, Sharpening, Noise Reduction are all missing. You can’t add colour labels to images either.  On the original iPad Mini, I found the software lagged and was buggy. Some functions like cropping & pinch zooming weren’t as smooth as I had hoped.

The biggest problem however  is the inability to sync custom presets. While Adobe has its own limited presets, most photographers have their own presets which they would prefer to use. For the moment at least, I see Lightroom for iPad as a basic editing app for RAWs.

Import images as through Lightroom Catalogs, Creative Cloud or just the tablets Camera Roll.

Import images as through Lightroom Catalogs, Creative Cloud or just the tablets Camera Roll.

Mixing it Up
Photoshop Mix is was the one that truly fascinates, especially in its ingenuity. The minimally designed app, main focus, is not so much photo editing, but to let people make composites on their tablets. With Cut Out you can trace your finger over the subject and the app makes a selection of it. Expect some amount of some amount of back and forth to fine tune the selection though.

The app also brings features, traditionally relegated to the desktop, like Upright (for correcting perspective distortion), Shake Reduction (reducing camera shake) and Content-Aware Fill to your device. Since these are labour intensive tasks, the way Photoshop gets around hardware requirements is by sending the picture to their own servers, editing them there and then sending it back to the users.

This means there is, depending on your internet speed, some amount of a waiting period for the process to finish. And if it gets done wrong, you will have to repeat the process.

Photoshop Mix to misses some key features that would have worked to its advantage like Blending Modes and Layer Masks.

Photoshop Mix lets you harness the powers of desktop features like perspective correction, Content Aware Fill and Shake Reduction by letting Creative Cloud handle the processing. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Photoshop Mix lets you harness the powers of desktop features like perspective correction, Content Aware Fill and Shake Reduction by letting Creative Cloud handle the processing. Photograph/Aditya Nair

As for photo editing features, Mix offers only Exposure, Contrast, Clarity & Saturation and therefore doesn’t make for a very good editing app. You will need to use it in conjunction with Lightroom for iPad to make proper edits.

Photoshop Mix has only four basic editing tools. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Photoshop Mix has only four basic editing tools. Photograph/Aditya Nair

Should You Get It?
Yes. Why? Because it’s got new technology, it’s fun to play with, it manages to extend your editing workflow, and will only get much better with future updates. But I would like to reiterate, these are not on the go editing apps for mobile photographers. They are designed for a niche market of professionals looking to expand their workflow to their iPads.

However, if all you are looking for is a photo editing app for your in-device photos, however, I suggest Snapseed, Photoshop Touch, or any of the many other editing apps out there today. They are easier to use, faster and don’t require a Creative Cloud subscription.

 

 

FINAL RATINGS  
Features
Non-destructive, RAW editing, Content Aware Fill, Perspective Correction, Cut Out, Upright
  25/30
Ease of Use
Simple interface, not intimidating
  27/30
Performance
Very efficient, Buggy when it comes to use of gestures
  33/40
OVERALL   85%
VALUE FOR MONEY   3/5
Tags: LIGHTROOM, adobe, creative cloud, iOS, layers, CC, photoshop mix, Adobe Photoshop Mi, CC2014, Adobe mobile apps, Lightroom for iPad, Lightroom 5.6, mobile photoediting apps, RAW editing, non destructive editing