Getting Photos from Lightroom to the iPhone

by James Duncan Davidson

One of the things I'm sure many photographers thought when they saw the iPhone for the first time is, "What a wonderful way to take my portfolio with me wherever I go!" With its brilliant screen and easy pocket-ability, it's a natural way to take your work with you and show it to anybody you happen to meet. But what's the easiest way to get images from Lightroom to the iPhone? After a few hours playing with all the other features of the iPhone, I took a bit of time and set out to find out for myself.


2007-07-04 08:14:28
Thank you, very interesting (not for iPhone -> i leave in France) but for interactions between Lightroom and Automator.
2007-07-05 10:59:51
It may be worth mentioning that iPhone allows you to zoom in ("pinch out") a photo, but apparently at most a 2x factor. So it may make sense to size your pictures to 640x960.

Duncan Davidson
2007-07-05 16:10:22
Jeronzinho: You're welcome. Using the automator trick is very handy for a variety of workflow needs. I've been meaning to write about it for a while now.

Daveeed: I too was curious about pinching a photo to zoom. But in a few casual tests--nothing too rigourous, mind you--I didn't notice a difference between photos uploaded at a higher resolution compared to screen resolution, even when zooming in. Watching the status messages go by on a sync, there is a "Resize photo" message that flies by, but I haven't yet determined what size it resizes to.

As well, when you zoom into a photo in the correct orientation (landscape when holding the iPhone horizontal), no matter whether the photo was uploaded or taken with the built in cam, there's no apparent increase in resolution. So, that's why I went ahead and just went with the native size of the screen.

2007-07-06 08:33:06
Darn, I think you're right. It looks like the zooming is done from a 480x320 copy in all cases (even with items in the Camera Roll, for which a higher-resolution original must exist on the device as well).

That's a little disappointing, although the limitation to a 2x zoom factor makes it slightly moot.

2007-07-09 08:45:15
Can I suggest you try NOT resizing the photos down first? I think you will find that iTunes scales your photos to an optimum size before transferring your photos to your iPhone, presumably to take account of the zooming feature as already pointed out.

I found this out because I too started by reducing my photos manually to the iPhone's actual screen size in an effort to reduce file size. But I wasn't at all happy with the quality once they were on the iPhone. Zooming in with the loupe in Aperture confirmed that there were artifacts in the iPhone version that weren't there in my 320x480 'originals'.

I then tried just synching a folder containing full size originals and watching the capacity meter for the iPhone (in iTunes) to check that they weren't taking up too much space. Sure enough, 14 pictures from my DSLR ended up taking up about 600k on my iPhone and they looked great.

Long and short: let iTunes handle it.

Elian Gonzalez
2007-07-09 16:03:00
"With it's brilliant"...

Should be without the apostrophe.

Duncan Davidson
2007-07-09 16:39:26
Fred: I haven't seen any objectionable artifacts in my images exported from Lightroom with the above settings (80 on the quality). But you may be onto something there. I'll have to play around a bit more with things and see what factors might be at play.

Elian: Fixed. Thanks.

2007-07-10 22:47:52
Aren't you guys just showing off your new iPhones?

I'm not honestly..........I SAID I'M NOT JEALOUS!!!


2007-07-11 10:58:43
thanks dude....
2007-09-18 22:23:36
Your tutorial is great and works well, but what if you want to organize your portfolio in folders then upload to iPhone via that hierarchy yet still want to download images taken on the iPhone to the computer?
It appears that the only way to pull images from the iPhone to the desktop is thru iPhoto and you can't sync to iPhoto and a folder(s) at the same time... Makes for a bit of a mess having to sync to pull images from iPhone the sync again to add images from folder(s)...