Before you read this blog you should really read part one in this series, called “The Four Lightrooms” https://www.ians-studio.co.uk/2018/09/blog-16-sep-2018-the-four-lightrooms/ – in that blog post I explain what the four different flavours of Lightroom.
Which version of Lightroom is the one to go for?
Even with all the information in the previous blog, the question remains: which of the four versions should I buy? And is it worth the money? The answer to both really depends on a person’s individual circumstances and what they are planning to do with their photography, and those are questions I can’t really answer. I can, however, give you some pointers and some questions you need to think about when making your decision.
Is organising and cataloguing your images important to you?
Lightroom CC has limited organisational options, you can apply keywords but there currently isn’t the option to organise images into hierarchies. Additionally, as everything is stored in the cloud the concept of organising images in folders doesn’t really apply. Not all IPTC metadata fields are available in Lightroom CC. For example country, state, city, and location fields are available, but scene isn’t. Additionally, it is not possible to define your own custom metadata fields.
LR Classic and LR6 on the other hand, give you the option to edit all predefined IPTC fields and by using plugins or by a little bit of coding you can define your own data fields.
Finally, if you want control over where images are stored on your computer, LR Classic and LR6 give you that option.
If cataloguing and organising are important then look at LR CC Classic or LR6.
Do you want to be able to edit across different device while on the go?
LR CC is designed from the ground up to be a tool that you can use anywhere, on any platform and it enables you to seamlessly switch from one device to another. This has a huge advantage if you are always on the go and want to make the most of the odd 10 or 15 mins on a train where you only have your tablet with you.
It is possible to do similar things with LR Classic, but it is far from seamless. You need to nominate in advance which images you want to send to the cloud, and unless you are paying for the much more expensive 1TB option you will find you will have to keep swapping in and out which images are in your 20Gb of cloud storage.
The final thing to remember is that metadata synchronisation from LR CC on a tablet or phone and LR Classic is not perfect, for example, keywords only synchronise in one direction!
If seamless editing across devices and platforms is important then look at LR CC
Do you object to paying for software on an on-going basis?
Maybe this is the wrong question, perhaps it should be are you willing to pay for software on an on-going basis? Because if you are not then neither LR Classic nor LR CC are the right options for you. Your choice is really limited to LR6 (which is rapidly becoming harder to source and becoming more and more obsolete) or one of the Lightroom alternatives, which I shall talk about in a later blog post.
If you DON’T want to pay monthly look at LR6 or LR CC for mobile (free version) but be aware of the limitations of both. Alternatively, look at a different product altogether! (More on LR Alternatives in a later blog post).
Are you planning to buy a new camera in the foreseeable future?
This question also applies to new lenses. LR6 is an older product that Adobe are no longer supporting. This means that they are not adding support for new cameras and lenses, so you could find yourself with software that can’t read the RAW files that your camera produces. There is a workaround, but this involves converting your raw files to DNG outside of LR using one of the free converters that are available and then importing the resultant DNG files into LR6. But clearly, this is an extra step in the workflow.
If you are upgrading your kit and need LR to support it – look at LR CC or LR CC Classic
Are there times when you don’t have a fast reliable internet connection?
LR CC is a cloud-based solution. While you can use it when you are offline, it is definitely designed to be used in environments where you are online most of the time. If you do a lot of your photography while travelling on cruise ships (as I do) you wouldn’t be able to use the LR CC to the best of its capabilities. Yes, you can still load your images into CC on a given device, but those images won’t be synchronised to the cloud until you are back online.
If you don’t have a fast/reliable internet look at LR CC Classic or LR6
Do you want to be able to extend the functionality of your software?
Both LR6 and LR Classic have the options to purchase (or write if you are a coder) plug-ins that extend the functionality of Lightroom. For example, there are a number that I would not want to be without:
- jfZenfolio – http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/zenfolio – Upload to Zenfolio
- Alamy Lightroom Bridge – https://www.lightroom-plugins.com/AlamyIndex.php – Manage Alamy submissions and metadata from within Lightroom
- LR/Mogrify 2 – http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lrmogrify2.php – Adding text & watermarks to images
- LR2Midi – https://github.com/rsjaffe/MIDI2LR/wiki – Use a MIDI controller to edit images (much faster than keyboard and mouse).
If you want to extend the functionality look at LR CC Classic or LR6 but be aware that some plugins may not work on LR6
Do you want to be able to do extensive editing such as compositing and/or adding text to your images?
95% of all the editing I do on images is done entirely in Lightroom (Classic). Just stop and think about that for a moment. 95% of the editing done in Lightroom and I am a professional photographer. That speaks volumes about how powerful the product is. But for that remaining 5% I need another tool.
One of the big pluses for Lightroom Classic is that it as part of the subscription it comes with the full version of Photoshop, and the two products work pretty seamlessly together.
If you chose LR CC only subscription you don’t get Photoshop with it. If you went with LR6 you would need to purchase other software for compositing or adding text. Options may include gimp or Photoshop Elements.
If you want to do additional editing outside of Lightroom then consider LR CC Classic
In part three in this series on Lightroom, I am going to give you my thoughts, advice and guidance on which version to choose and try to answer the question that started all this of “Is Lightroom worth it?”
Until next time, keep MAKING great images,
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