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Which Adobe Lightroom Program is Best for You?

Learning to edit photographs can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. On the surface, many editing programs can look complicated (cue instant inferiority complex). But that's not the case with Adobe Lightroom, my go-to photo editing software. Nowadays, learning to use Lightroom is even easier thanks to Lightroom CC, the latest addition to the Adobe Lightroom software catalog. But the newest Lightroom program isn't exactly like the other programs, Adobe Lightroom Classic or Adobe Lightroom 6. There are small differences that you should know about before making a long-term commitment. Use this guide to help decide which Adobe Lightroom program is right for you and your budget.

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My Adobe Lightroom Journey

Adobe Lightroom is by far one of the best photo editing tools available on the market. While not as powerful as Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom offers users the basic tools needed to make custom edits, as well as store and organize photos. My beau, The Professor, gifted me a copy of Adobe Lightroom 4 for my birthday in 2012. I now use all three Lightroom programs I'll be reviewing in this post!

Since day one, I've been absolutely in love with Lightroom's powerful editing tools. Over the past seven years, I've slowly taught myself to use the various Lightroom functions to create stunning but simple edits for my travel photography. What I love most about Lightroom is that anyone can use it. Yes, even you!

Why Should You Be Using an Adobe Lightroom Program?

What makes Adobe Lightroom so awesome? Well, first of all, there's the amazing editing tools. Most free photo editing software has a limited selection of editing tools (brightness, saturation, etc). Lightroom photo editing software offers users an array of powerful editing options that can truly transform photos when used correctly.

In addition, Lightroom uses digital negatives, preserving your original image. Edits can be easily reversed, making it fun and safe to play around with the editing tools. Plus, you can purchase Lightroom presets which make it super easy to create gorgeous edits with a few simple clicks.

Best of all, learning to use Lightroom can help you learn to take better photographs. Tools like the histogram and tone curve highlight the importance of light in photography. Over time, I've learned how to adjust my camera settings to mimic the effects of the Lightroom tools. Understanding editing has powerfully impacted my photography, and it can transform yours, too!

What's the Difference Between the Adobe Lightroom Programs?

With the addition of Lightroom CC, Adobe Lightroom now has multiple photo editing programs to choose from. Deciding which of the Adobe Lightroom programs is right for you means you need to understand how the programs differ. Use this Lightroom guide to find out if Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, or Lightroom 6 can help you create amazing photography edits!

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Adobe Lightroom CC

The latest Lightroom product in the suite of Adobe products, Lightroom CC is a great program for beginner photographers and for photographers on the go. Lightroom CC is part of the Creative Cloud software, a powerful cloud-based storage system. Creative Cloud creates an automatic backup of your photos that you can access from anywhere.

Editing photos with Lightroom CC is simple thanks to condensed editing panel and slider tools. The easy-to-use interface is less daunting than Lightroom Classic and Photoshop, meaning new Lightroom users will likely be editing photos in no time.


take a look at the Lightroom CC editor

But, if you've ever used the original versions of Lightroom, you'll notice a few of the editing tools are missing or greatly simplified. For example, you can't use Lightroom CC to create HDR merges or stitch panoramic shots. Still, many of the best editing tools are included in Lightroom CC, making it a great way to learn basic photo editing.

Another great thing about Lightroom CC is that it works with Lightroom presets and brushes, simplifying edits to just a few clicks. So, whether you're importing your favorite presets or creating your own, you can use presets to make editing a breeze.

the Lightroom CC editing tools

Lightroom CC is also easier to organize. Images are stored in albums rather than collections. And the search function makes it easy to find photos using tags or Adobe Sensei, an artificial intelligence tool that recognizes objects in your images. Hello, intelligent search!

What does make Lightroom CC so unique is the online editor, which users can access from any computer. It also works really well with Lightroom mobile, a smartphone app I've mentioned before. You should know that the online editor is greatly simplified. It lacks many of the sophisticated editing tools that make Lightroom so amazing. But for a newbie, that might be perfect!

introducing the Online Editor

For only $9.99 per month, Lightroom CC comes with 1TB of cloud storage and works seamlessly with both the Lightroom app (for mobile users) and Lightroom's online editor. You won't get any extra programs, bells, or whistles though. Overall, Lightroom CC is a great tool for beginner photographers, Instagram users, and travelers.

Think Lightroom CC is right for you?

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Despite the recent rebrand, Lightroom Classic is the same old Lightroom software. The Lightroom Classic software available through Creative Cloud has all the features Lightroom users know and love. But Lightroom Classic definitely takes some getting used to for newcomers.

Editing photos with Lightroom Classic is slightly more complicated for beginners, but the extensive editing tools make Lightroom Classic superior to Lightroom CC. As previously stated, Lightroom Classic comes with advanced editing tools like HDR merge, which you can use to take your photo editing to the next level.

editing with presets in action!

Tools like lens correction, transformation tools, and camera calibration are slightly more advanced in Lightroom Classic. These advanced tools enable photographers to create custom edits specific to their equipment.

Lightroom Classic's powerful editing tools

Unlike Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic is separated into different modules. Each module has specific features, tools, and uses. The two modules used most are the Library and Develop modules. Switching between modules can seem a bit clunky at times, but, after a while, you get used to it.

One of the things many people dislike about the traditional Adobe Lightroom program is the way photos are organized. Photos are stored as collections rather than albums, which can be confusing at first. Over time, you'll find the collections are simple ways to sort and store your photo catalog. Remember, what you do in Lightroom doesn't affect your folders on your harddrive.

Lightroom Classic features a map function that syncs with geo-tags applied to images either by the camera or during import. And the Web, Print, and Book modules work well for creatives looking to share their images with the world. Other advanced tools like keywording and plugins make social sharing easier and more intelligent. I absolutely love my SmugMug Plugin!

easily publish to your favorite online platform

As part of the Creative Cloud Photography Plan, Lightroom Classic is a steal for only $9.99 per month. And that price includes Lightroom CC, Photoshop, and 20GB photo storage. Lightroom Classic is the hands-down best choice for anyone looking to improve their photography through photo editing.

Think Lightroom Classic is right for you?

Which Version of Lightroom is Right for You?

Lightroom VersionLightroom CCLightroom Classic
Cloud Storage1 Tb20 Gb
HSL FunctionsYesYes
Tone CurveYesYes
HDR MergeNoYes
Storage FormatAlbumsCollections
Preset CapabilitiesYesYes
Adobe Sensei (A.I.)YesNo
Lens CorrectionsYesYes
Camera CalibrationYesYes
Automatic UpdatesYesYes
Additional ProgramsNoneLightroom CC
Photoshop CC
Mobile FunctionalityYesYes
Online EditorYesNo
Monthly DuesYesYes

What If I Already Use an Older Adobe Lightroom Program?

If you're like me and are already using a standalone version of Lightroom, you may be wondering how to integrate your Lightroom edits, presets, and catalog into Creative Cloud. While I think it's possible, I haven't quite figured out how to do it. Stay tuned to see if I can figure it out!

Oh Yeah, One More Thing

I'll be releasing custom presets VERY soon, so stay tuned! My first edition will be free for a limited time, so be sure to sign up for email updates to make sure you don't miss the big release!

Check out My other Photography Tips!

Let's Stay in Touch

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Thanks for all your interest and support!



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