Is Lightroom Free? – Well, Kind Of…
If you want to get into photo editing, Lightroom is an amazing tool to use; but is it free? Although heaps of photographers online seem to talk about Lightroom, nobody actually discusses the cost of it all. Unfortunately, not all versions of Lightroom are available for free, but there is a Lightroom Mobile app that is! In this post, you’ll learn how you can get Lightroom for free and the best plan options to choose from if you decide to upgrade to the full version.
Adobe Lightroom is only available for free as a mobile app. Lightroom Mobile has a lot of the basic tools and settings found in the desktop version, minus the ability to import, edit, and export hundreds or thousands of photos at once. To get the full version of Lightroom on desktop, you need to subscribe to one of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plans, which costs a monthly fee.
Now, although all of Lightroom isn’t fully free, that doesn’t mean you should walk away in defeat. Let’s discuss ways you can get the most value out of the free versions of Lightroom and save money when upgrading plans in the future.
The Free Version Of Lightroom
The only truly “free” version of Lightroom is Lightroom Mobile. This is a mobile photo editing app that is a significant upgrade from the built-in editing apps that comes with your device. Although there is a free trial of Lightroom desktop, it will eventually require you to upgrade.
For now, let’s focus on what kind of things you can get out of the Lightroom Mobile app. Considering it costs you nothing, there’s no reason not to try it out!
Lightroom mobile is a photo editing app available on both Android and Apple devices. Unlike the basic adjustment tools that are built into your phone’s photo gallery, Lightroom Mobile adds a professional upgrade.
With the ability to make more advanced adjustments to exposure, contrast, and color, it’s much easier to stylize your photos and make them pop.
Even without a creative cloud subscription, Lightroom Mobile is still extremely capable. By accessing photos directly from your camera roll, you can begin editing and sorting photos within the app. Once you’re done, you can save them to your phone or share them directly to social media!
– How Lightroom Mobile Changes When You Upgrade Plans
There are a few added features that you miss out on when using the free version of Lightroom Mobile. Once you upgrade to one of the Creative Cloud Photography Plans, you unlock a lot more options within the app.
You get additional features such as:
- Cloud Storage
- Syncing Photos & Presets Between Mobile And Desktop
- Healing Brush To Remove Unwanted Objects
- Selective Adjustments For More Refined Edits
- Geometry Tools To Correct Photos
- RAW File Editing Capabilities On Mobile
- Batch Editing
- People Photo Sorting With Face Recognition
- Shareable Web Galleries
- Sensei Search
These added features turn Lightroom Mobile from a good app to an incredible one, giving you a lot of the same tools as found on Desktop. If you want to try out some of these extra features for yourself, check out the Free Trial Of Adobe Lightroom. By getting the free trial, you’ll unlock these added features in Lightroom Mobile as well.
So if you want a forever free version of Lightroom, then Lightroom Mobile is your only option. However, if you’re serious about photo editing, upgrading to a paid plan will unlock a ton of valuable tools you’ll love.
Do You Have To Pay For Lightroom On Desktop?
Unlike Lightroom Mobile, there is no free version of Lightroom for desktop. The only way to get Lightroom for free on your computer is to sign up for the free trial. Currently, Adobe offers a free 30-day trial of the entire Creative Cloud Suite that includes Lightroom, Photoshop, and a variety of other creative apps.
All of the desktop apps from Adobe are only available as paid programs. There are not any options to have a free version of the apps with lesser functionality like what’s possible with Lightroom Mobile.
How Much Does Lightroom Cost?
Since the Creative Cloud Suite is a subscription-based service, there are a variety of plan options to choose from with Lightroom. If you’re primarily looking for photo editing programs, then the Photography Plans are the ones you want to look at.
There are three different Photography Plans that Lightroom is available in, but the cheapest price point is $9.99/month with 1TB (1000GB) of cloud storage included.
If you’re going to start using Lightroom as your go-to editing program, then it’s safe to say that you’ll be using it for at least a full year. In that case, you can choose to pay annually rather than monthly.
Annually, Lightroom costs $119.88/year, which doesn’t equate to any savings in the long run. In fact, it’s the exact same price whether you decide to pay monthly or in one lump sum. Considering most programs offer some type of small discount when paying annually, this is a bit annoying on Adobe’s part.
Even though you don’t get any savings, paying for Lightroom all at once can be nice to avoid a looming monthly fee for the whole year.
Comparing The Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plans
If Lightroom is the main app that you want to use, then you have a few different options to choose from. Lightroom is included in two different photography based plans, as well as the entire creative cloud suite subscription.
Here are your different options to choose from when buying Lightroom:
- Includes Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Lightroom Classic in one package. Monthly or annual payments.
- – 20GB of Cloud Storage Included
- – Optional Upgrade to 1TB of Cloud Storage for an extra $10/month
- Includes Adobe Lightroom Only. Monthly or annual payments.
