Adobe has announced its next generation of professional imaging tools for photographers, and now offers two very different versions of Lightroom.

From today, Lightroom will be available either as a regular desktop-based image storage solution or as an all-new cloud-based service where all your files will be available and editable anywhere. There are other changes to the Adobe photography offerings, with updates to Photoshop CC amongst others, but the Lightroom announcement promises to overshadow all the rest.

The existing Lightroom program will be rebranded ‘Lightroom Classic’ and will maintain its ‘desktop first’ storage system. In other words, you continue to store your pictures on your own computer and, as far as we know so far, you can carry on synchronising editable lower-resolution DNG versions of your images via chosen Collections with Lightroom mobile and Lightroom web.

The new program will keep the ‘Lightroom CC’ name but it’s an all-new desktop app that will work alongside a new cloud-based storage system. With this ‘cloud first’ approach, all your images will be stored at full resolution on Adobe’s servers and made available everywhere. You will be able to store your images locally too, but probably more for convenience and peace of mind. If you really prefer local storage you’ll be better off with Lightroom Classic.

 

Lightroom Classic

The Lightroom we all know and love has been rebranded ‘Lightroom Classic’ and even has a couple of new tools, including a Color Range Selector for precise masks.

Lightroom CC

The ‘new’ Lightroom CC is uses a cloud-based storage system with stripped-down desktop, web and mobile apps designed to offer the same user experience everywhere.

These two versions of Lightroom don’t just look different, they have different tool sets. At the moment, the new Lightroom CC is some way behind the full feature set of Lightroom Classic. Take a look at this Lightroom CC vs Lightroom Classic comparison written for our friends on Camera Jabber to find out more.

The idea behind the new Lightroom CC is that you’ll be able to access, organise and edit your pictures anywhere, on mobile devices and web browsers, using tools and an interface that offers the same user experience everywhere.

That’s not the only advantage. Storing images in the cloud means Adobe can apply its new machine-learning Sensei technology to add keywords to images automatically, based on object automated object recognition. This should save hours of manual keywording, an important job which, frankly, many of us probably don’t do.

This cloud-based storage and tagging does come at a cost. Large image catalogs take up a large amount of space, and Adobe is pricing 1TB of storage into its new Photography Plans. Yes, that’s ‘plans’ in the plural. Now there will be three Photography Plans (four if you count a new mobile-only plan, yet to be fully detailed).

Updated Photography Plan: $9.99 per month

You can continue with the regular, updated Photography Plan, which comes with Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC, Lightroom for mobile and web, Adobe Spark with premium features, Adobe Portfolio and 20GB of storage. This gives you the traditional ‘desktop first’ approach and the inclusion of Lightroom CC means you can also try out the new web-based approach – though the bundled 20GB storage won’t get you very far, so if you decide you like it you will need to upgrade to a 1TB plan.

New Lightroom CC Plan: $9.99 per month

This looks a good deal at the same price as the traditional Photography Plan but there’s a sting in the tail – you get Lightroom CC, Lightroom for mobile and web, Adobe Spark with premium features, Adobe Portfolio and 1TB cloud storage, but you do not get Photoshop.

Photography Plan with 1TB: $19.99/$14.99 per month

If you decide you want the best of both worlds, it’s going to cost more. With this plan you get Lightroom CC, Lightroom for mobile and web, Photoshop CC, Adobe Spark with premium features, Adobe Portfolio and 1TB storage. Adobe’s official press release does not mention Lightroom Classic in this plan, but we were advised during Adobe’s earlier web conference that it would be possible to add 1TB storage to the regular Photography Plan, which does include Lightroom Classic, so hopefully this will be clarified shortly.

Summing up

• Photoshop CC gets a few relatively minor updates as far as photographers are concerned.
• Lightroom CC is now an all-new ‘cloud-first’ image cataloguing tool working alongside Adobe’s new cloud storage plans.
• The ‘old’ Lightroom will continue, but is rebranded as Lightroom Classic, and does get a handful of performance and feature improvements in this release.