Adobe is taking Lightroom to the cloud but unless you need to build HDR images or stitch panoramas together, will you really benefit?

Adobe today announced it's latest product in the Lightroom line - Lightroom CC. Like most of Adobe's new products, Lightroom CC is taking the cloud based approach meaning rather than buying the software outright, it operated on a subscription services which give you access to more/fewer products depending on the plan you choose. For £8.57/month you can get access to the latest version of Photoshop and Lightroom with all the mobile ('cause we all need an excuse to spend even more time editing) and web goodies attached which is a pretty good deal. There is also a standalone product that will be called Lightroom 6 which can be bought outright but it lacks the mobile and web aspects.

As a long term Lightroom user, I welcomed the shift away from Photoshop for digital processing. Photoshop had so much to it and no real way to manage files: photographers were something of an afterthought in its evolution, despite the title! Not being a massive fan of slaving away through hundreds of images in the first place, Lightroom offered a sleeker workflow from import to export giving me the overall feeling that the processing task was easier, 'lighter' and more efficient. With its main payment model through subscriptions, to me Lightroom CC represents the nail in the coffin of my precious offline workflow software. I've been resisting cloud-based software for a while now, partly because I think my aging computers won't be up to the task. But now that my workflow workhorse is going 'up into the clouds', perhaps it's a good time to embrace it.

What's interesting is the some of the new features available in Lightroom CC. The two that seem to be the most talked about are tools for panorama stitching as well as a built in HDR feature. No doubt they will be useful in some small application but overall, I'm not sure there is anything new I couldn't live without. These new tools made me reflect how the photography industry is changing.

Nowadays, a world-beating single frame is still not enough to get by. Our audiences are tech-savvy, they know about what the fancy software can do and as a result, want to be impressed by it. Look at HDR. It was (and still is?) the new fad and some of the results can look totally unreal and couldn't ever reflect what the photographer saw at the time of shooting but that's ok. That's what people want now and this means some professionals are having to adapt their styles to this demand. But back to the topic at hand! Perhaps the biggest improvement (and I'm yet to trial it) is in performance. Adobe have boasted Lightroom running up to 10x faster on some systems through increased use of the machine's GPU. This should allow some of the larger tasks to be run in the background giving a better user experience overall. Given the number of images most photographers are working with, this must be a huge plus.

Like most Adobe products, you can trial the service for free for 30 days. Let me know how you get on.