Lightroom on the IPad is a fantastic and fun way to edit photos, and Adobe has made it really easy to do even coming from Lightroom Classic with original photos stored on a local hard drive. Simply add the photos to a synced collection in Lightroom Classic and they will appear in the Lightroom library on your other devices ready to be edited. However, the image file that is synced is only a Smart Preview of the image, not the original raw file. Smart Previews are smaller (only 2540 pixels on the long edge), compressed DNG versions of the original raw file. These lightweight copies are good enough to allow for editing and small enough to be easily shared through the cloud quickly, and all of the edits are synced back to the original raw file in Lightroom Classic. The downside to this process is what to do when you need the original raw file, such as when making a composite image in Photoshop.
Unfortunately, Adobe has not provided a simple solution in Lightroom Classic-Classic only syncs Smart Previews. But there are at least a couple of simple workarounds that allow for the original raw file to be available for editing on other devices.
The first method is the easiest in my opinion. Simply open up Lightroom (new, not Classic) on the desktop running Lightroom Classic and re-import the raw files using the File->Add Photos command. Once the import is completed, Lightroom should automatically sync the imported original to the cloud. You can verify this by checking the Sync Status shown on the Info panel (hit the “I” key).
Sync Status Before Re-Importing
Sync Status After Re-Importing
Now the original raw file will be available in Lightroom on the IPad, but you have to tell Lightroom to retrieve it. In Lightroom on the IPad, simply tap the cloud icon and choose “Get This Original.”
The second option is more manual and cumbersome, but might be necessary in some situations such as if the desktop computer is not accessible but the original raw file is available on an external drive or cloud backup. I’m not going to explain the process in detail, but essentially the original raw file is manually copied to the IPad. Then in Lightroom on the IPad, the existing image must be removed. If this image has already been edited, then be sure to copy the adjustment settings to another image first so that the edits are not lost. Once the existing image has been removed from the catalog, the copied raw file is imported directly to Lightroom on the IPad. Then copy any adjustments back to this image.
I am using Lightroom version 6.1.0 on the IPad, version 4.1 on desktop, and Classic version 10.1.