Adobe Lightroom is a great piece of software for editing your images. It isn’t free, but you no longer buy Lightroom. The two current versions are available through subscription.
This article gives you the rundown of the two current Lightroom versions, and where you can buy Lightroom.
What Is Lightroom?
Adobe Lightroom is a software editing program, designed to help you bring the best out of your images. Unlike Photoshop, Lightroom acts as a library for all your images.
It lets you add any and all local adjustments you wish, using sliders, masks, and filters.
There are also a bunch of different modules you can use. One allows you to create a book of your images or place your images on a GPS managed map. You can also create custom slideshows.
Lightroom works from a saveable Catalog. This keeps track of your edits and adjustments. This means that Lightroom edits your images in a non-destructive manner.
Non-destructive editing means that you can always go back to the original image. This is a huge advantage to those who worry about editing over an original file, losing it forever.
How Has the Process of Buying Lightroom Changed
Lightroom used to be so so simple. You would buy Lightroom software, and you could use it forever. Since 2016, Creative Cloud has been the new way to download and use Adobe products.
Now, those using Lightroom could keep their standalone program, upgrades included. Or they could join the subscription service, which comes at a monthly fee.
Even when you download Adobe Lightroom from the Creative Cloud, you have two options to buy Lightroom. There is currently Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC.
The Creative Cloud subscription fee was the first of its kind and a controversial act. Many people felt angered by this huge increase in price.
Some photographers chose to download and use alternatives. One of these is the open sourced RawTherapee. There is still a lot of negativity surrounding this subscription model.
However you feel, if you want Lightroom today, you need to go through this process. So which version is the best? Continue reading for all the information.
Which Type of Lightroom User Are You?
There are two different types of Lightroom users. There are those who use Lightroom for the majority, if not all their editing. They take advantage of the catalog by creating folders and using keywords.
For all other editing, they export their image from Lightroom, and into Photoshop. The version of Photoshop isn’t important, as it is only used for a small portion of the process.
They may not even use Photoshop at all. This is where Lightroom becomes the most important software tool.
The second group of editors uses both Lightroom and Photoshop seamlessly. They might not use keywords, or other library organization tools. They may also focus on keeping their images filed elsewhere.
Here, Creative Cloud becomes very important. These photographers need updated versions of both software programs.
For those with standalone Adobe software, you may not need to update both tools. The best thing about the Creative Cloud is that you can buy Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 a month.
Breaking Down Creative Cloud Plans and Pricing
Up until the last quarter of 2017, Adobe said they would keep the standalone version of Abode 6. Those that already had that software version would be able to update it.
Since then, Adobe went back on its word. No new RAW updates will be given to those users. There will not be a Lightroom 7, instead, there will be two new versions of Lightroom.
These two programs are what we have available today. To buy Lightroom, the minimum you are going to spend is $9.99 a month, or a maximum of $119.88 for the year.
For that price you have two options. You get the Photography Plan (20gb of storage) or you go for the single Lightroom CC (1tb of storage) app model.
The photography plan makes the most amount of sense. You get Photoshop, Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC together – for the price of $9.99. That’s three programs and 20 GB of storage.
The single Lightroom CC app also costs $9.99, but that’s for one program, and 1tb of storage.
The question you need to ask yourself is this. Would you prefer Photoshop and Lightroom Classic CC or 80gb extra of online storage? That is the biggest difference.
Lightroom Classic CC Vs. Lightroom CC
Lightroom Classic CC came about in 2015. Lightroom CC came to us in 2017, as a simplified version. The latter is cloud-based and is generally for those photographers on the go.
With Classic, you store the images locally. This means on your desktop, or by using hard drives, both internally and externally. This might not be handy if you need to work on the go.
Although, if you prefer to carry a hard drive with you, then Lightroom Classic might still be perfect.
There is a similarity in both programs. they look and feel very similar. Lightroom Classic CC is an updated version of Lightroom 6, so those moving on will find this easier to work with.
Lightroom CC is a dumbed down version of Lightroom 6. The modules are gone, and everything works from one page. There are handy menus popping down for organization and adjustments.
Lightroom CC is closer to the mobile app. This makes using your desktop and mobile for seamless editing.
For me, I love Lightroom Classic CC. It acts as a library, allowing me to organize my images as Adobe Bridge would. From there, I can move from one folder to another easily.
I can apply 99% of all my adjustments in a non-destructive manner. This allows me to retrieve the original file at the click of a button. There are many other features I use, but not day-in/day-out.
When trying to use Lightroom CC, I miss the Modules. In this program, the editing tools are found in the separate drop-down menus. These are substantially reduced.
For example, in Lightroom CC, you cant edit images as a batch. You have to go through them one by one. That is a huge no no for me, but others may be happy with using presets.
The Photography Plan is the cheapest option to buy Lightroom software packages. Alongside it, you also get storage and Photoshop.
If you have no interest in using Photoshop, but want the extra storage, get the single app.
One of the biggest problems is switching from one program to the next. Lightroom CC is almost a completely different concept.
Say you’ve followed the progression of Lightroom since its inception. Lightroom 1 all the way to Lightroom 6 was basically the same program. Things were added and updated as they went.
This was an easy way to work around. Now, going from Lightroom 6 to Lightroom CC is very different. It is confusing and needs time to adjust. So for the same price, go for the Photography Plan.
I don’t like Lightroom CC. There I said it. I think the only people who will, are those who are just getting started. If you have never touched Lightroom before today, then buy Lightroom CC.
You will have a smaller learning curve, and you’ll also find it fits the mobile app version too. Less confusion for you means faster and a more productive workflow.
Even then, for the same price you get Photoshop. Even if you use it rarely, you still have it. The last word is buy the Photography Plan.
No matter which Lightroom you choose, you get more bang for your buck.
If you’re interested in trying a Lightroom alternative, check out our Capture one vs Lightroom article!
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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