- – 1TB of Cloud Storage Included
- – Access To Adobe Portfolio To Build Your Own Website
- Get Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, and all other apps in the Creative Cloud Suite. Monthly or annual payments.
- – Includes apps such as Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Adobe XD, Acrobat Pro, and 15+ more.
Looking at these three pricing options for getting Lightroom, obviously, the Lightroom Plan and the Photography Plan cost the same amount of money. So which one is a better value?
Well, let’s break it down.
The Photography Plan offers the most value if you want to get the most out of your photo editing. By getting access to both Lightroom and Photoshop in a package deal, you are armed with two of the best editing programs on the market.
At first, you may be wondering why you would need two photo editing software, but Photoshop and Lightroom are two completely different programs.
Lightroom is meant as an all in one editing software for photos. From organizing, editing, exporting and working in bulk, there’s nothing Lightroom can’t get done for you. It has all the basic adjustments you need, plus some more advanced ones to add some more style to your edits.
Photoshop, on the other hand, is meant for more advanced and specialized image adjustments. Things such as cutting out backgrounds, creating graphics, removing objects, or merging photos together. This program isn’t great for working with a lot of images at once but is a powerful tool to make more advanced adjustments to a few photos at a time.
Since both programs have such unique features, they make up for the flaws in each other. Individually, the programs are powerful, but together you have a top of the line, professional photo editing suite.
Added Value With Lightroom Classic
Now to add to the sweetness of this plan, you also get access to Lightroom Classic. Lightroom Classic is a bit different than Lightroom in the sense that it’s more of a desktop-focused software. Rather than syncing everything with cloud storage between desktop and mobile, Lightroom Classic keeps things in one place.
The advantage to Classic is that it has a slightly better design for working with photos directly from your computer or hard drive. This is the version of Lightroom I favor when editing on desktop since it has a slightly more comprehensive design on a computer.
The beauty of the photography plan is that you don’t have to choose between what photo editing programs you’re using. Instead, you get access to all the best photography tools from Adobe without needing to compromise.
The only downside is that you get less cloud storage. Rather than 1TB, you only get 20GB of cloud storage to work with.
Ultimately, the photography plan is the best value for your money as a photographer. With some of the most powerful photo editing apps on the market, it’s worth the monthly subscription.
To try it out for yourself, start your free trial of the Photography Plan.
The Lightroom Plan keeps things simple and only offers a single version of Lightroom, with a heck of a lot of cloud storage. If you want a capable editing software that works across multiple devices while having heaps of extra storage, this plan is for you.
Since you don’t get access to Lightroom Classic with this plan, you’ll be using a lot of cloud-based backup options and syncing features. This is super useful when you’re working between multiple devices like at home and work or switching between desktop and mobile.
If you don’t see yourself using the extra features that are found in Photoshop, then this may be a more fitting option. Lightroom, by itself, is an extremely capable app that allows you to create beautiful edits very quickly.
The only difference is that it’s not capable of making more advanced adjustments, like cutting out a background or creating graphic designs. Luckily you can use other design tools such as Canva if you ever need to create something along those lines.
Whether you’re a casual hobbyist or are looking for a professional editing solution, the Lightroom plan will work for you. With so much added cloud storage, you can edit while on the go rather than being tied to your desk and hard drive at home.
If you’re running a creative business and work with photo, video, and graphics, then you’ll need a few extra tools. With the entire creative cloud suite, you get access to all 20+ apps Adobe offers around design, photography, and video editing.
By including Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, and a heap of other apps, all your creative needs will be fulfilled with this plan.
For my own business, I am constantly working with video, animated graphics, photos, and other forms of media. Since I need the extra capabilities and design tools, this is the option I personally use. However, as an individual or a hobbyist who isn’t yet making money from your creative work, this can be a lot to shell out.
Although the price of the entire suite sounds pretty steep, it’s a relatively fair price considering how many apps you get access to. Since each app costs around $10-$20 per month on its own, $50 isn’t so bad for over 20 apps.
However, I will admit that the subscription model of these adobe products is a pain no matter what way you try to look at it.
Is It Worth It To Pay For Lightroom?
Even with the rise of other powerful editing programs that are one-time payments, I still sit in the camp of people who believe Lightroom is worth paying for.
Over the years, I have tried a lot of different editing software, but Lightroom has long been my go-to option. It’s simple design, capable tools, and workflow capabilities make my life easier as a photographer.
Whether you’re having to edit thousands of photos from a wedding or just edit a handful of images from a hike you went on, Lightroom is there for you. It’s easy to cull and sort all your images and makes working in batches extremely easy. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work in front of me, I’ve always found that Lightroom makes it more manageable.
Although Lightroom is a photo editing program, it works exceptionally well for organizing photos. I use Lightroom on a regular basis just to keep my pictures sorted and easy to access as well.
Then once I’m ready, I can quickly find any photo and start editing it without hassle.
