Making Sense of Lightroom CC 2017

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Lightroom CC Title screen

Recently adobe updated Lightroom and separated it out in to two programs. Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic. With classic being the one us photographers know and love. Lightroom CC still peaked my interest, the idea of having my library on my laptop, desktop and iPad was sounding really great. The keynote about the two programs really did not make mention if the two programs would work together to not. Curiosity got the better of me so i downloaded Lightroom CC, first on my iPad and iPhone since it was actually just an update to the old Lightroom mobile.

Lightroom CC Editing Panels
This image shows some of the editing options on the right

That’s really what Lightroom CC is, its Lightroom mobile with some updates and has a desktop application. It has some editing features. actually quite a bit. It has a version of a majority of the panels you find in Classic, so its fairly robust. It as an easy feature for rating images. Once enabled (pressing on the star on the far right) you can swipe up and down on the right half of the screen to flag and swipe up and down on the left side of the screen to star. This is one of my favorite features. Import is easy, it supports raw files from photos it brings them in and sends them to the cloud. The amount of storage you have will be based on the plan you have. The photography plan gets 1TB. The keynote said that those on the full plan will still just have the 25GB, but when I installed it, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have 100GB. Not nearly enough for my library but still much more useful that the small amount. It syncs quickly considering I am syncing RAW files. Lightroom CC also now has collections and folders for them so you can make a hierarchy similar to how you would on Classic. The best part? Lightroom Classic reads Lightroom CC just as it did Lightroom mobile. It will sync as usual and you can see your device on the list on the left. It does not read the collections or folders you make however. They all dump in to a folder called “import” under the device name. Lightroom Classic does recognize that the original is in the cloud and can be moved or copied to your local disk.

Lightroom CC Library Panel
This image shows how the Images are organized on the left

Now for the not so good. This is clearly a program of a causal photographer. Editing one photo is easy and intuitive, It’s especially nice on the touch screens, but editing more than one? ya, no. Your only option is to copy settings and paste them to a new image. Which isn’t so bad but depending how many your editing not nearly as convenient as the sync and multi select options of Classic. Which leads to an other annoyance, there is now way to “select all” you can select and them drag over the images to select them which is quick but not remotely as quick as “command a” or “command delete” in Classic. And the dragging/selecting only works to delete or move images. It does not let you select and edit. There is other limitations advanced amateurs and pros will find limiting. There is no watermark option and the export options are very limited. You don’t get any of the advanced features you get in classic. The most annoying in my opinion is that there is no way to save a custom preset. Ya, you can copy and paste an image settings from an images that has a preset you like but this is tedious. It might be fine for an image or two but not going to work well for a whole session. There is also no way to compare images to each other, this gets annoying when you have two similar images and want to eliminate one.

comparison of develop panels in lightroom
This shows the panels for editing in Lightroom Classic (on the left) and Lightroom CC on the right. Different terms but similar tools.

Now with all of this being said, this does not mean it can’t be a handy tool. I have actually found Lightroom CC to be quite handy and have started to implement it in to my flow. I’ll explain in a minute.

First, lets recap:


  • syncs to all devices and originals are in the cloud.
  • easy and intuitive rating and flagging. fast culling
  • automatic “tags”
  • good editing tools, intuitive
  • sync is fairly quick and it syncs with Classic
  • easy sharing to social media.
  • previews load quickly


  • Editing multiple images is a pain
  • can’t save presets
  • exporting limited
  • no watermark option
  • no “batching” of any kind.
  • no way to compare to images side by side
Syncing Between Classic and CC
This image shows how Lightroom Classic syncs with Lightroom CC.

So now how do I use CC in to my flow? As I said above, there is a lot of limitations to Lightroom CC but there is several conveniences. Notably the quick loading of the previews and the intuitive rating and flagging. This is where I have implemented CC in to my flow. The past few sessions I have shot I have started by importing to my iPad first. Photos will import RAW files then I add the files to Lightroom. Once in Lightroom I remove them from photos for space purposes, they will be in the cloud now so don’t need both. Now I hit the little start and start swiping through the images. The previews load really quick you can swipe through quickly and at full screen. A quick swipe up or down flags. After that I filter for the rejected photos and then choose delete, then I highlight all and delete (really wish “delete all rejects” was an option, not as fast as it could be). I usually find an image or two I like and edit them. You can’t watermark in CC but there is an app called union you can get, if you have your logo on your iPad you can apply it with that. Once I am happy with the culling I let it finish syncing and open Lightroom Classic on my desktop. It syncs the same way as Lightroom mobile did. From here I make a folder on my hard drive where I want my new images and then just drag and drop them to this folder from the synced folder. This copies the RAW files to the hard drive and all my edits and adjustments follow too. Now I can apply my presets and make any changes I want or go to Photoshop when needed. I find the culling process nicer from the comfort of my couch on the iPad and it feels a lot faster than clicking through on the desktop. I do hope they will implement saving my own presets, that will greatly add to the usability for me as a photographer.

Overall Lightroom CC is pretty good. I wish that it was more robust and that I could use it better with my Lightroom Classic library. It is more for a causal photographer but has useful features for more advances shooters too. Unless you really only use Lightroom for its library features and edit mostly in photoshop then you will like Lightroom CC, its a great way to have all your files with you on all of your devices and keep them organized. From the desk top app you can choose edit in photoshop and take care of all the heavy lifting. If you use the development module and rely on presets you will not find Lightroom CC as useful. I like it for my current sessions so I can make some changes on the go and cull, I use it as a more robust Lightroom Mobile.

When you install it on the desktop it doesn’t make you import a library just decline and it will sync just your CC library so there is not reason you can have both on your computer. Keep in mind you can still only sync with one Lightroom library so make sure thats the one you are logged in to on your main computer. I Do not have the Lightroom CC app on my desktop where my main library lives, I do however have it on my laptop so I can access them on the go.

I’m interested to see what happens next for both these programs. I’ll update as I discover things!