LR007 - LR CLASSIC vs. LIGHTROOM (Updated Nov 2020)

December 05, 2017  •  2 Comments


Updated 6/2024

How to decide which version to get

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Adobe Lightroom (LR at that time but now LrC) has been around since January 2007.   Prior to thatthere 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 (now LrC) was created by taking the ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) feature set from Photoshop and sticking it together with the image management ideas from Adobe Albums and then adding some tools for printing, creating slide shows and web pages and that became LR (now LrC).  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 over a dozen years and many, many versions ago.

Since then Lightroom has been upgraded with new features coming along with each release.  Up until LR/6, it was sold as a perpetual license product as was the tradition at the time.  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.  As time went on newer versions of computer operating systems made changes which older versions of software couldn't deal with.  For example the Mac Catalina OS dropped all support for 32bit programs so if you had a 33 bit version of LR you were totally out of luck.

When LR6 was released in April of 2015 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 functionality as LR6 launched at the same time.  As in the past, LR6 was 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/6.  In LR/6 you were able to designate groups of photos (Collections) that LR/CC would sync to the cloud and would then be available to the web browser version and the mobile versions (all of which were subsets of the main desktop program).  Both the web and mobile versions used those synced cloud images with 2 or 3 way automatic synchronization of changes.

The other sweetener to get you over to the rental LR/CC version was that new features would be added to the rental 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/6 (which would be LR/7).  Unfortunately there weren’t all that many new features added during the life of LR/6 (or CC-2015 thru CC-2017).


In October 2017 it was time for the long awaited new version of LR6 (and LR/CC-2015) to be launched and the waters got very muddy indeed.

At this time, in addition to coming out with the next release of LR as we knew it, they also came out with an entirely new product.  This new product took over the Lightroom CC name and they abandoned the “LR/CC-2015” naming convention.  While it is in the same functional space as LR1 through LR6 it is a completely different product.  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, but was many times called “Cloud Based LR” (as opposed to “Desktop based LR” or “Catalog Based LR”) and sometimes called LR/Cloudy to differentiate it from the original desktop centric version.

Simultaneously they came out with the next version of the desktop centric version of LR but they eliminated the ability to buy it under a Perpetual License (as you could with LR/6) – you could only rent it.  So, this new version was really the next logical release of LR CC (the rental version of LR/6).  But as they used the Lightroom CC name for the new cloud centric product, they could not call it LR CC anymore.  Instead they branded it “Lightroom Classic CC” (or just “LR Classic”).  However the public quickly started calling it LR/7 (which was its internal technical name) and then  “Desktop Lightroom” or “Catalog Based Lightroom” among other names.  So, in essence LR/CC-2015 was upgraded and became LR Classic CC (or LR7, or LR Classic) and the new product became Lightroom or LR CC.  So, in essence the marketing people made a complete hash of the product names and this has caused no end of confusion and complexity which we are still huanted with.

But make no mistake; the new LR CC product (the new cloud centric one) had no where near the functionality of LR Classic (LR7).  It was and is an entirely new animal with greatly restricted functionality in the image management area even though the image adjustment areas of the two products are quite similar to each other.  Here's a screen shot from an Adobe web page from that time.

03 LR Blog 007 - Two  products03 LR Blog 007 - Two products

Up through LR9, on your desktop or other devices, you could only tell which product an icon represents by the color and shape of the border on the icon. If the border was turquoise with rounded corners it is the new Cloud Centric “Lightroom CC”.  If the border of the icon was more a sky blue, almost gray, with square corners, it was the traditional, desktop or catalog based “Lightroom Classic CC” (Aka, LRx where x is the current version number).

01 LR Blog 007 - Two Logos01 LR Blog 007 - Two Logos


In May of 2019, they stirred the naming the pot again.

The first thing they did was drop the “CC” from all the names except their Adobe Applicaiton manager program used to install and mange Adobe Apps and plans.  So, “Lightroom CC” (the cloud centric product) became just “Lightroom” and “Lightroom Classic CC” (the traditional desktop centric product) became “Lighroom Classic”



In 2020,with the release LR/9.3, they changed the icons again.

