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Lightroom Classic For The Win. Finally.

In each issue of Lightroom Magazine, at the front of the mag, I write a note to our readers called, “A Note From Scott.” Rather than just telling readers what’s in the issue of the mag they’re already reading, I use it as a place to talk frankly to the Lightroom community at KelbyOne. Today I’m sharing my “Note from Scott” from the current issue (March 2020), because it discusses some of the worries of Lightroom Classic users, and I dive a bit into the black hole that is Lightroom’s very name itself. Here’s a slightly modified (to better suit this online version) of my note:

A Note From Scott, March 2020 Issue, Lightroom Magazine

By now, you’ve heard Adobe has released another update to all the different versions of Lightroom (Classic, Cloud and Mobile), and if you haven’t…we covered it right here. Some bigger things, some little things, but there was something that I wanted to point out to all you folks who are still worried that Lightroom Classic is going away. The updates were heavy on the Classic side and much lighter on the “Cloud” and “Mobile” side. In fact, many of the updates that Lightroom “Cloud” (as I call it; not it’s official name) got in this update were features that Classic has already had for many years, so they were essentially “catch up” features. 

I know there’s a lot of angst out there about Classic going away, and part of the reason is simply that it’s named “Classic.” I like it about as much as you do (meaning, not at all). I think (this is just me theorizing, not based on any inside info) Adobe initially thought everybody was going to go wild for the cloud version, and they’d all be jumping ship from Classic left and right — that everybody would see the advantages of a cloud version and “Classic” would soon be an orphan with no measurable user base, so they could just wind it down. Obviously, that was not the case.

There are a lot of working pros, and serious users who don’t want a cloud-based system, and want to stick with the full-featured Lightroom they’ve been using for years. I think another thing that kept everybody from getting too excited about the cloud version is the fact that it’s missing so many features. Adobe is slowly adding them to the “cloud” version but it’s still a long way away (i.e., you still can’t even print at this point). This October will be three years since they launched the Cloud version of Lightroom, and they aren’t even close to feature parity, and it doesn’t seem to be “just around the corner.” 

If and when they do reach feature parity sometime in the future, you’ll still have a lot of folks who don’t want, like, or can’t afford the storage fees Adobe is charging, so I imagine Lightroom Classic will still be around for the foreseeable future. In fact, Adobe says that exact thing on their site — that both versions will be around for the “foreseeable future.” 

Now, if that’s the case, and we’re going to have these two versions of Lightroom co-existing, and if I had a say in the naming (BTW: I don’t), I would rename Lightroom Classic something more like “Lightroom Desktop” or better yet “Lightroom Pro” (since it has all the high-end features, and is aimed at a more serious type of user). Then I would rename “Lightroom” (cloud version) to either “Lightroom Managed” (since Adobe manages your storage and backup), or just simply “Lightroom Cloud,” but then I would be concerned that new users would assume it’s cloud-based (not just could storage) and so they’d be running Lightroom in a browser (there’s already some folks who think that is already the case), but it’s a good descriptive name otherwise. Lastly, I would change Lightroom on your mobile device back to its original name, the very descriptive — “Lightroom Mobile.”

At the end of the day, they are all just names, but they matter. I would choose a name like Lightroom Pro (to replace the name Lightroom Classic) not only to help separate and identify the different versions but also to honor the users who have stuck with Lightroom from the very beginning and changed their entire workflow to be Lightroom based. There may be a day when the cloud version becomes so compelling that we all decide on our own to switch (I know — you’re shaking your head), but until that time comes, I would surely vote to fix the naming merry-go-round of confusion that we have today and replace it with:

(a) something that better describes each product, and

(b) makes the people who have invested in it proud of the name and to be using it, instead of being in a constant state of “Is it going away? Is it going away?” 

In this recent February update, I think Adobe took some nice steps in showing how much it still cares about Classic and its users. Even their blog post about it was Classic heavy. But if it wants us all to sleep better at night, why not give it a name that shows it?

Just my two cents.  




  1. good lux 25 February, 2020 at 12:26 Reply

    I third Lightroom Pro…the current situation is a mess for anyone trying to use these products Seriously though, what is going on at Adobe? Their stock price is booming, but their photography product line is totally clueless and disfunctional.

  2. Rudi 25 February, 2020 at 05:20 Reply

    I used LR from the very first beta versions on and moved from Apples Apperture completly when Apple closed it down. But this naming chaos today it not much helpful as today I haven’t read any paper from Adobe explaining the strategy of their LR legs and what’s the difference and how they work together with the best usage for their users. It’s marketing at it’s worst. I’m prepared to loose LR some day. I’m using some other apps which will do some things more or less better. If Capture One would have a better and more transparent workflow it would be a solution. But right now I think LR has (maybe because I used it from the very beginning) the best and fastest workflow and the best digital asset management. And I have several hundreds of thousands images in one catalog.

