Recently, Adobe split the Lightroom software into two different programs: Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC. At first glance, it can be difficult to tell what the differences between the two are. Not knowing how the two differ from each other also makes it difficult to determine which one is better for your workflow and needs! Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC are similar in many ways, and as Adobe continues to release updates, the gap between the two becomes smaller and smaller, but there is enough of a difference between the two that there may be one that is better suited to your needs.
Differences in User Interface
Lightroom Classic features a series of modules across the top of its interface that contain the tools necessary for each stage of your workflow. These include the Library module for organizing your photos, the Develop Module for editing photos, the Map module for geotagging where your photos were taken, and the Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web modules outlining each of the options you have for publishing your photos after you have edited them. These modules offer users a huge variety of tools that can be used to edit photos.
Lightroom CC does away with all of these modules. The features that would have been in the Library and Develop modules have all been put into one window, and the other modules have been removed completely. This creates a much simpler, more streamlined interface for users.
This removal of features is great for those who were intimidated by the extra modules and the plethora of features, but not ideal for advanced photographers or those who have been using Lightroom for a long time and relied on all the features that are available to them in Lightroom Classic.
Differences in Editing Tools
When Lightroom CC was first launched, there was a wide gap between the features it offered and the features that were available to Lightroom Classic users. At first, Lightroom CC did not have tone curve, split toning, HSL (hue, saturation, luminance) panel, HDR merging, or panorama stitching, but all of these features have since been added.
Both Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic have the ability to perform localized adjustments with the healing tool, adjustment brush, and radial and graduated filters, and both allow users to create and upload presets. Users can batch edit their photos in both programs.
Lightroom CC includes most of the basic editing tools that are available in Lightroom Classic, though overall, Lightroom Classic still contains a wider variety of tools. Lightroom Classic also offers users much more flexible export options. Lightroom CC only asks for the destination, image size, and whether you want the file type to be a JPEG or original, while Lightroom Classic allows users to name and sequence images and albums upon export, save in multiple file types, control the level of JPEG compression, and create and save export settings presets.
Lightroom CC also does not allow users access to as many watermark options as Lightroom Classic. In Lightroom Classic, users can add a text or graphic watermark, but in Lightroom CC, users can only add a simple text watermark.
Differences in Plugin Compatibility
Lightroom Classic does support plugins of all kinds. Plugin makers almost always include Lighroom Classic and Photoshop in their installers, giving you access to plugins like the Nik Collection, Alien Skin Exposure X3, Macphun (Skylum) Luminar, ON1 Photo RAW, and more. At the moment, Lightroom CC does not have any plugin support.
Differences in Photo Importing
Lightroom Classic includes all the import features that have always in available in Lightroom. When importing photos, you have the option to add them to collections, adjust metadata, add keywords, change the destination, and even apply presets.
In Lightroom CC, you only have the option to add the photo to an album on import. You can not apply presets or make any of the adjustments you can in Lightroom Classic. This simplified import screen and process is great for beginners who may not understand all the settings in Lightroom Classic, but does remove options that can be huge time savers while editing.
Differences in Accessibility
One of the biggest differences between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC is how accessible your files are and the main type of storage used.
Lightroom CC is totally cloud-based storage. This cloud stores all of your files, including the original RAW files, which is why there is 1TB of cloud storage provided with the Lightroom CC subscription. Lightroom Classic provides synced Smart Previews between desktop and mobile versions, but these are simply lower-resolution previews. You are not able to access your original, full-resolution files through this Smart Preview.
Having access to originals and having an automatic backup that is available anywhere is the main difference between the two softwares and is a huge perk for many photographers.
In summary, Lightroom Classic is the Lightroom that you know and love. It maintains all the photo-editing power that is meant for desktop systems and still provides the most when it comes to features and tools. There is far more available to users in terms of import and export options, as well as editing tools and customization.
Lightroom CC provides users with a totally redesigned user interface that was designed to create a seamless workflow regardless of what device you are using. Lightroom CC offers a streamlined design and set of features that are more consumer-oriented and make for a much smoother learning curve for beginners. Though some advanced features are lost, there is still a fair amount of features available in Lightroom CC.
At the end of the day, whether you choose to use Lightroom Classic or Lightroom CC will depend on your skill level and what you require of your editing software.
Who Should Use Lightroom Classic?
Lightroom Classic is still the best option for advanced photographers who need the most tools, need access to Photoshop, and have used Lightroom in the past. Lightroom Classic offers a much wider set of features that professionals will need. While Lightroom CC’s new interface is streamlined and modern, it removes features like plugins, multiple catalogs, a full set of develop features, the ability to add custom watermarks and more that professionals will care about.
Who Should Use Lightroom CC?
Lightroom CC is ideal for the photographer who wants to edit anywhere. Lightroom CC offers cloud storage for all original files and adjustments, offering the flexibility to edit from anywhere, on any device. For example, if you are a YouTube creator or someone who does a lot of social media marketing, you will love having the ability to edit photos and videos on the go and having all of your files accessible across all your devices.
With its simplified interface and features, Lightroom CC is also great for beginners. The number of features and modules in Lightroom Classic can be intimidating for someone who has not used Lightroom before, and a beginner may also feel like they do not need all of those features anyways.
Lightroom CC is for those who value ease of use and accessibility over technical capability and features.