Adobe just launched two new versions of Lightroom: Lightroom Classic CC—the Lightroom we’ve all come to know—and a new product called Lightroom CC. Sound confusing? Well, yeah, it is; but here’s how you can decide if the new..errrr.. newer version Lightroom CC will make it in your workflow.

Let’s get the names straight

New Coke, Coke Classic… What??? Remember when Coca-Cola tried to introduce a reformulated Coca-Cola? Yeah, that firestorm ended with the return of the original formula—now called Coca-Cola classic—a few months later. I love Adobe and I’ve been a user since Photoshop graced us with its’ presence. When Lightroom appeared, and Adobe named it Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, I was a little confused but I supported it. We just called it Lightroom or Lightroom CC for creative cloud.

Benefits of cloud-based Lightroom

  • Backup and cloud storage (including raw files)
  • Artificial intelligence to automatically applies searchable keywords to objects in photographs
  • Built-in tools to share photos directly via social media and to create custom Lightroom web galleries that can be shared via a link
  • It lets you access and work with your photos from any desktop or mobile device
  • One library can be seen on all devices
  • Base cost is $9.99 per month with 1TB of cloud storage

So far this sounds great! I can work on my images on location and have everything synced across all computers, cell phones, and tablets. I can share edited images on social media fast, beating my fellow Photofocus authors. Artificial intelligence will add keywords automatically, saving me lots of time. My images also have a cloud-based backup! What’s not to like? For me, a lot.

Pitfalls of cloud-based Lightroom (from a pro’s view)

I’ve traveled and stayed at enough hotels to know that access to the cloud is very slow and frustrating. I do what I can to ensure I have all images I need when I travel, but I always leave one or two behind. Downloading even a high-resolution jpeg takes a lot of time. I can’t imagine downloading—let alone uploading—very large RAW files. I have over 9TB of images that took 3 months to upload to Crashplan for cloud backup. Speaking of 9TB of images, that’s an extra cost of $10 per TB every month, adding $90 to my $9.99 base cost—bringing my cost to $1200 a year. Crashplan only cost me $55 a year. Lightroom Cloud isn’t looking too good for Pros. For users with less than 3TB of images and not a keen understanding of backing up your images, Lightroom Cloud maybe good for you.

Benefits of Lightroom (yeah, I dropped “Classic” from the name)

  • Faster under the hood
  • Faster image selection with Embedded Previews
  • Fine control over selections with Range Masking
  • Did I mention Faster?

Importing photos, viewing images—as well as moving between modules and photos in the Develop screen is much faster—a very long overdue request. The new Range Masking adds precise color control and tone-based selections available when using the Adjustment Brush, Radial or Graduated Filters.

Benefits of Subscription-Based

I hesitate to bring this up, but I must. Whether you like the new cloud- or desktop-based Lightroom, keep in mind both were made possible because of subscriptions. In the old days, a company would take a risk and shell out lots of research and development money to produce new or updated products. The updates took a long time and new products were few and far between. Since Adobe switched to subscription base, they have more resources to invest in updating their products— Lightroom Classic CC—and create new ones: Lightroom CC. For less than $10 bucks a month you can get Lightroom and Photoshop, a worthwhile investment.

New Coke? or Coca-Cola Classic? Lightroom CC? or Lightroom CC Classic? The choice is yours. And choice is always good.