Introducing Adobe Carousel

“Lightroom for iPad” has been the clearest customer mandate I’ve heard in 10+ years at Adobe. Photographers are clamoring to transfer photos wirelessly to their tablets, review & tweak them there, and then sync the results with their desktops.

Adobe Carousel (press release) embraces that vision–and takes it further.  This new app–announced today for iOS and Mac OS X (with Android & Windows versions in development)–brings a highly tuned version of the Lightroom/Camera Raw engine to mobile devices, combining it with excellent multi-device syncing. Key coolness:

  • You get access to all your images on all your devices.
  • All edits are non-destructive: tweak a setting on one device & you’ll see the edit ripple through your other devices.
  • It’s easy to collaborate with friends & family: people you invite to share a photo catalog can view photos, add new ones, apply adjustments and preset “looks,” and flag favorites.
  • You can easily publish to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

What does it cost, and when can you get it?  The iOS and Mac versions should be available shortly. The iPad, iPhone, and Mac apps are free, and the syncing/storage service costs $9.99 a month (or $99/year), with a special introductory price of $5.99 a month (or $59.99 a year). Storage & number of photos are unlimited.

When you pay for an Adobe Carousel subscription, you’e investing in one complete solution, enabling you to import as many photos as you want, adjust and improve those photos, and then share those photos with family & friends.

This first version of the app is ruthlessly focused on simplicity & on meeting the needs of a very large group of photographers. As it evolves there’s plenty of room to grow, including adding support for raw file formats and integrating with Lightroom & other desktop apps.

When we introduced Lightroom, we likewise started small, listened hard to photographers, and rapidly iterated based on their feedback. I’m extremely excited to see what develops.

PS–You may know that I’ve been working on mobile imaging apps at Adobe, so can I take credit for Carousel? I’m afraid not: I was the PM early on, helping get things rolling, after which I moved to another effort. More on that soon enough.

40 thoughts on “Introducing Adobe Carousel

  1. Hmmm. Sounds cool enough, but solves the wrong problem for me, anyway.
    I have several hundred Gig of photos.
    Having them accessible anytime, anywhere out of the cloud isn’t what I’m looking for as much as “I just want to be able to manipulate the user-provided meta-data while sitting comfortably on the couch”.
    All I need is a remote-control unit for Lightroom. I’m still hopeful since that kind of thing is appearing for Photoshop…
    [Is Photosmith for iPad what you’re after? –J.]

  2. Good for the masses but as a pro… Meh….
    I sort of look to Apple for that kind of product and I look to
    Adobe for professional level software.
    But, I understand that the MARKET for this could be huge

  3. I like the idea of it, and appreciate Adobe’s need for income. That said, I’m none too keen on the monthly fee aspect. At all.

  4. John, you say, “You get access to all your images on all your devices.” However, the press release seems to talk only about JPEG images, which is decidedly not all my images.
    [Understood, Rob: just as “all your devices” isn’t yet true (absent Android & Windows clients), “all your images” is a work in progress. I was trying to capture the (near-term) vision rather than the reality at this second. –J.]
    In addition, perhaps I’m missing something, but is there a version of Carousel that works on my desktop?
    [Yes. –J.]
    If not, that means images are most assuredly not accessible from all my devices. I may be prepared to view and do some sorting of images in the field (assuming there’s eventually some way to get my RAW images into the iPad), but I want to work them up thoroughly on a powerful machine with a large display and with access to Photoshop for additional tweaking.
    [Absolutely, as do I. –J.]
    If my misgivings about Carousel are accurate, it seems more like a glorified Photoshop Express than a substitute for or adjunct to Lightroom.

  5. John: I’ve read the Adobe pages and Carousel looks interesting. But I’m not sure I understand the linkage between Carousel and Lightroom.
    Here’s the scenario (that just recently happened).
    I go on a week or two vacation with only my DSLR and my iPad and the camera connection kit. Each night I upload that days photos to the iPad.
    I’d like to be able to do Lightroom style flag pick (p)/reject (x) on my photos. Plus do keywords, titles, captions etc.
    Then when I finally get home, and go to import my photos to Lightroom, I’d like to be ahead on my workflow by having all that metagata flow right into Lightroom.
    Does Carousel solve this workflow problem?
    [At the moment Carousel is taking on different problems, and it sounds like Photosmith (a third-party app) may be right up your alley. –J.]

