Adobe serves an enormous part of the image-editing market, whether photographers like it or not. They are an industry leader in graphic design, photo editing and photo management software---the standard in the industry for many people.
Lightroom, the photo processing software, has professional-grade editing and organizing tools, but still maintains its usability. The Creative Cloud of Lightroom version is part of Adobe’s annual subscription-based Photography Plan, which includes Photoshop CC, so you’re getting two photo-editing applications designed to work alongside each other.
Adobe's recent upgrade to Lightroom has seen the emergence of two Lightrooms--Lightroom Classic CC (an updated version of the desktop Lightroom that we know--its Lightroom 7) and Lightroom CC (an entirely redesigned app designed to work alongside Adobe’s equally new cloud-based storage system)--a cut down version (Lightroom Mobile?), that is a shift to a more mobile-first workflow which allows you to manage your photos wherever you are and whatever the device.
The current subscription model for Lightroom CC means that we rent Adobe’s apps rather than buying a licence--permanently renting the tools we use to create. The shift is from software to rental ware. I have been using the stand alone Lightroom 5 (desktop) up to now, but I recently purchased Lightroom 6 (desktop) as part of my film order from B+H. I realize that I am essentially getting a two-year-old version, feature wise, as compared to the subscription version. I appreciate that the differences between the subscription version Lightroom Classic and and the standalone version of Lightroom 6 are becoming significant, but I don't really need all the updates or the extraneous options.
With the more mobile orientated Lightroom CC---Lightroom in the cloud---we are also being asked to rent storage space when we are used to buying desktop storage outright. This does suggest that the future of Adobe products looks to be increasingly cloud based--their cloud storage. Lightroom Cloud enables you to access your files from anywhere, but it locks you into Adobe and this is what they are aiming for.
It also looks as if Adobe has killed the Lightroom standalone version that I have been using. Lightroom 6.3 will be released on October 26 with support for the Nikon D850 and no additional camera support will be added beyond 2017. Lightroom 6 is still hampered by its outdated architecture with hampers the ability to use it in a network environment for personal or collaborative use--eg., you can only use the Lightroom catalog on one machine.
While Lightroom 6 will still be available for an unspecified amount of time. There will be no Lightroom 7. Adobe is really forcing me to switch over to the annual subscription model of Lightroom Classic CC when I upgrade my Sony NEX-7 to a latter model (eg., a Sony A7rIII when, hopefully, it is released in 2018). Secondly, sure enough a day will come soon when an operating system from Apple will be introduced that the stand alone LR 6 won't work with. So I will have to eventually shift to the monthly subscription model, and as a consumer I will be paying more for the subscription model just for Lightroom than buying the software outright.
Many have made the shift to the subscription model for good reason, especially with the Lightroom/Photoshop package. The monthly subscription model is very cost-effective, you get automatic ongoing updates, new features and new camera support as soon as they arrive, and it brings Creative Cloud synchronisation tools which some find more and more useful. My problem here is the loss of the use of a full product if I ever get off the subscription wheel.
The cloud based version of Lightroom CC (Lightroom mobile) is not for me. I find the closed nature of Adobe's cloud based service most unwelcome. I will certainly avoid buying into this model--ie., storing my catalog in Creative Cloud on Adobe's servers and I'll continue to stick with traditional hard drive storage. Secondly, the cloud-centric CC future of Lightroom (Lite for Mobile) is for users who tend to take a lot of their photos on their phones. Adobe is trying to find a way to compete with Google or Apple Photos (for both the everyday users, and the enthusiasts/pros). It's essentially a mobile app for the phone with built in AI features that will help users organize, search, curate, and maybe even edit faster by learning their tastes.
Adobe's conception of the future is one that is increasingly defined by mobile phones and the cloud. Mobile phones have caused the decrease in PC/laptop sales, the decrease in camera sales, the increased expectation that your media is accessible anywhere, and the increased expectation that digital assistants understand your needs to help you navigate, communicate, and share with ease. Since traditional cameras now constitute a small minority of the photography market (2%?) that is not enough revenue to keep Adobe growing.
So that leaves me as professional photography, currently with working locally on my camera based photos with the desktop standalone Lightroom 6 as the main image management and editing workhorse, in a small niche market. I go into the “digital darkroom” everyday and look at new ways of processing images old and new alike. I just want to work on my photos, and I still find that Lightroom is great for keeping my catalogue. True, performance slows down with a large catalogue of raw images and the more manipulations made in the Develop Module.
Even shifting to the desktop Lightroom Classic CC with its annual subscription model option keeps me in the dinosaur camp. That is not the market that Adobe is interested in for the future. The future for Adobe like Apple and Google is a world where most images are captured with smartphones, shared via Internet services, and processed with A1. Lightroom Classic suggests that Adobe's interest in desktop software is fading in favour of putting everything into the cloud. They're basically doing what Apple and Google have done, ignoring professionals and power users and focusing on the mass mobile phone market.
This looks to be a good time to rethink my workflow. Maybe it is time to explore alternatives to Adobe's Lightroom Classic CC and its subscription model. Is there a current replacement to Lightroom Classic CC? Have Adobe's competitors built a serious alternative as a centralised all-in-one photo management application?
The real problem is that there is currently no alternative to Adobe's Lightroom---eg., Apple's lack of support for Aperture means that it has forgotten about the professional photographers who helped build their platform. Some have suggested MacPhun's Luminar --an editing platform. Though Luminar can currently operate as a plug in for Lightroom, Luminar currently lacks an image-cataloging service, such as Lightroom’s Library module. Lightroom Classic CC is still the most robust, fully-featured, and well-integrated DAM we currently have, and the fear is that Lightroom Classic CC (Desktop) could well have an end-of-life in a couple years. We don't know--it depends on the emergence of the alternatives--but Lightroom Classic CC is not the priority for Adobe.
It will be small steps of change to my workflow at this stage. I'm taying with Lightroom 7 because I really dislike what happens when you stop making subscription payments to Adobe ---I can open the files t but I cannot modify them. I will replace Silver Efex Pro (it is no longer supported by Google) with MacPhun's Tonality for my digital, black and white photography. Lightroom 6 works fine with the film images on my Mac-Pro running the El Capitan O/S. It's the future of my digital photography that is the problem-ie., when I buy a new camera. I will stay with the recently purchased classic standalone Lightroom 6 until I can find a long term alternative for the images produced using my digital camera.
Change is going to come because Apple has stated when announcing High Sierra, that 32-bit apps will no longer be supported in the future (2019)--only 64 bit apps. Most photo processing software, including Adobe's, is 32 bit not 64.