LR/Classic logos 

02 LR Blog 007 - Classic Logos 202002 LR Blog 007 - Classic Logos 2020

LR/Cloudy logos

01 LR Blog 007 - Cloudy Logos 202001 LR Blog 007 - Cloudy Logos 2020


Since then things have been rather stable in terms of naming.  Along the way (not sure when) they introduced a Mac and a Windows desktop version of the cloug based Lightroom ecosystm which they called "Lightroom Desktop".  Thus our use of that nikname for the tranditional product had to be abandoned, but as we had already transistioned to LR/Classic that was not too bad.  

 If you are just jumping into the Lightroom world, or have been been here awhile, as of this update (Spring 2024) you have 3 basic choices.

Option 1 - 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.  However you may still be able to get it through some 3rd parties.
  • LR/6 is many years old and does not have many features now in LR and LrC (e.g., color range masking, improved auto tone, new profile system, dehaze tool, texture slider, ability to use Map Module (which died in the older versions when Google changed their licensing model) or any AI features.
  • LR/6 Went off of support 12/31/2017.  It can still be used, but with support, no new features, no bug fixes and no support for RAW files from cameras that came out after 12/31/2017 why bother?  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 on the Adobe website for the Free Adobe DNG Converter)
  • Does not include LR/Web, LR/Mobile, or any cloud storage
  • Less and less likely to run on newer and newer operating systems
  • It may be real cheap to buy if you can find it all and there are more and more reports of ones you can find are bootleg versions loaded up with viruses and other malware.

Option 2 - LR Classic (As of LR/10)

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  • You can only rent these versions
  • This product has several names depending on who you talk to.  If the name includes the word “Classic”,  “LRx”, or "LrCx (where “x” is a number  greater than 6 with or without a decimal point or a slash before the number – e.g., LR7, LR8.2, LR/10.2, LrC/13.3. Etc.) then that’s this one and is the logical continuation after LR/6.
  • This is basically the next series versions after LR/6 , LR/CC-2015, and Lightroom Classic CC
  • These versions have new features not available on LR/6 so there is an advantage to upgrading from LR6 (if you are one of the hold outs) to these newer versions but you’ll have to start paying rent ($9.99/month at this writing).  On the other hand if you’re on LR CC/2015, then you are already paying rent which includes the latest version so you might as well just get the newest version.
  • When you rent LR Classic (so far) you also get Photoshop, the “Lightroom” (cloud based product) suite of products as well as some cloud storage.  With the cloud centric Lightroom that is included you can designate groups of images in LR Classic for participation in the Cloud Centric LR and be able to perform many functions on those images from any standard web browser or mobile device with seamless synchronization between them (for most things).
  • LR Classic will continue to be supported for some time, will get bug fixes, and will get support for RAW files from new cameras
  • You may hear that at some point “Lightroom” (cloud based LR) may evolve enough that Adobe may choose to discontinue the Classic product.  Adobe has never said this but many LR experts thought this was the plan when the new LR/Cloud ecosystem was announced.  Over time this idea seems to have lost steam and even it was originally the plan at Adobe that plan may have changed since then.   This notion is based on a continuing investment by Adobe in both versions of Lightroom, including new Library Module features in LR/Classic which they originally said would probably not be coming along.  So at this time, with the very large LR/Classic user base, the folks in the know are not at all worried about Adobe killing it off. 

Option 3 - Lightroom (Cloud Based LR)

05 LR Blog 007 - LRCC grid05 LR Blog 007 - LRCC grid

  • Again, many names – the most used though are the official “Lightroom”, but also “Lightroom CC”,  “The New Lightroom” or "LR/Cloudy".  If you don’t see either the word “Classic”,  “LRx”, or "LrCx" in the name then it is this one.  This is also called “Cloud Based Lightroom”
  • This is a 100% different product than LRx or Classic. 
  • It is a ground up redesign of LR with Cloud based access from anywhere, and seamless synchronization between all platforms and devices for most changes.
  • Images you choose to put in the Adobe Cloud with Classic automatically become part of the cloud based Lightroom system with multiway sync.
  • The interface (screens) are stripped down so they will fit on a phone or tablet but modern phone app users will find that approach familiar.  Desktop holdouts (like me) may find it limiting, cumbersome, or non intuitive.
  • While what they have is admirable it is a far cry from what you currently get with LR Classic or even the older LR6.
  • It requires that all your 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 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 cloud centric Lightroom apps on those devices   
  • Photos synced to the cloud based ecosystem from LR/Classic DO NOT COUNT against our storage limit. 


