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If you read my previous blog post about editing on a tablet, you’ll know I enjoy editing my images on my iPad, primarily in Adobe’s Lightroom.  It has got to the point where 80-90% of my images are now edited on my iPad, and for the most part this is fine.  Where the iPad falls down for me is the more advanced edits, this is usually the blending of 2 or more exposures to capture the dynamic range of a scene or more complex cloning is required.  I wouldn’t class myself as an advanced Photoshop user but I know generally enough to edit my images.

Therefore when Adobe announced ‘Photoshop for iPad’ and their bold claims of a fully featured Photoshop I was automatically excited by the prospect.  Reading today that the app was finally available and even better, it would be part of my Creative Cloud Photography Plan I was quick to download.  This is where it all goes downhill.  I admit this is a very quick off-the-cuff first impressions of the app.  I can’t call it a review because I haven’t spent that much time in the app, but after hitting some pretty early frustrations I felt compelled to let it all out…

Firstly was a complete lack of support for my favourite password manager on the username screen on first launch.  Not a major issue, but the fact it would then let me use my password manager for my password (but not username) shows a lack of attention to detail.

Adobe Photoshop for iPad login screen
No password manager support for username entry, a silly simple mistake

Next up was to try and open an image.  I mean as a Creative Cloud user I should be able to access the Lightroom images I have uploaded to the Adobe Cloud and get editing straight away?  Nope!  There is seemingly no way within Photoshop for iPad to import directly from Lightroom, what an incredibly stupid oversight.  Trying not to be defeated I then went into Lightroom and sure enough I could ‘share’ an image to Photoshop.  There were however 2 problems with this…  firstly the horror of seeing my wonderful (okay, so below average image) RAW file being imported as JPEG.  There goes all that wonderful file information to play with.  Secondly I wanted to ‘merge’ two different exposures which meant doing the process twice and even worse copying a layer from one file to the other so both images within the same PSD.  Not exactly a nice easy workflow.  At this point editing on the desktop seemed like the best idea.

Import screen in Adobe Photoshop for iPad
Where is that Lightroom support Adobe?

Without too much difficulty (though I was already missing my ‘x’ keyboard shortcut for switching the colour swatch colours, useful when using masks) I was able to use a mask and blend my two images.  This is a technique I use a lot to capture the dynamic range of a scene particularly at sunrise or sunset, but not possible in Lightroom (on iPad).

I was trying to follow the workflow I would use on desktop, so next was to see what adjustments I could apply to my merged image.  I was disappointed to see no Camera RAW option, but not surprised given it’s complexity on desktop and the fact I was no longer working with a RAW image.  However I was more concerned by seeing ‘effects’ and ‘smart filters’ reading ‘not yet supported by this device.’  Is my iPad not powerful enough?  Are these features coming soon?  After a long wait for this app since Adobe announced it’s development it is disappointed to see it only ‘half baked.’

Missing Adobe Photoshop for iPad features
Is Photoshop for iPad still in beta?

Next is seemed only natural to try and crop my image.  What a horrible mess.  No option to select the crop ratio.  I’m a massive advocate of ‘cropping for composition.’  This means 3:2 won’t suit every image in my opinion, the option of different ratios is a must for me.  I could only constrain the crop or go free (unconstrained) and even more frustratingly I seemingly couldn’t ‘move’ the crop box over the area of the image I wanted to crop, only being able to move the top, bottom or sides inwards/outwards etc.  At this point I gave up.  It therefore wasn’t possible for me to ‘finish’ my image in Photoshop so my only option was to take back in Lightroom and work on an image that wasn’t RAW, and I was already tired of the prospect of going between apps.  

Cropping tool in Photoshop for iPad
That’s one really useless cropping tool

Lastly for a laugh I thought I would try the clone and healing options, which surprisingly were not horrendous but not particularly better than the tools available in Lightroom.  There is one clear advantage of Photoshop on desktop and that is the ability to do ‘content aware’ fill.  At this point you may have guessed…  this does not exist on the Photoshop for iPad version.

No content aware fill in Adobe Photoshop for iPad
I’ll just get rid of this lens flare with some content aware fill…. oh wait

I had high hopes for Photoshop for iPad.  Adobe stood on stage way back in 2018 claiming a ‘fully featured’ Photoshop for iPad.  That it is certainly not.  In fact with the hobbled workflow and complete lack of integration with their sister application Lightroom, I don’t yet see how this version of Photoshop is an option for photographers.  For the first time as a Creative Cloud user I’m glancing over Adobe’s shoulder and wondering if apps likes Affinity Photo could offer me more…