Lightroom Fragments

Well, it's happened. Lightroom as a standalone, perpetual license product is coming to an end.

At Adobe Max the new versions of Lightroom (yes plural) were introduced. 

First, let's deal with the Lightroom 6 perpetual license users: there will be no Lightroom 7. At least until the end of the year Adobe will continue to provide basic camera/lens updates to the 6.x versions. Your version will continue to work after Adobe stops updating it, but it won't get new features, bug fixes, or camera support beginning at some currently unspecified time in 2018. (The good news is that the D850 camera support squeaks into these last updates.)

I can hear the groans already, but this was clearly predictable behavior on Adobe's part. You can complain all you want, but it's not at all likely that Adobe will rethink this decision. Simply put, the change to CC subscriptions worked extremely well for Adobe, and at this point there's no going back.

As 6.x users know, there have been issues with not getting new features that were in the CC version, such as the Dehaze filter. That has to do with the way Adobe is doing their accounting for CC. It's an odd aspect of the US tax law that catches some updating processes like that (Apple had issues with this at one time). Not that you can't figure out a workaround, but Adobe basically has signaled from the beginning that they're not interested in that.

So, if you're using Lightroom 6 and want to continue, you have three basic choices: 

  1. Continue to use LR6 and convert any new camera file that isn't supported to DNG. You will add to your workflow and be stuck on the same feature set.
  2. Get an Adobe Photography Creative Cloud subscription for US$9.99 a month (slight price variations across the world, and some states subject this to sales tax). Download the new LR7 (more on that in a bit), and continue into Lightroom's future.
  3. Find another program to do what you used Lightroom for. Now you know why all the Photoshop competitors have been building digital asset management (DAM) features into their products lately. This is their best chance to ween you off Adobe.

Okay, so what about Lightroom CC?

Today what we would usually call Lightroom 7 becomes Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC. Ugh. Technically it is Lightroom CC 2017 (7.0), using Adobe's previous naming practices.

Adobe announced that the core goal of this update was performance, though they've added at least one new key feature, as well. 

Right up top of the list is something that the Photo Mechanic and Fast RawViewer folk are going to be concerned with: you can now import into Lightroom with Embedded Previews. This is going to speed up the process of importing and culling your images quite a bit. (There's a preference that allows you to tell Lightroom to build normal previews during idle time, netting you the best of both worlds.) Of course, we sports photographers will likely still use Photo Mechanic because of its ability to quickly tag and build captions from pre-stored data, but Lightroom is getting closer to gobbling up another software product with the embedded preview change.

Other speed improvements abound within Lightroom Classic CC. Some you'll notice (e.g. preview rendering, browsing images in the Develop module), while many might not be immediately noticed (e.g. slider or brush response). But you should notice that the new version is snappier and maybe even clearly faster, especially if you have recent hardware. 

The Process Version has changed with Lightroom Classic CC. The original process version is now renamed Version 1 (2003) and was inherited from ACR. We've had two other process changes over the history of Lightroom/ACR, now labeled Version 2 (2010) and Version 3 (2012). Yes, that means that the new version is Version 4 (Current).

What's this mean? 

In previous version changes we sometimes got color and tonal value changes. This time around the change is mostly to accommodate a new feature and provide better performance in some underlying technologies used by things like the Noise Reduction settings.

The new feature is Range Mask. This new tool gives you ability to change Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, and Adjustment Brushes so that they effect only Color or Luminance values. It's funny how convoluted this new feature is compared to the way the old Nik control points, but you get similar impacts across the tools Range Mask works with.

Plenty of small changes and features exist in Lightroom Classic CC, but I'll leave them for you to find during exploration. Lightroom Classic CC also gets the previous ACR camera support, plus: ACR was updated to version 10 today, and both it and Lightroom Classic CC get Canon EOS M100, Fujifilm X-E3, Olympus EM-10 Mark III, Sony RX0 and RX10 Mark IV support. 12 third party lenses were added for Canon lens profiles, and 5 were added for Nikon. The Sony 100-400mm FE is now profiled both with and without the TCs. Likewise, the DNG Converter also updates to version 10.

Which brings us to the question mark and reason for the headline: Lightroom CC. 

Wait, what?

bythom adobe lightroomcc

Yes, there's another new version of Lightroom (also included in the Photography bundle, but available separately for US$9.99 month, and it comes with cloud storage space of 1TB at that price).

In essence, Lightroom CC is the desktop version of Lightroom Mobile. This product is the next generation of what we've seen in Lightroom Mobile, only targeted to Windows and Macintosh users. The user interface is simplified, as it really just has Catalog and Develop functions. 

The key difference here is that your images are in the cloud, and everything synced to those images in the cloud benefits from the alterations you make in Lightroom CC. You can even switch between Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom CC mid-process of editing an image, and the changes are reflected on both platforms. 

I'm worried a bit about Lightroom CC. Clearly Adobe, Apple, and Google all want us to store our photos on their server and run their software on those images from any device (in the case of Apple, any iOS or Mac device). The implication in Lightroom CC is that someday Lightroom Classic CC is not the priority at Adobe. It might not happen for a long time, but I can see Adobe shifting emphasis on new abilities from Classic CC to CC at some point, in order to consolidate their position in the cloud.

You can see this already on Adobe's site. Go ahead, try to find details on Lightroom Classic CC. The "Lightroom" product position takes you to Lightroom CC ;~). Moreover, everywhere you can get to a Lightroom Classic CC page on the site, you'll see "the future of photography...Lightroom CC" and be offered to learn more, which takes you to the Lightroom CC pages and information. The Adobe press releases all mostly identify Lightroom CC as the big takeaway. 

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