How to Buy Lightroom in 2018

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]
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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.

NO TIME TO READ?

Click here to get the same version of Lightroom as me

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mark Condon is a British wedding photographer based in Australia and the founder of Shotkit.

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  • Thanks, your article answered my question. My problem was that I haven’t needed else only the lightroom.

  • I paid for lightroom yesterday with the hope I will also get a Photoshop but I didn’t get it. Please am new with all this stuffs. Please what should I do? Am really said right now. I have no interest with light room and I don’t don’t even know how it works or how to use it.

  • liked your comments about Lightroom. Am going to order from Amaz0n the stand alone product. I am new to photography and have beren doing minimal post processing with the software on the Mac.

  • Very helpful information, i will be buying either the stand alone or the cloud, not sure yet. I’m going to think about it for a while. I will be sure to buy from this site. Thank you for your time. Carla Hoosier TN

  • Thank you so much for the info. I like how you explained each option. I am not a professional photographer and sure cant afford another monthly payment so I think I will be visiting Amazon…

  • Hi there. I did own the stand alone lightroom 6. I’ve now had my iMac wiped and need to reinstall, I have the serial number – where do I go to reinstall as Adobe don’t make it easy. Many thanks in advance.

  • Adobe produce a free to download piece of software called ‘Adobe Camera Raw’ which is kept up-to-date in terms of new camera releases. It’s soul purpose is to convert new formats from the latest cameras to the DNG (digital negative) format that older versions of Lightroom and Photoshop will support….

    • Ah yep that’s true – thanks for pointing that out! It’s a bit of a pain having to work backwards like that with DNGs, but I guess it’s one way to get around the standalone product issues.

  • Hi Mark,
    Thank you for the very helpful information. I used to own the stand alone but you have convinced me to go with cloud option. What happens to my current Lightroom Libraries when I switch?

    • No problem Anselm! Many people make the switch from stand alone to the cloud option (including me!), and there’s no issues whatsoever – the switch is seamless. All your Lr libraries will remain untouched, and will be there when you open Lightroom CC. Let me know if you have any other questions.