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BLOG 16 Sep 2018: The FOUR Lightrooms

Last week I was asked by Academy Member, Garry, if I thought Lightroom was worth the money?  Unfortunately, the answer is never going to be a simple “yes” or “no”.     In fact, the answer to the question is so complex that it is going to take several blog posts to answer!

If you stick with me over the whole series, hopefully, at the end you’ll understand what options are available and if you are thinking about getting Lightroom which one is best for you.

Here’s what we are going to look at:

  • The pros and cons of the FOUR different flavours of Lightroom that are available. (And, yes, there really is four of them), and what they cost.
  • Questions to help you decide which is the right version for you
  • Advice to steer you in the right direction
  • Alternatives to think about

In this first blog in the series, we are going to look at…

The FOUR different flavours of Lightroom

There are effectively FOUR  different versions of Lightroom, that you could decide to get.  Let’s look at the pros and cons of each of them in turn.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic is what most people currently think of why you say ‘Lightroom’ it is a desktop/laptop based system, that runs on both Windows and Mac.

Where are my images?

  • You will store your images locally (ie not in the cloud). This means you need to take responsibility for backing everything up, but it means if you run low of space it is cheap to buy an extra disk

Pros

  • The product gives you the most editing options for your images
  • Maximum control over how you organise images
  • Lots of plug-ins available to extend functionality (such as uploading to Zenfolio, adding extra metadata, integration with Alamy, etc)
  • Comes with the full version of Photoshop
  • Regular updates for bug fixes and support for new cameras and lenses.

Cons

  • Only available on a subscription basis – if/when you stop paying you can still use Lightroom but you cannot make further image edits via the develop module. Allegedly,  the Library module and export functionality is still available.
  • Synchronising data/images to Lightroom CC is possible but not straightforward and not all data synchronised both ways!

Lightroom CC

Lightroom CC is the newer cloud-based version of Lightroom, the software runs on iOS (phone and tablet), and Android.  There are also versions available for Windows and Mac.

Where are my images?

  • You store your images in the cloud which means all your images are available on any device providing you have an internet connection.

Pros

  • Because images and the database of edits are cloud-based you can start work on one device and then seamlessly continue where you left off on another.
  • With images stored in the cloud, you don’t need to worry about backups.
  • Regular updates are available.
  • Great for travelling you can load your images directly from your camera to your tablet and start work on them ‘on the go’

Cons

  • Only available on a subscription basis. When you stop paying your cloud storage is reduced to 2Gb and you have up to 90days to remove the excess data (images) otherwise it might be deleted.
  • You can synchronise data from LR CC to LR Classic – but not everything will synchronise (eg keyword hierarchies).
  • The metadata you can specify for images is limited
  • You can work when you are offline – but you need to decide which images to download to your device before you go offline.
  • If you import RAW images directly into a tablet or phone and store them locally you will very quickly run out of space.
  • No plug-ins available

Lightroom CC for Mobile (free version)  and Apple TV

There is a free version of Lightroom – Adobe don’t publicise it much, but it does exist.  It is only available on mobile devices (iOS and Android) and for Apple TV.  It is effectively a cut down version of Lightroom CC.  More information about it here: https://helpx.adobe.com/mobile-apps/help/lightroom-mobile-faq.html   (pay careful attention to the section “What feature do I get for free?”).

Where are my images?

  • You store your images on your mobile device. They do NOT synchronise with the cloud.  You need to have your own strategy to back them up.

Pros

  • Regular updates are available.
  • Great for travelling you can load your images directly from your camera to your tablet and start work on them ‘on the go’
  • Because everything is local to the device you don’t need any internet connection to use the software.

Cons

  • Everything is local to one mobile device. Unless you have backed up your images – lose your device, you have lost your images.
  • Cannot edit RAW files only JPGs.
  • The metadata you can specify for images is limited
  • No plug-ins available

Lightroom 6

Lightroom 6 is the last ‘boxed’ version of what we now call Lightroom Classic.  It is still available to purchase but the number of copies available is now quite limited.

Where are my images?

  • As with LR Classic, you will store your images locally (ie not in the cloud). This means you need to take responsibility for backing everything up, but it means if you run low of space it is cheap to buy an extra disk

Pros

  • Pay once – then yours ‘forever’

Cons

  • Some of the most useful features of Lightroom Classic (eg dehaze slider, upright controls and the new profiles) were introduced after version 6 and are not available in the boxed product.
  • New cameras and lenses will not be supported.
  • Doesn’t include a version of Photoshop

 

What’s the cost?

Subscription

There are actually a number of ‘flavours’ of Lightroom and a number of prices.  For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to ignore the full creative cloud package which gives you all the Adobe products for £50 per month.

Adobe wants everyone to pay monthly for Lightroom, and they offer three different subscriptions.  You can find them all listed here:  https://www.adobe.com/uk/products/photoshop-lightroom/pricing-info.html

In summary, this is what you get in the different options:

The Lightroom CC plan

At time of writing costs £9.98 per month or £119.21 per year.

For this you get access to the Lightroom CC apps (not classic) and you can install LR CC on all your devices and they share the images (via the cloud) between them.

You get 1Tb of cloud storage.

(The Creative Cloud) Photography Plan (20GB)

At the time of writing costs £9.98 per month or £119.21 per year.

For this, you get access to the Lightroom CC apps (not classic) and you can install LR CC on all your devices and they share the images (via the cloud) between them.

You also get Lightroom Classic (which you can install on up to 2 computers) and the full version of Photoshop.

BUT You only get  20Gb of cloud storage.

The Photography Plan (1TB)

At the time of writing costs £19.97 per month or £238.42 per year.

This is exactly the same as the 20Gb version but you now get 1TB of cloud storage.

Boxed Version (Lightroom 6)

It is becoming harder to find a “boxed” version with a perpetual licence but some places are still selling it.  However, in most cases, it is just a single download.  At the time of writing by a weird coincidence the place I could see still selling it, such as Currys/PC World were charging £119 – the same price a year’s subscription to either LR CC or LR Classic.

Lightroom CC for Mobile (free version)  and Apple TV

This is free – just go to the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) and search for Lightroom.  Just don’t make any in-app purchases.

Next Time…

In my next blog, we will look at the questions you should consider to help you choose which is the right Lightroom option for you.

2018-09-16T21:50:39+00:0016 Sep 2018|