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How to Buy Lightroom in 2019

Lightroom Classic vs CC

It used to be so simple to buy Lightroom. Every 18 months, Adobe would release a new version for photographers to buy outright, or to upgrade their existing copy.

Now things are a bit more complicated…

If you’re confused about whether you can still buy Lightroom 6 outright, or whether to buy Lightroom Classic CC as a subscription, this is the guide for you.

shk-fs-table__imageLightroom Photography Plan✓ Great features ✓ Regular Updates ✓ AffordableView Price

If you’re looking for one of the last remaining copies of standalone Lightroom, you may be disappointed.

However, all is not lost – keep reading on to see why you may change your mind and end up happily paying for a monthly subscription just like me…

What’s the Best Way to Buy Lightroom?

Despite all the other software available to edit and organise your photos in 2019, Lightroom and Photoshop are still the industry standards.

Whether you’re a professional or an amateur photographer, or simply someone who just wants to make their photos look the best way in the least time, Adobe Lightoom is still number one.

Under the Lightroom Classic CC subscription plan, you can choose between a few different options depending on your needs.

Choosing which Lightroom plan to subscribe to is downright confusing! Hopefully this guide will make the decision simpler for you…

Some of the Creative Cloud subscription options aren’t as relevant to photographers (e.g. the All Apps + Adobe Stock plan is suited more for designers), and some just don’t make any sense at all (the ‘Lightroom Plan’ is the same price as the ‘Lightroom CC Photography Plan’, but offers less features!)…

In this guide, I’ve done my best to simplify the options, so you can choose the most appropriate plan for your needs.

#1 | (Recommended) Photography Plan + 1TB of Cloud Storage

(See latest price here)

This is what I use. It’s a great value option if you only need Lightroom with Photoshop, and includes:

  • Lightroom CC
  • Lightroom Classic CC
  • Photoshop CC
  • Full Lightroom Mobile Functionality (including the 8 Premium Features)
  • Your own portfolio website and social media tools
  • 1TB of cloud storage (about 20,000 raw DSLR images or 200,000 JPEGs)
  • One month of free Adobe Stock

#2 |  Photography Plan + 20GB of Cloud Storage

(See latest price here)

This option is for users who don’t plan to take full advantage of Lightroom CC and all its cloud syncing features. 20GB allows you to only store approximately 400 RAWs or 4,000 JPEGs.

  • Lightroom CC
  • Lightroom Classic CC
  • Photoshop CC
  • Full Lightroom Mobile Functionality (including the 8 Premium Features)
  • Your own portfolio website and social media tools
  • 20GB of cloud storage (about 400 raw DSLR images or 4,000 JPEGs)
  • One month of free Adobe Stock

(You can also opt for the basic Creative Cloud Photography plan with only 20GB of storage. However, I don’t recommend this option since it doesn’t allow you to take full advantage of Lightroom CC’s cloud syncing features.)

#3 | (Best Value For Power Users) Creative Cloud All Apps

(See latest price here)

This is Adobe’s most popular option, and perfect for photographers who also need regular access to other Adobe apps. It includes:

  • The entire collection of 20+ creative desktop and mobile apps including Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, Illustrator CC, and XD CC
  • 100GB of cloud storage, your own portfolio website, premium fonts, and social media tools
  • Up to 10TB of cloud storage
  • One month of free Adobe Stock

(If you’re a Student or a Teacher, you can get the CC All Apps plan for up to a 70% discount using this link.)

One way or another, if you’re serious about editing and organising your photos easily, you need to buy Lightroom.

Why Buy Lightroom Classic CC as a Subscription?

best way to buy lightroom

Lightroom’s new Creative Profiles are one great reason to pay for the subscription version of Lightroom.

As of April 2019, Adobe Lightroom is only available as part of the Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom 6 standalone is no longer available to purchase.

Initially, I was annoyed about this, but the more I used the subscription version, the more I understood why Adobe had made this decision.

I’ve been using the Lr Classic CC (and Lr Mobile) for over a year, and I’m confident to recommend it to all photographers.

If you’re still using the standalone copy of Lightroom 6, I also strongly recommend you consider upgrading too.

To help you make your decision, here’s a quick run down of the pros and cons of the subscription version of Lightroom:

  • Pros of Buying Lightroom Classic CC as a Subscription

There are several significant pros of paying for Lightroom on one of Adobe’s subscription plans.

