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Adobe Lightroom 5 review - Still the best photo organiser

Ben Pitt
2 Apr 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Modest but welcome improvements keep this elegant photo manager and editor on top


Lightroom Mobile

One of the big new features that Adobe has introduced since it launched Lightroom 5 is Lightroom Mobile, which lets you organise and edit your photos from your iPad, iPhone or Android device. Any changes you make your mobile device are synchronised back to your computer through the cloud. The service isn't available with the standard off-the-shelf Lightroom, and only with Creative Cloud plans.

To get started you first have to sign Lightroom desktop into Lightroom Mobile, and then choose which Collections you want to sync with the service. There's no cloud storage limit, although Adobe says that you'll fit a maximum of 60,000 photos on a 128GB iPad. You don't get a copy of the full photo, either, with Adobe creating a smaller, mobile-friendly version of the photo. As such, the Lightroom Mobile is more of a tool for working with your latest photos than one for uploading and managing your entire collection.

Once your computer has uploaded all of the photos to the cloud, you can fire up the mobile app, which will automatically download the photos. Once they're on your tablet or phone, you can edit them, with the changes synchronising back through the cloud to the original photo. Annoyingly, while you can browse your photos if your tablet's offline, you can't make any edits unless it's online. Presumably this is because the software has to download the latest version and edits to you device, but it's still a little frustrating.

Lightroom Mobile collection

Lightroom Mobile is exceptionally easy to use, with its neat touchscreen interface and sliders letting you edit most aspects of your photo. Multi-touch and gesture support really help here, making the software lightning quick: for example, you can double-tap a slider to reset it to default, a three-fingered press on the screen shows you before and after images, and you can swipe up or down to Flag or Reject an image.

Lightroom Mobile editing tools

You don't get access to the full range of tools that the Desktop application provides. For example, you don't get the noise reduction slider (there's only a filter with default presets), and you don't get access to lens profiles either. That doesn't mean that the software's useless, as you get pretty much the full spectrum of exposure and colour controls. Using these with the crop tool, it means that you can at least get your images looking the way you want. Of course, all changes are non-destructive so you can undo or re-do edits on your desktop at a later date.

You may be asking why you'd bother with this software, particularly as it's a cut-down version of the desktop edition. However, if you've just got back from a shoot and have tons of photos to go through, sitting down with your iPad and marking the photos you want to keep and those you want to reject, while doing some initial cropping and colour work, is a refined and neat way of doing things.

Using Lightroom Mobile also gives you a second advantage: you can share your collections online, giving people a link to a web-based collection for them to view. It makes Lightroom Mobile a quick and simple way to share your latest photos. We can't pretend that this software is a must-have, but for Creative Cloud subscribers, it's a nice additional touch, and Lightroom's controls are perfectly suited to a touchscreen interface.

Lightroom Mobile web gallery


The Slideshow module can now create slideshows that include videos or a mixture of videos and photos, with exports in MP4 format at resolutions up to 1,920x1,080 progressive. Along with the Library module’s ability to truncate video clips and perform basic colour correction, Lightroom can tackle basic video-editing tasks, just about.

Book design was introduced in version 4, and gave polished results but provided surprisingly little scope to customise the page templates. Text design is a little more flexible in this update but it still feels clumsy. Captions often collide with other photos on the same page, and auditioning fonts is slow.

The Book module remains a slightly weak area, but it’s also arguably the least important for most people. We have a few other niggles, such as that there’s no web space provided for hosting online galleries, and that filtering the catalogue by metadata is limited to four criteria at a time. Handling of videos remains basic, but the fact that they’re supported at all is welcome for photographers who occasionally dabble with video.

We also experienced a bug that corrupted the undo history for photos imported into our catalogue prior to version 3. It’s a niche issue but it’s still disconcerting, as Lightroom has previously been extremely reliable for maintaining the integrity of the catalogue through each update. This problem is already published on Adobe’s Known Issues list and we look forward to a quick remedy.


Nearly everything else about Lightroom 5 is seriously impressive. Catalogue management remains fast and elegant. Image processing was already the best around, and now it’s better than ever. The mapping and printing functions are spot on, too. Some people will want to use it in conjunction with a fully fledged editor such as Photoshop Elements, but there’s increasingly little need.



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