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. This is still current as of LrC/13.3

Go to  this URL and press “Choose a Plan”  for the list of plans.  Adobe tends to hide the $9.99/mo 20gb Photography plan by not shoing it on the "Choose a Plan" page.  To see it you will have to poke around till you find a "see all plans" button and it should be on that page.

Adobe keeps changing this web page so options may differ than what is shown below.

01 LR Blog 007 - Plans 2019-0701 LR Blog 007 - Plans 2019-07

For individuals there are basically 4 plans for LR to choose from (one is not shown above).  The fourth plan is an "everything Adobe" plan.  There are other plans that come and go as well such as ones that include one or two other Adobe products like stock photos, movie editing and several others but if you are just interested in LR there are the 3 above.

1)    Photography Plan (20gb $9.99/mo)

  • This plan gives you the most software but not as much storage.
  • It includes LR Classic for either Windows or Mac. It also includes Adobe Photoshop (Mac or Windows) and the entire cloud centric ecosystem from the "Lightroom" plan which includes Lightroom Desktop,  Lightroom Web,  Lightroom Mobile for tablets and Phones), with 20gb of Cloud storage (see article 019 in this series for ways to avoid using up this storage)
  • It is designed for people who desire the traditional, tried and true, desktop centric LR for their desktop application with the option of still having the new cloud centric Lightroom products with selected sets of images from their LR Classic desktop system.
  • You can buy more storage if you need (watch your wallet)

2)   Photography Plan (1tb, $19.99/mo)

  • Same as plan #1 but with 1tb of cloud storage instead of 20gb

3)     Lightroom Plan.  (1tb $9.99/mo)

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

4)     Creative Cloud all Apps ($52.99/mo) – no longer being shown on this screen

  • 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 in terms of Lightroom, but also includes all the other Adobe CC apps such as Illustrator bringing the total to around 20 different applications.  It also includes 100gb of cloud storage.
  • It is designed for people who really need or want it all.  Typically, to warrant this plan you would pretty much have to be someone who earns a living in the field.
  • 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.


The interaction between these products needs a bit of explanation. 

Option 1 & 2

  • If you were using the old LR/CC, or the new LR Classic (LR7 or above) on your desktop, you can designate collections of images in your Classic desktop application for LR to replicate in the cloud.  These are not your original images but are small jpg copies of your images called “Smart Previews”.  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 the cloud based Lightroom products (Desktop, Web or Mobile).  Any image adjustments you make on any of these platforms automatically shows up a few moments later on the other platforms.
  • However, some metadata such as Keywords do not sync between the desktop (Classic) ecosystem and the Cloud Based  Ecosystem. 
  • Likewise you can bring images you take with your mobile devices into the “Classic” 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 Classic.
  • The "Smart Preview" files saved in the Adobe Cloud do not count against your 20gb or 1tb storage allocation. 

Option 3

  • Changing gears, if you just get the new Cloud centric Lightroom suite – OR – you tell LR to convert your entire old LR Classic (or older) catalog to the new cloud centric version - you are in a different situation. 
  • Now, LR will put ALL your original images that were in LR Classic (or its predecessors) 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 Smart Previews).  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 cloud centric offering with both feet with no intention to go back to the older LR interface and tools.
  • The full size original images files stay in their original file format in the cloud and the do count against your storage allocation.


1)         If you don’t mind rental SW, get the $9.99/mo photography package with 20gb storage.  This plan gives you Lightroom Classic, the gold standard Photoshop, 20gb of cloud storage for sharing/syncing, and cloud centric Lightroom (desktop, web, and mobile).  I do not recommend having it convert your entire LR Catalog to Cloud centric Lightroom which is an option you will have if you’ve had LR before

2)        I do not reccomend getting LR/6 (or earlier) under any circumstances.  If you already have it you can certainly stay with it till some operating or computer update breaks it but at least you won't be vulnerable to those virus laden versions on the market these days.

3)         If you are sure you are never going to spend much time on photography and are happy with limited image management and output capabilities 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.

4)        If you are a pro and also need other Adobe CC apps for purposes beyond basic photographer then look at the “Creative Cloud All Apps” plan

All URL’s in this post worked at the time of last updating this article (June 2024).  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.




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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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