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Adobe Releases Last Stand-Alone Update to Lightroom; Is it Time to Subscribe?

Last week, Adobe released Lightroom 6.14, the last perpetual update to the photography organizer and editing tool. Going forward, updates will only be made available for Creative Cloud subscribers, who have access to the new Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC.

This begs the question — is now the time to subscribe to the Creative Cloud Photography Plan?

Lightroom has been around for just short of 11 years now, and up until this point, you’ve been able to buy it as a stand-alone product, and most recently as part of a subscription. While there’s a ton of benefits to the Creative Cloud subscription, there’s a case to be made for the need for stand-alone software too.

Can I Keep Using Lightroom 6?

The short answer — yes. Lightroom 6 will continue to work equally as well as Lightroom Classic in the short-term. But as time goes on, updates will be made available to Creative Cloud subscribers. This could be new camera and lens profiles, speed enhancements, feature additions, etc.

If you decide to upgrade your camera to something that’s not supported by Lightroom 6, you won’t be able to open RAW files in Lightroom. This is probably the biggest limitation in continuing to use software that will no longer be updated.

That being said, if you don’t plan on upgrading anytime soon, and don’t need any new features right away, it doesn’t hurt to stick with the Lightroom version you’re currently using.

What Are the Benefits to Subscribing?

For $9.99 a month, you get the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan — which includes Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Lightroom CC and 20 GB of cloud storage. This package is probably your best option, as it gives you the newest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop, in addition to the new Lightroom CC program. If you haven’t upgraded Photoshop in a while, the upgrades there are worth the $9.99 alone, in my opinion.

But I Don’t Want to Be Online In Order to Use Lightroom!

This is a common misconception. You do not have to have internet access in order to use Lightroom. Adobe “checks in” and validates your subscription every 30 days. So you literally only have to connect to the internet once every 30 days in order to retain access. The software lives and breathes on your computer, just like any other piece of software.

Subscribing Means More Money Though, Right?

It depends on how you look at it. If you were to buy a stand-alone copy of Lightroom 6 today, you’d pay $149. That would cover just under 15 months of the Adobe Photography Plan.

If you factor in the cost of Lightroom and Photoshop CS6 (the last stand-alone version for $699, which is no longer offered), you’d rack up a bill of $848. That would cover almost 85 months (or just over seven years) of the Adobe Photography Plan.

Over the course of the last 15 months, Adobe has made four major updates to Lightroom Classic CC (formerly known as Lightroom CC 2015). In addition to new camera and lens support, this added new features like Guided Upright, Range Masking, performance improvements and more. While some of these were available to perpetual license holders, some features were held specifically for Creative Cloud subscribers.

While there’s the monthly investment, you’re consistently getting new features and upgrades to Lightroom and Photoshop programs, without having to make a big purchase. Sure, $9.99 adds up over time. But you’re not really saving money if you regularly upgraded your Lightroom perpetual license anyway.

Conclusion

You’ll see a lot of people say that they don’t like “renting” their software. But from a user perspective, subscribing means getting new features as soon as they’re available, and being able to apply those to your work. I for one have used the Guided Upright many times, and I’m so happy it was added, specifically for my architecture work.

Subscriptions just aren’t coming from Adobe, either. Look at the music industry, with Spotify and Apple Music. Look at other professional software, like Microsoft’s Office 365 package. Subscriptions will continue to be utilized and pushed, especially when they provide users with the most bang for the buck.

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