Lightroom Classic versus Lightroom

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Today’s Question: When Lightroom CC came out I had been using Lightroom (Classic) for Years. I looked at Lightroom CC and didn’t find nearly the functionality I was used to. How would you compare the two Lightrooms nowadays?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The cloud-based version of Lightroom has gotten closer to parity with Lightroom Classic in terms of core features, but is still missing more than a few features that are available in Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: To be sure, Lightroom (cloud-based) has been catching up with Lightroom Classic in terms of core features. But many features available in Lightroom Classic are still not available in Lightroom. More importantly, the core storage architecture is very different between these two versions of Lightroom.

The adjustments available for optimizing your photos essentially have parity between the two versions of Lightroom. Most of the organizational features are mostly equivalent, at least in terms of the intended workflow for Lightroom (cloud). For example, you can’t manage folders in Lightroom (cloud), but that is by design since your photos are stored primarily in the cloud with this version of Lightroom.

There are a few other omissions from an image management standpoint, such as the lack of color labels as well as a variety of other metadata fields within Lightroom, which are available in Lightroom Classic.

The key area where Lightroom is significantly limited compared to Lightroom Classic relates to sharing photos. You aren’t able to print photos from Lightroom, and the features of the Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web modules are unavailable. The only real option for sharing photos from Lightroom is to sync to a web browser or mobile device, or to export a copy of the photo.

For many photographers, the lack of some key features in Lightroom will cause them to prefer Lightroom Classic. More importantly in my mind, however, is that these two versions of Lightroom take a completely different approach to photo storage. For a variety of reasons I want to manage the storage of my photos on my own local devices, not with cloud-based storage. Therefore, I expect that the cloud-based Lightroom will never truly meet my workflow needs, while Lightroom Classic serves my needs very well.