Buying Lightroom used to be simple, but subscription plans changed that – now you have to weigh the pros and cons of each plan and choose the one that fits your needs.
Buying Lightroom is a stressful task if you don’t know much about it. And I’ve decided to make it easy for you.
To start, let me tell you that you cannot buy Lightroom anymore – you can subscribe to it.
There are several subscription plans you can choose from, each with unique features, and its advantages and disadvantages.
In this complete guide, I’ll guide you through the whole process of buying Lightroom – from choosing the right Lightroom plan to purchasing it, and, in the end, to installing it.
With each offer below you get a 7-day free trial.
|Photography Plan (1TB)|
|Photography Plan (20GB)|
|All Apps Plan|
|All Apps Plan for Students/Teachers|
|Alls Apps Plan for Teams|
|All Apps Plan for School/Universities|
If you’re reading this in February 2021, you can use the latest version of Lightroom only by choosing one of the subscription plans I listed above.
While there are a lot of alternatives to Lightroom, no other software offers such a comprehensive pack, for such a reasonable price.
These plans allow you to fully back up all your photos and a desktop or mobile device and edit them across all your desktop and mobile devices.
Keep reading to learn more …
How to Choose a Lightroom plan?
I’ve poured a lot of sweat into making this guide as intuitive and easy-to-understand for you as possible.
If Adobe complicated its subscription system to make more money, I’m here to simplify so you can save money.
I’ve been using Lightroom (and Photoshop) for years, and I released quite a few Lightroom tutorials – so I’m confident I can recommend the best option for you! 😉
Let’s see the plans …
Lightroom (1TB) – US$9.99/mo
Lightroom (1TB) plan is the most basic plan you can choose that gives access to Lightroom.
For US$9.99 per month or US$119.88 per year, you get Lightroom CC (also named Adobe Photoshop Lightroom) and 1TB of cloud storage.
Based on features, Lightroom (1TB) plan is the most suitable for photographers who only need Lightroom and love cloud-based backups. However, I prefer Lightroom Classic over Lightroom CC – hence, I highly recommend Photography plan (see below).
1TB (one terabyte) of storage is plenty for every photographer. This way, you can store approximately 20,000 images or 200,000 JPEGs. By storing your images in the cloud, you give yourself an option to access them across all your devices and continue your work.
If you ever find yourself needing more space for your photos, you can easily boost your cloud storage to 2TB, 5TB, or 10TB for US$9.99/month per terabyte.
Additionally, you also get access to:
- Adobe Portfolio (use it to build your portfolio website),
- Adobe Fonts (useful for customizing your website),
- Adobe Spark (for social graphics, videos, and web pages).
This plan, however, does not provide Lightroom Classic, Adobe Photoshop, and Photoshop on iPad.
Photography (20GB) – US$9.99/mo
For just US$9.99 or $US119.88 per year, you can swap the large cloud storage for Photoshop (for desktop and iPad) and most importantly Lightroom Classic.
This plan is the best for photographers that rely on their backups, but need Photoshop for their photo editing or Lightroom Classic with its unique features.
As a tradeoff, you only get a modest 20GB of cloud storage, which is enough for approximately 4,000 JPEGs. While 20GB is not a lot of space for photos, it’s a good starting point.
If you ever need more space, you can easily upgrade to 1TB plan, which is the next on my list.
(You also get access to Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Sparks, all of which I listed in the previous plan.)
Photography (1TB) – US$19.99/mo
Photography (1TB) plan is analogous to Photography (20GB) plan, but they differ in cloud storage size and price.
For $19.99 per month or $239.88 per year, the 1TB plan will resolve all your issues regarding cloud storage, but you will also get access to Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, and Adobe Photoshop.
Hence, I recommend this plan for photographers that want to use the same software as professionals do – being able to use the same tools the best photographers in the world do for US$19.99 per month is quite reasonable, in my opinion.
If you still need more cloud storage for your photos, you can easily upgrade to 2TB, 5TB, or 10TB for US$9.99/month per terabyte.
(You also get access to Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Sparks, all of which I listed in the first plan.)
