Adobe Lightroom is not one program but three. You could easily call it an ecosystem. At heart, it’s a tool for both organizing your photos and editing them. So how do you get it, what does it cost, and which version do you need?
Lightroom reviews, tips and tutorials
Lightroom is Adobe's all-in-one photo organizing, RAW processing and editing tool. It can be used on its own or alongside Photoshop, which is designed for more complex editing and illustration work.
You can only get Lightroom as part of Adobe's various subscription plans. The Adobe Photography Plan page explains these in more detail.
There are now two versions of Lightroom, which makes things more complicated. Lightroom Classic CC is the more powerful 'traditional' version which use images stored locally on your computer. Lightroom CC is a newer, slimmed-down version that uses cloud-based storage where all your images are available everywhere. This Lightroom CC vs Lightroom Classic CC comparison explains the key differences.
Lightroom exists in two versions. Lightroom (the web version) is the big villain of this piece, but Lightroom Classic isn’t entirely guilt-free. Both use a one-time import process that copes badly with subsequent external changes. This effectively locks you into using them as your sole digital hub from then on.
Lightroom and Capture One offer HDR tools with a difference. They don’t create wild and exaggerated HDR effects. Instead, they create what I would call DNG ‘super-negatives’ with extended dynamic range that you can then exploit however you like.
Kodak HIE infra-red film was one of my favorite films, delivering dense black skies, dreamy soft highlights and heavy grain. Can I get the same effect digitally?
I have to admit I wasn’t massively impressed by the Color Grading panel when it was added to Lightroom. It looked like it was replacing the Split Toning panel with something less focused and more complicated. I was wrong!
Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw make a great alternative to Lightroom, with all the same editing tools but in a simpler workflow with no tiresome imports, just ‘live’ image browsing and editing.
Lightroom vs Photoshop, which is best? It’s not that simple, as anyone who uses them will know, because although there is some crossover (well, a lot of crossover), they have very different roles and very different strengths and weaknesses. One is not better than the other because it depends on what you want to do. […]
Verdict: 4.5 stars Lightroom Classic’s latest masking tool updates make it more powerful than ever, though it’s still not fast to use and its interface is quite cluttered and oppressive. And do we still need all these different modules?
Lightroom’s masking tools have had a major overhaul. The old Adjustment Brush, Linear Gradient and Radial Gradient tools are still there, but they’ve been joined by new Select Subject and Select Sky AI masking tools and Color Range, Luminance Range and Depth range tools. Here’s how Select Subject works.
That’s a good question for those who use the mobile app. The Lightroom for mobile app is free to use but has restrictions which can only be unlocked with a Photography Plan subscription. Here are the details.