What’s the BEST Way to Buy Lightroom in 2023? (For All Budgets)
Essential guide on How to Buy Adobe Lightroom in 2023. Should you buy Lightroom 6 outright or subscribe to Lightroom Classic? Read this first!
By Mark Condon
The best way to buy Lightroom is to subscribe to the Creative Cloud Photography Plan (1TB) which offers great value for money and the latest features.
If you don’t take many photos, the 20GB plan may suit you better, but the 1TB plan is best for most photographers in 2023.
A Lightroom subscription isn’t just useful for professional photographers. Even casual photographers find the photo editing, file management and online backup/sync functions of Lightroom essential.
If you’re confused about whether you can still download the standalone version of Lightroom 6 or whether you should subscribe to Lightroom, I’ll explain everything in this guide.
What is the Best Way to Buy Lightroom in 2023?
|Photography Plan (1TB)||View Price →|
|Photography Plan (20GB)||View Price →|
|All Apps Plan||View Price →|
|All Apps Plan for Students/Teachers||View Price →|
|Alls Apps Plan for Teams||View Price →|
|All Apps Plan for School/Universities||View Price →|
The Photography Plan (1TB) is best for most photographers in 2023.
The Photography Plan is what I and thousands of other photographers use every day to edit, manage, backup, sync and share photos. (Video editing is now possible too.)
Here in January 2023, photographers must pay monthly or annually to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop as part of a Creative Cloud subscription plan.
These ‘Photography Plans’ include online cloud storage space for your photos to be backed up, shared, and edited remotely on a desktop or mobile device.
Also bundled into the main photography plans is Adobe Photoshop, which can be used together with the free Photoshop for iPad app.
Most photographers should choose the ‘Photography Plan 1TB’ option, which is the exact plan I’ve been paying to use for several years.
With 1TB of online storage space, the excellent Photography Plan 1TB lets you backup and sync approximately 20,000 RAWs or 200,000 JPEGs across your desktop and mobile devices, giving you the ultimate in editing freedom and peace of mind.
If you’re on a tighter budget, the ‘Photography Plan 20GB‘ option is great value for money too, and you can always upgrade your storage space to 1TB later on.
(20GB allows you to store and sync approximately 400 RAWs or 2,000 JPEG images.)
Then there’s the ‘All Apps Plan’, which is popular with photographer-designers, and other creative professionals who need access to the entire suite of Adobe Creative Cloud apps.
If you’re a Student or a Teacher, you can get a 70% discount.
Finally, if you’re part of a team, school or university, there are various other ways you can take advantage of the entire Adobe Creative Suite.
Occasionally Adobe offers special offers and discounts on its most popular Creative Cloud products, which you can browse here >>
How Much Does it Cost to Buy Lightroom?
- Lightroom with 20GB of cloud photo storage on an annual plan is US$9.99/mo or US$119.88/yr
- Lightroom with 1TB of cloud photo storage on an annual plan is US$19.99/mo or US$239.88/yr
Even if you’re not a professional photographer, we highly recommend you use Lightroom to manage and edit your photos.
Photographers of all standards can benefit enormously from the latest image editing and cloud syncing technologies.
How Do You get a Discount on Adobe Lightroom?
Occasionally, Adobe decides to give a discount on Lightroom and its Creative Cloud products – check this Special Offers page.
Another option is if you’re a student or a teacher you can save up to 70% on Creative Cloud products here.
If you want an exclusive 15% discount on the Adobe All Apps Plan which includes all the Adobe Creative Cloud apps such as Lightroom, Photoshop and all the other Adobe apps, we’ll send it to you in the Shotkit newsletter (as we can’t show it publicly.) Look for a link to the newsletter in the footer below.
Is there a Student Discount for Lightroom?
If you’re a student or a teacher, you can save up to 70% on a Creative Cloud All Apps plan using this link.
This can mean a huge reduction of US$52.99 to $19.99 a month! This is a generous offer from Adobe, in an effort to support anyone in full-time education and encourage the development of creativity.
(You didn’t hear it from me, but there are ways to take advantage of the Adobe Student Discount… even if you’re not a student or teacher!)
I don’t want to spell it out for you here, but let’s just say it’s easier than you might think – head over and get a little ‘creative’ with your application!
How do I download Lightroom for free?
You can download Lightroom for a free 7-day trial by following these steps:
- Click here to open the Lightroom download page >>
- Click the blue ‘Start free trial’ button
- Select the plan you want (we recommend the ‘Creative Cloud Photography plan with 1TB’)
- Choose your subscription billing option (which starts after your 7-day free trial ends)
- Enter your email
- Enter your payment info (no charges until the free trial ends)
How do I get Lightroom 6 Standalone?
In February 2019, Adobe stopped selling and supporting the standalone Lightroom 6.
If you’re still regularly using Lightroom 6, I’d highly recommend you upgrade to the subscription plan. Despite the additional expense, the benefits above will make your investment worth it.
