It’s Here: Direct Lightroom Import on iOS 13.2

Adobe released updates to the Lightroom ecosystem today which finally brings the ability to import photos directly from a memory card or camera to the Lightroom library, bypassing the iPad’s Camera Roll or Files app. I’ve been waiting for this feature since the first version of Lightroom on iOS.

The Lightroom Queen blog has more information about what’s in the latest updates: What’s New in Lightroom (Cloud Service) December 2019 release?

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It’s Coming: Direct Lightroom Import on iPad and iPhone

Since the release of iOS 13/iPadOS 13, the options for importing photos directly from a camera or memory card reader have increased, letting you import to the Files app or the Photos app. Now, Adobe has previewed an upcoming version of Lightroom Mobile that allows you to import photos directly into Lightroom on the iPad or iPhone. Adobe hopes to release this version by the end of the year.

9to5 Mac has the story: Adobe previews direct photo import coming to Lightroom on iPad.

And here’s Adobe’s video:

2019 Guide: Apple iPad Pro for Photographers

Are we there yet? Can an iPad replace a laptop for photographers? I’ve been asking this question since the first iPad was released, and every generation gets a step closer to that ideal. The current iPad Pro is tantalizingly close: the hardware is there, but the software still has some catching up to do.

Over at DPReview, I’ve published an in-depth look at using the iPad Pro for photography. Check it out and let me know if you agree in the comments below.

Read it here: 2019 Guide: Apple iPad Pro for Photographers.

[Photo by Dan Bracaglia]

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Bypass the Camera Roll in iOS 13

At Apple’s WWDC Keynote today, previews of iOS 13, macOS Catalina, watchOS 6, and even a new iPadOS were shown to whet developers’ appetites and upcoming caffeine levels between now and fall, when these versions will be released.

One thing in particular stood out for me, given my history with the iPad and photography: we won’t be forced to import photos directly to the Photos Camera Roll, as has been the case since the release of the first iPad. Images can be copied to the Files app, which supports reading any USB, SD card, or hard drive. The import process will allow you to review photos before copying them, including raw files. Or, image files can be imported directly into an app such as Lightroom Mobile. According to the iOS 13 preview, the latter will require developers to tie in to the Image Capture API.

Why is this a big deal? Until recently, you had to live with two copies of the same imported image on your device: the one in Photos, and then one imported from Photos into your photo editor/organizer of choice, dramatically reducing your free storage on the device. At the beginning of this year, a novel solution emerged using the Shortcuts feature in iOS 12: after importing images, the shortcut ran an automation that imported them into Lightroom, and then deleted the original copies from the Photos library. It works, but it’s far from elegant.

The Photos app under iOS 13 gets some interesting enhancements, like a refreshed UI, more editing controls, and the ability to edit video using the same controls. But right now, I’m feeling a definite sense of “finally” at this one change.

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Photos Crash Course for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra

Tc photos v2Sometimes, it feels as if I’m a lone defender of Apple’s Photos app under macOS. Many people find it too different from iPhoto, or think it’s too basic (even though it’s actually quite sophisticated), or… I don’t know, they just don’t like change. Except for Aperture users who were abandoned by Apple—their discontent is understandable.

It’s not just because I wrote a book about Photos and Apple’s photo ecosystem. True, I use Lightroom as my primary photo library manager, but I also make extensive use of Photos and iCloud Photo Library.

And now macOS Sierra is out, with a new version of Photos that brings better searching, Memories, revamped people identification, and more!

Alas, when my publisher Peachpit Press all but vaporized early this year, the possibility to update my Photos book also went up in smoke. That’s too bad, because I really enjoyed writing it, and thought it turned out well.

However, I’m not the only Photos defender. My friend and colleague Jason Snell has just released the second edition of his highly regarded, and best-selling, Photos: A Take Control Crash Course. Jason has been immersed in Photos during the developer preview versions of macOS Sierra and knows it inside and out. The ebook is 74 pages of hard-won information, fully illustrated and written in Jason’s friendly, approachable style. And it’s only $10!

Photos is a key part of both macOS Sierra and iOS 10, so before you order Jason’s book using the link above, consider bundling it—at a discount—with Scholle McFarland’s Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course, Josh Centers’s iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course, or both!

Buy the Photos, Sierra, and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $28
Buy the Photos and Sierra Crash Courses for $17.50
Buy the Photos and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $17.50

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Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Adds Raw and Gradient Selections

Lightroom for iOS 2.4

Adobe just released a significant update for the iOS version of Lightroom, bringing two features mobile photographers are going to love: raw import and editing, and linear and radial graduated adjustments. The first could change how we work with photos in the field, and the second is a feature I use more and more on the desktop and have in the past resorted to interesting workarounds to implement on the iPad.

I need to dig more into this release, but it looks promising. Photos you import using Apple’s Lightning adapters are brought into the Photos app Camera Roll, and then recognized by Lightroom as raw. (Oh, but now I lament Apple’s choice of sticking with USB 2.0 speed for photo import on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.) This could mean no longer needing to shoot in Raw+JPEG just to get a high-resolution JPEG to work with on the device.

(Remember, until now Lightroom wouldn’t even display raw images when importing them from the Camera Roll, and in most apps, the JPEG preview the camera creates to display on its LCD is what’s used for editing.)

