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Is Lightroom Classic Going Away? (This same headline, yet again)

Lightroom Magazine comes out later today, and I wanted to share my Editor’s Note from the current issue (my Editor’s Note is called just ‘A note from Scott’ in each issue), so this is essentially an excerpt from the magazine, but a really timely one at that.

In the past week or so a blog post titled, “Adobe, why have you forsaken us?” freaked out a lot of Lightroom Classic users. The author of the post essentially said that he didn’t think Adobe cared about Lightroom Classic anymore and it was probably going to go away based on the fact that he felt there were so few new features added to Lightroom Classic in the most recent update. He felt Adobe was concentrating their efforts on the cloud-storage based version of Lightroom instead, and so Adobe was leaving Classic behind. That was pretty much the gist of it, and understandably it got some Lightroom Classic users rather concerned. He wasn’t sharing inside info; he didn’t say Adobe told him it was going away — this was just his theory, his opinion. 

Here’s what he failed to mention

Lightroom “cloud” didn’t get that many new features either.

In fact, of the new features the desktop version of Lightroom ‘cloud’ did get, some of them were just playing ‘catch’ up to features that have been in Lightroom Classic since day one. For example, one of their big new features to Lightroom ‘cloud’ (as I call it) desktop version is that you can now finally drag your images in a Collection into the order you want them as we’ve always been able to do in a collection in Lightroom Classic. If you’re a Classic user, you’re probably shaking your head now, “You mean you couldn’t just drag your thumbnails into the order you want them?” No, not until just last week. That’s a feature that absolutely should have been there since day one, and they are just now getting it. Even weirder is that you could actually reorder thumbnails in Lightroom mobile (though the process to do so is still kinda clunky), but at least you could do it.

So, overall, no matter which version of Lightroom you are using (cloud, classic or mobile), none of them got a ton of new features, so I think it’s a stretch to try and make that comparison or draw that conclusion. 

So, what would have been a real warning sign that Lightroom Classic was going away?

If it hadn’t gotten any new features. That actually would be alarming.

If Adobe decides to abandon a product, it disbands the team of developers and reassigns them to other products. The fact that Lightroom Classic got any new features at all shows that there is still a team working on it and making it better. In fact, take a look at this list at what they’ve added to Lightroom Classic in just the past year or so: 

  • Color Labels for Collections
  • PNG Export Support
  • GPU Accelerated Editing
  • Library Module Improvements
  • Flat Field Correction
  • Massively improved Tether Performance & Stability for Nikon & Canon Cameras
  • Customize the order of panels in the Develop Module
  • Auto-import directly to a Collection
  • Grid Snap in the Book Module and a host of Book Module improvements
  • Performance & Stability Improvements
  • Texture Editing Control
  • Enhance Details feature for RAW images 
  • Index numbers are now included in the filmstrip
  • New Import button for adding profiles via the Profile Browser 
  • You can now Upload Presets in Bulk
  • .zip files can now be directly imported.
  • Single Step HDR Pano Merge 
  • The text engine in the Book, Print, and Slideshow modules, as well as the Watermark editor, were all updated 
  • You now have the option to hide any pack of presets
  • The PDF exporter in Book and Slideshow both got performance boosts
  • The ‘Auto” tone feature was updated to improve overall performance
  • Ability to Batch-process HDRs or Panos
  • Pano Fill Edge (content-aware for panos)
  • Multi-Batch Export
  • Develop Preset Export
  • Clear History option
  • The ability to Filter Collections by Color Labels
  • Filter Images by Depth Map
  • Crop Preview Improvement w/Vignette
  • Keyword Performance Improvements
  • Sync stability improvements
  • And support for lots of new cameras and lenses

So, Adobe is clearly adding new features to Classic

Lightroom Classic keeps getting better and better, but it’s not just features with sliders and buttons — Adobe has put a LOT into enhancing overall performance. From the dots, I’ve connected and people I’ve talked to, Classic will be around for many years, and if I thought there was something to raise the alarm flag about, I would be among the first to do (and very loudly).

That all being said, I could picture a time when using Lightroom ‘cloud’ would become an option for me and a lot of Lightroom Classic users. It would start with Adobe’s pricing for storage coming down to earth.  For example, I pay $5 a month to Backblaze for unlimited storage, rather than $10 a month per terabyte from Adobe). At Adobe’s current pricing my yearly cost for storing my library in Adobe’s ‘cloud’ would be approximately $1,200 per year (rather than $60 a year unlimited cloud storage with Backblaze, and of course, the $120 for for my Adobe Photographer’s bundle of Lightroom and Photoshop, so a total of $180, but that’s a heck of a lot more reasonable than $1,200).

Also, while Adobe does keep adding features to Lightroom Cloud, it still has a long way to go just to catch up to the features already in Classic. Features like the ability to use plug-ins, or create Smart Collections, and I would need a print module, and tethering, and slideshows, and Quick Collections, and two monitor support, and a “Previous” button, and survey mode along with dozens of other features that are still not available in the cloud version, and I would need those before I would consider moving to it. 

At this point, even a 90% feature parity seems years off at best. Of course, all that could change; the pricing could get more realistic; the features could appear quicker than I expect, and we all might get to the point where Classic no longer makes sense sooner than I think, but I feel we are still a long way off from that. That’s OK because as I mentioned, I think Classic will be around for quite a while and having a choice between which version of Lightroom that fits our personal needs best is a good thing. 

Anyway, I wanted to address this as I saw some folks in our online community expressing their concern, and I wanted to let you know we believe the concern is totally unfounded (just for the record, Photoshop didn’t get a ton of new features at Adobe Max either. A lot of little things and one kinda headline feature, but not a ton of new features). 

I hope that helps you sleep a little better tonight. 🙂