How much is Lightroom?
US$9.99/mo or US$119.88/yr. This includes Lightroom, Photoshop, Lightroom Classic and 20GB of online storage.
If you want 1TB of online storage, Lightroom costs US$19.99/mo or US$239.88/yr.
If you want to know how much does Lightroom cost over several years, here are the calculations:
- 1 year on the 20GB Photography Plan: US$119.88
- 2 years: 239.96
- 3 years: 359.94
- 4 years: 479.92
6 Reasons Why It’s Better to Subscribe to Lightroom (Than to Buy)
As of April 2019, Lightroom is only available as part of the Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom 6 standalone is no longer available to purchase.
Initially, I was annoyed about this, but the more I used the subscription version, the more I understood why Adobe had made this decision.
I’ve been using Lightroom for several years and I’m confident to recommend it to all photographers. If you’re still using the Lightroom 6 standalone, I highly recommend you consider upgrading for all the latest features.
There are several significant pros of paying for Lightroom on one of Adobe’s subscription plans.
With the extra money generated since Adobe switched to its subscription models, they have invested a lot into making Lightroom much better.
Here are the main benefits:
1. You get the fastest, most optimized version of Lightroom
This is essential for most people. Adobe Lightroom Classic launches faster, generates previews faster, imports and exports faster, switches between modules faster, and generally feels much snappier than previous versions of Lightroom.
There’s still admittedly room for improvement, but for the average user, it’s the most recent version of Lightroom is plenty fast enough.
One of the most significant performance updates came in 2019 when Adobe introduced GPU Accelerated Editing. This allowed Lightroom Classic and Adobe Camera RAW to take advantage of the latest powerful graphics cards (GPUs) while editing, providing a smoother and more responsive experience.
Unless you have a subscription version of Lightroom, you won’t be able to use this, and many of the other performance updates to Adobe Lightroom Classic.
2. You can use all the best Lightroom features
This is a huge benefit. Some of my most used tools have only been released since Lightroom became a subscription service, so cannot be used by anyone with Lightroom 6 (the last non-subscription version of the software).
These include the ability to edit videos, choose attractive creative profiles, the excellent new masking features, super-resolution to enlarge images and the AI-based subject/sky selection tool which is a massive time-saver (see above screenshot and video below).
Then there are Creative Profiles, Expanded Tone Curve, Profile Management, Coloured Labeling, Folder Search, Range Masking, Boundary Warp, etc. – these are all incredibly useful features that you’ll use every day, and they simply won’t ever be available unless you subscribe to Lightroom Classic.
While there are several other good alternatives to Lightroom, none of them offers such a wide range of editing tools, robust import/export capabilities, complete image management, seamless multi-device integration and cloud-backups as Lightroom.
For beginners, the Lightroom tutorials which appear when you open the app are also a handy way to see how other creatives edit their photos, and you’re even able to apply their edits to your own photos.
Whether you’re a professional or an amateur photographer, or simply someone who just wants to make your photos look their best in the least amount of time, Lightroom is still the best photo editing software.
- Latest Lightroom Update: June 2022 release: Desktop version 5.4, iOS version 7.4, Android version 7.4
3. You get Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Formerly known as Lightroom Mobile or Lightroom CC)
The way that Adobe has named its two main Lightroom products requires explanation:
There’s Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (aka ‘Lightroom’) which is the online version of the software which can also be used as an app on your desktop. Then there’s Lightroom Classic which is desktop-based.
By subscribing to the Lightroom Photography Plan, you gain access to what is in my opinion the most-useful editing app in existence: Lightroom.
Lightroom allows you to sync and backup your imported photos to the cloud, then use a phone or tablet to cull, rate and edit photos – this incredible feature alone is worth the price of the Lightroom subscription, and is a unique feature that no other editing software currently offers.
You can also use Photoshop CC to perform more fine-tuning on your images via your iPad, all from the cloud – very impressive.
I love the ability to create an online gallery of images to share in just a few clicks, using the Albums feature of Lightroom CC and the included Adobe cloud storage space.
Also, thanks to Apple iOS13, Lightroom Mobile is finally able to import photos from your camera directly to the Lightroom app, bypassing the camera roll.
This ‘direct import’ feature is a huge time saver to what was once a rather clunky process. Also added to the update are multiple export options, including options for the file type, pixel dimensions, compression and watermarks,
The Lightroom Mobile app is 100% free to download and use whether you’re a paying Creative Cloud subscriber or not. It’s been renamed to the Lightroom Photo & Video Editor and is available for iOS and Android.
However, unless you subscribe to a Lightroom plan, the mobile app’s functionality is limited and you can’t take advantage of cloud syncing of your images across devices, which is an essential feature.
4. You get Adobe Photoshop on Desktop
By subscribing to the Photography Plan, you gain access to Photoshop, an essential graphics manipulation and photo editing software.
