Today is a big day for Lightroom, as Adobe is making several large announcements at its MAX conference. Read below for what’s new.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic LogoLightroom as we know it has been renamed “Lightroom Classic“. Version 7.0 of Lightroom Classic is now available. However, it’s only available to Creative Cloud subscribers – there will be no more perpetual / stand-alone versions. For current Creative Cloud Photography Program subscribers this is a free upgrade.

The new version includes:

  • An impressive and powerful new “Range Mask” feature in the adjustment brush, graduated filter and radial filter that allows users to make selections based on a specified range of colors or a range of tones.
Lightroom Classic range mask feature

A Color Range Mask with a selection of yellows in the photo (white is on, black is off. Underlying photo © David Cox.)

  • A new “Embedded Preview” workflow that allows users to use previews created by your camera during the initial culling phase (rating/flagging) so that you don’t have to wait for standard and 1:1 previews to be built and to load as you move from one photo to the next.
  • Many performance improvements.
  • A few other minor additions to smart collections, export, etc.

For a video tour of what’s new, detailed video tutorials on the new features, complete release details and installation instructions, read my What’s New in Lightroom Classic 7.0 article. NOTE: while I don’t have any indication that this will be a rocky release, I would recommend that most of you let other users kick the tires and test it out for a week or so before upgrading. Because this release is focused on performance, you never know what unintended consequences may result. I’ll email newsletter subscribers a week from now to let you know how it’s going.

Note that Lightroom 6 perpetual-version users who now subscribe to CC to get this new version will also pick up all the features added to CC during the Lightroom 6 cycle that you missed out on – dehaze, guided upright, local blacks and whites, and boundary warp.

There are many myths out there about how Adobe’s cloud subscriptions work, what happens when you cancel, etc. Read my Adobe Lightroom’s Subscription Programs: Frequently Asked Questions article for the facts.

Note that  Adobe will continue to sell the perpetual non-subscription Lightroom 6. It will receive 1-2 small updates over the next few months with support for new cameras (including the Nikon D850), lens profiles and bug fixes, and then it will receive no further updates. Update 6.13 will be released soon.

Other resources:

Video Tutorial: How to Upgrade to Lightroom Classic 7.0

All New Lightroom CC

Today Adobe released a brand-new program that they are calling “Lightroom CC“. Yes, they stole the name from what is now Lightroom Classic, and YES, this is going to create tremendous confusion for all of us! (See my “Some Thoughts” section at the end of this article.)

The new Lightroom CC is an easier-to-use cloud-based solution – all your photos reside in the cloud and are available everywhere, i.e. across the entire “Lightroom CC ecosystem” – on all your mobile devices, Lightroom Web, and in the Lightroom CC Desktop application (that you can use on two computers).

Lightroom CC Ecosystem - Desktop, iOS, Android, Web

File management is done by Lightroom CC rather than by the user, so those of you who have struggled with file and catalog management in Lightroom Classic will find this to be much easier to use.  However, as a version 1.0 application the program is light on features in comparison to Lightroom Classic, so for many of you now won’t be the time to switch from Lightroom Classic. (Lightroom CC does have most of Lightroom Classic’s tools for editing single photos, and it will get the ones it is missing.)  Lightroom CC is not intended to be a “Lightroom-Lite” or “Lightroom Elements” application – instead it’s positioned as a more modern, cloud-based solution.

Despite the introduction of this new application, Adobe says that they are fully staffed to support both Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic, and that they are committed to Lightroom Classic and to its user-base.

NOTE: Adobe is not forcing users to switch to this new cloud-based Lightroom CC. If you need more features than Lightroom CC has, you don’t have good internet for syncing your entire catalog of raw files to the cloud, you don’t want all your photos in the cloud, you have multiple terrabytes of files and Lightroom CC is just too expensive, or you aren’t interested in it for any other reason, then just keep using Lightroom Classic. Nothing has changed about Lightroom Classic, other than the name and that to get updates you need to be on a CC subscription. You can still sync collections of photos to/from Lightroom mobile and web, as before (but don’t use the new keywording and folder capabilities on Lightroom mobile – those won’t sync to Classic.)


Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC Pricing Plans

Whether you subscribe to Lightroom CC by itself or with Lightroom Classic and Photoshop, having all your photos with you everywhere and being able to work on them everywhere will cost you an additional $10/month per terrabyte. (Current CC subscribers do get a $5/month discount for the first year.)

Creative Cloud Photography Program Pricing

Creative Cloud Photography Program

  • Lightroom Classic

  • Lightroom CC – with 20 GB storage so you can try it out with a limited number of photos

  • Photoshop CC

$9.99 USD / mo (with annual plan)

$19.99/mo with 1 TB cloud storage; exclusive offer for current CC subscribers: $14.99/mo, first year only.

$10/TB for each additional TB.

Lightroom CC Logo

Lightroom CC

  • Lightroom CC with 1 TB cloud storage

$9.99 USD / mo (with annual plan)

$10/TB for each additional TB – available only as 2 TB, 5 TB and 10 TB.

Lightroom CC iOS for iPads and iPhones

Lightroom mobile for iPads and iPhones will now be known as Lightroom CC iOS.  It is the same mobile application that we have been using for quite some time. Version 3.0 was released today with many new features. Here are the top three new capabilities (in my opinion):

  • Add keywords to photos. However these will only sync to Lightroom CC; they will NOT sync to Lightroom Classic. Lightroom CC and mobile keywords are flat – hierarchies are not supported.
  • Put albums (collections)  into folders (collection sets). These also will only sync to and from Lightroom CC, they will not sync to and from Lightroom Classic.
  • Pause and resume sync.