With the extra money generated since Adobe switched to its subscription models, they have invested a lot into making Lightroom much, much better.

1) You get the fastest, most optimized version of Lightroom

This is essential for most people. Lightroom Classic CC launches faster, generates previews faster, imports and exports faster, switches between modules faster, and generally feels much snappier than previous versions of Lightroom.

There’s still admittedly a lot of room for improvement, but for the average user, it’s plenty fast enough.

2) All of the most recent cameras are supported

If you own any camera released after Dec 2017, you need to buy Lightroom Classic CC to be able to edit your photos.

I bought a Sony a7III earlier this year, and so I had to stop using Lightroom 6 and upgrade to their subscription plan. It’s good to know that any new camera I buy will always be supported by Lightroom from now on.

3) You get all the latest Lightroom features

This is a huge benefit. Creative Profiles, Expanded Tone Curve, Profile Management, Coloured Labeling, Folder Search, Range Masking, Boundary Warp… these are all incredibly useful features that you’ll use every day, and they simply won’t ever be available unless you buy Lightroom Classic CC (see all features here).

Recently, Adobe added a ‘Textures’ slider to the Lightroom Develop panel, which allows you to smooth or enhance textures in photos without destroying finer details or adding noise. It’s genuinely a really useful tool which I find myself using to clean up noising high ISO images.

More Recent: Lightroom Classic V9.0 (November 2019)

  • Panorama Fill Edges – an automatic tool to help fill in the uneven edges of your panorama photos.
  • Multi-Batch Export – the ability to export multiple jobs for the same set of images all at once.
  • Clear History – reduce clutter and speed up performance by clearing selected edits.
  • Export Presets/Preset Groups – exactly what it says!
  • Filter Collections by Colour Labels – easily navigate through your Collections with colour labels.

Updates to Lightroom CC:

  • Guided Tutorials on Desktop – learn new techniques from other talented professionals.
  • Advanced Export Options – different file types, colour space, output sharpening, etc.
  • Batch Editing for iOS – edits can now be applied to several photos at once on mobile.
  • Fill Edges – an automatic tool to help fill in the uneven edges of your panorama photos.

4) You get Lightroom CC (Lightroom Mobile)

Being able to sync and backup your imported photos to the cloud, then use a mobile device to cull, rate and edit photos is incredibly liberating. You can also use Photoshop CC to perform more fine tuning on your images, all from the cloud – very impressive.

I love the ability to create an online gallery of images to share in just a few clicks, using the Albums feature of Lightroom CC and the included Adobe cloud storage space.

[Update June 2019: Thanks to Apple iOS13, Lightroom Mobile will be able to import photos from your camera direct to the Lightroom app, bypassing the camera roll. This ‘direct import’ feature is a huge time saver to what was once a rather clunky process.]

The Lightroom Mobile app is 100% free to download and use whether you’re a paying Creative Cloud subscriber or not.

However, its functionality is limited, meaning some key features are only available to subscribers (see below in the CONS section).

5) You get Photoshop CC (Photoshop on iPad)

The latest version of Adobe Photoshop now supports a fully completely mobile workflow, meaning that you can start editing a PSD on your desktop, have it saved to the Adobe cloud automatically, then continue editing on your iPad.

While anyone can download the Photoshop iPad app for free, it’s only with a Creative Cloud subscription that users can take advantage of all the cloud syncing benefits, and this is what makes it so powerful.

  • Cons of Buying Lightroom Classic CC as a Subscription

The only real con of purchasing Lightroom Classic CC is the cost involved, but for many photographers, this isn’t a con at all.

Personally, I’d much prefer a fully featured, future-proof product that I have to pay for each month than one that may cost less, but is immediately out of date.

I’ll discuss this more in detail in the ‘How much does Lightroom Cost‘ section below.

Can you Buy Lightroom 6 Outright?

buy lightroom 6 amazon

You used to be able to buy Lightroom 6 (the non-subscription version) from Amazon… but no longer :-(

As of February 2019, Adobe stopped offering the standalone Lightroom 6. For a few weeks, it was still possible to grab one of the last remaining copies on Amazon, but they all seem to be sold out now.

Aside from that, there may be the odd copy floating around the Internet, or you might even still be using Lr6 on your computer today.

However, as of May 2019, Adobe Creative Cloud no longer offers customers access to most older versions of Lightroom and Photoshop;

I’ll admit it – I held off upgrading from my outdated standalone Lightroom 6 software for almost a year.

