When you open Lightroom Classic CC for the first time — a free upgrade to Creative Cloud subscribers — you won’t notice much that’s different. Instead, the new version of Lightroom focuses on under-the-hood upgrades, in order to make workflows faster and more efficient.

While there are some new features that some photographers will love and take advantage of, the key here is to further optimize the great product that Lightroom has developed into over the years.

I’ve been testing out the newly-released version of Lightroom Classic CC for a few weeks now. And while this new version certainly won’t blow anyone away with its new features, Adobe listened to its customers about what it could do better. And for the most part, it’s all about speed.

Speedy Gonzales?

Beyond the obvious name change to Lightroom Classic CC, this new version is mostly about speed improvements. Adobe touts that it’s faster when importing photos, as well as while moving between modules and photos in the Develop screen.

In my testing, imports finished a little more quickly, including the conversion to DNG and creation of preview files. But what I was most satisfied to see was that the culling process (scrolling from image-to-image) was vastly improved in terms of speed. This was one of my biggest qualms with the old version. Now, I rarely see the “Loading” overlay when scrolling from photo-to-photo.

Some of the develop tools also seemed to have gotten a speed boost — especially when working with local adjustment brushes. But some of the slowdowns are still there, specifically with the leveling and cropping tools.

Embedded Previews

While I don’t personally use embedded previews much, Lightroom Classic CC features an improved workflow, allowing you to start working on your images sooner. You can do this by selecting “Embedded & Sidecar” in the Build Preview menu in order to do this.

Embedded previews are temporary preview files — great for when you’re working on a larger shoot — that allows you to work on your files sooner. Lightroom then replaces these files with its standard previews once the process is complete. With Lightroom Classic CC, this process is sped up, allowing you to start developing your photos more quickly.

Range Masking

The one feature that you’ll see in the interface, is the ability to refine your brush or filter selection with the Local Adjustment panel. Oftentimes I’ve found myself brushing away highlights or boosting shadows in certain places, only to do it too fast and having to erase parts of it.

There’s a new Range Masking option found at the bottom of each Local Adjustment panel that makes this a little easier to adjust. Turning Range Masking on lets you adjust your brush or gradient selection by Color or Luminance, offering additional options to fine-tune your selection.


While Lightroom Classic CC won’t amaze you with a new interface, a boatload of new features or anything groundbreaking…it will enhance the workflow you’ve come to know. With this new version, Lightroom feels more complete, highlighting its speed upgrades and already stellar feature set.