Lightroom Classic vs. Lightroom CC: what's the difference?

Gone are the days of just plain ol' Lightroom.

Now, we are pleasured with a variety of options (and also added confusion) when it comes to our beloved Lightroom editing program.

Instead of just Lightroom alone, we also have Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom CC, and Lightroom mobile.

If you are here scratching your head in confusion and not knowing which program is right for you, then this practical explaination will hopefully clear things up!

So, what's the difference between them all?

Let's take a look and discover the differences so you can decide which program is right for you!

 Lightroom differences

Lightroom 1-6

The original standalone version of Lightroom.

Lightroom 1-6 was (and is still available to buy) the only option of Lightroom up until recently.

You could upgrade to the newest version if you so desired, but once you purchased the software, it was yours forever.

While you can still use your old version of Lightroom, this can become problematic for professional photographers who need upgraded features and who shoot in RAW file format.

You see, old versions of Lightroom aren't equipped for new RAW file formats for new cameras.

So if you're used to shooting in RAW and you want to upgrade your camera, Lightroom may not be able to recognize the RAW file formats, making it impossible to import and work on your photos.

If this isn't important to you and you shoot in JPEG file format, then you have nothing to worry about!

The only thing you might experience down the road is when you upgrade to a new computer, it might not be able to run. And since Adobe is not updating this version of Lightroom any longer, they no longer provide support for the old version.

Basically, you're out of luck.


Lightroom Classic CC

But, never fear, Lightroom Classic CC is here!

In a nutshell, this is the same Lightroom platform as mentioned above - the only difference is that it's subscription-based, so you have to pay a monthly fee to use the develop module.

What's great about Lightroom Classic CC is that you always get access to the latest updates without having to purchase a standalone upgraded version.

Lightroom Classic CC is perfect for professional photographers who still desire to work from one desktop computer and have no need for the mobile features.

Basically, this version is like the old version where you have it downloaded on your desktop and work from there & isn't cloud based like Lightroom CC.

For professional photographers or serious hobbyists, this is the version I recommend hands-down.

Since it's the full version of Lightroom, you get all the features Lightroom has to offer, plus the full version of Photoshop in your subscription.

Only downside is that you have to pay for it monthly.


Lightroom CC

 Now this is where most folks get confused.

We already have Lightroom Classic CC, so what's the deal with Lightroom CC?

Lightroom CC was rolled out as a condensed cloud-based version of Lightroom so users could sync and use the program on multiple computers and devices.

Since the Lightroom CC subscription comes with 1TB of data storage, you are able to save your photos and backup your catalog on the cloud, without taking up space on your computer.

While this sounds like an amazing idea for photographers, Lightroom CC does come with it's limitations.

For starters, it's a condensed version of Lightroom, so not all of Lightroom Classic's features are available with this version - which can be problematic for professionals.

Also, since it's cloud based, there's always room for disaster when connecting to the cloud to work on and back up your files.

If you're a hobbyist or someone who likes to take photos on their phone, camera, and other devices, this version might be best for you.

Rarely will this version of Lightroom (as it is now) will be the best be-all  option for working professionals.

This version does NOT come equipped with Photoshop, so you only get Lightroom with your subscription, which is another option to consider (although for twice the price, you can add in Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop)

You can compare and view their plans here.


What about Lightroom mobile?

The Lightroom mobile app is another little app that has been thrown into the mix that's caused some confusion.

Basically, it is what it says it is: an app.

What's great about the app is that you don't need a subscription to download it on your phone or mobile device.

You can connect your Lightroom CC account to this app so you can work from your phone or tablet and save to the cloud.

This is why it makes it so great for multiple device users.

The best part about this app is that you don't need to own Lightroom to use it, store photos on your phone, and edit. You can download it for free and get started right away!

Learn how to get started with this app here.

With so many Lightroom options to consider, I hope this simple explanation will help guide you through the processes of choosing a program that works for you!

So, whatcha think? Did this help explain the differences in Lightroom?

Let us know by commenting below & share with us if it helped clear any confusion you might have had before.

We create Lightroom tutorials based on your words of encouragement, so your feedback is more important than you know!



Want to see more useful Lightroom videos & tips? Sign up to get weekly updates & get a sample pack of FREE Lightroom presets when you do!

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  • Thanks so much for the great info!!

    jen samuelson
  • I’m a professional using Lightroom Classic CC. And this was so helpful! Haha. I actually didn’t know there were 3 versions! Yikes. Thanks Adobe. I’d like to know more about how to upload my existing presets into Lightroom CC or the app to edit simple phone photos. Is that possible?

    Jessie Nelson
  • I have lightroom 6 currently. The reason why I purchased LR 6 is due to not having internet service (I live in the sticks!). With Lightroom Classic CC do you always have to be connected to the internet to use or once you have in installed can you work offline?

    Shelby McKimmie

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