LR007 - What Version of Lightroom (LR) Should I buy (11/2017)

December 05, 2017  •  2 Comments

How to decide which version of LR to get (Nov 2017):

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Adobe Lightroom (LR) has been around for a decade or so.  Prior to LR there was the big professional “Photoshop” and its little sister “Photoshop Elements” or just elements).  There was also a little known product called Adobe Albums which was an image management system (keywords and the like).  Adobe LR was created by taking the ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) feature set from Photoshop and sticking it together with the image management ideas from Albums and then adding some tools for printing, creating slide shows and web pages and that became LR.  It was, and is, designed for photographers who don’t need the power (or complexity) of Photoshop.  That power and complexity in Photoshop is instrumental in graphic design and professional retouching but most people don’t need that much or will never learn to use those tools anyway.  That was 10 years and 7 versions ago.

Since then Lightroom has been upgraded a half dozen times with new features coming along with each release.  Up until LR6, LR was sold as a perpetual license product, as was the tradition.  In other words, you plunked down some cash and got a CD or download containing the product which you installed on your computer.  Part of that was a PL (Perpetual License) which allowed you to use that version of LR forever.  They agreed to fix bugs and add support for new cameras for a period of time (at least till the next version came out).  But if you got a new computer or upgraded your operating system after the SW went off support you were on your own – maybe it would work, maybe not.

When LR6 was released they added a new way to license it.  This version they called LR/CC (Lightroom Creative Cloud).  The first version was LR/CC-2015 and was the same as LR6 launched at the same time.  As in the past LR6 was also a PL type license.  However with the LR/CC version instead of buying it, you rented it.  You still installed it on your computer as normal but you paid rent for it each month.  To sweeten the deal for the LR/CC version they included some cloud storage, a web browser based version of LR and a mobile app that was a stripped down version of LR.  In the desktop version you were able to designate groups of photos (Collections) that LR/CC would sync to the cloud.  Both the web and mobile versions used those synced cloud  images with complete 2 or 3 way automatic synchronization of changes.

The other sweetener to get you over to the CC version was that new features would be added to the LR/CC version as they were ready and you could start using them at once for free without having to wait for, and pay for, the next full release of LR.  Unfortunately there weren’t all that many new features added during the life of LR6 (or CC-2015).


in October 2017 it was time for the long awaited new version to be launched and the waters got very muddy indeed. 

As anticipated they came out with the next version of LR but they eliminated the ability to buy it under a Perpetual License (as you could with LR6) – you could only rent it.  So, this new version was really the next release of LR/CC (the rental version).  But, as you’ll see in a minute, they did not want to call it LR/CC.  Instead they branded it “LR Classic” (or Lightroom Classic CC).  However the public quickly started calling it LR7 and more recently “Desktop Lightroom” or “Catalog Based Lightroom” among other names.  So, in essence LR/CC-2015 was upgraded and is now LR Classic (or LR7 if you wish).

At the same time they also came out with an entirely new product.  This new product took over the name LR/CC (or LR/CC-2017).  While it is in the same functional space as the prior versions of LR it is completely different.  It is designed to operate with cloud based (not device based) images and to function the same on any device with complete seamless synchronization between devices.  This product took over the LR/CC name (LR/CC-2017), but is starting to be called “Cloud Based LR” as opposed to “Desktop based LR” or “Catalog Based LR”.

But make no mistake, this new LR/CC product has no where near the functionality of LR Classic (LR7).  It is an entirely new animal.

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If you are just jumping into LR, or have been using LR for awhile you have 3 basic choices.

LR 6

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  • You can only buy this version, not rent it and after 12/31/2017 you can no longer even buy it from Adobe anymore (however you may still be able to get it through Amazon or other 3rd party suppliers.
  • LR6 is several years old and does not have some of the newer features
  • Goes off support 12/31/2017.  Can still be used, but no tech support, no new features, no bug fixes and no support for RAW files from new cameras that come out after 12/31/2017.  The camera support only matters if you shoot RAW (which is recommended) but there is a free workaround for RAW files that just adds one extra step in the import process (look up Free Adobe DNG Converter)
  • Does not contain the DeHaze filter which is actually a very useful tool.  But there is a crude workaround to simulate it but the workaround is cumbersome.
  • Does not include LR/Web, LR/Mobile, or any cloud storage
  • Other than that, just as good as the newer “Classic” version but of course without new features that have or will come out
  • The purchase price is around $129.