Adobe says the app supports all the same raw formats that Lightroom on the desktop supports; I had no trouble opening and editing a handful of raw .RAF files from my Fuji X-T1.

Lightroom ios 2 4 raw badges

I’ll be writing more about this, looking at how Lightroom syncs the raw files back to the desktop, whether it’s practical to import a lot of images or just selected ones, and what this means for Apple’s upcoming raw image support in iOS 10.

For now, here’s more information from Adobe: Lightroom for Mobile July Releases.

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Raw Support Coming to iOS 10

Well now, this is interesting. PetaPixel spotted a feature in one of the slides during yesterday’s WWDC keynote that reads: “RAW photo editing.” We don’t yet know the details, but if iOS finally supports raw images, that could be a giant leap for mobile photo workflows. Raw is typically where the iPad has thrown a wrench into the works (as I describe in my book and elsewhere).

iOS 10 is available now to developers, with a public beta coming in July. The update will be available for everyone in the fall when we’ll see new iPhone models. I would bet (and the PetaPixel article brings up) that we’ll see some sort of raw capture on the new iPhones and perhaps the iPad, too.

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The 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the Missing USB 3 Speed

iPad Pro with SD Adapter side

I write this knowing that it sounds like I have a particularly odd spec fixation, but it’s something my brain keeps coming back to.

The newly-announced 9.7-inch iPad Pro (yes, that’s the official name) is in many ways just like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but with a different-sized screen. They’re both powered by A9X processors and M9 coprocessors; both support the Apple Pencil; both have four speakers that adapt to how the device is being held; and both claim up to 10 hours of battery life.

In some ways, the 9.7-inch model improves upon the larger one:

  • The True Tone display technology that adapts the color temperature of the screen based on the ambient lighting
  • A wider color gamut (the DCI-P3 color space, which is also used by the 5K iMac)
  • Better cameras—a 12 megapixel (MP) iSight camera with Focus Pixels on the back, and a 5 MP FaceTime camera on the front
  • A screen that Apple says is 40 percent less reflective than an iPad Air 2 (hooray!)

But in one crucial way—especially for photographers—the 9.7-inch iPad Pro lags behind the 12.9-inch model, and it’s almost enough to make me pause. Tucked at the bottom of the description for the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter is this caveat (emphasis mine):

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro transfers data at USB 3 speeds, while the 9.7-inch iPad Pro uses USB 2.

With so many shared components, why does the smaller model get stuck with slow file transfers?

If we were talking about laptops or desktops, this would be a bigger deal, because there are more occasions when you transfer data over USB. Looking at broader iPad usage, really not a lot of data passes through the Lightning connector other than if you sync to a computer using iTunes. Most people don’t need it.

But for photographers who want to transfer photos for review or editing from a camera to the iPad, this is almost crippling.

When I reviewed the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I made a short comparison video showing import speeds using the old SD card adapter and the new USB 3-capable one. Transferring 1.5 GB of image files took 30 seconds via USB 3 and 2 minutes 20 seconds via USB 2. That’s the actual data transfer; just moving image thumbnails so I could preview the photos before importing took 23 seconds via USB 3 and 1 minute 16 seconds via USB 2.

That effectively means that when you want to transfer photos to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, you need to also come up with something else to do while that’s happening, because it’s not going to be quick. (And the 9.7-inch model also doesn’t benefit from the fast charging feature in the 12.9-inch model using an Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable.)

Other methods of getting photos onto an iPad are available, such as transferring them via Wi-Fi to a camera or adapter that creates its own network or bouncing images to a cloud service like iCloud Photo Library or Lightroom mobile, but those aren’t as fast or reliable as a direct cable connection.

I don’t know Apple’s reasoning for demoting this promising new iPad in this way. Perhaps it’s a component space issue, having less room to fill compared to the 12.9-inch model. I hope it’s not a case of Apple wanting to eke out an extra 97-cents of profit by using cheaper parts. Is it an incentive to convince customers to spend more by buying a 12.9-inch iPad Pro? I hope to find out.

Putting a USB 2-speed Lightning port in the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro doesn’t doom it. My main reason for upgrading to one from my original iPad Air is for overall performance and the ability to use the Apple Pencil. But it does disappoint me that Apple could make a really fantastic tool for photographers by nudging it in a few directions—OS-level raw file support as in OS X, color profiles to bring the iPad into color management workflows, USB 3 speeds. [Update: And, ugh, it has just 2 GB of RAM, not 4 GB like the 12.9-inch model.]

I also recognize that those items really affect a small number of iPad owners. But as Apple says in their 9.7-inch iPad Pro video, “It’s where we believe personal computing is going.”

I just wish that could be a destination, and not just a direction.

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How the iPad Pro Stacks Up as a Photographer’s Tool

IPad Pro with SD Adapter top

The iPad Pro has a lot going for it, so I took a look specifically in terms of how it can be used by photographers for a new article at Macworld: How the iPad Pro Stacks Up as a Photographer’s Tool.

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PhotosApp.Expert on iPad Mobile Workflow

The iPad Pro is prompting us to revisit mobile photo workflows using an iPad, and PhotosApp.Expert has just published a great overview of options: The Quest for a Viable iOS RAW Workflow. Definitely check it out.

I have an article coming soon for Macworld about how the iPad Pro stacks up for iPhoto photo workflows; I’ll post a link when it’s published.

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