Photo Editor Review & Alternatives

Lightroom Classic CC or Lightroom CC: Which Version is Right for You?

Adobe Lightroom has been updated with new features recently in October 2017. This program is now divided into two different platforms to assist photographers with their dedicated needs. You can now make a selection between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC. But most of the buyers are still confused about how these platforms differ from each other. Although, both this software share many common features, still there are plenty of tools that make them stand apart. In short, it is not just a naming headache, the brand new software pieces are targeted to serve two different communities for specific applications.

In this article, you will find essential insights about how Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC differ from each other. These details will help you to make an easy decision about which one will suit your needs.

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Part 1: History of Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC

So many numbers and letters are associated with Lightroom platform so in order to proceed ahead with the new advancements, first of all, it is important to look at historical details. The basic version of Lightroom joined the market in the year 2007 but developers at Adobe were creative enough to launch several updates year after year. Photographers have accessed several versions of this software till now in form of Lightroom 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0. Every new version was launched with new features to assists users with new editing abilities.

With time, Adobe shifted to the subscription model of Lightroom and then it was given a new name: Lightroom CC; note that here CC stands for Creative Cloud. With this shift to a paid platform, developers also added many cool features to this software tool. Finally, Lightroom CC was split into two different platforms in October 2017 and now buyers need to be careful enough for selection of Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC. If you are also in some confusion regarding their functionality, it is good to spare few minutes to go through the details below. Soon you will be able to make a clear idea about which one of these can fulfill your requirements in best possible manner.

Part 2: Key Differences between Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC:

1. Workflow:

When we compare the workflow, users will find a great difference in visual appearance at first glance. Lightroom Classic is now divided into a series of modules that work at different stages to assist user’s workflow. The variations can be clearly observed from developing module to library module including Web, Print, Slideshow, Book and Map module.

On the other side, Lightroom CC contains all the editing and organizing abilities in a single window. You will not find numbers of the module like Lightroom Classic. However, this is definitely a much suitable platform for beginners who need to start with a simplistic interface but the professional photographers will not find it useful. They may need to make a shift to Lightroom classic to enjoy advanced functionality.

2. Cloud-First vs Desktop-First:

On Lightroom Classic platform, images can be stored on connected hard drives or on the computer as well. If you want to synchronize them on Lightroom library using mobile or web devices, it will carry only low-resolution previews and can focus on few specific collections of images within photo catalog.

If you work with Lightroom CC, all the images are stored by Adobe on its online library. Although, it is also possible to store them locally as well but the major purpose of Lightroom CC is to serve users with online storage space. You can access all your images instantly from this online storage and they will be delivered with full resolution all the time. But the sad part is that you have to make an additional payment to gain access to this online cloud-based storage.

3. Synchronization and editing:

As already discussed, Lightroom Classic is able to synchronize photographs between Lightroom web and Lightroom mobile platforms but the only trouble is quality. Instead of sharing full resolution images, it automatically processes low-resolution type DNG smart preview content. However, this resolution is considerable for screen viewing as well as basic editing. Note that the Lightroom Smart Preview feature means all adjustments will be synchronized automatically to the desktop version.

In case if you prefer to work on a mobile handset or on some other computer by accessing lightroom web, it does not allow users to download full resolution images, you can access the low-resolution collection only. Although, people find its synchronizing abilities pretty good but the inability to access smart collections is really a big trouble.

4. Editing tools compared:

Some of you might be thinking that Lightroom CC must be containing all features of this software platform, but in actual, there are so many additional features added to Lightroom Classic that are actually missing in Lightroom CC.

For example, the Split Tone and Tone Curve panels are missing in Lightroom CC but they can be easily accessed in Lightroom Classic. Although, Lightroom CC can handle almost 90% editing tasks but for the rest 10% you will need Lightroom Classic. The powerful tools on Lightroom Classic include advanced camera calibration panel, Color/Luminance range masking tools, and Auto Mask.