    1. I’ve looked at Photosmith, but it doesn’t really solve that problem for me. If you mark things as rejected, you still have to import all the photos via iTunes/iPhoto and then delete them from Lightroom later.
      This makes it much harder to do the metadata as you go along. And given the limited amount of storage on the iPad it isn’t clear that it is feasible for a trip longer than a few days.
      Is the use case that Carousel is taking on one that assumes photos are shot on the iPhone and edited there and shared? Versus one that assumes a DSLR and import into Lightroom? Is that part of the difference?

  6. i too will never pay a monthly subscription to software. just don’t feel good about that.
    and I’ve moved on to a Mac/Android existence so no-go for me.
    I also dont like to organize photos like iphoto or picasa by date. i use folders – not tags- so i use lightroom for personal images and capture one for work images.

  7. Overall, I like the concept even if I think the current implementation is a bit sparse.
    *Solves the multiple devices, one photo library problem
    *Non-destructive editing
    *Sharing and allowing others to edit photos
    *Another service requiring a subscription.
    *Fairly sparse, not all features apparent or yet available
    *Yet another location where my photos reside (although a much more accessible one).
    *What happens when internet access is spotty? Is there an offline mode?
    *Why not sell a “server” version of this where individuals/organizations can set up their own hosting service(s) for their libraries?
    *What happens to libraries that are found to have questionable imagery that may be publicly shared? Probably covered under the TOS…
    *How large of a library can be hosted under this service?

  8. This sounds interesting, but really isn’t what I was hoping for. I just want a convenient Adobe provided app for wirelessly synchronizing RAWs and JPEGs with Lightroom on my local network. If Adobe bought Photosmith and made it work even better with Lightroom.. that’d be perfect.
    [Are there specific ways in which you’d like to see Photosmith integration improved? –J.]

    1. Regarding “better” Photosmith workflow: If you mark a photo in Photosmith as “rejected” it isn’t deleted off the iPad. It isn’t even hidden. You still have to see it everytime to browse the photos in the Photos app. You still have to sync it back to the Mac. And then you finally have to delete it off out of your Lightroom catalog and off the disk then.
      What is really needed is a version of the Lightroom Library module on the iPad that you would use the exact same way you’d use it on a laptop. And with the exact same level of export/import compatibility into the main Mac Lightroom catalog. And done via wifi so you don’t even need to sync via iTunes. And that captures the Raw images off the SD card directly into iPad Lightrom Lite so that they don’t even go into the iPad photo app.

      1. The issue with Rejection in Photosmith, as I understand it, comes from two limitations: firstly, Lightroom apparently doesn’t allow Flag data to be synced the way it allows star/label data. Secondly, iOS doesn’t allow apps to delete photos. Looking at the support forums, though, it seems they’re plenty busy on just that issue 🙂

        1. It is not really true that iOs doesn’t allow apps to delete photos. iOs doesn’t allow apps to delete photos from the main photo library. I have never understood why photosmith does not use an approach more like filterstorm with regards to importing photos. You basically import from the system wide photo folder into the app and from there the app has permission to do what it wants with the photos. Not only that it is a much cleaner system – I can make sure only the photos that I want to work with later on lightroom are in the photosmith – not all of the snaps that I have taken for use with evernote or another app and only the photos I want to show people – post processing – are in the system wide photo library.

  9. My workflow is organized so that ultimately all photos end up in my archive at home. A cloud storage/sync solution is not really that useful to me. I wouldn’t want all my images synchronized with a mobile device anyway since my complete archive is several hundred Gigabytes in size and I only need access to the latest sets most of the time.
    If you worked with the guys from Photosmith to integrate Camera Raw into their software, that would be so much more helpful. Or a Camera Raw for iOS that can export XMP files to a folder on the device or a solution like Dropbox/iCloud, E-Mail it to people etc. so all I have to do when I get home is to drop the XMP files into the folder with the images and my settings are there, ready to use with Bridge/Lightroom/Photoshop.
    If I wanted to share photos with family or friends, there are other solutions and workflows, and I don’t need yet another one. If I tell people to install this new software from Adobe (and possibly even pay for syncing) to see the images I want to share with them, most of them would be annoyed and tell me to upload the pictures on facebook instead (with the right privacy settings of course).
    I’m perfectly willing to pay for a good software product that improves my workflow, but definitely not a monthly fee for a sync service. If my workflow depends on Adobe servers, there is something wrong. I don’t want anything to break if Adobe goes out of business or changes their strategy or discontinues a certain product or decides that I need to upgrade to a new version that potentially breaks my workflow or be forced to pay double the price because Adobe raises the monthly fee and I committed to their workflow. We are just beginning to see the problems with forced software activation with older products that are no longer supported by the manufacturer.

