How to Buy Lightroom in 2019

It used to be so simple to buy Lightroom. Every 18 months, Adobe would release a new version of Lightroom for photographers to buy outright or upgrade. Now things are a bit more complicated... If you're confused about whether to buy Lightroom 6 outright, or whether to buy Lightroom Classic CC as a subscription, this is the guide for you. (If you're also interested in how to buy Photoshop, I'll discuss this here too.) [separator type="thin"] What's the Best Way to Buy Lightroom? Despite all the other software available to edit and organise your photos in 2018, 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. One way or another, you need to buy Lightroom, so let's look at the options available to you in 2018 to acquire this amazing software and the pros and cons of each. OPTION 1: Buy Lightroom Classic CC as a Subscription Under the Lightroom Classic CC subscription plan, you can choose between 3 options depending on your needs: 1) Photography Plan with 1TB of Cloud Storage This is a great value option if you only need Lightroom and Photoshop, and includes: Lightroom CC Lightroom Classic CC Photoshop CC Your own portfolio website and social media tools 1TB of cloud storage (about 20,000 raw DSLR images or 200,000 JPEGs) 2) Lightroom CC Plan This is the option if you don't require Photoshop, and includes: Lightroom CC Your own portfolio website and social media tools 1TB of cloud storage (about 20,000 raw DSLR images or 200,000 JPEGs) 3) Creative Cloud All Apps According to Adobe this the most popular option. It includees: 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 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, best optimized version of Lightroom This is essential for most people. Lightroom Classic CC launches faster, generates previews fasters, imports and exports faster, switches between modules faster, and generally feels much snappier than previous versions of Lightroom. 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). 4) Lightroom CC 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. 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. [separator type="thin"] OPTION 2: Buy Lightroom 6 Outright 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 was 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?! However, it's time to face some facts. Let's have a look at the pros of buying Lightroom 6 as a standalone product: Pros of Buying Lightroom 6 Outright 1) It's Cheaper than Lightroom Classic CC Adobe still sells Lightroom 6, but it's very well hidden on their site - click here to get to it easily. At around $150, it's good value and a one-off payment. 2) It will never Expire With the subscription model, if you stop paying, you'll be left with a restricted version of Lightroom 5.5. You won't have access to the Develop Module, so essentially you'll be left with your edited photos and not a lot else. By buying Lightroom 6 outright, your software will never expire. You pay once, then own it forever. Cons of Buying Lightroom 6 Outright 1) You won't have the fastest, most optimized version of Lightroom This is a huge con of buying Lightroom 6 in 2018. 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! 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) No Lightroom CC 5) No Photoshop You'll have to decide for yourself whether these are issues or not, since not everyone needs this software. [separator type="thin"] How Much does Lightroom Cost? Obviously, if you buy Lightroom outright as a standalone product, there's only one cost. You can check the latest price at Adobe here, or at B&H Photo here for comparison, but it's usually about $150. 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, 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 Adobe Photography Plan is a cost of doing business as a photographer in 2018, and I'm happy to deduct is as an expense to my photography business. Even if you're an amateur photographer, I also recommend you strongly consider Lightroom Classic CC over the standalone versions for the reasons outlined above. If you don't plan to upgrade your camera, don't care for new features, software improvements and speed increases, and/or don't want Photoshop, then Lightroom 6 is still a viable option. [separator type="thin"] How to get a Lightroom Discount 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 67% on Creative Cloud products using this link. Finally it's worth mentioning that you can download a free trial of any of the Adobe products here. [separator type="thin"] Final Words 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 benefits there are by paying for Lightroom in this way. 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 :-) [separator type="thin"] 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 contain affiliate links which help support Shotkit. [separator type="thin"] [simple-author-box]
76 Shares

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

Now things are a bit more complicated…

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

(If you’re also interested in how to buy Photoshop, I’ll discuss this here too.)

What’s the Best Way to Buy Lightroom?

Despite all the other software available to edit and organise your photos in 2018, 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 3 options depending on your needs.

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

1) Photography Plan with 1TB of Cloud Storage

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

  • Lightroom CC
  • Lightroom Classic CC
  • Photoshop CC
  • Your own portfolio website and social media tools
  • 1TB of cloud storage (about 20,000 raw DSLR images or 200,000 JPEGs)

2) Lightroom CC Plan

This is the option if you don’t require Photoshop, and includes:

  • Lightroom CC
  • Your own portfolio website and social media tools
  • 1TB of cloud storage (about 20,000 raw DSLR images or 200,000 JPEGs)

3) Creative Cloud All Apps

According to Adobe this the most popular option. 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

One way or another, you need to buy Lightroom! So let’s look at the options available to you in 2018 to acquire this amazing software and the pros and cons of each.