Along with many other photographers, I felt angry at Adobe for forcing users into their subscription model, and refusing to keep creating Lightroom standalone products.

If you own any of the previous versions of Lightroom, I understand your annoyance too. After all, why should you have to pay a monthly subscription on top of the price you’ve paid for the original software?!

Just in case you do find one of the last remaining copies of Lr6, just consider the reasons below why subscribing to a Creative Cloud plan might still be the better option for you.

  • Cons of Buying Lightroom 6 Outright/NOT Upgrading Lr6

1) You won’t have the fastest, most optimized version of Lightroom

This is a huge con of buying Lightroom 6 in 2019. Why pay for software that’s outdated, and will run slower and slower over time?!

2) You’ll be stuck using older cameras

Lightroom 6 won’t be able to edit any photos taken with cameras released after Nov 2017*. Why limit yourself to old technology – there are so many new and exciting mirrorless cameras being released!

(*You can use the Adobe DNG Converter, but it’s a rather clunky workaround for every single time you import images from newer cameras into LR6.)

3) You won’t have all the latest features

Perhaps you don’t think you need the latest Lightroom features, but trust me, when you see what more you can do to your photos with the latest updates, you’ll want them eventually!

4) Limited Lightroom CC/Mobile Functionality

Being able to cull, organise and even edit photos on a tablet is incredibly liberating, not to mention a lot of fun. The cloud storage (backup) is invaluable too.

The premium features that are missing from the free version of Lightroom CC (Mobile) are numerous and considerable:

  • Cloud Storage
  • Sync Presets & profiles
  • Healing
  • Selective Adjustments
  • Sensei Search
  • Geometry
  • Editing Raw Photos
  • Sharing Web Galleries
  • Sort your People Photos

For many photographers, being able to sync photos and edits between your mobile devices and your desktop; edit RAW files directly on your mobile device straight out of your camera; use powerful selective adjustment tools, like being able to ‘dodge & burn’ with your finger and an ipad; etc etc., are all invaluable features, and well worth the subscription cost to CC.

5) No Photoshop/Photoshop for iPad Mobile Workflow

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether these are issues or not, since not everyone needs this software.

However, even if you think you may not need Photoshop, I must admit that for any image edits that simply aren’t possible in Lightroom, it’s still a great piece of software.

Just as there are lots of great Lightroom tutorials all over YouTube, the same is true for Photoshop, so getting up to speed isn’t too hard.

Also, the ability to work seamlessly across desktop computer to iPad with Photoshop CC really is impressive, and a real game changer for mobile creatives.

How Much does Lightroom Cost?

Lightroom 6 standalone

Useful features such as Range Masks are NOT available in Lightroom 6

Obviously, if you still manage somehow to buy Lightroom outright as a standalone product, there’s only one cost.

With the Adobe Lightroom Classic CC cost, things are a little more vague. Obviously you can’t predict how long you plan to use it, but let’s assume you’ll use it for 1 year (then reassess and see what other options have appeared in that time).

On the Photography Plan with 1TB of Cloud Storage, you’ll have spent a total of $239.88 after a year. Yes, it’s obviously more than a Lightroom 6 purchase (if you even manage to get one), but how relevant is this to you?

Is the cost of Lightroom Classic CC (as a monthly subscription) justifiable to you?

In my opinion, if you’re a professional, using the latest version of Lightroom is a necessity. You owe it to yourself and to your clients to use the best version of a software, which will support the latest camera technologies.

In addition, having access to Photoshop for those photos you can’t edit properly in Lightroom is also essential as a working pro.

The premium features of Lightroom CC (‘Mobile’) are also really useful to me –  the ability to import RAW files straight from my camera into my iPad, then being able to make selective adjustments just by tapping the screen, and have all edits synced back to my main computer are invaluable.

The Adobe Photography Plan is a cost of doing business as a photographer in 2019, and for the huge benefits, I’m happy to deduct is as an expense to my photography business.

But how about if you’re an amateur photographer, or even a beginner? Is it still worth paying Adobe each month for the privilege of using their software? Well yes, I think so.

Even if you’re not a professional photographer, I strongly recommend you consider subscribing to Lightroom Classic CC. It’s still very much a relevant and useful product for everyone from beginners through to pros.

Despite the emergence of several alternatives to Lightroom and a recent Luminar 4 discount, I still believe paying for the subscription version of Lightroom is still the number one option.