  10. regarding the non-destructive editing…
    Does Carousel utilize the same metadata tags for editing as Lightroom and ACR? I’m assuming so as that would eliminate the need to push images to each device.
    How long until carousel edits can be brought directly into Lightroom without forcing users to import the latest changes?
    How long till Lightroom can push images to the Carousel cloud directly?
    How extensive are the editing controls in Carousel?
    On the whole, a very interesting product

  11. I’m pretty certain that the original name for what is now known as ‘Acrobat’ was initially called ‘Carousel’. Funny that it has resurfaced again after all these years. I was an original member of the long ago defunct ‘Adobe User Exchange’ user group and saw a presentation of ‘Corousel’ when Adobe was located on Charleston Rd in Mountain View.
    [As Sam Jackson might say, “Check out the big brain on James!” 😉 Yes, you’re right, and we were pretty sure that almost no one would remember that. –J.]

  12. and there is this clip from Madman “the wheel”
    )the pitch to Kodak for the Carousel slide projector business
    [“Technology is a glittering lure, but there’s the rare occasion where the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash…” Was Don Draper 50 years ahead of his time on HTML5? 😉 –J.]

  13. I guess I don’t see spending money on a subscription monthly, which by the way I won’t do for CS suites either if that’s what Adobe is planning, when iCloud is coming very soon and synchs all photos to all devises for FREE.
    [What Carousel offers goes beyond what iCloud offers (as it had better, if we expect people to pay for it). Hopefully others can jump in to elaborate, but Carousel offers access to all your images (not just the most recent ones) combined with non-destructive image editing based on the Lightroom engine. –J.]
    Side note: If Adobe goes to subscription model for CS Suites I will be looking and waiting for another software developer to release creative software and it WILL happen because I don’t think most designers want or will accept subscription model! Maybe corporations will?

  14. hi there … this looks promising to me. I have LR and CS5 (among other Adobe titles). Are you thinking about developing this for QNX? I have a Playbook, and have been looking for effective online photo editing or apps. Found one or two good online sites. But would gravitate towards Adobe.
    I have recently two great new photo apps for bb smartphones, but they are not developed for QNX at this point.

  15. Yes, was asking, dreaming, begging for a LR for the iPad. But that means raw files!
    I am sure the problem has to do with the performance issues doing raw conversion on the iPad. Nonetheless, the usage model I have is to be able to do a quick set of adjustments in the field (sometimes in really rough and remote places) on a few images to see if they are going to work out when I sit down back on the desktop with the full LR/PS adjustment capability. Or whether they need to be reshot. The jpg previews that pro cameras generate are only a hint of the dynamic range available in the raw files.
    I presently use a 64GB iPad as a very robust backup for nefs in the field. Integration with LR would be delightful. Back from the field, a sync from the iPad would put the files (and preliminary edits) into the right place in the LR catalog.
    If raw files are included, and the off site storage was integrated with LR, I would be more than ecstatic to pay $99 a year for the service, particularly if storage limits were non-existant or at the TB level.

  16. Congrats to yourself (even in such a limited capacity) and your colleagues on releasing this! Seems like a fair bit of work went into it, and it’s awesome to see Adobe leading the field.
    I’m sorry to see that so many of the comments on the announcement are laced with qualifiers or passive-aggressive jabs. This really is cool, exciting stuff… just not for the people who’ve been clamoring for ‘Lightroom on the iPad’.
    I admit, it felt like a bit of a sucker-punch when I saw the announcement’s brief, with the words ‘Lightroom on the iPad’ literally included, and then discovered that it was a totally separate product that wouldn’t connect with my Lightroom library at all.
    If that ever does happen, maybe the monthly subscription won’t be such a put-off.
    Good idea to discount the price initially, though of course iCloud is free, and that’s tough to beat. Carousel allows all JPEGs to be synced, true, but given the storage limitations on iOS devices and the limits to available bandwidth (I have a wifi-only iPad, for instance) the most notable advantage of Carousel over iCloud would be its editing capabilities. In which case I’d rather pay for a good app than a monthly subscription.
    When version 1.x or 2 or 3 integrates with Lightroom, I think a lot of that resistance will fade away, though.
    We’ve been looking forward to that announcement for a year and a half, we can wait a little longer!

