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Should You Update to Adobe Lightroom “Classic”?

A few weeks ago during Adobe Max 2018 some major updates were announced for the Adobe CC plans. While all of them were pretty exciting and amazing, (in theory), photographers were left pretty confused. The big question most of us had, was What’s up with this CC vs Classic thing for Lightroom? and the more important one, “Should I upgrade/replace my currently Lightroom with the updated “Classic” and CC versions?

Making Sense of it All

Well, to answer the specifics about Lightroom CC and Classic, I’ll refer you to a few articles.

Those cover most everything you’ll need to know about the Mobile and Desktop versions of Lightroom.

I Wanted More Answers… So I Asked Adobe

A lot of people still have questions about what this change means for their current systems and workflows. After the announcement, there was a LOT of negative and bewildered feedback towards Adobe. The confusing release notes left people thinking they were retiring or “sunsetting” the Adobe Lightroom we all know and love and focusing solely on the mobile and cloud-based market, so to get to the bottom of things, I scheduled a one on one meeting with Lightroom’s Product Manager Tom Hogarty and here’s what he had to say.

“Lightroom CC represents where we’re taking the future of Lightroom from a cloud-based multi-surface full photography service standpoint. We are very committed to Lightroom Classic, the Lightroom that they know and love, that is a more desktop-focused workflow, it supports the full range of professional functionality that people have standardized on over the past ten years and have really adapted their specific workflows, shooting thousands of images a day to Lightroom.  So we remain very committed to Lightroom Classic.

We announced innovations today, some very strong innovations in terms of performance and again, common selection techniques for Graduated Filters and we will continue to invest in Lightroom Classic while we’re building out photography storage with Lightroom CC. Lightroom Classic remains available as part of the $9.99 Creative Cloud Photography offerings, so you get Lightroom Classic, you get Photoshop, you get the 20-gigabytes with Lightroom CC as well, you get Portfolio, you get Spark Premium. So that offering is still in the market, and people can continue to buy that and enjoy it. As they try out the next generation of Lightroom Classic CC, they can migrate to that as they feel comfortable with the level of functionality.

There are certain feature gaps between CC and Classic that people will use and depend upon professional workflows, it’ll take us a while to actually build those out and get everything out there for the next generation of Lightroom. So we have the $9.99 offering that is what we call the Photography plan today. All right, that’s the core. We have the $9.99 offering for the new Lightroom CC, and that’s the fully integrated photography service with a terabyte of storage.

So we basically have an offering for everyone in photography at this point, but the Lightroom Classic customers can rest assured that we understand their need, we understand the workflows, and we know what we have to migrate over time to the new platform, and we remain very committed to that product. 

You can add additional terabytes of storage as you go there. Our storage prices are competitive with general cloud storage at this point, but I think the main message to them is you move when you’re ready. You have everything you need to actually try out the new service. You can get comfortable with that. We know that there’s additional functionality that will need to migrate to deal with the highest in professional workflows for Lightroom and Lightroom CC, and we’re committed to doing that over time.”

In regards to the lashing out the product immediately received online due to the confusion of the nomenclature of the now two product lines, and worry from photographers about the desktop version being done away with;

“We knew there might be some reaction to the classic as a sun-setting term, it’s absolutely not in this case. I can only reassure people so much, so it is on us to prove it with more innovation of more updates for that product. We did that with our investment of performance with this release, it also has the latest and greatest image editing enhancements, and we keep adding to that, so my request of the Lightroom community would be, hold us accountable, we’ll do another update shortly and if we’re not meeting your expectations, tell us. But I think after a decade of continuing to innovate with that product they’ll give us the benefit of the doubt, we’ll keep doing it. Again, I’ve been managing this product line since day one, so I’m heavily invested. Now, from the second user viewpoint that looks at LRCC and says, “No way. I shoot this much per week.” We wanna hear from those guys because they’re talking about how their workflow might fit with the 1.0 application. So, what are their expectations? What portion of their workflow do they expect to be connected and cloud-centric, and what portion of their workflow do they expect to keep local and not in the cloud. Because one common misnomer is that you don’t need to be connected to the cloud to continue working from CC. You can be out in the field on safari and dump a terabyte of images into Lightroom CC and you’re good to go. It’s just waiting until you get connected. So you can have your entire workflow start to finish done before you even connect to the internet.

