Facebook Twitter Flickr Pinterest RSS

Matching Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Desktop Images

I was on Lightroom, today, comparing pictures sync’d from Lightroom on my iPad with RAW files  imported directly into Lightroom from an sd-card. Try as I might, I could not make adjustments to the RAW file match the settings of the one sync’d… until… (tl;dr, skip to the bottom)


First, I should describe the “mobile” work-flow:

  1. Picture shot, RAW, on a Canon EOS dSLR
  2. Used wi-fi to transfer the image to my iPad with the Canon EOS Remote app and save desired images to the Camera Roll
  3. Opened the image in Lightroom Mobile on the iPad, edited, and made it available via cloud-synching
  4. I made adjustments to the image. I always enabled Lens Correction, but that never seemed to affect images. I assume the lens information was lost when images were saved as JPEG to the iPad.

Once I got home, I imported the RAW files directly into Lightroom Desktop:

  1. Used Lightroom import to add the images to a Catalog.  I applied metadata defaults (name, copyright, etc.) and enable Lens Correction, during import
  2. Ensured that Lightroom Mobile images were synched

Comparing and Matching

I was then able to compared the two images on the big screen. I expected differences since I’d adjusted the images independently and due to the differences between JPEG and RAW—the image coming from the iPad was JPEG.

I was curious to see how different my adjusts to the same image may have been. I was surprised to discover that the differences weren’t only due to my editing choices.

Cropping and Lens Corrections

With both images in Desktop Lightroom, I noticed that I’d cropped the images differently. This direct comparison, when switching between the two images, more difficult. I liked the JPEG crop better, so I applied those to the RAW version.

Since I had made Lens Correction and Transform adjustments on the raw image, the images still didn’t match.  So, I applied the Lens Corrections and Transform settings to the JPEG version. The JPEG version didn’t have information about the lens used; so I had to manually set the Lens Profile settings. Now the images were aligned.

…Almost: later, I found a better match if I adjusted the Lens Correction Distortion to 120, on the RAW version. Then, if the goal is to match the images (rather than remove lens vignetting), I found that I needed to jack the Vignette setting to 100 on the JPEG and down to 20 on the RAW image.

Because Lightroom Mobile’s ability to perform proper Lens Correction against JPEGs imported from an external camera, these last adjustments should probably be avoided when Lightroom’s adjustments on the RAW image are accurate. For the purposes of accurate comparison between the JPEG and RAW edits, this was necessary.

Color Matching

The color was obviously different; the desktop version was over-saturated. So, I started over by using the Sync feature in the Develop module to apply the adjustments from the mobile image to desktop image. Still, the images did not match.

Then I remembered the Camera Calibration Profile setting.

Camera Calibration Profiles and Picture Styles

The camera can be set to define foundational settings for images which affect sharpness, contrast, saturation and color response, among other things. Canon calls them Picture Styles (Nikon calls them Picture Controls).

It is important to know that these settings directly affect how JPEG images are created but do not affect the image pixels that are saved into RAW images. The setting is saved as metadata of the RAW file as a hint to how the image pixels, later (when converting to a JPEG, for example).

Lightroom Camera Calibration ProfileCanon Picture StyleNikon Picture Control
Camera StandardStandardStandard
Camera Portrait PortraitPortrait
Camera LandscapeLandscapeLandscape
Camera NeutralNeutralNeutral
Camera FaithfulFaithful
Camera VividVivid

Lightroom simulates these settings for RAW images under Camera Calibration, Profile. It lists “Adobe Standard” along with selections that correspond to those that the camera offers (for Canon and Nikon, at least).

JPEG files do not allow this to be changed and only lists “Embedded” as the sole option. When I sync’d the settings, earlier, there was no corresponding Profile in the JPEG image to apply to the RAW image, so Lightroom assigned Adobe Standard to the RAW image.

After setting each of the Profiles’ various “Camera …” settings, I found Camera Standard to be the closest match; this even though I’d shot the images with my camera set to Faithful.

Admittedly, I was gauging comparisons by the red mailbox which was the most prominent feature in this picture. I could still see differences in the brightness curve between the RAW and mobile versions. I’ll leave brightness curve and broader color response for another day.

Mobile RAW Handling

The EOS Remote app does not copy RAW files from the camera. In order to streamline in-the-field Lightroom work and make it more consistent with desktop processing, a Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader for iPhone and iPad should enable Lightroom Mobile work with RAW files, natively.

tl;dr Summary

Without additional hardware or a laptop, Lightroom Mobile is not able to work with Canon RAW files, so matching edits made in the field with RAW files, later, can be a challenge. Here are some tips to simplifying the process:

Assuming you have a Canon camera with wifi support and an iOS phone or tablet:

  1. Use the EOS Remote iOS app to transfer images to the iOS device
  2. Use Lightroom Mobile to edit, adjust and sync the images
  3. On a desktop, import RAW images to Lightroom Desktop
  4. Wait for Lightroom Mobile images to sync
  5. Find RAW images matching the sync’d files

and then:

  1. Enable Lens Corrections, as desired, and manually set Lens Profile values for the images originating in Lightroom Mobile
  2. Sync all settings from the sync’d images to their RAW counterparts
  3. Consider changing the RAW image’s Lens Correction Distortion to 120 and Vignetting to 0, or set it to 20 and set the mobile image to 100, if the goal is to match the images (otherwise leave the RAW Len Corrections alone).
  4. Set Camera Calibration to “Camera Standard” (for images originating on Canon EOS cameras)

Let me know whether this works for you and what additional adjustments you found to improve the accuracy of transferring adjustments made in Lightroom Mobile to RAW image counterparts in Lightroom Desktop.

Home Equipment & Software Matching Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Desktop Images