  3. Doug Stead 25 February, 2020 at 01:52 Reply

    A LR user from version 2. Stop upgrading at version 6. Adobe have earned my distaste and distrust when they took my money for version 6 and never supplied all the promissed upgrades. I have since used LR6 for its basic catalogue and added both On1 and Laminar4. Fool me once, shame on you Adobe! Fool me twice, shame on me!

    • Scott Kelby 25 February, 2020 at 17:59 Reply

      Not to jump in and defend Adobe, but I think you’re mistaken. Adobe specifically said they would NOT be adding any new feature updates to Lightroom 6 from the very beginning. The only updates they said they would provide were maintenance updates to LR6 and NOT new features. They stated from the beginning that all new features would only be added to the subscription version.

  4. Craig Bobchin 25 February, 2020 at 00:01 Reply

    As a user of Lightroom since ver. 1 was in Beta (and Rawshooter Pro before that), I hate, hate, hate the cloud version with the passion of a white hot sun.

    I have no problem with the classic/desktop/pro version (aside from the typical bugs/performance issues). I would prefer Adobe put its resources towards improving this version. I’ve been investing in & investigating the competition knowing that one day Adobe will move everything to the cloud and the rest of us will be screwed over big time.

  5. BrianPex 24 February, 2020 at 18:54 Reply

    Pro is a nice suffix to add in place of Classic. I know of not one serious photographer that uses the “Cloud” version. It would be nice if Adobe would make the CATALOG a cloud based catalog with the previews and smart previews stored locally. This would make working on more than one computer very simple and avoid the messy workflow with two computers.

    • Glenn 25 February, 2020 at 22:14 Reply

      I agree completely with this. Being able to use Lightroom “Pro” Classic on my main Mac when in the studio and my laptop out in the field with my main catalog in the cloud would be a next logical step. There’s no way my catalog would chew up that much storage in the Adobe cloud nor would the bandwidth be an issue with all of the high speed around us. Not to mention we wouldn’t have to worry about a catalog crashing on a local hard drive as it would be stored in the cloud on some redundant server somewhere. I’d love to hear Scott’s take on this. Cloud based catalog anyone??

  6. ERIC FRANZ 24 February, 2020 at 18:27 Reply

    Adobe over the last couple of years made really dum name changes. All those CC at the end for years etc.
    Since they changed the name to Lightroom Classic, I always change after every update my icon on my desktop back to just Lightroom. Because that’s what it is. Everything else that came after, Lightroom Mobile, or Cloud I consider extensions of our original software.
    I would be ok with Lightroom Pro name for the desktop.
    The new Lightroom that is called just Lightroom should have been released just as a new tab in our original Lightroom and maybe we would actually switch back and forth to use it. As of right now I have no use for it or to open it. I wish Adobe would have rather focused at advancing the features and speed of our original Lightroom, rather then creating another desktop version that nobody asked for and confusing people.

  7. ButchM 24 February, 2020 at 12:53 Reply

    I recall very clearly when Adobe stated they were going to offer both traditional perpetual licensing for Photoshop and Lightroom along side of the Creative Cloud subscription plan for the “foreseeable future.” The ‘future’ came to pass rather quickly and now the only option is for the latter. Which isn’t all negative, but policies can and do change over time. Usually without any prior notice when those massive changes in policy or product lineup will be implemented.

    While no one other than the top level of employees at Adobe really know how long the time span for their definition of “foreseeable future.” actually is, that span is not an indefinite period of time. As we are all well aware, in this modern era, change comes often and can be dramatic especially when such decisions are likely to favor investors over end users.

  8. Alan 24 February, 2020 at 11:00 Reply

    Agreed, Scott.

    I actually use BOTH Classic and the cloud version, although all my files are stored locally, and I just use the previews in the cloud. I do like the AI-based search features of the cloud version, and it’s great for quick edits on the road via iPad.

    That said, I also still NEED Photoshop – and not ‘just’ for cloning etc – since I mainly print fine art landscape, all my photographs are treated in Photoshop to a ‘Highlights/Shjadows’ and “Selective Color’ pass. In fact, if Adobe were to add Selective Color to Lightroom, in addition to HSL, I’d be elated!

  9. John Havord 24 February, 2020 at 09:25 Reply

    Excellent article Scott. Let’s see if Adobe, are brave enough to admit their mistake and alter, the program names.

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