5. Photomerge for panoramas and HDR:

You will be happy to know that Photomerge feature is recently updated to the Lightroom Classic version; it can help you to enjoy efficient panorama stitching abilities. One can adjust the overlapped frames easily or can blend different exposures to develop an editable HDR composite. If you prefer to work on Lightroom CC, you will not be able to access any of these features. However, this feature is more useful to advanced photographers; causal photographers will rarely need it.

6. Plans and Pricing:

The package selection has now become much difficult task because both these platforms offer their unique offers with a variety of services. There are three common options:

  • The Lightroom CC Plan is available for payment of $9.99 per month and it offers 1TB storage.
  • Photography Plan is also available with payment of $9.99 per month; however, storage space, in this case, is enhanced up to 20GB. This plan is suitable for those who want to work with Lightroom Classic and Photoshop while accessing online storage of Lightroom CC.
  • The third plan is available for payment of $19.99 per month and it also provides access to both versions of Lightroom with Photoshop and only 1TB storage space.

7. Speed:

There is no doubt to say that speed is always the essential feature for all professional editors. The great news is that Lightroom Classic is improved with its latest update and now it ensures very high speed for all editing applications as compared to its predecessor. It can load faster and you can enjoy efficient editing on high-resolution pictures as well. But when compared to Lightroom CC, it again appeared slower.

During the test, when 10 RAW files with 45.7MP resolution level were loaded to Lightroom Classic, it took around 20 seconds but when the same set of files was loaded to Lightroom CC, it took half the time. Hence we can say that Lightroom CC again have an edge over speed.

The fact is that Lightroom CC is a lighter version of software with lesser tools as compared to the Classic version so it naturally takes lesser time to load and perform various operations.

8. Organizing Photos:

Lightroom Classic can organize photos into different collections with its Smart Collection feature. Users can create different groups of images as per parameter settings such as specific image rating or specific lens type.

On the other side, Lightroom CC stores photos in form of albums with different names. These albums can be organized into different folders and images can also be sorted by date so that users can have easy access to a right set of images instantly.

Although the Smart Collection feature is missing in Lightroom CC, but it works on the basis of Artificial Intelligence to initiate an efficient search for photos. This ability is missing in Classic version. The object recognition technology in Lightroom CC helps to search images by popular landmark and specific objects so that users can access their specific collection with ease.

Both software have special tools to rate individual images. In case of Lightroom CC, the selection of best photos is done creatively but in order to access this feature, you have to work on an online version of Lightroom CC.

Should I Use Lightroom Classic CC?

Lightroom Classic is more useful for advanced photographers who are more curious to access advanced editing tools. Those who are in need of a desktop application with advanced editing capabilities will find Lightroom Classic more useful. Adobe promises continuous updates to this software tool so you can expect great performance for all your editing needs. Those who are using Lightroom from a long past and now need an update in features are advised to start working on Lightroom Classic to gain easy access to many advanced features. This platform will also provide you an easy access to plugins, watermarks, multiple catalogs and other high-end features. In simple words, the target audiences, in this case, are professional photographers.

Should I Use Lightroom CC?

Developers at Adobe have added so many impressive features to Lightroom CC but they do not provide clear insights about who are the targeted users for this platform. Although Lightroom CC is loaded with so many impressive features but if we observe them deeply, very few of them are really useful for professional photo editors. It clearly means that the target audiences for Lightroom CC are beginners who prefer the ease of use over complex technical features.

Also, as Lightroom CC is lightweight software, it works perfectly on mobile devices as well without losing its speed, so it will suit more to those who want to edit images on the go. If you love to share images on social media, then Lightroom CC can provide you much efficient support. Note that, this handy platform can compete with advanced applications like Apple Photos. The consumer-oriented design and intuitive interface make it more suitable for active learners.


After observing all features of Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic, it is clear that the first tool is suitable for casual photographers whereas the second one suits better to the professionals. You may also find many professional social media editors who prefer to work on Lightroom CC but the fact is that they also access Lightroom Classic side by side.

If you are more interested in social media sharing and don’t want to spend much to access editing tools, Lightroom CC can fulfill your requirements with ease. Hopefully, the naming convention is now clear to all users and it is easier to look for an efficient solution to handle your routine editing needs.

Apr 15,2020 17:38 pm