Last week there was a lot of uproar about the changes Adobe was making to its Lightroom platform. And while I’ve continued to use Lightroom Classic CC for my everyday work, I’ve taken a look at Lightroom CC to see if I’m missing anything, specifically in its organization and editing tools.
The Best Features
There’s actually a lot to like about Lightroom CC, even though I consider it to be Lightroom CC Classic’s little brother.
The Lightroom CC interface is like a breath of fresh air. All of the panels are organized in a nice, clean fashion that makes sense. While it borrows from Lightroom Classic a bit in terms of the way things are organized, I find that everything is easier to read. The interface takes cues from other, more recent Adobe products like Adobe XD, with a typeface that’s easy to read and follow. I’d like to see this expanded upon though, and have a fully customizable panel system — similar to the way Photoshop lets you bring in panels and different tools to create your own workspace.
Sensei Search and Filtering
This is by far the coolest feature of Lightroom CC, especially for my unorganized, un-tagged library of images. That’s right — none of my images have keywords. But by doing a search in Lightroom CC, I can find the specific images I’m looking for. In searching for “city,” I got a lot of images that featured architecture and cityscapes. It wasn’t perfect — two images of my sister’s doctoral school white coat ceremony, and an interior library image were included — it does a really nice job for a version 1.0 release.
Use Lightroom Classic Presets
The fact that you’re able to import the presets that you’ve developed in Lightroom Classic is a big deal. It will save photographers a ton of time getting their looks right. I also like the fact that Adobe put this panel next to the other editing panels, meaning that you don’t have to look back and forth on your screen (from left to right and back again as with Lightroom CC Classic) to see which preset you’re using, and what the adjustments are that it’s making.
Module Switching is Gone
One of the biggest slowdowns (which has been sped up in Lightroom CC Classic) is the switching between the Library and Develop modules. With Lightroom CC, everything lives on one screen. Tools are revealed then hidden when necessary. For instance, if I want to see EXIF or location information about my photograph, I just click the “Info” icon in the lower right-hand side of the interface. If I want to edit a photo, I go up and click on one of the editing sections. Having all of this on one screen means that the photo preview doesn’t have to get loaded twice, which in turns equals a faster experience. it also gives more screen real estate to the image, a boon for laptop users.
This goes without saying, but the ability to access your photo library from anywhere is a huge perk. Add the ability to edit images on one machine, and then pick up editing them on another…that’s something I’ve longed for since I began to use Lightroom. No more dealing with a cumbersome catalog import process and exporting images from one computer to another. Instead, I can edit and not have to worry about storing the images from any machine — whether it be a desktop, laptop, tablet…even my phone.
Despite the pros of Lightroom CC, there’s still a lot that’s to be desired. Some of these are pretty major and play a big role in my everyday workflow.
This is a biggie, as you either sync all your photos to your cloud, or you don’t. There’s no way to tell Lightroom CC which photos should take up your storage space. And if you have a large library of photos from over the years, this is a big drawback. Not to mention that can add up really quickly in terms of cost. I’d like to, at the very least, see options where you upload only your past year, six months or three months to the cloud. Ideally, though, you’re able to upload certain albums over others. It does look like this feature is coming though — as is evident by the checkmarks next to each album, and the fact that this is by far the biggest complaint I’ve been hearing across the web. This is the way Lightroom CC Classic works with Lightroom Mobile.
Advanced Export Settings
In Lightroom CC, “Export” has been replaced with “Save To.” While the naming change doesn’t bother me, the lack of options does. You’re allowed to change two things — the file format (JPEG or original with settings) and the size (Small, Full Size or Custom). This is a pretty big oversight, as it doesn’t allow you to control the output of the images. With most of my web-optimized images, I change the Quality slider in Lightroom Classic. And there are times I want to export to different file formats, like TIFF or PSD.
Quick and Smart Collections
While I’m not a Collections guy in Lightroom, I know a lot of people who use this for organization purposes. For me, I use Smart Collections to determine what photos I should pull for my Portfolio (five-star images that I’ve rated) or for other internal purposes.
Adobe brought over literally every attribute that photos could be assigned in Lightroom CC Classic — flags, star ratings and kind. But for some reason, color labels are nowhere to be found. I use these with every one of my shoots, using yellow (needs editing), green (edited) and blue (exported) labels in all of my projects. This is a must-have for me, and it seems weird that Adobe didn’t bring these into its 1.0 release.
No Import Options or Batch Metadata Editing
One of the features I use the most while importing new images to my Lightroom catalog is batch file renaming. With Lightroom CC, there’s no way to do this. In fact, there’s only one option when importing your images — adding to a specific album. There’s no way to add copyright info for a series of photos, do some basic edits automatically or any of what you might be used to with Lightroom Classic. And while, with Lightroom CC Classic, you can do much of these actions after the import process has finished, you can’t batch edit the metadata of photos in Lightroom CC, nor can you edit the file name at all.
While there’s a lot to like about Adobe Lightroom CC — especially for travelers — there’s a lot to be desired, too. Until Adobe adds some of the tried and true features of Lightroom Classic, I’ll be sticking with the program I know and love, despite its old-school name change.