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Auto Focus: Which Lightroom CC?


By Chris Malinao

There’s just two, really. Basically, we have two flavors of Lightroom CC: Classic and Cloud. Classic is what we have always known, what used to be the standalone version, the one used by professional and serious photographers. The other one, the cloud version, was the one envisioned by Adobe when they released Lightroom 6.2 and failed because they tried to reach out to the selfie crowd to expand their market; they dumbed it down, removed some features, and the professional photographers worldwide complained.

Lightroom 6.2 was not really that bad, it had good intentions. Adobe found a way and it became the cloud version. It gives the impression that it has many flavors because it will look different depending on whether you’re looking at it on the desktop computer, iPhone, iPad, or Android device. The Lightroom Cloud version was also known as Lightroom mobile.


So, Adobe revived Version 6.2 and renamed it Lightroom CC Cloud. To keep peace with the professionals and keep their money, Adobe kept Lightroom Classic (even if you must go by the subscription route because they killed the standalone version).

Both versions, Classic and Cloud, are excellent iterations of the photographer’s workflow software, they both serve the photographer well. The big difference is in storage. Classic lets you keep and organize photos in your local computer, as it should be and has always been. Cloud is a different beast, it forces you to store files in the cloud—always—in Adobe’s servers, you know, so you pay them more money. Adobe’s blurb of course is “This is convenient and will work for you.” It is meant to maintain consistent features across mobile and desktop platforms and to create a seamless workflow regardless of the device you’re using, and that should be a good thing.

Yeah, that’s good if you have blazingly fast Internet connection. And you’re willing to pay Adobe more money for storage because the initial free 1TB of space in the photography bundle can fill up very quickly.

How does cataloguing work in both versions? Remember, Lightroom’s big contribution to the photography workflow is to separate storage from organization. You store in the folders, in the hard drive; then you organize in the catalog, via collections and collection sets, so you don’t copy-paste and bloat the hard drive. You become more efficient that way.

In Lightroom Cloud, there is no catalog, you don’t have Collections and Collection Sets as in Lightroom Classic. What you have are Folders and Albums. You simply open your photo, and edit right away. Share to Facebook when done. You keep photos in an album if you need to.

So, which one do you use? If you’re a professional photographer or serious hobbyist, go with Lightroom Classic, definitely. There’s no two ways about it, that’s the one you must use because it is one complete package for the photographer.

Lightroom Cloud, on the other hand, is still very much a work in progress. I suspect it’s just a way for Adobe to entice people to go into their cloud service. Sure, if you take photos with your smartphone and like to edit and share them on the go, Lightroom Cloud could be for you. But there are other better apps that does exactly that, and they’re way ahead of Adobe already.

You know something else? You cannot do batch process in LR Cloud, and there are no modules—no Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, and Print. As a matter of fact, you don’t have these things in Lightroom Cloud: Tone Curve and Split Toning, camera profiles and soft-proofing, snapshots and history, hierarchical keywords, photo merge, smart collections, robust batch processing, color and luminance range masking, and many, many other things. It is for the selfie crowd.

If you’re looking for a good Lightroom alternative, there are two new software worth looking into: the Luminar 2018 photo editing software available for about R3500, and the new, and free software, darktable,which originated from the Linux open source community.

[Chris Malinao teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. The FPPF is a non-profit that offers year-round workshops in Basic Photography, Advanced Photography, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and other specialty photography workshops. For details of FPPF workshops, visit]

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