In advance of today’s Adobe MAX announcements, I got a first look at the new Camera Raw on iPad. Built into Photoshop on iPad, Camera Raw lets you open and develop RAW photos, and then bring them into Photoshop either as a Layer or Smart Object.

How the iPad Edit tool compares to desktop

While the desktop version of Camera Raw presents quite a few options, its iPad counterpart is a bit of a simpler version. Edits are broken down into five controls — Light, Color, Effects, Detail and Optics. You’ll notice this is a bit different than the desktop version, but most of the editing options are still there.

There’s a few exceptions, however. You won’t find the Geometry options to help you straighten or make your photo upright. And manual Optics adjustments also haven’t made the cut.

That being said, a lot of the core functionality is there. So if you’re looking to edit a RAW photograph, it works quite well.

Smart Objects fill the gap

Outside of the Edit tool, Camera Raw for desktop has a ton of different options, allowing you to crop, use various brushes and even apply presets. These are nowhere to be found on the iPad version of Camera Raw, at least right now.

However, most of these tools make their presence known in the form of Photoshop. As Camera Raw is built into Photoshop on the iPad, you can use most of these tools in the Photoshop interface.

But using Smart Objects preserves its editability throughout the process. While you can access some of the missing tools through Clipped Adjustments on the iPad, you can also open up the photo in Camera Raw on your desktop, and use the Camera Raw tools straight from there. Just double-click the Smart Object in the Layers panel and it’ll give you the same RAW processing options you’re used to.

Just the start

While these tools are missing now, Adobe made it clear that they intend to build on top of what they’ve created.

“For now we focused on the important adjustments that couldn’t be made in the app later. So crop and other adjustments, as well as Spot Healing, are intended to be used within the Edit space on the Smart Object after it’s imported,” the company said in a statement to Photofocus.

“We’re working to get the remaining portions like presets and crop in a future release. Presets will be our top priority, as it’s a highly important aspect for ACR workflows.”

The company also noted that Camera Raw on iPad doesn’t impact any sidecar data that isn’t yet available in the app. So if a RAW file has a crop or other adjustment applied, it won’t be removed. It’ll display things like radial filters correctly, you just won’t be able to edit them yet.

Is Camera Raw on iPad a game-changer?

iPad users have been clamoring for a version of Camera Raw for some time now, and it’s finally been delivered. Does it do everything that its desktop counterpart does? No. But is it enough for most photographers who want to edit their RAW photos on-the-go? Absolutely.

It’s clear Adobe is putting in the effort to make the iPad a priority for creatives. And so far, it’s done a great job at making creative and accessible tools for its users.