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How to Use Manual Camera Settings to Take Photos With Lightroom Mobile (Pro Mode)

For all those times auto exposure mode just doesn’t cut it, Adobe Lightroom Mobile has got you: Open the camera and set the file format to DNG to create those beautiful, high-resolution files, then tap professional mode, and start tinkering with the exposure settings to make your ideal image.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn the short, simple steps required to use the manual exposure settings in Lightroom Mobile. Check out the how-to to see Lightroom Mobile’s manual exposure settings in action, and read the steps that follow. You’ll learn how to create raw images that have the precise creative effect you desire.

Person photographing cut sunflowers on a white tabletop, using a mobile phonePerson photographing cut sunflowers on a white tabletop, using a mobile phonePerson photographing cut sunflowers on a white tabletop, using a mobile phone
Woman’s hands holding mobile phone and making a picture by @alinabuzunova/Twenty20

How to Use Manual Exposure Settings with Lightroom Mobile's Raw Camera

The Basics

Lightroom Mobile is a free app that lets you create, edit, and share high-quality images. Embedded Adobe Photoshop technology provides you with over 30 presets, allowing you to experiment with color, clarity, vignetting, and more—all for free. Upgrading to a Creative Cloud Photography plan gives you access to a few more editing options, as well as syncing across devices, a customized website, Photoshop, and cloud storage.

Creative Cloud plans and pricing for individuals vary from $9.99/month to $79.49/month (or you can pay annually in one lump sum) and usually come packaged with other perks, apps and GBs of cloud storage. (Businesses, students & teachers, and schools & universities are offered other plans and pricing.) You can also try it out by activating a free seven-day trial.

1. Open Lightroom Mobile

Tap the Lightroom Mobile icon on your phone.

2. Set the File Format to DNG

To ensure you’re photographing in DNG—raw, uncompressed, high-resolution files that allow for the greatest latitude in editing—tap JPG. Then toggle to DNG. Check out our previous tutorial for more on Lightroom's DNG mode if you're curious, otherwise, carry on to the next step.

3. Set the Camera to Pro Mode

Tap Auto to the left of the shutter button. Then tap Professional.

4. Set the Exposure Compensation

Lighten or darken your image before you capture it. Tap Exp., then move the exposure slider accordingly. For negative exposure values, move the slider to the left, and for positive exposure values, move it to the right. Double tap Exp. to reset the exposure compensation to zero.

5. Set the Shutter Speed

Adjust the speed of your camera shutter. Tap Sec., then move the shutter speed slider to the right for slower shutter speeds (up to one second) and to the left for faster shutter speeds (up to 1/1,000). Double tap Sec to reset the shutter speed value to Auto.

6. Set the ISO

Adjust your cameraphone’s sensitivity to light. Tap ISO, then move the ISO slider to the right for high ISO values and to the left for low ISO values. Double tap ISO to reset the sensitivity value to Auto.

7. Set the White Balance

Select your white balance according to the lighting conditions. Tap WB. Then select the icon from the options bar: AWB for automatic, the light bulb icon for Tungsten, the rectangular bulb icon for florescent, the sun icon for daylight, and the cloud icon for cloudy skies. Double tap WB to reset the white balance to Auto.

To customize the white balance, tap the dropper in the options bar. Then aim your device at a neutral colored surface to determine the white balance. Last, tap Checkmark to lock in the white balance.

8. Set the Focus Distance

Tap [+]. Then move the focus distance slider to the right to increase the focus distance and to the left to decrease the focus distance. Double tap [+] to reset the focus distance to Auto.

9. Lock the Exposure Settings

After you customize your exposure settings, tap the lock icon at the bottom. The lock shuts and turns yellow when the settings have been locked. A brief notification at the top appears when the lock changes from locked to unlock, or vice versa.

10. Reset All Settings

To return all of the exposure settings to their default, tap the arrow icon above Reset. A brief notification at the top appears when the settings have reset.

11. Show Highlight Clipping

This mode shows you a preview of where you image is over-exposed. First tap on the three dots on the upper right to view in the in-app camera options, and then tap the triangle icon.

Doing this provides a highlight clipping overlay of stripes in live camera mode on the areas that will be over-exposed based on the settings you chose. Great information to know before you make your image!

14. Enjoy the Creative Effect of Your Manual Exposure Settings!

By manually adjusting the exposure settings, we were able to portray the cactus plant as if against a shadowless white seamless, rather than a cream-colored wall.

Shoot Using Manual Settings

Go the distance. Be particular. When automatic exposure settings don’t result in the creative effect you’re looking for, don’t settle. These manual exposure adjustment options offer many of the same options in a “real” camera, so there’s no excuse not to make your vision a reality.

Keep Learning About Lightroom and Photography

Here are a few more free tutorials and resources to help you study up on Lightroom and smartphone photography:

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