A Tale of Two Lightrooms

Are you confused by Adobe’s recent Lightroom announcements? Join the club - and, it’s a very large club.

A little over ten years ago, Adobe announced Adobe Lightroom. It was quite a departure from their normal product line and seemed to be developed in a protective organizational bubble. The intent was to develop software designed from the ground up for the digital photography workflow.

©Adobe - Illustration showing Adobe Lightroom CC used across platforms - from desktop to web and your mobile devices. 

©Adobe - Illustration showing Adobe Lightroom CC used across platforms - from desktop to web and your mobile devices. 

The initial program was met with a luke-warm reception by many photographers. It took time to figure out how it “fit”.

It didn’t take long before the name was officially expanded to “Photoshop Lightroom” to ensure consumers understood it’s close connection to the patriarch of the Adobe family, Photoshop.

Subsequent names were pretty straightforward. No name change and the version numbers incremented like normal humans would think - 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and so on.

With Version 6.0 Adobe got cute by adding the “CC” to designate the Creative Cloud. The official name was Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC 2015. Many just called it Version 6.0.

All along this trail of names, the program was certainly enhanced with many great features, but it fundamentally didn’t change. With each iteration, the user got a more robust application.

A Game Changer

In 2017, Adobe changed the game. They split Lightroom into two products. There is Lightroom Classic CC, and the new Lightroom CC. (Of course using CC in both names won’t confuse anyone! Let alone the fact that Lightroom CC was the name of the last version of the “regular” Lightroom version.)

©Rob Hull - This is the new Photo Grid in Adobe Lightroom CC. I simply typed "Flowers" in the search bar and Adobe Sensei returned this assortment of images very quickly. Note, I have NOT added keywords to most of these images. The artificial intelligence used in this product evaluated all my images and determined which included flowers. Pretty impressive.  

Lightroom Classic CC is the new name for the Lightroom application that photographers have used for years. It is optimized for desktop work and all the photographs are stored on your computer. There is what I would call Functional Consistency with earlier versions of Lightroom.

New to the marketplace is Lightroom CC. This is a new cloud-based photo service that works across platforms from your desktop to the web and even to your mobile device. Now, be careful not to think of Lightroom CC as simply a cloud-based version of Lightroom. It is NOT.

Tools in the new Adobe Lightroom CC

Compared to Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC is significantly stripped down. You won’t find the output modules so no slideshows, books, web, or, more significantly, print. That’s right, you can’t print from Lightroom CC. If you want to print an image, you’d have to open it in Photoshop and print it from there or you could save it as a file and send it to a lab.

Key Differences:

Location of your original files:  In Classic CC, they are stored on your local hard drive, with Lightroom CC they are stored in the cloud.

File Backup: In Classic CC, backup is a manual process. In fact, it’s really not even part of the application. In Lightroom CC backup is automatic.

Ease of Use: The winner is Lightroom CC. It’s an intuitive and uncluttered photo editing solution. But, Lightroom Classic CC has the horsepower required for professional editing.

Organization: With Lightroom Classic CC, you organize your files in Folders with the added convenience of virtual collections and other organizational tools. Lightroom CC does allow some tagging but don’t expect any type of folder hierarchy with your images. Lightroom CC uses Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence (See our earlier blog) and the interface is quite impressive.

Take Away

The bottom line is that if you’re used to working with Lightroom, you will find Lightroom Classic CC as your growth path.

For a simpler photo editing solution, then Lightroom CC would be a great application. This is especially true if a lot of your images come from your smartphone.

The implementation of Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence in the Lightroom CC product is very impressive and I really look forward to seeing some of those features being implemented into the Lightroom Classic CC product. But for now, Lightroom CC doesn't have the depth of features that I would want so I'm going to stick with Lightroom Classic CC.