All Apps – US$52.99/mo
All Apps plan is Adobe’s most comprehensive and at the same time the most cost-efficient plan.
For $52.99 per month or US$479.88 per year, you get to use 20+ apps – in short, you can use the entire Adobe Creative Cloud.
Alternatively, you don’t have to commit for a full year. Adobe offers a monthly plan for All Apps plan, but it comes at a higher price of US$79.49 per month.
All Apps plan is ideal for photographers that besides Lightroom also need other Adobe apps, such as for video editing or website design.
All Apps plan includes:
- Adobe XD
- Acrobat Pro
- Premiere Pro
- Premiere Rush
- After Effects
- Lightroom Classic
- Media Encoder
- Character Animator
Along with all these apps, you get 100GB of cloud storage, which is not great, but it’s a good start.
(You also get access to Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Sparks, all of which I listed in the first plan.)
All Apps for Students – US$19.99/mo
If you’re a student of a teacher, you can get over 60% discount on All Apps plan, resulting in US$19.99 per month.
To put that into the context: You get ALL Adobe apps for the same price as Photography plan (1TB) for individuals.
Thus, this plan is too good not to take advantage of it, if you can prove your eligibility. More on that later.
All Apps for Businesses – US$59.99/mo or US$33.99/mo for Lightroom
If you run a business, you cannot get away with a plan for individuals.
You’ll probably want an easy-to-use license management console and instant syncing across devices – and this plan offers just that.
For US$59.99 per month, you get access to all Adobe apps, including Lightroom. Alternatively, Lightroom alone will cost you US$24.99/mo per license.
5 Benefits of Lightroom Subscription
In December 2017, Adobe released the final standalone version of Lightroom, Lightroom 6.14. More than a year later, Adobe became available only with a subscription plan.
While this new long-announced news angered several photographers, who to this day use Lightroom 6, it comes with several benefits.
Lightroom costs more with a subscription plan, but you get a lot more with it. If you’re unsure about the subscription plans or you’re still using the Lightroom 6, I strongly recommend you upgrade.
Having used the standalone Lightroom version in the past and being an everyday user of the latest subscription-based Lightroom, these are the main benefits of the new Lightroom subscription:
1) You get all the newest Lightroom features and tools
Do you like being the first one to use all the new gadgets? That’s exactly what you get with the new subscription plans.
All the news features, such as Creative Profiles, new Color Grading tool, Colour Labelling, Expanded Tone Curve, Tethered Live View, are available to you as soon as they come out.
This is for me, one of the most important benefits of the new subscription purchase model.
Check all the newest features.
2) You get the support for the most recent cameras
Those of you who are still using Lightroom 6 haven’t received support for any of the most recent cameras.
Hence, you’re either doomed to stick with your older one or not using Lightroom.
This little detail is what made the majority of us to switch to the subscription-based system.
3) You get the fastest & most optimized versions of Lightroom
A lot of people run Lightroom on old PCs and laptops; thus, Lightroom seems slow and unreliable to them.
If this applies to you as well, I urge you to upgrade Lightroom. The newer versions have been considerably optimized for speed, so the new Lightroom Classic launches faster, imports and exports faster, generates previews and applies edits faster.
As a result, newer Lightroom versions seem overall snappier and a lot more fun to use.
4) You get Photoshop CC & Photoshop for iPad
Adobe Photoshop now supports syncing your workflow across several devices.
For example, you can start editing a file on your desktop, automatically save it to the cloud. Later, you continue on your iPad and export from it.
While Photoshop app for iPad is free for everyone, you need a valid subscription to be able to sync your projects over the cloud.
Do you think that’s something you would enjoy?
5) You get Lightroom CC (Mobile Lightroom)
In comparison to Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC is in addition to a desktop app, available for mobile and web.
Also, all your originals are saved in the cloud and all your files are automatically backed up.
The CC version is stripped-down and hence easier to use and provides a more intuitive workflow.
You might argue that the Lightroom Mobile app is already free to download, regardless of whether you have a valid subscription plan or not. While this is true, several essential features are missing from it, which you can unlock by subscribing to a Photography plan.
How to get a Lightroom Discount?
