With each new release of the top smartphones, mobile photography improves and become even more mainstream. More and more, as of late, I've found myself turning to my iPhone for quick captures. And with those smartphone captures, I've found fewer of my photos making it onto my computer for editing. Instead, I've opted to edit on my phone, utilizing Adobe's Lightroom Mobile. Although it's a great app, I've recognized some of its shortcomings, which have become particularly obvious as of recent with iOS11. My primary concern lies with the accuracy of capture with Lightroom's RAW images as they become available to edit within the app. Let me explain.
On a recent trip to Denver for a client, I opted to leave my DSLR in the overhead compartment and shot my flight and accompanying adventures solely with my iPhone 8 Plus. For the most part, images came together without an issue. For quick snaps, I utilized the built-in camera app, which even came in handy for quick panoramas, as well as the occasional video. The images are strong enough for what they are and work well for my Instagram feed.
When I had a few moments to think about a shot, I chose instead, to use Lightroom's built-in camera, which is known for it's ability to capture images in RAW. If RAW file formats are new to you, I would encourage you to check out some resources to acclimate yourself. In laymen's terms, a RAW file contains more image data and allows a photographer more room for edits without destroying or being locked into the way an image was shot. In particular, I love RAW for the simple fact that altering color balance is a breeze, and helps to ensure my images are professional every time.
Alright, back on the topic of Lightroom Mobile. I capture dozens, if not hundreds, of images with Lightroom Mobile each day. Most of those images turn out great. But on this particular trip to Denver, I noticed that when I would control the exposure manually, the screen would show me an image that wouldn't actually be what I would get when I made it back to post. For example, flying into Denver, I took an image of the plane's wing with the mountains in the background, just moments before landing. The image looked great as I adjusted the exposure. I lowered the ISO, slowed the shutter speed, and pressed the capture button. I was excited. I framed the shot nicely and was looking forward to pulling the image into post and editing. Moments later, I pulled the image up in Lightroom, only to find that the image was dangerously underexposed. I tried to lift the shadows and ultimately decided to ditch the effort. The image became incredibly grainy and didn't match my expectations.
Let me give you a more recent example. A few nights ago, I drove around downtown St. Louis. As I commonly do, I drove past the Central Library, which looks incredible at night. I pulled out my iPhone, opened Lightroom's camera, adjusted my settings, and got an image that I thought looked great. But the image I saw as I pressed the shutter was not the image I got in the end. Instead, I ended up with a photo that's easily a stop darker. In my ambition to recover the photo, I turned to editing and found that the image was again incredibly grainy as Lightroom attempted to recover the shadows. Check out the library photo below.
This two for two excursion has left me wondering how many more images I can lose to Lightroom Mobile. It's unfortunate, because it is my favorite mobile editing application. I think I'll hold off on more images until they've addressed some issues with an update. Oh, and don't even get me started on the lack of syncing for presets. Adobe, get your stuff together. If you've experienced something similar, let me know. Or, if you're using another application for your mobile edits, give me a heads up. I enjoy trying new apps and would love to give your favorite a test.