This article is an excerpt from Issue 34 of Lightroom Magazine‚ just released today!
It’s been more than two years since we’ve gotten a new version of Lightroom, and I’m very excited to tell you about what’s new, but I have to start by providing some historical context. I also want to give you a heads-up that this isn’t just about a new version of Lightroom; there’s also a whole new application (for both Mac and Windows) in the mix. For clarity’s sake, as there’s likely to be confusion, I’m going to use the full names for these products at the start, and then introduce the shorthand I’ve been using to keep them straight. You’ll understand why very soon.
A Short History of Lightroom
In 2007, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Version 1.0 was released. Fast-forward to 2015, when we were introduced to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC 2015.0/6.0. For the last 29 months, we had two flavors of Lightroom: one paid for through a Creative Cloud (CC) subscription and one paid through a one-time payment for a perpetual license. Both flavors were developed in parallel, with both receiving periodic bug fixes, as well as new camera and lens support. Over that same time period, a mobile-based app for iOS and Android devices, commonly referred to as Lightroom mobile, was rapidly developed and integrated with Lightroom CC 2015. The key to that integration is the Adobe ID associated with your CC subscription. Due to its subscription-based payment system, Lightroom CC 2015 also received a few new features during that time frame, which weren’t possible to add to Lightroom 6. That brings us to present day.
Adobe has just announced the successor to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC 2015/6, and its full name is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC. This is the 7th version of this product. The core goal of this release is a commitment to improving performance across the workflow. We’ll get into the specifics in a bit, but the marquee feature for this release is all about performance enhancements. In addition, there are new features and improvements in the Develop module that are very welcome. For the sake of brevity, I’ll refer to this new version of the application as “Lr Classic” from here on out. What’s the deal with the addition of Classic to the name, you rightfully wonder? Let’s get into that.
Lightroom as we’ve known it, now Lr Classic, is a tool that’s based on photos being stored locally in folders on drives connected to your computer. If you’ve used Lightroom mobile at all, you’ve been introduced to the idea that the photos synced between the catalog on your computer and your mobile devices can be stored, either as smart previews or full resolution images (depending on what device they were imported through), on servers in the cloud. This cloud storage enables you to access those photos from both your computer and all of your mobile devices, as well as Apple TV, and even a web browser pointed to lightroom.adobe.com. Adobe has taken this concept to the next level with a completely new application for Mac and Windows that’s called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC (Version 1.0). Yeah, you read that right. This is the reason why the version of Lightroom we’ve known these last 10 years is now going to be called “Classic.” I’ve been referring to this new application simply as “Lr CC,” which I realize can be confusing, but I haven’t found a better alternative yet.
Note: I’m deliberately referring to the operating systems on which these applications are installed because I feel it’s clearer than using words like mobile, phone, tablet, and desktop, which all have evolving meanings as our hardware continues to morph into new devices.
Lr CC is the Mac/Windows gateway to the Lightroom ecosystem that lives in the cloud. The interface is (mostly) unified with the interface you find in Lightroom mobile for iOS/Android and the web (lightroom.adobe.com). Here’s the real kicker, though, with Lr CC you store the full resolution photos in the cloud, and this gives you access to your source photos from every device you own. This is no small thing. That said, this is also a version 1.0 product, and as such, its feature set is not yet complete (more on that later).
Goodbye Perpetual License
Adobe has clearly gone all-in on the cloud, and with that move, there won’t be a perpetual license version of Lr Classic. The only way to get any new version of Lightroom is with a Creative Cloud subscription. My understanding is that Adobe will release updates to Lightroom 6 for an unspecified time, to provide support for new cameras, lenses, and bug fixes as they have these last 29 months.
Hello, Lr Classic
I know from my experience on the KelbyOne Help Desk, as well as from various forums and conversations with other Lightroom users, that improving performance has been high on everyone’s wish list. Adobe has apparently taken this issue seriously and devoted most of its resources for this version to identifying various points in the workflow where speed can be improved. One of the first places you may notice an improvement is in launching the program, which should be more noticeable with larger catalogs. I’ve definitely noticed an improvement here.
Once opened, I think the most-welcome new feature will be the improvement to importing photos by using the embedded previews extracted from the photos themselves. By using the embedded previews, you can begin the process of separating the wheat from the chaff as soon as you see photos start appearing in the Library. To utilize this feature, select Embedded