If you don’t plan to upgrade your camera, don’t care for new features, software improvements and speed increases, premium Lightroom CC/Mobile features, and/or don’t want Photoshop, then you may be alright sticking with your current copy of Lightroom 6 if you still have it.

How to get a Lightroom Discount

Adobe Student Discount

The Adobe Student Discount is the cheapest way to get all the Adobe Apps.

Occasionally, Adobe decides to give a discount on Lightroom and its Creative Cloud products.

If you don’t mind waiting, you can keep checking this link to see if there are any good offers.

Another option is if you’re a student or a teacher (check eligibility here). If eligible, you can save up to 70% on Creative Cloud products using this link.

Finally it’s worth mentioning that you can download Lightroom to trial from here, and have a play around with the other Adobe products too.

How to get an Adobe Student Discount

As mentioned above, if you’re a student or a teacher, you can save a up to 70% on a Creative Cloud All Apps plan using this link.

This can mean a huge reduction of US$52.99 to $19.99 a month! This is a generous offer from Adobe, in an effort to support anyone in full time education and encourage the development of creativity.

[Sneaky Tip: You didn’t hear it from me, but there are ways to take advantage of the Adobe Student Discount... even if you’re not a student or teacher!]

I don’t want to spell it out for you here, but let’s just say it’s easier than you might think – head over to this link and get a little ‘creative’ with your application ;-)

How to get a Creative Cloud All Apps Discount

Photoshop Lightroom discount

If you aren’t a student or teacher, you can use this Adobe Photoshop Lightroom discount to save 15%.

Adobe are kindly offering all Shotkit newsletter subscribers an exclusive 15% discount on the first year of the Adobe CC All Apps plan.

If you’re a multi-discipline creative, a production agency, or even just someone who requires more than just the Photography Plan, the All Apps Plan is by far the most cost effective way of getting everything you need.

I’m a huge fan of the cross-device video editing app Adobe Premiere Rush CC, so in order to get the most out of it, I needed to upgrade to the All Apps plan (since I already subscribe to the Photography Plan).

There are 20+ Adobe apps that I’ll be able to take advantage of, including apps that have nothing to do with photography, e.g. Adobe Acrobat and Dreamweaver.

To get the 15% discount for yourself, just sign up to the free Shotkit weekly newsletter here and you’ll gain access to coupon code, as shown in the exclusive member’s area.

How to get Lightroom with Photoshop

A source of some confusion is just how users can get Lightroom with Photoshop – it’s not immediately apparent that when subscribing to the Creative Cloud Photography plan, you also get Photoshop included.

If you opt for the Photography Plan + 1TB of Cloud Storage like me, you get Lightroom with Photoshop, as well as the other features mentioned previously (see top of article for more info).

Similarly, if you get the Photography Plan + 20GB of Cloud Storage you get the same benefit, just with 1/50 the online storage capacity.

Finally, with the Creative Cloud All Apps, it’s pretty self-explanatory – you get Lightroom, Photoshop, and all the other Adobe Creative Cloud apps. This option is for power-users, or agencies which require their employees to have access to everything.

Free Adobe Lightroom Download Warning

I imagine some people reading this post will be searching for ways to get an Adobe Lightroom crack, or trying to uncover a free Lightroom download. I won’t lie – many moons ago I tried to do the same thing!

You might find success on certain shadier sites, but I’d strongly recommend you steer clear of anything but the genuine Lightroom from the Adobe website, or a reputable dealer.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or an enthusiast, you definitely shouldn’t be entrusting all your most precious memories to a dodgy copy of Lightroom. Anything could happen, from a corrupted database to images displaying differently – the latest cameras may not even be supported.

In summary, please do the right thing. Don’t download Lightroom from any source other than Adobe.

I know it’s nice to get software for free, but it’s far better to pay a little money for software that helps you achieve your goals, particularly if that software is frequently updated with useful features.

Adobe Lightroom trial

Adobe Lightroom Trial Download

Adobe offers a free 7 day Lightroom CC Trial

The one official way to get a ‘free’ version of Lightroom is via the Adobe Lightroom Free Trial, which is only available on the Adobe website here.

The only drawback is that you only get 7 days to have a play around with the software, but at least it’s a fully functional version of Lightroom CC with all the latest updates.

You can convert your free trial to a paid Creative Cloud membership during the 7 day period, or after the trial expires.