OPTION #1

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.

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, best optimized version of Lightroom

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

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).

4) Lightroom CC

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.

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.

OPTION #2

Buy Lightroom 6 Outright

buy Lightroom 6 outright
The standalone version of Lightroom 6 isn’t so easy to find on the Adobe site…

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 was 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?!

However, it’s time to face some facts. Let’s have a look at the pros of buying Lightroom 6 as a standalone product:

Pros of Buying Lightroom 6 Outright

There are only two real reasons I can think of that anyone would want to purchase the old version of Lightroom, i.e. Lightroom 6.

1) It’s Cheaper than Lightroom Classic CC

Adobe still sells Lightroom 6, but it’s very well hidden on their site – click here to get to it easily. At around $150, it’s good value and a one-off payment.

2) It will never Expire

With the subscription model, if you stop paying, you’ll be left with a restricted version of Lightroom 5.5. You won’t have access to the Develop Module, so essentially you’ll be left with your edited photos and not a lot else.

By buying Lightroom 6 outright, your software will never expire. You pay once, then own it forever.

Check out the video below if you need more convincing if getting the standalone version is right for you.

Cons of Buying Lightroom 6 Outright

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

This is a huge con of buying Lightroom 6 in 2018. 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) No Lightroom CC

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

5) No Photoshop

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

How Much does Lightroom Cost?

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

Obviously, if you buy Lightroom outright as a standalone product, there’s only one cost. You can check the latest price at Adobe here, or at B&H Photo here for comparison, but it’s usually about $150.

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, 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 Adobe Photography Plan is a cost of doing business as a photographer in 2018, and I’m happy to deduct is as an expense to my photography business.

Even if you’re an amateur photographer, I also recommend you strongly consider Lightroom Classic CC over the standalone versions for the reasons outlined above, despite the emergence of several alternatives to Lightroom.

If you don’t plan to upgrade your camera, don’t care for new features, software improvements and speed increases, and/or don’t want Photoshop, then Lightroom 6 is still a viable option.

How to get a Lightroom Discount

how to get a lightroom discount
Adobe sometimes discounts its Creative Cloud Plans, especially for students.

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 67% on Creative Cloud products using this link.

Finally it’s worth mentioning that you can download a free trial of any of the Adobe products here.

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. 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 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 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 opt for standalone Lightroom 6 or the subscription plan.

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 benefits there are by paying for Lightroom in this way.

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 :-)

The Best Way to Buy Lightroom in 2018

Click here to buy what I use everyday

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 contain affiliate links which help support Shotkit.

76 Shares
  • Thank you for all this information. My daughter wants the stand alone option but has a Canon Rebel she purchased last year. Will this be an issue?

  • Mark:

    Thank you for this information about LR. After much research, I am just about convinced to go with the subscription plan, one last question. If I get a subscription without the cloud backup, do you have to have an internet connection to just run the editing program?

    Thanks, Kris

    • No problem, Kris! To answer your question, no, you don’t require an Internet connection to use LR. I’m often editing photos on a plane, and actually enjoy those rare moments away from Wifi!

  • I see you don’t take into account what happens when you stop paying your monthly fee: no more software and no more pictures. So if you like your software and like your photos you can keep your stuff, so long as you pay. And if you don’t pay Adobe then it’s locked away and potentially deleted forever.

    Seems like a huge risk for the “benefit” of the “latest and greatest” features.

    And you don’t tell your reader about Adobe customer service. How do they handle things should your account go awry and you lose access? What if they feel you’ve breached their terms of service and lock your account for good? What if there’s a snafu and Adobe just says “tough luck”? (Read the fine print on that license you agree to boys and girls)

    Is the risk to a person’s photos/business worth the subscription cost to trust adobe and its cloud services? Just for extra features?

    THAT should be an article all by itself. But no mention here.

    Odd.

    • If you stop paying the monthly fee, your photos are all safe on your computer, not just stored on the Adobe cloud. The cloud is just there as a backup of your local files, if you choose it to be. (I don’t actually make use of the cloud at all.)

      If you stop paying, you can still access all your photos on your computer within a version of Lightroom similar to Lr6, but you won’t be able to carry out further edits, except, oddly enough, with Quick Develop. The Map module also gets disabled, but everything other than Develop and Maps will work as normal. You can still print, export and organise your photos too.

      Adobe can’t delete your existing photos even if they wanted to, since they’re stored locally on your computer.

