Lightroom Classic and CC Are Nearly Identical, So Why Two Programs?

What is the difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic

When Lightroom CC originally launched, it was sadly behind Classic from a feature perspective. Photographers who were expecting some tools and performance with a poorly powered CC were greeted with a few taking a second look after that. But now, nearly five years later, these paparazzi may not know they’re nearly identical now. So, why do we have two versions of the same program?

Lightroom’s Brand History

Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC branched out as two different products in October 2017, but this isn’t the first time the name “Lightroom CC” has been used. In 2015, Adobe actually added “CC” – which stands for Creative Cloud – to the original Lightroom that would eventually be called Classic. But in 2017, it renamed Lightroom to Lightroom Classic and copied Lightroom CC into a separate product.

Confusing, sure.

This split in 2017 immediately caused many to worry that Adobe would end the Lightroom experience that many photographers had relied on. Those same photographers weren’t looking forward to Adobe’s new Lightroom CC either, as the platform wasn’t nearly as powerful as the new classic. Quite the opposite: it was completely unsuitable for power users.

“No, we’re not phasing out Lightroom Classic and remain committed to investing in Lightroom Classic in the future,” said Tom Hogarty, Adobe’s director of product management at the time. “We know Lightroom Classic is for many of you a tool you know and love and so it contains an exciting roadmap for improvements in the future.”

Adobe has kept its promise. Over the next five years, you will be involved in developing the two platforms side by side. The classic, which has been bad for years for only being slow and slow, has managed to turn that perspective. There was a time when the Lightroom brand was synonymous with sluggishness, but in 2022 it was a complaint that rarely gets raised. At the same time, Adobe’s Lightroom teams made CC and Classic more powerful and added several new features.

according to Sharad Mangalik, Adobe Photo Product Manager (which includes Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, and Lightroom Mobile), CC was launched in an intentionally simple way.

“When we rolled out Lightroom CC, the photographers were right: It didn’t do it as much as the Classic did. We intentionally made the product less feature-heavy so we could understand what people really needed,” he says. “It was a strategic choice we made. The challenge now is several years later and people only remember the original version just remember it was weak back then, not what it is now.”

Few photographers may have realized that in addition to speeding up the Classic and giving it new capabilities, Adobe was also able to bring in CC to equalize the features with the Classic.

Today, the editing suite is nearly identical across both apps – as far as a photographer can do to edit an image, there’s no appreciable difference. Why are there two programs and what is the future plan?

What is the difference between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC?

The only editing-based difference between Classic and CC is that CC does not have a Camera Calibration panel, but most of what an editor can do can be done elsewhere in the editing suite. For Adobe and the Lightroom team, from an editorial perspective, the two programs have reached feature parity.

Adobe never planned to retire Lightroom Classic, despite what some feared, says Mangalick. Says betapixel That the goal has always been to build and innovate both products together.

The difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic
Left: Lightroom CC, Right: Lightroom Classic

“[Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC] Built to meet different needs” betapixel. “With Lightroom Classic, the assumption was that everything that would be edited was on the photographer’s computer.”

This basic assumption is the core of what makes Classic and CC different. In Classic, the platform assumes that photographers will be able to access the photos they want to edit on a local device and not rely on cloud storage to do so. Lightroom CC is the opposite. Since it works across platforms, the assumption is that these files won’t necessarily be on the device currently in use, and are therefore moving more towards cloud storage as a result.

These views are directly related to the small differences between the two.

The difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic
Lightroom classic

So you will have a print, slideshow and FTP module to a website [in Classic]. Mangalek explains that because of the timeframe that was developed in Classic, there was no Facebook and social media, so this is kind of a carryover from that time.” “With Lightroom CC, we didn’t include it in the product because the needs of what people are using are different than when they were when Classic created. That’s not to say we won’t be adding more things to CC to shorten this gap, but we are looking strategically at what people need, what photographers are telling us, and where the industry is headed. “

This mindset is also the reason why Lightroom CC lacks the ability to work with plug-ins in the same way it does in Classic.

“Plugins work in CC, but they don’t work the way they do in Photoshop and Classic,” he says. “How do you connect to a cloud from a desktop app? When you look at what most plugins do, many of them are a publishing service like SmugMug or Flickr. The vast majority of users are trying to answer the question, “How do I get photos from Lightroom to A third party service?” Instead of doing it locally through a plugin, we have cloud APIs that connect your Adobe account to a third party account and connect them in this way.”

The difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic
Lightroom CC

Mangalick says he has an issue with the plugin mentality when it comes to cross-platform, cloud-based software like Lightroom CC.

“I still have some concern about the mindset of a plugin that only runs on one platform really negates a lot of the benefits of the cloud nature of CC, and this is one of my hesitations about creating a separate plugin architecture that doesn’t speak to the rest of the ecosystem.” “This is more of an Adobe thing. We’ll have to see if and when we’re building the SDK, but that’s just one of the concerns we have to work through.”

This makes sense, but it also limits the CC’s ability to work with third-party devices. in a betapixel In a recent review of the TourBox Elite controller, a reader noted that few, if any, posts – betapixel Embedded – State that the tool is not compatible with Lightroom CC.

He’s right, and for now, Adobe doesn’t plan to change that.

“They’re not supported, but it’s something we’re talking about. There’s nothing stopping us from doing it, but we haven’t heard the demand for it, maybe not so loudly. [PetaPixel] Mangalek says.

“We talk to Lubeck, we meet with them once a year or more,” he says, as an example. But creating a desktop SDK [for Lightroom CC] For hardware vendors, they haven’t made it to the top, but it’s something we can look into.”

Two programs with strategic differences

For newcomers who may not see the difference between the two programs and who may be wondering why they aren’t just one and for veterans who haven’t given CC a second look since 2017, Lightroom’s ecosystem of dual programs may not make sense. But there’s a way that the Lightroom team trusts Adobe is an important differentiator.

The difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic
Lightroom classic

Photographers, especially those new to Adobe or Lightroom, can easily be confused by the two options. Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC look little, if anything, different and deciding which one is a tricky point. But Adobe and Mangalick argue that this speed bump for new users is ultimately worth it to support two products designed for similar but fundamentally different workflows.

What does Lightroom do and how does it work vs. Classic [was a decision made because] “They were built to meet different needs,” says Mangalek. “The equalization feature is there, it’s just about editing the workflow and how the photographer chooses to store their photos. This might sound simple, but for someone who puts a lot of inventory into how their photos are stored and accessed, it just isn’t.”

The difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic
Lightroom CC

For Lightroom Classic veterans, hearing that both CC and Classic are remarkably similar from an editorial standpoint may be news to them. While there is certainly a benefit to Classic’s single-computer and desktop-based workflows, the cloud-based architecture of CC may be valuable. Those who haven’t looked at CC in five years may find the program more useful than they thought.

But – and this is important – there is no pressure on Classic or CC users to change what they do and how they use each because the programs will continue to develop in parallel.

“There are no plans to do anything different,” Mangalic says regarding the future development of both platforms. “Both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC have been very successful. They both have reasons to choose existing customers and even new customers, and we are here to support them in whatever choice they make.”

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