This is the way it behaves now. If you’re connected to the internet, you put a terabyte, that terabyte will go to upload to the cloud. However, and this is where we want to start the dialogue with the community, do they want more of a selective sync environment? Do we want to do, where okay, you designate your only flagged images and four-star or greater go to the cloud? Keep the other stuff local and don’t sync? Those are the kind of workflow discussions we need to start having.

But we wanted to set the tone with this 1.0 option, this is truly a cloud-based experience. If we can start to backfill some of the selective sync workflows, that would be great. Again, that’s 1.0. 

So that’s the two-fold. That’s a classic workflow or is that a, “Can I choose to not have this part of the cloud?” For anyone in that situation now, classic. Because we don’t have the functionality to allow selective sync in Lightroom CC yet. Just to reemphasize, I am not alone in the fact that I have images in my library that I do not want to be synced to the cloud. They’re in the cloud now, because I’m the project manager and that’s my job, but as soon as we add that functionality, I am going to designate a set of images that don’t go on it.

We know a ton of photographers who’ve got Lightroom Classic wired up like an extension of their body, in terms of how they’re able to manipulate and get their workflows done. That’s why we actually were building two different desktop apps because we’re not going to get dropped or deprecate those workflows. We know how important it is to photographers. You could sense some tension over the last few years as those photographers got upset that we were investing in these cloud sync, and like mobile when there’s a really big group of people who just say, “I don’t want any of that.” So they get a product that fits them, and then we have a cloud-based Lightroom CC for the mobile users that we can focus on there. There was a tension between those two experiences.”

The Conclusion

Lightroom isn’t going anywhere, so everyone can calm down. In fact, in the coming years, Lightroom will only continue to improve and be added too, all the while the CC (aka mobile/cloud platform) will continue to expand and have more features from “Classic” added too it. When I asked the Lightroom team directly, they said the only way Lightroom classic would ever “go away” is if the Lightroom CC product has every single feature (and more) that currently exists in the “Classic” version giving the user the ability to fully choose and customize their desktop and cloud-based experience.

Should I Upgrade Now?

Now that we know the desktop version isn’t going away, and for no difference in price, we can choose our own path and workflows as we need, the question remains, should I update to the latest version now?  Well, my personal opinion as far as Lightroom and Photoshop are concerned….it’s a hard NOT YET!

Why? Well, so far the bugs and complaints have been flowing in from colleagues and other users around the globe. While the new features look fantastic, there’s still a lot broken in this update and if you’ve got clients to deliver for in a timely fashion, I’d wait a few more weeks before pulling the “update” trigger.

As of right now, I’ve compiled a list of bugs with Lightroom Classic that I’ve encountered and have verified with other users in the field that have placed my system in a nearly unusable state. I’ve been working directly with Adobe Engineers to troubleshoot and help get these fixed….but as I said, it’s probably best if you haven’t already updated, to wait a few more weeks till things are completely patched up.

Here’s what we’ve seen so far that’s gone wrong with Adobe Lightroom Classic

  • No Logging (even updates) found on computer
  • Multiple crashes when swapping modules (Library/Develop)
  • White screen of doom (aka all raw files in develop module are white and glitchy) when in develop module (after updating to the latest patch/update) (10/29/17) 

  • Multiple Failed Updates of LR catalog (now using the 4th update of my previously working Lightroom)
  • Develop Adjustments are not being saved on exit (missing XMP data/files?)
  • No performance improvements when working on external drives or local SSD
  • Exporting to PS (2018) is slow and sometimes fails to export at all requiring manually opening the file (meaning LR Adjustments are not applied/used/saved)
  • Error Message when switching between modules in LR 

  • Preview files are OBSCENELY large compared to the previous update. Pre-classic my preview file was 430 megs, now with LR Classic CC, it’s 5.73 GIGS! 
  • Catalogues missing (and sometimes broken) after closing Lightroom and reopening after a reboot
    • If you do upgrade and have existing catalogs you want to use, I HIGHLY recommend you back up your original/old files before running the update in LR Classic
  • Randomly unable to access any module in Lightroom Classic after reboots/closing and reopening the application
  • Catalogues getting corrupted (and unusable) when opening and upgrading to LR Classic for the first time
  • GPU Acceleration actually causing more problems

So, as you can see, there’s still a lot of things the latest Lightroom update has to work out. The new features are admittedly pretty freaking amazing, but I highly recommend keeping your old version of Lightroom if you plan on installing Classic…at least for now.

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