      As for the customer service, I’ve never had any interaction with them, so can’t tell you, but assume they didn’t get this far without decent support.

      Let me know if I’ve misunderstood your worries about the whole subscription thing. There’s no inherent risk to your photos/business, even if you do decide to stop subscribing.

      Thanks for bringing it to my attention that I hadn’t covered what happens to Lightroom if you decide to cancel your subscription – I’ll add that into the article soon.

  • Lightroom CC doesn’t work on Windows 7. Besides, I’m afraid that Adobe decides to axe “real” Lightroom, currently known as Classic, pretty soon. Naming software or a car as “classic” is almost always a kiss of death.
    Lightroom CC is still almost totally useless, if one doesn’t want to keep one’s pictures in a cloud. As an editor it’s about as powerful as Picasa.
    One more aspect, Photography plan might be affordable in the US, but in Europe it’s a different thing, almost €13/month.
    So, I am switching to On1 and occasionally Luminar. I do this with heavy heart, as my history with Lightroom and Photoshop goes way back, as I started with Photoshop 6 and Rawshooter premium.

    • I’m confident that 2019 will see some big improvements to CC, but I’m fortunate enough to be using a computer that supports Lightroom Classic, so have little need for CC at this time. The A.I. recognition in CC is a really compelling feature though. As for the subscription fees, I guess €13/month is expensive to some, but affordable to others – especially those who need Lr to run a business (this is my situation). Having said all that, I do think your workaround with Luminar is a good one – the image editing capabilities there are great… and no subscription fees of course. All the best, Sari!

  • Good article Mark,

    Clarified some of my concerns regarding buying a subscription copy
    Your opinions on this would be appreciated

    I am not over keen on this cloud thing, sooner store all my work on off computer auxiliary drives. Also, not so sure about other places security as we all know, no computer is unhackable especially after the major hacking of Yahoo
    For me storing on 2 separate drives works well as the drives are stored in two different locations.
    At the moment I use PhotoShop CS6 My file set up with Photoshop Bridge works very well, has done for the last 12 years through all the upgrades of Photoshop and windows.
    If I do buy the subscription and ignore the cloud thing will I be able to continue the filing system the way I am
    I would like to try Lightroom as just recently I bought a new screen calibrator from B&H New York. It came with an X rite Colour Passport. At the time I thought not another not needed gizmo that is going to do nothing to improve your shots. I was pleasantly surprised as this thing helps me to get more or less true colour rendering on all my shots.
    I use it with Photoshop with great success, but the majority of X rites tutorials on this thing are focussed on using LightRoom.
    Price does not bother me as I find the yearly subscription is on par for paying for an upgrade every 2 years.
    One other concern, if after a year I can no longer afford the subscription version can I revert back and reload my old CS6.
    Lastly off topic, I would recommend B&H New York to anyone. Their service was spot on. I had the goods delivered to my door about 5 days after I had ordered them That is bloody good service considering the distance from the USA to NZ.

    • Thanks Derek, yes B&H is a fantastic store if you’re in NYC! Very knowledgeable staff and great service/. As for your question, yes you can definitely use the subscription version of Lr in that way – that’s what I do, in fact. I have multiple (physical) external drive backups, and don’t actually use the Cloud at all, despite it being part of my paid subscription. This is more down to the fact that upload speeds where I am located are poor, so it’s inefficient for me to be uploading/downloading files all the time. Good luck with the X-rite and let me know if you have any other questions.

  • thanks so much for this you’ve made something that seemed complex much simpler to understand and the q and a has been helpful

      • Finally found information and excellent feedback from readers on your information Mark. New to printing my own photos and using older digital images, Photo on my Mac (High Sierra 10.13.5). Your explanations of Lightroom and Photoshop so clear and easy to follow. Thank you.

  • Hey, I was wondering that me and my husband are using 2 computers and phones, if I apply for this monthly payment will it be possible to use on my devices ? THANKS

    • Yes, you can use Lightroom on two computers, just not simultaneously. However, it can get a little tricky to try and keep both versions in sync with each other – always make a backup copy of your catalog files on both of your computers, before you copy files from one computer to another. Another option is to use the “export as catalog” feature, to move catalogs from one computer to the other and then to integrate them.

  • I’ve never seen the value of the 1Tb of storage that comes as an option with the Photography Plan. I suggest your readers consider the $120/yr Photo Plan without the 1Tb.

    • The 1Tb is if you want to take advantage of Cloud syncing across multiple devices – if you like to view/edit photos on your iPad for example, you need some cloud storage. It only makes sense if you’re on an Internet plan with a generous data allowance.