Adobe has just announced the beginning of a new era for Lightroom in an effort to keep up with the needs of modern enthusiasts and professionals, and there sure is plenty to talk about.
Lightroom has traditionally been a desktop-only application, and one not known for its approachability for new users. It’s a pro-level app, with a dizzying array of options, menus, and workflows.
With mobile devices becoming the most widely used portable camera devices, Lightroom needed a new system.
Lightroom CC is the fully redesigned, rebuilt and rethought version of Lightroom. As the name suggests, it’s based entirely in the cloud, utilising the 1TB of cloud storage included in a Creative Cloud membership to simultaneously bring all your photos to all your devices.
Adobe’s aim here is to bring complete feature parity across all devices. Whether you’re editing full-resolution photos on your mobile device or on a 27” iMac, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off and continue your editing within a complete system.
The interface has also received a boost, cleaning up a lot of the clutter and bringing your images front and centre. Lightroom has been notorious for its intimidating UI, and the new Lightroom CC is much friendlier.
There’s tight integration with Adobe Sensei, Adobe’s machine learning initiative, allowing you to search through your photos by subject, colour, location, time and so on. You can also filter your photos by all of these criteria, including camera type.
Lightroom CC includes the same full, fine-tune control over all image editing aspects as Lightroom Classic, as well as pre-made filters and effects. A nice touch is that when these pre-made filters are selected the effect sliders are adjusted in real-time, educating the user on what elements of the image are being adjusted to create the filter effect and teaching them how to recreate the look for future photos.
Because everything is saved in the cloud, all edits and changes are non-destructive and can be rolled back at any time. Your edits are also synced via Creative Cloud, which means you can begin touching up a photo on your desktop machine before moving to an iPad Pro to create brush-based selective adjustments with the Apple Pencil. You can then manage it all on the Lightroom CC web viewer.
Selective adjustments and edits also work wonderfully on mobile devices, allowing you to adjust, for example, the sky in a photo independently of the foreground or a subject.
Along with all these really cool features, there’s a series of other improvements which we have begun to expect from cloud-centric software. Lightroom CC makes sharing photos on social media quick and easy, and you can create custom galleries which can be shared through a link. On top of that, it’s easier than ever to back up full-resolution photos and raw files in the cloud.
However, there’s an elephant in the room: what about all the professional photographers who have built workflows around the existing Lightroom? Well, the current version of Lightroom isn’t going anywhere – it’s been rebranded under the name Lightroom Classic and Adobe are continuing work on it.
It appears full migration is the eventual aim, but users of Lightroom Classic can do this at their own leisure when they feel the feature set is up to scratch. Adobe themselves admitted that they have a little bit more work to do on Lightroom CC before reaching this point.
Lightroom CC is available to download today with a Creative Cloud subscription. There’s even a new Lightroom CC plan which includes Lightroom CC, Lightroom for mobile and web, Adobe Spark with premium features, Adobe Portfolio and 1 TB of cloud storage for US $9.99 per month.