LR Classic (LR7)

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  • You can only rent this version
  • This product has several names depending on who you talk to.  If the name includes the word “Classic” or “LR7” then that’s this one. I’ll just call it Classic.  When I just checked, Adobe is calling it “Lightroom Classic CC”, but the name “Catalog” or “Desktop” Lightroom is catching on
  • This is basically the next version after LR6 or LR/CC-2015
  • Other than many significant performance improvements the only real new feature is a tool to help define mask areas by color where you need to change only pixels based on their color.  This is not a make or break feature.
  • LR Classic includes LR/Web so you can designate groups of images and be able to perform many functions on those images from any standard web browser with seamless synchronization between devices
  • Includes LR/Mobile which allows you to designate groups of images (same ones as for LR/Web), and be able to see and perform some modifications to them from mobile devices (phone or tablet) with seamless synchronization between devices
  • Classic will continue to be supported for some time, will get bug fixes, and will get support for RAW files from new cameras
  • Enhancements to the Develop Module will come along from time to time (the Develop Module is where you change the look of the images)
  • Enhancements to the Library (and other) modules will probably not be forthcoming - or not very many of them
  • At some point in the future “LR/CC” (cloud based LR) will evolve enough that Adobe may choose to discontinue the Classic product.  Adobe is not saying this but most of the LR experts agree that this is Adobe’s (current) plan.  But, no one can say if we’re talking 1 year or 10 years.  Probably in the 2 to 5 year range would be my guess.  Of course if their new product can’t be made functionally equivalent to the current Classic version the user base may have enough influence for Adobe to keep Classic going longer.  They are just not putting much resources into improving it (other than the Develop Module which is also used in their newer products)


LR/CC (Cloud Based LR)

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  • Again, many names – the most used though is “Lightroom CC”, or “The New Lightroom CC”.  If you don’t see either the word “Classic” or “LR7” in the name then it is this one.  This is also starting to be called “Cloud Based Lightroom”
  • This is a 100% different product than LR6 or Classic. 
  • It is version 1 with all that entails
  • It is a ground up redesign of LR with Cloud based access from anywhere, and seamless synchronization between all platforms and devices
  • Images you select to put in the Adobe Cloud with Classic automatically become part of the LR/CC system with multway sync
  • The interface is stripped down so it will fit on a phone, but modern phone app users will find that approach familiar.  Desktop holdouts (like me) may find it limiting or cumbersome
  • While what they have in version 1 is admirable it is a very far cry from what you currently get with LR6 or Classic
  • It (currently) requires that all your original images be stored in the Adobe Cloud (cost of space will be issue for prolific shooters) 
  • However, if you are a casual, low volume shooter who just wants a quick tweak or two before posting on social media and rarely try to make noteworthy images this may be all you need
  • It should be noted, that on the web and on mobile devices, if you use LR Classic (LR7) as your desktop app and choose to sync some or all photos to the Adobe Cloud and then go to the Adobe LR web browser app or the Adobe LR mobile app on a tablet or phone you will be using the LR/CC apps on those devices. 


In all the offerings mentioned here, with the exception of the older LR6, you must rent the SW.  But there are several different plans you can get.

Go to  this URL and press “Choose a Plan”  for the list of plans shown below.  