Read my What’s New in Lightroom iOS 3.0 and Android 3.1 article for a complete list of new features and improvements, and for Adobe’s explanation for why they are not adding keyword and folder syncing to Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom CC Android

Lightroom mobile for Android will be referred to as Lightroom CC Android. Version 3.1 is available with many new features. Here are the top three:

  • Search for photos based on image content using Adobe’s “Sensei” technology (already in Lightroom iOS, Web and CC.) Find all images with trees or the color blue in them, for example. Must be online to use.
  • Brush tool for local adjustments
  • Keywording Keywords will sync to/from Lightroom CC, but not to/from Lightroom Classic.
  • Folders and subfolders for storing albums (collections) in. These will sync to/from Lightroom CC but not to/from Lightroom Classic. 

Read my What’s New in Lightroom iOS 3.0 and Android 3.1 article for a complete list of what’s new.

Lightroom CC Web

The interface in Lightroom CC Web has been made more compatible with iOS, Android and Lightroom CC Desktop, and several new features have been added. Here are the top three:

  • Folders – store your albums in up to 5 levels of nested folders. These will not sync to Lightroom Classic (see note above under iOS folders).
  • Search has graduated from a Technology Preview to a fully-available feature, now available throughout the Lightroom CC ecosystem. See my explanation above in the Android section.
  • Best Photos. This new automated-curation feature is available as a technology preview. It analyzes image aesthetics, image content and any work you have done to produce a recommended group of best photos.
  • Galleries: add multiple albums to a gallery so you can share a single gallery URL.

Some Thoughts

I’m really excited about the future of Lightroom CC – having all my photos with me always and being able to do any and all work on them wherever I happen to be (and in applications with modern interfaces) is exactly what I want. Adobe’s brilliant development and application of “smart previews”, small compressed versions of our raw files, enables all this – otherwise there’s no way we’d be able to work with entire libraries of raw files on our mobile devices or in a web browser.

After working for years with so many students who struggle with missing file and catalog issues in Lightroom Classic, I’m excited also that Lightroom CC takes this out of users’ hands – you don’t even need to know that Lightroom CC works with a catalog, and your files are in a packaged library so you (hopefully) know to stay out of them. With Lightroom Classic I’d say to students, “Once you understand the catalog and get your files cleaned up, the rest of Lightroom will be fun.” Lightroom CC, on the other hand, can be fun right off the bat.

However, at this point Lightroom CC is missing some key features that I’d need for it to be my go-to program, and I’m really not that sophisticated of a user. I imagine that for now this will be the case  for most Lightroom Classic users except those who are just starting out and have basic needs. (Do read my article, “Which Should I Use, Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic or Lightroom 6?” for considerations in this decision.) This isn’t a complaint though – the application has to start somewhere, and it’s better that it’s in your hands now so that you can influence future development of it.

While Adobe has said that they are fully committed to Lightroom Classic, it is clear that Classic has been moved over to the side as the new cloud-based program takes on the flagship “Lightroom CC” name. It looks like with Lightroom CC they are first going after a very large audience of casual point-and-shoot / mobile-phone users who don’t need the power of Lightroom Classic, who want all their photos everywhere, and who expect to not have to be rocket scientists to use a photo editing program. We’ll have to see how high Adobe’s commitment continues to be to its user base of professional photographers and serious amateurs who need a high-powered program (whether Classic or a souped-up Lightroom CC). That they have focused on improving Lightroom Classic performance, a MAJOR headache for users, suggests that they are committed (though with fewer resources dedicated to it, judging by what’s new in Classic 7) – so I remain optimistic. Either way, time will ultimately tell. In the meantime, in this moment, I have tools that serve me well.

I think I understand Adobe’s decision to co-opt the “Lightroom CC” name – why invest in an expensive endeavor to build a new brand when you already have a successful one?  However, users of both applications are going to be impacted for quite some time by this decision, and I regret that Adobe didn’t place a higher priority on these impacts. Until things shake out over the next few years, every Google search you do for “How to do X in Lightroom” or “How to do X in Lightroom CC” will return results and instructions for the program you use AND for the program you don’t use, and you will have to be informed enough about both to be able to distinguish relevant content from irrevelant, misleading content. Aside from Google, any time you hear “Lightroom”, you’ll have to investigate to determine which application the user of the word means. Anytime you purchase a book or video training course, you’ll have to know to be careful. This horse has left the barn, so all we can do is adopt the two new names as quickly as possible and do the best we can.

A decision that I hope Adobe will reconsider is the one to not have keywords and folders added in Lightroom mobile sync to keywords and collection sets in Lightroom Classic . I and other Classic users have been asking for keywording in Lightroom mobile from day one – I’m much more interested in keywording my photos during dead time in the air or in a doctor’s waiting room than I am editing those photos – and users who stick with Classic going forward will be those who value hands-on file management, of which keywording is one tool. When there’s a new product replacing an old one it’s perfectly reasonable for companies to expect customers to get with the new one or suffer (or leave), but at this point Lightroom CC can’t meet our needs, so we can’t get with the new program AND we suffer. True, Adobe hasn’t taken anything away from us – except that we trusted they were working on keywording for us. 

Those are my thoughts for now. I would love to hear yours –  leave a comment below.

Adobe also wants your feedback – you can give them Lightroom-related feedback directly on Adobe’s site.