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Adobe Lightroom Classic vs Lightroom CC: Which One to Pick?

Rating: 4.75 based on 4 Ratings
Pia Lopez
  By Pia Lopez
Adobe Lightroom Classic vs Lightroom CC: Which One to Pick? www.sleeklens.com

One of the most interesting surprises this year had for photographers all around the world was the announcement of a new revision of our ever-beloved Adobe Lightroom – revision which came with a two-path option: Adobe Lightroom Classic and the new Adobe Lightroom CC. So, what’s the hype and why do we need to choose between these two versions? Let’s talk a bit about this.

Defining Requirements

After more than ten years of the release of the world’s most acclaimed tool for digital post-production, Adobe thought it was the moment to explore different solutions in a pursue of bringing users closer to their mobile solutions. For this reason, they decided to create two different suites:

1) Adobe Lightroom Classic: Keeping the attributes of the legacy Lightroom versions up to date, this release includes a series of tools meant to speed up the process of creating complexly detailed edits. We’ll discuss these new tools later on.

2) Adobe Lightroom CC: This new version of Lightroom has a revisited layout that, at first glance, might remind you of some Mac OSX software due to its extreme visual and intuitive layout. Truth is this layout solely inspired by mobile versions of Adobe Lightroom, and for a beginner, users may be the option to start exploring if not for some noticeable drawbacks.

Hence, was it indispensable to release two versions of this versatile editing software or is this a commercial strategy prone to confuse users? As a personal opinion, I’m most inclined to the second option. There was no special need in designing another version just for the mere fact of enhancing touch screen display interaction or providing a wider range of options for easily upload your photos to social media networks – those same features could have been added to Lightroom Classic instead of releasing a different version.

Introducing Lightroom Classic

In addition to the usual update of camera/lens profiles and faster workflow performance as we are used to with every update of Lightroom, Lightroom Classic is one tricky beast to tame.

The first thing we need to take in consideration is the Catalog. The update of Lightroom’s interface required an upgraded catalog format, meaning that you cannot easily roll back to the previous version you used after accepting the upgrade to Classic’s compatible version. As a word of advice, do keep a copy of your current LR Catalog saved somewhere else, just in case you decide Lightroom Classic isn’t your thing and you decide to roll back to Lightroom 2015.

Adobe opted for a method in which culling process can be done in a much faster wait. The new Embedded Previews can save tons of valuable minutes – and most importantly drastically reduce RAM requirement to compel the task. The option isn’t active by default, so you need to activate it through the File Handling’s panel in Lightroom whilst the Import dialog box is opened.

But it’s in the introduction of the new Color Range Masking and Luminance Masking tool where the magic for this new version begins, as we can create much-stylised masks for HSL adjustments or go into deep detail without needing to add Photoshop to your editing workflow for such tasks. Huge improvement indeed, and we can be expectant for further updates that will turn Photoshop into just a tool for doing massive photo manipulation edits rather than a necessity for the sake of some common editing procedures.

Color Range Mask works by selecting an area based on the sampled colors we’re taking – exactly the same way this tool works for Photoshop, and Luminance one uses the pixel brightness instead. To make these new adjustments mode active we must work with the Gradient or Adjustment Brush tools, selecting one of the modes we wish to include, but consider that for improved accuracy you need to click and drag rectangles around the areas in which you desire colors to be sampled. In the case of the Luminance Range Mask, we can work with the Feather slider to smooth the falloff for the selected luminance range.

Finally, some considerable improvements have been made in terms of speed & performance, mostly in the time needed to switch between Library and Develop modules, something much appreciated indeed. To take a look at the new cameras supported by this update regarding Adobe Camera Raw, we suggest you take a look at this link.

The Cloud-Based Solution: Lightroom CC 1.0

Don’t get confused for my previous comments on the need of releasing a new software, I’m pretty much loving this new Adobe Lightroom CC UI: the sleek appearance, the way photos are previewed, a much simpler Import Dialog option and a more visual Library Module really almost made my mind about switching to this version instead of having two different software for the same purpose. That was until I noticed its major drawback: brushes.

Yes, as you heard, Adobe Lightroom CC isn’t compatible with third-party brushes, nor with your own settings for brushes as you can store them but not export them – extremely unpractical if I wish to store a backup of the settings I made instead of relying on the so-called “Cloud System”. So then, my brushes cannot be used with Lightroom CC – meaning that I need to use Lightroom Classic for portrait editing and all those scenarios in which I require to go into detail.

Other tools such as sliders have a significant revision, making them look more visual and sharing the Lightroom Mobile UI – indeed catchy for new users – and Presets work almost perfectly if we do not count the lack of tools it has in contrast with Lightroom Classic.

Since images are automatically uploaded to Adobe Cloud service, the upload process for Social Media is way much faster, making this workflow interactive for new users who wish to share their edits to Facebook for their friends to check it – other platforms aren’t supported yet.

Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic: Which one should I pick?

The first milestone to make this decision is if you have a reliable internet connection. If the answer is no, then don’t even consider Lightroom CC as an option as it’s entirely internet-dependant.

The other aspect you need to consider is if you are willing to pay a subscription fee for this software. Even if this applies to both Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic, Lightroom 6 users with perpetual licenses won’t find too many changes if they already have a Lightroom + Photoshop workflow for their work. Adobe Subscription system, which in my own personal opinion ends up becoming expensive in long run (compared to perpetual license fees), does not consider budget outside the US. Therefore, for a beginner photographer whose business isn’t giving much income or even for a hobbyist, the investment is something to consider on year basis if you don’t live up to this. In some cases, you are almost paired with the price of a lens for your camera after paying the subscription for a year… I’m sure you get the point.

Adobe released two different Photography plans for Lightroom – the usual Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which now includes Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic, plus Photoshop CC and 20 GB storage, and the Lightroom CC Plan, which only includes the aforementioned software and 1 TB storage space in the Cloud.

Also, please notice that some of Lightroom’s most popular tools aren’t available for Lightroom CC: Tone Curves, Split Tones, Local Adjustment Presets, you cannot store images in folders, you cannot rename files, and the list keeps growing.

So, why should you pick Lightroom CC? If you are just taking your first steps in photography and wish to count with a tool for editing your images, Lightroom CC is no doubt the best way to approach this discipline as a hobbyist; that if you don’t wish to use brushes in a close-by future.

In general, I see the lack of tools from Adobe Lightroom CC 1.0 as a drawback, especially when clients consider this an upgrade from perpetual license versions and find out this software isn’t suitable for their needs. Tone Curves, Split Toning and Local Adjustment Presets are must-have elements in the editing workflow of photographers, thus Adobe would do good by taking notice to include these tools in a close-by update.

I hope this article can bring some light regarding this new Lightroom scheme, and see you next time!


Rating: 4.75 based on 4 Ratings
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Pia Lopez

Pia Lopez

Pia Lopez is a self-taught photographer, architecture student and ArchViz artist. As Editor in Chief of Sleeklens.com, technology and art are two of her passions, which take active part in her professional training. Being an authentic Montevidean, travelling is daily routine; enjoying both the green meadows and urban surroundings as well as the beautiful beaches that are so characteristic in Uruguay's landscape.

Comments (1)

  1. Monty G Guest

    20 Gigabytes – really !! You will have to buy more space in the cloud very soon. 600 raw files will eat 20 gigs. If you have a Nikon D850, forget it. I have lightroom stand-alone and am pretty happy with it, but 6.14 is the last update !! I’m not sure what I will do when I want more features. I don’t want to be tied to the internet, so I may look at other photography programs like OnOne or Dxo.

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