Photographers often focus on the cloud-sync feature of Adobe Lightroom, often objecting to the way Lightroom (the newer version, not Lightroom Classic) automatically uploads all images to Creative Cloud. The software has been out for several years, and to this day (over the weekend, in fact) I get questions from people confused because they think Lightroom stores image files only in the cloud, and not on a local hard disk (it does both).
What isn’t a focus, however, is why Lightroom uploads photos to the cloud. By establishing a centralized copy of your images in the cloud, Adobe is able to sync them to Lightroom apps on smartphones and tablets, and Lightroom on other computers. You can pull up a photo you imported to your computer over the weekend on your iPhone, edit it using the same adjustment tools, and share it online without leaving the couch. When you return to Lightroom on the desktop, your edits are automatically applied. You didn’t need to connect the phone to the computer using a cable, deal with syncing duplicates or versions… it’s all just right there. (OK, another reason for automatic syncing is to get you to pay for more cloud storage. Let’s set that aside for this discussion.)
This is a long introduction to get to my point, but it’s important to put things into perspective. Adobe jumped on this years ago when it introduced Lightroom Mobile, a bare-bones iOS app with basic syncing and editing capabilities (I wrote the first book about it and was quoted in Adobe’s press release).
Now there’s another competitor that is taking the same approach. ON1, the developer of ON1 Photo RAW, has launched ON1 360, a service that lets you upload photos to the cloud and make them available to the new ON1 Photo Mobile app. Images and edits are synced automatically, freeing you from the desktop to access your photo library.
ON1 takes a few different approaches to their implementation. For one, you can choose which folders or albums are synced versus Adobe’s full-library mechanism. ON1 also has the option (the default) of uploading images in Editable Preview format, which retains image and color detail but creates smaller files. Lightroom Classic also syncs only selected collections to Creative Cloud, and it uploads Smart Previews, which are smaller versions of originals. However, in that case, Smart Previews are reduced in size (2048 pixels on the long side), with no option to upload originals.
Read more about ON1 360 in an article I wrote for DPReview that is now published: First impressions: ON1 360 is a cloud-based alternative to Lightroom’s ecosystem.
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