A few years ago buying Lightroom was easy as there was only one version to choose from. Now there are three current versions of Lightroom – Lightroom 6, Lightroom Classic CC and the new Lightroom CC. Plus, Adobe changed the name of Lightroom CC (2015) to Lightroom Classic CC. No wonder people are confused!
The simple answer – with few exceptions, Lightroom Classic CC is the best version to buy or upgrade to. Don’t even think about migrating your Catalog to Lightroom CC unless you fully understand all the implications, both practical and financial.
Let’s expand on that.
Lightroom 6 comes with a perpetual license. That means you pay a one time fee and can use it for as long as you want. You can still buy Lightroom 6 from Adobe, but you need to know that it’s the last version of Lightroom to be sold with a perpetual license and that it won’t be updated or supported after 2017. In theory, you can use it forever, as long as you don’t mind converting Raw files from unsupported cameras to DNG using Adobe’s free DNG Converter. In practice at some point it may stop working if there are radical changes in your computer’s operating system. But this, if it happens, is many years in the future.
This Adobe help page tells you how to buy (or upgrade to) Lightroom 6.
Verdict: As Lightroom 6 isn’t as powerful as Lightroom Classic CC the only photographers who might buy it now are those who don’t want to subscribe to one of the other versions. If you’re on a budget and you don’t need the latest features it could serve you well for many years to come.
Lightroom CC (2015)
Lightroom CC (2015) is the version of Lightroom you have if you subscribed to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan before October 2017. If you’re currently using Lightroom CC (2015) you can either continue using it or upgrade to Lightroom Classic CC (see below). The upgrade doesn’t cost anything as it’s included in your subscription. You can also upgrade to the new version of Lightroom CC, but I strongly advise against that for the reasons outlined below.
Verdict: There’s no reason to keep using Lightroom CC (2015) now that Lightroom Classic CC is available.
Lightroom Classic CC
Lightroom Classic CC is the newest version of Lightroom CC (2015). In October 2017 Adobe improved the speed of Lightroom, added a few new features and changed the name. Lightroom Classic CC is paid for on a subscription basis that currently costs $9.99 per month in the United States, and a similar amount in other countries, depending on exchange rates and local taxes. For that, you get the following:
- Photoshop CC.
- Full use of Adobe Mobile.
- Lightroom web.
- The new Lightroom CC (see below).
- 20GB of cloud storage space for storing photo files.
You also need to make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements to run Lightroom Classic CC. This Adobe help page lists the requirements for Windows and Mac OS computers.
Verdict: If you’re new to Lightroom then Lightroom Classic CC is the version you should buy (or more accurately, subscribe to). The only reasons not to choose Lightroom Classic CC are if you don’t like the subscription model of payment (in that case go for Lightroom 6) or if you use a smartphone for ALL of your photography (in which case the new Lightroom CC might suit you better).
Continual internet access not required
It’s important to note that Lightroom 6, Lightroom CC (2015) and Lightroom Classic CC all work the same way. You don’t have to be connected to the internet to use them. You save your photos and Catalog files on your own hard drives, not in the cloud. Internet access is only required to install updates, synchronize Smart Previews and for Lightroom to check you have an active subscription.
Lightroom CC is a completely new application introduced by Adobe in October 2017 and made available to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan subscribers alongside the renamed Lightroom Classic CC. It’s cloud based and, unlike all other versions of Lightroom, stores your photo files on Adobe’s servers. Storage is relatively expensive, and Lightroom CC is not as fully featured as Lightroom Classic CC.
The following point is important so please pay attention – Lightroom CC is aimed at photographers who use smartphone cameras. If you’re a Lightroom CC (2015) or Lightroom Classic CC user, don’t migrate your Catalog to Lightroom CC unless you understand all the implications! There’s no need to upload your photos to Adobe’s servers unless you have a really compelling reason to do so and don’t mind paying for the storage space (which costs $10 per TB). You also need a good internet connection as Lightroom CC continually communicates with Adobe’s servers to synchronize your photos.
Verdict: Try it out if you’re a Lightroom Classic CC subscriber – you might find a place for the new Lightroom CC in your workflow. But don’t sign up for one of the Lightroom CC photography plans unless you take all your photos using a smartphone camera and understand the financial implications of paying for cloud storage space.
Hopefully this article clears up any confusion created by the October 2017 announcement of the Adobe’s name change from Lightroom CC (2015) to Lightroom Classic CC and the introduction of the new Lightroom CC.
Bottom line – the Adobe Photography Plan, the one that gives you Lightroom Classic CC, Photoshop CC and the new Lightroom CC, is the only subscription plan most photographers should even consider buying or upgrading to.