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Essential Guide to Adobe Lightroom: Lightroom vs. Lightroom Classic

January 2, 2023

Regarded as one of the most powerful tools in the digital photography world, Adobe Lightroom is used by photographers of all levels to manage and create stunning images. But with two versions of Lightroom available - Lightroom and Lightroom Classic - which one is best for you?

This blog post will provide an in-depth comparison of Adobe Lightroom and Lightroom Classic, including an overview of their features and how they differ, helping you make an informed decision on which one is right for you and your photography needs. Let's begin.

A Brief History of Lightroom Classic and Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom was first released in 2007 as a software application for managing, editing and processing digital photos. It quickly became a popular tool for photographers, both amateur and professional.

In 2015, Adobe released a new version of Lightroom called Lightroom CC (Creative Cloud). This new version was designed for use with Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription service. Lightroom CC was a cloud-based application, with all the processing and storage happening in the cloud.

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They also released another app around the same time called Lightroom mobile. Lightroom mobile was designed to work with Lightroom CC and allowed users to access and edit their photos on their mobile devices.

In 2017, Adobe announced it was discontinuing the Lightroom CC name and rebranding the application as simply Lightroom Classic CC. Lightroom mobile was also renamed Lightroom CC, which many people found confusing.

The difference between the two versions of Lightroom became clearer when Adobe announced that Lightroom Classic CC would continue to be a desktop-based application while Lightroom CC would be a cloud-based application. In 2019, Adobe dropped the CC in both names.

Lightroom vs. Lightroom Classic

This section will compare Lightroom with Lightroom Classic from five main perspectives. These perspectives include;

  • Devices
  • Files storage
  • Files backup
  • Files organization and search
  • Main features

By the end of this section, you will have a thorough understanding of the main features and differences between the two programs.



Lightroom is a cloud-based application that can be used on a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic is a desktop-based application that can be used on a laptop or desktop computer.

lightroom classic icon on PC

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Files Storage


Lightroom stores files in the cloud. The users purchase a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, giving them access to 20GB to 20 TB of storage. Users cannot store photos on their local hard disk exclusively.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic stores photos locally on the user's computer. The user can also store files in the cloud using Creative Cloud, but it is not required.

lightroom classic operating screenshot

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Files Backup


Lightroom automatically backs up files to the cloud. So as long as the user has an active internet connection, their files are always backed up.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic does not automatically back up files to the cloud. Users must manually back up their files to the cloud or an external hard drive.

Files Organization and Search


Lightroom uses a database to organize and search files. The database is stored in the cloud, which can be accessed from any device. The automatic tagging and intelligent search make it easy to find exactly what you want.

lightroom operating screenshot

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Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic uses a file-based system to organize and search files. The files are stored on the user's hard drive, so the user must be connected to their computer to access them. The search is fully manual.

Main Features


Lightroom's main features include:

  • Its ease of use: It is a simple, straightforward application that is easy to learn and use.
  • Another key feature is the Lightroom mobile app, which allows users to access and edit their photos on their mobile devices.
  • Cloud storage is also a key feature, as it allows users to access their photos from any device with an internet connection.
lightroom operating screenshot

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    Lightroom Classic

    Lightroom Classic's main features include the following:

    • It has a comprehensive toolset: It has a wide range of tools and features that allow users to do everything from simple photo editing to complex photo manipulation.
    • Another key feature is local storage, which allows users to store their photos on their hard drives.
    • Side-by-side comparison editing is also a great feature, as it allows users to see the before and after of their edits.
    • The map view is also a great feature, as it allows users to see where their photos were taken on a map.

    lightroom classic operating screenshot

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    • Users can also print their photos directly from lightroom classic without relying on 3rd party apps.
    • And finally, the tethering feature allows users to connect their camera to their computer and edit their photos in real time.

    How to Choose Between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom?

    1. Quantity of Photos

    This is really up to you; there's an opportunity cost tied to both options. If you pick Lightroom, you can store a lot of photos, but the more you want to store, the more you'll have to pay. An advantage being your photos are safe from loss as they are backed up on the cloud.

    With Lightroom Classic, the more photos you want, the larger the hard drive you'll have to buy and let's not forget the threat of theft or loss tied to owning a hard drive.

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    2. Specific Post-editing Demand

    Do you need advanced editing tools? If you do, Lightroom Classic is the better option because it has more editing tools than Lightroom. It is also compatible with more third-party plugins, which means you can extend its functionality.

    If you don't need advanced editing tools, Lightroom might be a better choice because it is simpler and easier to use.

    3. Devices for Convenient Use

    Lightroom is more convenient if you plan on working on multiple devices. Since it is cloud-based, you can access your photos from any device with an internet connection.

    With Lightroom Classic, you're pretty much tied to your desktop computer. So, if you want more flexibility with devices, Lightroom is the better option.

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    4. Price You Can Afford

    Lightroom is a subscription-based software, which means you'll have to pay a monthly fee to use it. The price ranges from $9.99 to $19.99 per month, depending on the plan you choose.

    Lightroom Classic is a one-time purchase, meaning you pay for the software once and can use it for as long as you want. The price for Lightroom Classic ranges from $149 to $149.99.

    So, if you're looking for a more affordable option, Lightroom Classic is the better choice.

    Final Thoughts

    Lightroom and Lightroom Classic have their pros and cons, and there is no clear winner. Understanding your needs and requirements is the best way to decide which one to use.

    Lightroom Classic is the better choice if you need a more flexible and affordable option. If you need a more convenient option that is easy to use, Lightroom is the better choice. And if you can't decide, you can always use both. Thank you for reading.

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