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For individuals there are basically 3 plans for LR to choose from (other than one that provides stock photos).  There are other plans that include other Adobe products but if you are just interested in LR there are three all listed under the “Photography $9.99/Mo” heading (even though one is $19.99/Mo)

1)    Photography 20gb ($9.99/mo)

  • This plan gives you the most software but not much storage.
  • It includes LR Classic (LR7) desktop,  LR/CC Desktop,  LR Web,  LR Mobile for tablets and Phones,  Adobe Photoshop, 20gb of Cloud storage
  • It is designed for people who really need or want the traditional, tried and true LR for their desktop application with the option of playing with the new LR/CC desktop version or using LR Web or LR Mobile for selected sets of images from their LR Classic (LR7) desktop system.
  • You can buy more storage if you need (watch your wallet)

2)     Photography 1tb  ($19.99/mo)

  • This plan gives you the most software and most storage but twice the price.
  • It is the same as the #1 plan in this list – but with 1tb of storage instead of 20gb
  • It is designed for people who really need or want the traditional, tried and true LR as above, but need more Cloud storage either because they want to have more images available on the mobile or web platforms or they want to go go whole hog to the new version sooner rather than later with their entire LR catalog which will consume lots more Cloud space
  • You can buy more storage if you need (watch your wallet)

3)     Lightroom CC 1tb ($9.99/mo)

  • This plan gives you less software but more storage at the same price as plan #1
  • This plan includes LR/CC desktop, LR Web,  LR Mobile for tablets and phones and 1tb of Cloud storage.  It does not include LR Classic (LR7) or Photoshop
  • It is designed for people who just want to jump into the new version and never deal with the Classic (LR7) version.
  • Typically these would be people who have never used the older versions of LR
  • You can buy more storage if you need (watch your wallet)

In all these plans you can buy up to 10tb of additional storage if and when you need it.

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The interaction between these products needs a bit of explanation. 

Option 1

  • If you were using the old LR/CC, or the new LR Classic (LR7) on your desktop, you can designate collections of images for LR to replicate in the cloud.  These are not your original images but are small jpg copies of your images.  Your originals stay in folders on your desktop computer. 
  • These images in the cloud from old LR/CC or the new LR Classic can be seen, edited, and maintained through LR/CC Desktop, LR/Web or LR/Mobile.  Any changes you make on any of these platforms automatically shows up a few moments later on the other platforms.
  • Likewise you can bring images you take with your mobile devices into this world as well.  Once set up, if you take a photo with, say, your phone, it will sync to the cloud and a few moments later will show up in your desktop version of LR.

Option 2

  • Changing gears, if you just get the new LR/CC – OR – you tell LR/CC to convert your entire old LR catalog to the new CC version - you are in a different situation. 
  • Now, LR will put ALL your images (the ones it knows about) into the cloud.  In the other mode you designated which LR Collections you wanted to sync with the cloud.  In this mode it is all images.  These are the full size original images (not reduced jpg’s).  And, those cloud based images are now considered as the originals - not the ones on your desktop.  This may or may not be desirable depending on your situation and needs.
  • I have not taken this step, so it is not clear to me, if these images also sync back to LR Classic or not.  However, the purpose of taking this step is to basically jump into the new offering with both feet with no intention to go back to the older LR interface and tools.


1)         Unless you hate rental SW, get the $9.99/mo photography package with 20gb storage.  This plan gives you both LR7 (Classic), the new LR/CC, the gold standard Photoshop, 20gb of cloud storage for sharing/syncing, , LR/web and LR/Mobile.  I do not recommend having it convert your entire LR Catalog to LR/CC which is an option you will have if you’ve had LR before

2)        If you hate rental SW, and don’t mind not getting new features, being out of support and having to use a workaround for Camera generated RAW files for cameras hitting the market after the end of 2017, then get LR6.  But, as it is now after 12/31/2017 you can't get it from Adobe.  You'll have to look for it from 3rd party venders

3)         If you are sure you are never going to spend much time on photography and are happy with limited capabilities (for now) then look at the $9.99/mo Photographers 1TB plan.  This gives you most storage but does not provide LR Classic or the Big Photoshop product.

All URL’s in this post worked at the time of writing.  I cannot keep up with how often Adobe changes their web site, so if one doesn’t work, poke around and you’ll probably find something similar.



Buy Poe Dameron Jacket Online(non-registered)
Dan: As usual, your photos are breath taking and so beautifully composed. Some of these bring back memories of a wonderful week I spent in the town of Banff several years ago. Now I want to return!
John Chavers(non-registered)
Nice post.It describe about the Lightrooms and its new versions.Good post.Looking forward for more post related to technnology like this post.Improvement in technology announce the growth of human race.
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