It’s time to stop living under the illusion Adobe cares what you think
posted Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 11:25 AM EDT
Since almost its inception, Lightroom has been the choice for just about any photographer to organize, batch edit and export images. Folks from amateurs to professionals use the program, and there are thousands of plugins made by the community of fans available for customizing your experience. There are so many videos about Lightroom on YouTube that you can go from knowing nothing about the program to using it like a seasoned veteran in a few hours.
For years now, photographers have given what has ranged between civil and spiteful feedback to Adobe regarding their at first much loved, and now much maligned, Lightroom program. But those comments always came from a place of love. Photographers want the program to be its best because they love the workflows, they enjoy using it, and they just want Adobe to understand how they feel.
They want to feel heard as customers, and Adobe has done their best to give the impression that they are listening to those concerns.
But with today’s announcement regarding the split of Lightroom in two and the retirement of the perpetual software marks yet again their refusal to listen to feedback and only pretend to have our best interests in mind.
For a moment, let me be disappointed and let down. Almost angry. This is how the conversation has gone with Adobe for the last three or four years up to today:
Photographers: Make Lightroom faster please. Remember how it used to be? Just make it be that again.
Adobe: Ok, here you go! We added HDR and Panorama stitching!
Photographers: I mean those two features are really great, but now the program isn’t any faster. Some of us even are experiencing slower!
Adobe: Oh, ok! We added Dehaze!
Photographers: Uh, I mean, thanks... that’s also a really cool feature, but we still want it faster. Even more of us are experiencing unprecedented lag and wait times. Please make it faster?
Adobe: Check this out! Now you can edit your photos on your iPad! It’s Lightroom Cloud! You can start editing a photo on your desktop, do more edits on it with your iPad, and then go back and finish it on your desktop!
Photographers: Are you even listening? I don’t think any of us actually wanted that, and none of us actually use it the way you’re describing it (we only use it for photos we take on our mobile devices, not for anything professional). Seriously, we would be totally happy if the only update you added next was just a speed improvement!
Adobe: Got it! We’re introducing a new Lightoom CC with watered-down options, and in addition to that we’re discontinuing Lightroom as a standalone product! You’ll have to buy our Photography plan if you want the “Classic” Lightroom.
Photographers: It’s like you’re not listening to anything we say. We hate this.
Adobe: Glad you like it!
Confusing decision making
It’s not that the program is being folded into the CC branding and won’t be sold as standalone anymore; that alone is only part of it. The problem is that we’re being sold an experience no one asked for while losing features and functionality simultaneous with being told the program we rely on and have relied on for years is no longer going to be supported in the way we were promised.
I am trying to find something to applaud here, but this entire thing feels like a tire fire inside of a train wreck. Even the naming convention doesn’t make any sense.
- In what world is “Lightroom Classic CC” and “Lightroom CC” a good choice of product names to differentiate them? What’s worse, Lightroom CC was already a product name: the old one. Which is now “Classic.” Ok, that’s totally not going to confuse people. Why not call the new one "Lightroom Elements"? That's essentially what the watered-down program is. On that note...
- Adobe is introducing a product that isn't ready. Lightroom CC is incomplete, and lacks many features.
- You can’t have more than one Catalog in Lightroom CC. What? Really?
- You can’t specifically select which files get synced with the cloud. It’s all or nothing, or it just stops syncing when you run out of space.
- You can’t take Catalogs made in Lightroom CC and put them in Lightroom Classic CC, eliminating one possible way to tell Adobe what you do and don’t want synced with the cloud.
- There is no support for plugins in Lightroom CC.
- The storage options don’t make any sense. All photographers who use a modern camera are going to need more than 20GB of storage (the lower tier), and all professional photographers have way more than a terabyte of files (the higher tier). How does this address their needs? What happens then after this inevitably fills? Why are there no options for simply expanding storage? Why are you forcing me to sync to the cloud to begin with?
- The entire ecosystem feels confused and doesn't know where it is supposed to go next. Is Lightroom Classic CC just a stopgap measure while they improve Lightroom CC? When Lightroom CC is caught up, what happens to Classic? Why have two pretty much identical products?
This whole thing seems like a basic, flagrant misunderstanding (or ignoring) of what photographers want. If we want to access images remotely, we have methods for doing that. Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Pixieset, etc all offer photographers a way to get to images they are going to want when they aren’t at their main computers. When photographers are out and away, they generally want to access finished images for sharing or delivering to clients, not the in-progress files we leave in Lightroom. So that said…
What we don’t need is access to every photo in our Lightroom library all the time. We never have, we never will. We all have home workstations and we have workflows based around them. The idea of starting on my home computer, working on my iPhone, fixing things on my iPad, and then going back to my computer was never a real situation that was ever going to take place.
No. One. Does. That. Stop acting like putting things in the cloud for us is actually what we want or need.
This doesn’t even touch the part I mentioned where Lightroom CC doesn’t offer enough variety of storage options to actually apply to their customer base (see bullet point above).
“Lightroom 6 is the last stand-alone version of Lightroom that can be purchased outside of a Creative Cloud membership. There will not be a Lightroom 7 perpetual offering. Lightroom 6 will remain for sale...but will no longer be updated with camera support or bug fixes after the end of 2017.” -Adobe, MAX 2017 Press Materials
That statement seems to fly in the face of this one, made 4.5 years ago:
“Future versions of Lightroom will be made available via traditional perpetual licenses indefinitely.” -Adobe, 2013 Lightroom Blog
In doing what they are doing, Adobe isn’t technically guilty of lying to us (they could be referring as "indefinitely" meaning the purchased standalones will always work, not that they would always make standalones), but it is as close as you can get. What was supposed to be a perpetual program for those who didn’t want to go with Creative Cloud, is now and forever being bundled in with the CC applications.
Check out this comment posted as a response to a concerned Adobe user on that blog announcing that Lightroom would not go full CC:
And Victoria is still right. Lightroom is a very, very specific program just for photographers. It’s a different audience than those who have purchased CC, and a large number of them don’t use or need Photoshop. If you want to stick with Adobe, you will have no choice in the matter. Now you have to pay a monthly fee to enjoy your programs like the rest of us. The lack of competition, real competition, has made Adobe immune to poor, customer-hurting decisions like this. They will do what they want, you will pay for it, and you will like it.
Sounds a lot like my experience with a certain cable company, and no one likes their cable company.
Look - I understand that Adobe will update the program and it probably will get better. I also understand that the standalone Lightroom will be available, albeit not ever updated again after this year but it's still an option for a little while at least. You can always subscribe to their Photography Plan and get Lightroom as you are used to it as well, along with Photoshop. But that’s not the point of this, or the reason most photographers are going to feel personally slighted by this news. It’s the regular insistence that Adobe is listening to us through in-person talks, workshops and online polling but clearly are not actually taking into consideration the vast majority of users’ main sticking points. What we wanted was bafflingly simple, and Adobe just chose not to listen.
Instead of just giving us a really good Lightroom, they split their resources to create these two branches of the product, building a gimped consumer-focused product from scratch and only gave us marginal updates to the “Classic,” real product. You can see a breakdown of those updates here. You may notice there isn't much to talk about.
If you’re upset with this, it’s time to really root for other brands if you don’t like what you see in Adobe. Time to earnestly switch to Capture One or Affinity Photo. When a new version of a competing program is released, buy it.
Adobe isn’t listening to your voices, that much is now inarguable. It’s time to talk with your wallets.