Adobe Lightroom vs Adobe Lightroom Classic: which is best for you?

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Although these two pieces of software share a name, there's plenty of differences between them - find out what they are
Life used to be so simple. Lightroom was Lightroom: an absurdly powerful, all-in-one application for photographers of all stripes and experience levels. Want to organise your holiday snaps, apply a few one-click-wonder presets and then export them for Facebook? Lightroom. Want to import 100,000 images, apply keywords and captions, edit them individually with Adobe's industry-standard RAW software and then export them for high-end clients and image libraries? Lightroom let you do that too.

Then in 2017, Adobe changed everything, introducing Lightroom CC and splitting it off from Lightroom, which it initially called Lightroom Classic CC. These days, the names have been refined somewhat, giving users the nominally confusing choice between Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Lightroom Classic. Although they share a name, and do – at first glance – the same thing, the two applications are very different. Although there's no price difference between the two (sort of; read on for the full skinny), plumping for one versus the other could have long-term ramifications for your photo library that could be awkward to undo in the future. Fighter, choose your weapon.

Lightroom vs Lightroom Classic: What's the main difference?

Lightroom Classic can make truly enormous catalogues easy to manage and easy to search. (Image credit: Dave Stevenson)

In very – very – simple terms, the difference is that Lightroom Classic is for photographers whose repository of images lives locally. That is, either on your computer's internal hard disk or on a store on your local area network. You might want to view your photos on a connected device, such as a tablet or a phone, but you do your main editing at your computer and don't regard smart devices as suitable editing platforms. You snob.

In general, the photographs you shoot while you're away from your computer stay on your camera until you're back at your computer, at which point they're edited, perfected, tagged and captioned before being carefully…
Dave Stevenson
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