From time to time, Adobe gives a discount on Lightroom and other Creative Cloud apps and products.
You can usually expect these around holidays and special events, but often they come without a warning.
To find all the current discounts, check this link.
The best way to catch the limited offers is to re-check often. I recommend you bookmark (save) this link: https://www.photutorial.com/go/Adobe-special-offers
Alternatively, you can get a 60% discount if you’re a teacher or a student. You just need to be eligible for the discount.
Here’s how to get it.
How to get an Adobe Student Discount?
As I’ve already mentioned – if you’re a student or a teacher, you can get a 60%+ discount on Adobe Creative Cloud.
This discount means a generous reduction in price from US$52.99 to US$19.99 per month.
Adobe wants to prove itself as a supporter of education and educational institutions, so you’ll have to be able to prove your eligibility for a student discount.
In short, you need:
- to be at least 13 years old
- have a School ID, tuition bill or any other proof of your current educational process
- use your school email
However, from what I’ve heard, Adobe isn’t all that strict about checking these requirements. What I mean is that it is supposedly easy to fake; however, I haven’t tried it myself.
Read the full eligibility statement.
Adobe Lightroom trial
The only legitimate to get a free version of Lightroom is with the Adobe Lightroom Free Trial, which you can get only on Adobe website, here.
The free trial works on both Windows and macOS.
It lasts for 7 days, during which you can either upgrade to a paid membership or cancel the trial and pay nothing.
If you’re still uncertain about Lightroom, I recommend you try the free trial and see if it’s the right fit for you.
How to purchase Lightroom 6?
As of May 2019, you can no longer purchase Lightroom 6 from Adobe Creative Cloud.
You might be able to find an old copy somewhere on the internet, but Lightroom 6 is not being officially sold anymore.
Even you’re able to track down a license for Lightroom 6, I must warn you that the software hasn’t been updated in 5+ years and probably doesn’t support your camera model.
Additionally, it quite likely won’t work with future versions of operating systems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here, I answer all your questions, and the questions I had when I was first looking into buying Lightroom.
How much does Lightroom cost?
Lightroom costs $9.99/month with Adobe subscription plans. These include Lightroom Classic and either 1TB of cloud storage, or Photoshop and Lightroom CC.
How much are Lightroom and Photoshop?
Lightroom and Photoshop are included in Photography plans that cost as little as US$9.99/month.
How much is the Adobe Student Discount?
Students and teachers receive up to 62.2% discount on Adobe All Apps plan, which costs US$19.99/month for the first year, and US$29.99/month after the first year.
Is there a free version of Lightroom?
There are two ways to get Lightroom for free. First, Adobe generously offers a 7-day free trial for Lightroom. Second, Lightroom Mobile is free for everyone on Android and iOS devices. However, it comes with limited features.
Can you buy Lightroom without a subscription?
You can no longer buy Lightroom without a subscription. The last version of Lightroom that you could purchase outright was Lightroom 6.14.
What is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom?
Adobe refers to Lightroom Classic as “Adobe Lightroom Photoshop”, for some reason. It’s the same thing.
Which is better Lightroom or Photoshop?
Lightroom and Photoshop share several features, but both also have unique tools. Overall, Lightroom is optimized for photo adjustments, while Photoshop excels at manipulating images.
What’s the difference between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC?
Lightroom Classic is the most common version of Lightroom, that’s optimised for desktops, with all photos being stored on your computer.
Lightroom CC is a cloud-based app that works on desktop, mobile, and web. It’s focused on performance and workflow on several devices.
At first, Adobe’s new subscription payment model received a lot of criticism. However, as time passed, people realized that it’s not the worst thing in the world and that it has several benefits.
Regardless of what you think of Lightroom right now, I suppose you can at least give it a go via a free trial – you’ve got nothing to lose.
You might end up liking it, as do I.
I hope this article clarified Lightroom purchase for you.
Leave me a comment with your thoughts and experience with Lightroom.
Matic is a photographer and avid teacher of photography from Slovenia. In 2020, he founded Photutorial.com, website/blog dedicated to teaching photography, writing honest and helpful reviews, and inspiring photographers.