  17. Congratulations, John! The ideas are brilliant!
    And I’d love to see the feature list growing. And I wonder how much space is included into $9.99? Is there a chance to have at least 500-600GB for an on-line photo storage/backup. Maybe in the future…

  18. Now this sounds interesting, and I’ll gladly sign up if :
    – can I send my clients a somewhat protected or expiring link where they can download their set of photo’s that I’ve prepared for them ?
    – can I disable people messing and adding photo’s to my carousel ?
    – do corrections made in carousel get synced back to lightroom ?

  19. Kudos for Adobe being active in the photo cloud services business. With iCloud, SmugMug, Amazon etc. it is a highly competitive field and not Adobe’s core competence.
    First of all, let me ask if I understand correctly?
    Uploading a Terabytes of RAWs into Carousel would be 60-100$ a year? I ask because that’s a pretty good price (of course, the actual cost of storage for Adobe is lower; but then comes the transfer cost).
    Or is there a hidden limit by saying only photos which all devices can sync which may mean 64GB and JPG?
    My second question would be LR .lrcat file (an open source database file) and Carousel. Is Carousel meant to sync photos or .lrcat files? If the latter, will there be a better catalog sync algorithm in the future? Like multiple satellite lrcats syncing with a single master catalog?

  20. Sure would be nice if this was NOT subscription-based, and also if it integrated directly with Lightroom.
    As many above have stated, I’ll jump in with both feet if you can somehow fix both of those!
    [So, regarding subscriptions, you want lots of online hosting plus multi-device sync, you just don’t want to pay for it? (What/how *would* you pay to make all that work?) –J.]

  21. This looks absolutely wicked! From what you’ve said, could you expand on one point? You say that we can give access to families, friends etc. but can we also set it up to give out a link that expires after X amount of time?

  22. I´m curious about the metadata editing capabilities and couldn´t find about that yet. Will there be the whole set – flags, stars, colours, keywords plus the IPTC dataset?

  23. I would use this in a heartbeat if it helped solve the wife acceptance factor of Lightroom. I love and use lightroom. My wife just wants access to our photos. Please solve and I will give Adobe money 🙂
    So far the best option is LiveMesh and sidecar files.
    Mark Levison

  24. What happened to release by end of September.? Nothing at all.
    seems very odd and unprofessional on Adobe’s behalf

  25. Ive just downloaded this. It looks good works fine but no RAW support which is 98% of my images and i was hoping it would allow me to update my LR3 catalogue remotely for editing and managing – keywords etc. ill use it for 30 days but maybe the above functions are not what this is designed for?

  26. I think this app looks like a great start at making it much easier to leave your computer at home and just bring your iPad to do the basic photo organization with. I would happily pay the monthly fee but only:
    1. if raw photos are supported
    2. if there is a way to sync back to LR on the mac
    1 seems to be on the way and I hope that 2 is at least being thought about. I like using LR so – if carousel is based on LR why complicate things by making people have to have another app (and another copy of their photos) on their computer?

  27. How will Carousel fit into a photographer’s workflow? Currently I use lightroom, then rate, tag, and edit them images. I got all excited about Carousel, but then found out that it has no integration with the Adobe system I already use – this baffles me. Why have multiple desktop image catalogues cloggin up your time and disk space? I would have thought that a critical feature would be to connect with Lightroom, an excellent Adobe product that creates a catalogue and already serves to organize your images.
    Please tell me there are plans to merge the two? Otherwise I don’t understand these decisions.

  28. Here’s how I see this fitting into a professional photographer’s workflow.
    I’m on location, shooting. I take the card from my camera, plug it into my laptop (since the iPad has no way to accept a memory card). Next, I import the photos into a Lightroom catalog and export them all as jpegs. Now I upload those jpegs to my carousel cloud. Now, after about twenty minutes of work (assuming a full day’s shooting), I can whip out my sexy iPad and show it to the client.
    I really don’t see how this solves any problem. The problem is that I want all the editing power of the Adobe Raw Converter without needing to carry my laptop to ever job site. With Carousel, I get neither of those things. I still need my laptop so I can get my photos from my camera to the cloud, so what’s the point of having an iPad? It’s just one more thing to carry around that doesn’t provide any additional utility. Carousel doesn’t do anything Lightroom doesn’t do, and I still need Lightroom to use Carousel. I guess I just don’t understand how this helps a professional photographer.
    Seriously. I want Lightroom on my Android tablet. Just give it already. I want all the editing power of Lightroom without needing my laptop. That means it can’t be on the iPad, because the iPad doesn’t have a card reader, or any way to connect one.

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