Wondering whether you need Lightroom CC or Classic?
Maybe you’re confused about the difference between CC and the newly-named “Lightroom Classic CC,” formerly called simply Adobe Lightroom.
Lightroom is terrific for professional-level photo editing, but these two names make it hard to choose!
The two versions seem to do different things.
Don’t worry, I can help! Here we are going to look at Lightroom CC versus Classic CC and see what’s the difference.
The good news is that if you subscribe to Adobe Lightroom, you get both. But you can use them in different ways.
Let’s dive into exploring what they do.
Lightroom CC vs Lightroom Classic: What’s the Difference?
Here’s the scoop on Lightroom CC: It might sound like the old Lightroom, but it definitely has a lot more to offer. The product previously known as Lightroom has been rebranded “Lightroom Classic CC”.
The Lightroom CC ecosystem is a cloud-based service with three device-based apps: desktop, mobile, and web.
Here’s a quick at-a-glance table to show you the main differences between CC and Classic:
|Lightroom Classic||Lightroom CC|
|Where you work||Desktop only||Desktop, mobile, or web|
|Where your photos are stored||Local hard drive||Cloud|
|Where are your backups?||Not included (or on your hard drive)||Automatic on the cloud|
|How easy is it to use?||More comprehensive so more complicated||Streamlined so easier to use|
|How do you find photos?||Manually add keywords then search for them||Automatic tagging and intelligent search|
Lightroom CC is designed and built around 3 guiding principles:
- Powerful Yet Simple: Lightroom CC will offer the powerful image editing that you want, while being simple and intuitive to use. Our goal is that it will have everything you need and nothing you don’t.
- Seamless experience across all your devices: Lightroom CC will work the same across desktop, mobile, and web. This allows you to move across your devices without needing to relearn or figure things out. Your photos and edits are all where you’d expect them to be.
- Cloud Based: Everything you do in Lightroom CC is synced to the cloud. This means that you can access and work with your photos from any device (including multiple computers), and can easily share photos with others. All of your photos and all of the work that you do with them will be automatically backed up all the time.
Note: I’ll earn a referral fee if you choose to purchase an Adobe plan via this page.
Key Lightroom CC capabilities
- Powerful image editing technology: Built on the same imaging technology that powers Photoshop and Lightroom, Lightroom CC offers a new streamlined interface with easy-to-use sliders, presets, and quick adjustment tools.
- Edit anywhere: Lightroom CC allows you to edit full-resolution photos anywhere – on mobile devices, desktop or the web. Edits made on one device are automatically synced across devices for anywhere access.
- Worry free back-up, cloud storage: Lightroom CC has scalable storage options for safe and secure back up of full-resolution photos – including raw files.
- Powered by Adobe Sensei: Adobe Sensei’s machine learning technology automatically applies searchable keywords to objects in photographs – making organization in Lightroom CC effortless.
- Built-in sharing tools: Lightroom CC makes it easy to share photos directly via social media and to create custom Lightroom web galleries that can be shared via link. Photographers can also share their work through new Adobe Portfolio integration with Lightroom CC.
- Updated award-winning mobile and web experiences:
- Lightroom CC for mobile on iOS: Built-in search functionality powered by Adobe Sensei, keyword support, hierarchical album support, an enhanced iPad app layout and iOS 11 files support.
- Lightroom CC for mobile on Android: Tablet support and a local adjustments brush, along with the same built-in search functionality, keyword support and hierarchical album support as seen in the iOS app.
- Lightroom CC for web: Ability to create and manage a public gallery page, as well as enhanced integration with Adobe Portfolio, which enables subscribers to easily import collections and publish their best shots to a customized Portfolio website in just a few clicks.
Updates to Adobe Lightroom Classic CC
Major updates to Lightroom Classic CC, previously known as Lightroom CC, include an enhanced Embedded Preview workflow that enables users to scroll through large sets of photos to select a subset of images significantly faster than before.
Lightroom Classic CC also features new editing capabilities, including a new Color Range and Luminance Masking functionality that enables users to apply precise edits.
As contrasted with the cloud-centric, anywhere workflows of Lightroom CC, the new Lightroom Classic CC continues to focus on a more traditional desktop-first workflow with local storage and file and folder control.
When to use Lightroom Classic
Because Lightroom Classic is the updated version of the original software, it has the most features.
That means if you want to do more complex editing, this is where you want to be.
There are a lot more options to import photos, and it’s much easier to bulk export photos. Plus there are more settings you can use, including custom watermarks.
However, you’ll need to be a bit more hands-on with things like naming your photos and organizing them. If that appeals to you, Classic may be your go-to.
When to use Lightroom CC
Lightroom CC is designed to be used on a variety of devices. That means all the bells and whistles aren’t always on hand.
But that’s okay – if you want to quickly edit some photos or make minor adjustments, it’s got what you need.
You can still do all the basics such as cropping, editing the settings, and fixing common problems.
It also has handy features such as being able to apply a preset to all photos when importing.
You can organize your photos any way you want, including adding them to folders known as albums. There’s also Adobe Sensei to use AI to search for things.
What does Adobe Lightroom cost?
You have three options for Adobe photo editing, depending on whether you want Photoshop and/or cloud storage. The bottom line on cost:
- Photography plan includes the all-new Lightroom CC, 20GB of cloud storage, Lightroom Classic CC, and Photoshop CC, for US$9.99/mo.
- Lightroom CC plan includes the all-new Lightroom CC and 1TB of cloud storage for US$9.99/mo (no Photoshop).
- The Photography plan with 1TB cloud storage includes the all-new Lightroom CC, 1TB of cloud storage, Lightroom Classic CC, and Photoshop CC.
Click “Choose a plan” under “Photography” on the far left.
Of course, you could select all Adobe applications for $52.99/mo, which is what I have.
Which version is right for you?
Lots of users find they do some jobs in Lightroom CC and some in Lightroom Classic.
Most professional photographers will work primarily in Classic, but for beginners and casual users, CC can provide excellent results.
Where you prefer to work will also play a part. If you are desktop-based, you’ll probably default to Classic, or maybe use the browser version of CC.
If you are all about the app, then CC is your go-to option.
Want to know more about using the different features? Then check out my guide to editing photos with Lightroom!