Despite the emergence of various Photoshop alternatives, Adobe Photoshop is still an essential piece of software for photographers in 2023, and the way it works with Lightroom is seamless.
While Lightroom allows you to do the majority of your photo editing within the app, some advanced compositing features can only be performed with Photoshop.
5. You can sync and backup your edits on Photoshop on iPad
The Photoshop iPad app lets you start editing a PSD on your desktop and then continue editing on your iPad, with everything automatically backed up to your cloud storage.
While anyone can download the Photoshop iPad app for free, it’s only with a Creative Cloud subscription that users can take advantage of all the cloud syncing benefits, and this is what makes it so powerful.
(If you’re confused about why you might need both software, check out Lightroom vs Photoshop.)
6. All the most recent cameras are supported
If you own any camera released after Dec 2017, you need to get Lightroom Classic to be able to edit your photos.
When I bought a Sony a7III, I had to stop using Lightroom 6 and upgrade to their subscription plan in order to edit the photos.
All the latest cameras are supported by Adobe Camera RAW (the included app which processes the files for Lightroom and Photoshop).
Adobe Creative Cloud / Adobe Lightroom FAQs
Since writing this post, I’ve had a lot of questions regarding the various options available. Here are some answers to the most common queries:
How much is Adobe Lightroom?
You can purchase Lightroom on its own or as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, with both plans starting at US$9.99/month. Lightroom Classic is available as part of the Creative Cloud Photography plan, starting at US$9.99/month.
What is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom?
Sometimes Lightroom is referred to rather confusingly as ‘Photoshop Lightroom’. It is the same thing.
Can I get Lightroom Free?
You can download a free 7-day trial of Lightroom here.
Is Lightroom only available by subscription?
Lightroom Classic CC is only available by subscription. Lightroom 6 (the previous version) is no longer available to purchase outright.
Which is better Photoshop or Lightroom?
Lightroom is like a ‘lite’ version of Photoshop, but it also offers image organisation features that Photoshop lacks. One is not technically better than the other – they are intended to be used for different purposes, often in unison.
Typically, a Lightroom user will only use Photoshop to edit or manipulate images in a way that Lightroom cannot. Similarly, a Photoshop user will use Lightroom in order to organise, cull and add keywords to a library of images.
What is Lightroom used for?
Lightroom has two main uses – image management and image editing.
Is Lightroom CC free?
Yes, it is free on mobile devices. You can download the app for iOS and Android devices, and use it for free to edit and share your images.
The desktop version of Lightroom CC isn’t available as a free, standalone product – it comes bundled with the Photography Plan, which includes Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC.
What’s the difference between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC?
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC is the renamed version of the original Lightroom application. It is optimised for desktop-focused workflows, including local storage of your photos in files and folders on your computer.
Lightroom CC is the new cloud-based photo service that works across desktop, mobile and web. Lightroom Classic CC is a desktop-focused digital photography product.
Is Lightroom Mobile free?
Yes, it’s 100% free to download the Lightroom CC mobile app onto your smartphone. However, there are certain features that are missing:
- Cloud Storage
- Sync Lightroom Presets & profiles
- Selective Adjustments
- Sensei Search
- Editing Raw Photos
- Sharing Web Galleries (Lightroom Web)
- Sort your People Photos
Some of these features are unnecessary for the average photographer, but others are genuinely very useful, e.g. RAW editing, sync presets and cloud storage.
The premium features are only available to users on the annual or monthly subscription.
What happens to my photos if I cancel my Adobe subscription?
Lightroom CC: Adobe stores your original images for an additional year after your membership lapses. During this time, you can continue to launch Lightroom CC to download your original files from the cloud.
Lightroom Classic: You’ll still have access to all your photos on your hard drive through Lightroom Classic CC. You can continue to import and organise photos, as well as export your edited photos through Export, Publish, Print, Web, or Slideshow. However, access to the Develop & Map modules and Lightroom Mobile are not available after your membership ends.
Is there a Lightroom 7?
No. Lightroom 6 was the last stand-alone (i.e. non-subscription) version of Lightroom that could be purchased outside of a Creative Cloud membership… but now even that has been phased out.
All the advantages of Lightroom lie in the subscription versions, with regular updates, powerful new features and helpful support.
If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments below so I can consider adding them to this list.
No one likes the idea of paying each month for a subscription… especially when that product or service used to be available as a one-off payment.
However, once you’re committed to buying Lightroom Classic CC, you’ll soon realise just how many huge benefits there are to paying for Lightroom in this way… whether you’re an amateur or a pro photographer.
Many believe that with the massive revenue Adobe has created by encouraging its users into this model, it is now more able to invest heavily into the improvement of Lightroom, Photoshop and every other creative program we all rely on.
As a Lightroom subscriber, I’m happy to keep paying the subscription fee, as I feel the benefits hugely outweigh anything else.
I hope this article and accompanying web story have put some things in perspective for you too. Leave us a comment with your thoughts.
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