For years, Lightroom has been painfully slow. Importing images will always be slow, but switching to the develop module shouldn’t take ten seconds, and loading thumbnails should be a snap, but that hasn’t been the case. Today, though, Adobe announced two new versions of Lightroom: Lightroom CC, a completely new web-based version of the program, and Lightroom Classic CC, which is the version that we’ve been using on our computers for years, but updated with performance improvements.
Lightroom Classic CC now allows you to switch between the library module and the develop module almost instantly, at least, after the first time you do it in a session, when it may take a second or two. When I open a new folder of images in the library module, thumbnails appear almost instantly (though they take a couple of seconds to reach a respectable resolution).
Of course, other file management software is already fast. ON1’s Photo RAW 2017 was fast from the start, and the new 2018 version (in public Beta / pre-sale now) seems to be even faster, so it’s hard to get too excited about Lightroom catching up with the times. Still, for those of us who are entrenched in the Adobe ecosystem, it’s a welcome development.
Keep in mind, though, that Lightroom Classic CC can not be purchased… you have to rent it from Adobe, perpetually. Adobe’s Lightroom 6 can still be purchased, but it’s slow and lacks all of the features developed in the past couple of years.
Lightroom on the Web
If you don’t feel like Adobe already has enough control over your photography, then you may like the new Lightroom CC! Not only can you pay Adobe every month for the privilege of viewing and editing your images with their software, you can now also pay them even more to store you images on their servers. Technically, the Lightroom CC that is included with the Photographer’s plan for $10/month includes 20GB of free storage space, but let’s be honest here: the smallest CF card in my Canon 5D is a 32GB card, and I fill it in a single day’s shoot if I’m covering an event. The Photography plan plus 1TB of storage is $15/month, which is actually a pretty reasonable price increase. Not bad, Adobe. Not Bad.
For those photographers who have fast internet access (even a standard cable connection in the USA has relatively slow upload speeds), access to an image library from anywhere in the world is handy1. However, uploading even several GB of data to cloud storage can take quite a long time, and if you’re uploading 40 or 50GB, even leaving your computer on overnight to upload may not be enough. And if you’re traveling in a remote area, or in part of the world with slow internet, or just relying on a hotel’s limited upload speeds, you’ll be out of luck.
As such, I’d consider the web-based Lightroom CC to be a potentially useful supplement to a locally-based workflow, rather than a useful solution for professional photographers.
What happens to your images if you stop paying Adobe every month? Let’s hope that they provide you with a reasonable amount of time to download all of your data before they delete it.
Of course, Amazon Prime members already get unlimited storage of photos and web access at no extra cost, but editing them with your favorite software will require downloading the images first. ↩