Adobe Inc. first introduced their professional-grade photo editing program, which was originally called Adobe Lightroom, back in 2007. A decade later, in the fall of 2017, Adobe chose to break this product up into two very different programs to reflect the growing divide in image capture and storage technology.
Today there are two very different options on the market for serious photographers: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic and Adobe Lightroom (Cloud-Based). In this blog post, we will compare these two very different types of “Lightroom” so that you can decide which option is right one for you.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic is designed for professional photographers and serious photo enthusiasts. Those who opt for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic are choosing to store their digital photographs on their own hardware.
“Their own hardware” in this context means storing your digital images on your own computer and / or external hard drives. Those who choose Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic are intentionally choosing to design their own file storage and photo backup system. Taking on these responsibilities offers a lot of flexibility for professionals but it is an added challenge for those who lack strong data management skills.
Adobe Lightroom (Cloud-Based)
Adobe Lightroom, on the other hand, is a cloud-based image editing software that is geared more towards the needs of amateur photographers. This option offers almost all of the amazing image editing features of Lightroom Classic, but it lacks some of Classic’s organizational tools and output features.
Those who choose Adobe Lightroom (cloud-based) are choosing to letting Adobe store their photographs for them on Adobe’s servers.
Since this is a cloud-based program, Adobe Lightroom users do not need to purchase additional hardware as their image library grows larger and larger because all of their photos are automatically uploaded to Adobe for storage and safekeeping.
One of the first things to consider when choosing between the two types of Lightroom is your internet connection. The Adobe Lightroom (cloud-based) option requires decent internet upload speeds and a willingness to let Adobe store your photos for you. If you lack a reliable internet connection, or if your ISP penalizes you for uploading lots of data, then Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic is the better choice.
On the flip side, cloud-based photo storage allows you to access your images from any internet connected device anywhere in the world. If you are someone who would like to work on your photography using your smartphone, your tablet, and any computer even when you are far from home then Adobe Lightroom (cloud-based) is the clear winner.
Next, mastering Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic requires advanced computer skills. If you are not interested in learning about hard drives, file storage protocols, and how to make your own backups then this is not the right program for you. If maintaining robust backups of your photography intimidates you then Adobe Lightroom (cloud-based) is the better choice.
Finally, there is a learning curve to each program. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic is much harder to learn and it is not beginner friendly. If you would like a shorter learning curve then Adobe Lightroom (cloud-based) is the way to go.
Unfortunately, I must warn you that there is no “middle of the road” here. Sadly, you must choose one type of Lightroom or the other if you are going to use either type of “Lightroom” to enhance your digital images.
There are plenty of other excellent image editing programs on the market from companies other than Adobe but within the Lightroom category you must choose either Classic or Cloud-Based. What you absolutely cannot do is to use both Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic and Adobe Lightroom (cloud-based) simultaneously to organize the same image library.
If you decide that you want to switch your images from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic over to Adobe Lightroom (cloud-based) at some point in the future that’s no problem. Moving from Classic to Cloud-Based is not hard but this change is a one-way street and there is no easy way to go back.
If local storage suits your needs, and if you are willing to put in the time needed to learn the more complex program, then go for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic. If, on the other hand, the advantages that cloud-based storage appeal to you, and if would like a much shorter learning curve, then go with Adobe Lightroom (cloud-based) instead!