The big advantage to a monthly subscription is that you stay up to date with the latest and greatest versions. Every time a new update drops, you’ll get instant access to it to start using the new features. Here’s what is often found in Lightroom updates:
1. Stay Updated With Tools And Performance Features
Adobe regularly makes big updates to their software with improved tools and performance features.
Things such as improved tone curve, color grading tools, automatic culling features, improved watermarking features, better navigation, sharing options, and more are just a few recent updates Adobe has made.
These small changes end up making a huge difference in your editing workflow. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars to buy a program outright like in the past, a subscription model offers a more cost-effective way to take advantage of the latest software.
2. Capable Of Supporting More Cameras
As new cameras are released to the world, some of their recording formats aren’t supported in editing software. Luckily, as new cameras become available, Adobe is diligent with maintaining support for the most current models.
If you’re a tech nut or a professional photographer who’s constantly upgrading gear, this is super important to you.
3. You Get Access To Better Mobile Editing Apps
Like you learned at the beginning of this post, Lightroom Mobile has a lot of features that can only be unlocked once you’re subscribed to a creative cloud membership.
Not only that, but you also get access to Photoshop CC, so you can use Photoshop on your tablet as well.
By paying for one of the photography plans, you get access to the desktop programs but also far more advanced mobile editing tools as well.
Altogether, you’re backed with an extremely robust set of tools to edit your images with.
Can You Buy Adobe Lightroom Outright?
In recent years Adobe has moved away from the ability to buy their programs as stand-alone software. Instead, all the most updated versions of their programs are a part of the Creative Cloud.
Previously, Lightroom 6 was the last version of Lightroom that you could buy outright. Now that product has been discontinued and is not available for purchase. The only option you have to download Lightroom is now through the Creative Cloud Suite.
Since the subscription model is a huge pain point for many creatives, this move was met with a lot of anguish amongst some photographers. With that said, even when Lightroom 6 was still available, it was no longer receiving updates or attention from Adobe.
With that said, if you’re really against the thought of paying a monthly fee to edit photos, there are still other powerful one-time purchase editing software available. One alternative that I highly recommend is Skylum Luminar. With exceptional AI-technology, editing photos is effortless with this program, plus super affordable.
How To Get A Discount On Lightroom
During certain times of the year, Adobe will put on different promotions for their editing programs, but there’s not a consistent pattern to it all.
With that said, you can always keep an eye on their latest offers and sales by visiting this page.
Although there may not be a regular discount put on for everyone out there, there is an amazing deal available for students and teachers.
If you’re eligible for this discount, you can save 60% on all of Adobe’s products, making it one of the best deals around.
So whether you’re in high school, university, or have a career in teaching, you’d be crazy not to take advantage of this discount. Now you can laugh with all your extra cash while commoners like myself pay full price for the subscription.
To see who exactly is eligible for this student and teacher discount, click here.
The Adobe Lightroom Free Trial
If you’re ready to start using Lightroom in all it’s glory, then make sure to take advantage of the free trial available with all creative cloud products.
The free trial is the only truly “free” way to get Lightroom and lasts for 7-days. You can claim your free trial of Lightroom, Photoshop, or other Adobe programs by clicking here.
The downside to Adobe’s free trials is that they aren’t very long. So before signing up, make sure you have some time allotted to sit down and actually tinker with the programs!
Once your trial expires, you’ll be prompted to sign up for one of the paid plans they offer. If you decide it isn’t for you, then you can opt-out of continuing but will lose access to the programs you were using.
The free trial is available on both Mac and PC and will allow you to unlock the added features in the mobile apps as well. Even though it only lasts 7-days, you’ll quickly have an idea of whether it’s something you’ll want to continue with or not. So try it out and see what you think!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Get Photoshop And Lightroom Together?
You can get access to both Photoshop and Lightroom with the Photography Plan. This plan gives you Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Lightroom Classic with 20GB of cloud storage for $9.99/month.
Is Lightroom Only Available Through Subscription?
Yes, Lightroom is now only available through one of the monthly plans offered in the Adobe Creative Cloud. The final version of Lightroom that was available without subscription was Lightroom 6, but that has since been discontinued.
What Is Lightroom Used For?
Adobe Lightroom is an image processing tool capable of both organizing and editing photos. It is meant for enhancing images through photo editing or dealing with a large number of photos at once. You can see Lightroom in action in this post.
Is Lightroom Or Photoshop Better?
Although both are image editing software, Lightroom is meant for managing images and applying basic corrections, while Photoshop provides a means of creating more advanced adjustments. Things such as cutting out images, merging photos, or creating graphics are all only possible with Photoshop, and not something Lightroom is used for.
You can learn more about the differences between these programs in this post.
How Expensive Is Lightroom?
Lightroom starts at $9.99/month through the Photography and Lightroom Plan in the Adobe Creative Cloud. It is also available in the entire Creative Cloud Suite for $52.99/month.
– Brendan 🙂