The Adobe Lightroom Trial works on both macOS and Windows – I recommend you give it a go if you’re in two minds about whether to upgrade your standalone Lightroom 6 copy to the subscription plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Since writing this post, I’ve had a lot of questions regarding the various options available. Here are some answers to the most common queries:

How much is Adobe Lightroom?

You can purchase Lightroom on its own or as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, with both plans starting at US$9.99/month. Lightroom Classic is available as part of the Creative Cloud Photography plan, starting at US$9.99/month.

What is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom?

Sometimes Lightroom is referred to rather confusingly as ‘Photoshop Lightroom’. It is the same thing.

Can you Just Buy Lightroom?

No you cannot. Amazon and B&H Photo hasve sold the last remaining copies of Lightroom 6, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find it elsewhere.

Can I get Lightroom Free?

Only for 30 days ;-) Click here to download a free trial of Lightroom Classic CC.

Is Lightroom only available by subscription?

Lightroom Classic CC is only available by subscription. Lightroom 6 (the previous version) is no longer available to purchase outright.

Which is better Photoshop or Lightroom?

Lightroom is like a ‘lite’ version of Photoshop, but it also offers image organisation features that Photoshop lacks. One is not technically better than the other – they are intended to be used for different purposes, often in unison.

Typically, a Lightroom user will only use Photoshop to edit or manipulate images in a way that Lightroom cannot. Similarly, a Photoshop user will use Lightroom in order to organise, cull and add keywords to a library of images.

What is Adobe Lightroom used for?

Lightroom has two main uses – the first is as an image management software. The second is as an image editing software.

Is Lightroom CC free?

Yes, on mobile it is :-) You can download the app for iOS and Android devices, and use it for free to edit and share your images.

The desktop version of Lightroom CC isn’t available as a free, standalone product – it comes bundled with the Photography Plan, which includes Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC.

What’s the difference between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC?

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC is the renamed version of the original Lightroom application. It is optimised for desktop-focused workflows, including local storage of your photos in files and folders on your computer.

Lightroom CC is the new cloud-based photo service that works across desktop, mobile and web. Lightroom Classic CC is the desktop-focused digital photography product. Slightly confusing, right?! ;-)

Is Adobe Lightroom Mobile free?

Yes, it’s 100% free to download the Lightroom CC mobile app onto your smartphone. However, there are certain features that are missing:

  • Cloud Storage
  • Sync Presets & profiles
  • Healing
  • Selective Adjustments
  • Sensei Search
  • Geometry
  • Editing Raw Photos
  • Sharing Web Galleries
  • Sort your People Photos

Some of these features are unnecessary for the average photographer, but others are genuinely very useful, e.g. RAW editing, sync presets and cloud storage.

The premium features are only only available to users who subscribe to the Creative Cloud.

What happens to my photos if I cancel my Adobe subscription?

Lightroom CC: Adobe stores your original images for an additional year after your membership lapses. During this time, you can continue to launch Lightroom CC to download your original files from the cloud .

Lightroom Classic CC: You’ll still have access to all your photos on your hard drive through Lightroom Classic CC. You can continue to import and organise photos, as well as export your edited photos through Export, Publish, Print, Web, or Slideshow. However, access to the Develop & Map modules and Lightroom Mobile are not available after your membership ends.

Is there a Lightroom 7?

Nope! Lightroom 6 was the last stand-alone (i.e. non-subscription) version of Lightroom that could be purchased outside of a Creative Cloud membership… but now even that has been phased out.

All the advantages of Lightroom lie in the subscription versions, with regular updates, powerful new features and helpful support.

If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments below so I can consider adding them to this list.

My Recommendations

No one likes the idea of paying each month for a subscription… especially when that product or service used to be available as a one-off payment.

However, once you’re committed to buying Lightroom Classic CC, you’ll soon realise just how many huge benefits there are by paying for Lightroom in this way… whether you’re an amateur or a pro photographer.

Many believe that with the massive revenue Adobe has created by encouraging its users into this model, it is now more able to invest heavily into the improvement of Lightroom, Photoshop and every other creative program we all rely on.

As a Lightroom subscriber, I’m happy to keep paying the subscription fee, as I feel the benefits hugely outweigh anything else.

I hope this article has put some things in perspective for you too. Leave me a comment with your thoughts :-)

shk-fs-table__imageLightroom Photography Plan✓ Great features ✓ Regular Updates ✓ AffordableView Price

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on actual user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.