Lightroom CC LogoLightroom ClassicAdobe released a new application called “Lightroom CC”, and they renamed the newest 7.0 version of the Lightroom program we have known and used for 10 years “Lightroom Classic CC”. In this article I’ll explain what Lightroom CC and Classic CC are and how they differ to help you make a decision on which is right for you. Note that I would expect Lightroom CC to acquire new features fairly quickly, so you should revisit your decision regularly.

These two solutions are only available as subscriptions. When I wrote this article, Lightroom 6, the last non-subscription version, was still for sale. It no longer is, it hasn’t gotten bug fixes or new camera support since 2017 and won’t, the Map module in it no longer works, and once Mac users upgrade to OS Catalina after it comes out in September 2019, you’ll no longer be able to uninstall and reinstall Lightroom 6 or install it on a new computer – so I no longer consider Lightroom 6 a viable option for most.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic (aka Lightroom Classic CC) is the new name for Lightroom as we used to know it – a very powerful program for managing and editing your photos, and for creating lots of different types of output with (prints, books, slideshows, web galleries, publish services). For a decade it has been the choice of professional photographers and amateurs who are serious enough about their photography that they don’t mind climbing a learning curve (though not nearly as steep as Photoshop’s) in exchange for powerful file management, editing and output capabilities. Nevertheless, some users have found themselves confused by and overwhelmed with Lightroom Classic’s file management and catalog approach and have struggled with missing files, lost work and other catalog issues.

Lightroom Classic is a desktop-centric solution – your photos reside on your computer, and you manage where they reside, what folder structure they reside in, what the file names are, etc.   Understanding the relationship between your files and Lightroom’s catalog is critical to using this program successfully, as otherwise you will encounter missing file and folder issues, lost work, etc. It’s left completely up to you to back up your catalog using Lightroom’s utility, and your photos using some program other than Lightroom.

Photos in Lightroom Classic have a limited connection to the new “Lightroom CC ecosystem” – i.e. to Lightroom mobile on your mobile devices, web, and now Lightroom CC Desktop. You can “sync” (upload) specific collections of photos from Lightroom Classic to this ecosystem (just as before), but:

  • all your photos are not automatically synced to this ecosystem
  • the full size original files never go beyond your desktop computer – only smaller versions of your files (smart previews) get “synced” to the cloud and Lightroom mobile, web and Lightroom CC Desktop
  • some Classic work will not sync to the rest of the ecosystem – for example, keywords, collection sets, color labels, snapshots.
  • some work done in Lightroom mobile, web and Lightroom CC will not sync to Lightroom Classic – keywords and folders at this point, but more will follow since Adobe does not plan to invest any more resources in syncing to/from Classic.

Beginners: click here to go to a video introduction to Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom CC

Lightroom CC is Adobe’s new cloud-centric photography solution. While the software resides on your computer, your photos, generally speaking, reside in the cloud (though you can also keep a copy on your computer). Lightroom CC has a professional-quality set of tools for editing raw (and other) images, at this point missing just a few that Classic has.

Watch my video below for a brief look at Lightroom CC:

Lightroom CC’s Cloud-Based Approach Has Great Advantages

  1. You can very easily access and work on all your photos everywhere:
    • on up to two computers with Lightroom CC installed (Yes, Lightroom CC finally gives photographers a seamless multi-computer solution. This is not a multi-user solution unless you are logged in with the same ID and are careful to not work on photos at the same time.)
    • all your iOS and Android mobile devices, with the Lightroom mobile app
    • on any computer at lightroom.adobe.com on the web. Imagine visiting someone and being able to use their computer without Lightroom on it to import photos into your Lightroom catalog, browse and edit your whole library, and automatically have all your new photos and work show up back at home.
  2. Your photos and work are automatically backed up to the cloud.
  3. You can take advantage of new resource-intensive features that are performed on Adobe’s servers – right now, the new Search feature that analyzes the content of your images to find what you’re looking for.
Lightroom CC Ecosystem