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Editing photos on iPad just got easier

The iPad (opens in new tab) is an increasingly important tool for professional photographers. And the photography (opens in new tab) community has long been calling on Adobe (opens in new tab) to develop an iPad version of its powerful photo editing and organisation app, Lightroom 5 (opens in new tab).

Problem was, both from a storage and a processing point of view, the iPad isn't the best device for dealing with huge numbers of enormous, RAW files. So with its new Lightroom Mobile (opens in new tab) app, released today, Adobe's done something quite clever.

It's squared the aforementioned circle by creating a way to edit RAW photos on your iPad without having to actually download them.

Smart Previews

Smart Previews lets you view RAW photos on the iPad without downloading the entire files

Smart Previews lets you view RAW photos on the iPad without downloading the entire files

Instead, RAW files in Lightroom 5 can be synced between your iPad and desktop via the Creative Cloud. And here's the clever bit: a special 'Smart Previews' feature turns these giant files into much smaller compressed versions that your iPad can handle with aplomb.

While they're compressed, though, the files still contain enough data that they can be usefully edited and manipulated with the Lightroom Mobile app, which contains the crop tool, built-in tone presets and some of the more basic editing tools of Lightroom 5.

Many, if not all, of the editing tools from Lightroom 5 are available in the app

Many, if not all, of the editing tools from Lightroom 5 are available in the app

So you can make adjustments to things like the exposure, colour temperature, saturation and so on - and because the files are relatively small, edits are applied almost instantly.

Lossless transfer

Once you're happy with your changes, you can then transfer your edits losslessly back to the original RAW file on your desktop. This also takes place quickly - because all that gets sent via the Cloud is a tiny XML file containing your changes.

Once you've made your edits, Lightroom Mobile syncs them to the original file on your desktop

Once you've made your edits, Lightroom Mobile syncs them to the original file on your desktop

Lightroom Mobile is available for free as part of either a normal Creative Cloud (opens in new tab) subscription, or the Creative Cloud Photography Program (opens in new tab), which costs $9.99 a month and includes Photoshop CC (opens in new tab), Lightroom 5 and Behance Prosite (opens in new tab). You'll find full instructions on how to get started with the app here (opens in new tab).

Adobe says an iPhone version of Lightroom Mobile is coming soon. The company has also launched Lightroom Web, a new way to view and share your images from any web browser. You can check that out here (opens in new tab).

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Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity (opens in new tab), published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.