Adobe Lightroom CC Review (Mobile)

It’s fantastic. It really is.

Note: My images are mostly used for Instagram, so that will be the direction toward which this review is geared. For fine art or high resolution web images, desktop editing is still my go to.

Why mobile editing?

I’m a huge fan of editing on mobile because of the freedom it gives my workflow. I can take a photo, edit and post the same photo from one app, with the flexibility of a mobile device and the (almost) power of a desktop. Editing on a mobile means I’m using my time more productively and creating quality content much faster.

Tool Overview

Lightroom CC can do a lot of cool stuff, and it can get complicated, so here’s a quick overview of what Lightroom’s tools are and what they can do:

  • Selective: Select different areas of the image to edit. For example you may want to edit the sky separately from other elements. This is one area desktop simply can’t be beaten; I just can’t get selective edits to look right on mobile and so ignore this tool. 
  • Crop: Yeah this is just a crop tool. It works.
  • Presets: This is a really great feature that I haven’t really utilised. Assuming you have a Creative Cloud subscription, you can create presets on your desktop and apply the same settings with a tap.
  • Auto Edit: This is exactly what it says it is. If you plan on using this a lot, Lightroom CC isn’t for you.
  • Light: This is where you can control things like exposure and contrast. The best features here are the tone curve tools, which can dramatically impact your images.
  • Color: In terms of creating your own look and feel, this is the most important tool. Use the hue controls to emphasise different colors, desaturate your whole image and use the luminance tool to balance your colours.
  • Effects: The effects panel is where you can use split toning to step up your image. The dehaze feature is also useful, and can give photos that nice washed effect.
  • Detail: Sharpening is a hard tool to get right, so I’ll often use this last so I don’t ruin my image by making it overly grainy. The other tools like radius don’t seem to have that much of an effect.

The interface

The workflow is essentially the same on mobile as it is on desktop, and I’m particularly impressed with the similarities between the desktop and iOS app. I know firsthand just how difficult it can be to try and make apps work and feel the same across platforms, and Adobe have really nailed it here. The entire interface feels premium, and the overall user experience makes a user feel like they’re editing professional level shots. There’s no unnecessary bloat or annoying text, and navigating between screens is simple.

I would love to see a nicer colour palette, for no other reason than I think it would look nicer. I think a big appeal of apps like VSCO X is that not only are your photos being made to look cool, but the app itself looks cool too. I think I’m right in assuming the creative brainpower at Adobe could rustle up a slightly sexier interface while maintaining the amazing editing power currently at user’s fingertips.

Editing capabilities

Since using Lightroom CC, my Instagram has blown up. The editing capabilities I now have access to are unrivalled, and I can edit photos to emulate my favourite photographers and content creators.

After a few months of using it as an amateur enthusiast, I can say I’ve not had to make any compromises in workflow. I’ve been able to edit and upload on the go daily, and the results speak for themselves. I think the most powerful features are the light editing features, which I have used to create some great images. Being able to create S curves and change the hues in my photos has stepped up my editing, and I haven’t found a replacement with anywhere near the same capabilities (and I’ve looked).

Here is an example of an edit I posted recently:

Before

After

This example is a great indication of what Lightroom CC can achieve. I also picked this example because it uses almost every tool Lightroom CC offers. I’ve played around with different light hues, brought the colours out that fit my brand and even brought some of the sky back, since the original shot was blown out. I am yet to find another mobile editor that has this kind of editing capability.

Ease of use

Lightroom CC is easy to use on the surface, which means it’s easy to ruin your photos. This is a professional grade editor, so if you’re not fully aware of what the controls do or what they’re meant for, there’s a good chance your photo is going to turn out like… trash. There are some fantastic tutorials on the web, but aside from those, the learning curve can be quite steep. If you’re looking to seriously edit photos on your mobile, I would definitely check out some YouTube tutorials. Sure, you can work it out yourself. But it will suck.

Price

I don’t think it’s worth the price. There. I know I just raved about how good it is, but fifteen dollars a month is expensive for any app. And while I think Lightroom CC is the best, it’s not hundreds of dollars better than it’s competition. Saying that, if you’re already a Creative Cloud subscriber, then yeah: get it. 

Recommendation and suggestions

Lightroom CC is an incredible mobile editing app. If you want to create the best possible images on your mobile, and you’re willing to pay for it, Lightroom CC is the best app on the store. I would love to see it’s abilities expanded to video editing, and better export settings. From a design perspective, I would love to see Adobe take some inspiration from VSCO. I think Lightroom CC editing could be a lot cooler with a more fun approach to building the app.

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