How to buy Lightroom in 2023?

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.

Updated on | 0 Comments

If you buy something from a Photutorial link, we may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.
How to buy Lightroom thumbnail

You can no longer buy Lightroom outright. Therefore, the best way to buy Lightroom on its own is to subscribe the Creative Cloud Photography plan, starting at US$9.99/mo.

We recommend

Lightroom (1TB) plan

Use the 7-day free trial the entire Lightroom software to see if it’s a good fit for you. After it end, you can safely cancel it or continue paying. Here are the prices: US$9.99/mo; £8.32/mo; 9.99€/mo.

Get Lightroom free
Lightroom icon

Whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer in any niche, there’s no denying that Lightroom has revolutionized how we edit photos. Today, Lightroom has over 10 million paying subscribers in 150+ countries.

Although there was considerable backlash following the transfer of Lightroom from a one-off payment to a subscription-based plan in May 2019, the number of subscribers has been steadily increasing.

How to buy Lightroom? All plans reviewed

The best way to buy Lightroom is to subscribe to the Photography plan (20GB) for $9.99/month or the Photography plan (1TB) for $19.99/month. With these plans, you get Lightroom Classic and Photoshop for desktop and mobile, Lightroom CC, and 20GB or 1TB of cloud storage.

If you prefer working with a cloud-based version of Lightroom, we recommend the Lightroom (1TB) plan for $9.99 per month, which grants you access to Lightroom CC and 1TB of cloud storage.

1. Lightroom (1TB)

Lightroom 1TB screenshot
Lightroom (1TB) plan (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Cost: $9.99/month
  • You get: Lightroom CC on Desktop + Mobile, 1TB of Cloud Storage
  • Cloud storage: 1TB
  • Best for photographers who need Lightroom only and won’t miss Photoshop.
  • Used for: Photo management and photo editing.

The Lightroom (1TB) plan is the most basic plan that gives you access to Lightroom. For US$9.99/month or US$119.88/year, you get Lightroom Classic CC (also named Adobe Photoshop Lightroom) and 1TB of cloud storage. Note that Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic are not the same thing, since Lightroom CC is the simplified version of Lightroom Classic.

Based on features, the Lightroom (1TB) plan is the most suitable for photographers who only need Lightroom and love cloud-based backups.

1TB (one terabyte) of storage is enough for any photographer. This will allow you to store about 20,000 raw images or 200,000 JPEGs. When you store your images in the cloud, you have the ability to access them from all your devices. This way, you can continue your work on other devices.

2. Photography (20GB)

Photography (20GB) plan
Photography (20GB) plan (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Cost: $9.99/month
  • Apps: Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop (desktop and iPad).
  • Cloud storage: 20GB
  • Best for serious photographers who want to perform advanced edits using Lightroom Classic and Photoshop.
  • Used for: Photo management, photo editing, and compositing.

Photography (20GB) is a great plan for anyone who is serious about image editing because you get Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. Lightroom Classic is a lot more powerful than Lightroom CC, but it performs all your edits locally. So, if you have a low-spec workstation, it might work quite slowly. In comparison, Lightroom CC performs all edits in the cloud, which makes it better for those on slow PCs but worse if you have a slow internet connection.

The addition of Photoshop on desktop and iPad helps you perform advanced edits that you cannot do in Lightroom, such as focus stacking, removing people from crowded areas, using neural filters, and lots more.

As a tradeoff, you get only 20GB of cloud storage, which is enough for around 400 raw files or 4,000 JPEGs. While 20GB is not a lot of space for photos, it’s a good starting point. If you ever need more space, you can easily upgrade to the 1TB plan.

3. Photography plan (1TB)

Photography plan 1TB screenshot
Photography (1TB) plan (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Cost: $19.99/month
  • Apps: Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop on desktop and iPad.
  • Cloud storage: 1TB
  • Best for serious photographers who want to perform advanced edits using Lightroom Classic and Photoshop and require lots of cloud storage space.
  • Used for: Photo management, photo editing, and compositing.

The Photography (1TB) plan is analogous to the Photography (20GB) plan, but they differ in cloud storage size and price. For $19.99 per month or $239.88 per year, the 1TB plan will resolve all your issues regarding cloud storage, but you will also get access to Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop.

Hence, we recommend this plan for photographers that want to use the same software tools that the best photographers in the world use for US$19.99 per month.

4. Creative Cloud All Apps

Creative Cloud All Apps screenshot
Creative Cloud All Apps plan (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Cost: $52.99/month
  • Apps: All Adobe apps.
  • Cloud storage: 100GB
  • Best for any creatives who engage in a wide variety of creative projects, including photography, drawing, graphic design, videography, and more.
  • User for: Photo, graphic design, video, illustration, UI and UX, Acrobat and PDF, social media

The All Apps plan is Adobe’s most comprehensive and, at the same time, the most cost-efficient plan. For $52.99 per month or US$479.88 per year, you get to use 20+ apps—in short, you can use the entire Adobe Creative Cloud. Alternatively, you don’t have to commit for a full year. Adobe offers a monthly plan for the All Apps plan, but it comes at a higher price of US$82.49 per month.

While this plan includes Lightroom, you also get all other Adobe apps, such as those for videography, graphic design, drawing, and more. Along with all these apps, you get 100GB of cloud storage, which is not great, but it’s a good start. You also get access to Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Express, all of which I listed in the first plan.

» More: Adobe CC price explained

5. Creative Cloud All Apps for Students

  • Cost: $19.99/month
  • Apps: All Adobe apps.
  • Cloud storage: 100GB
  • Best for any creatives who engage in a wide variety of creative projects, including photography, drawing, graphic design, videography, and more.
  • User for: Photo, graphic design, video, illustration, UI and UX, Acrobat and PDF, social media

If you’re a student or a teacher, you can get over a 60% discount on the All Apps plan, resulting in US$19.99 per month. To put that into context: You get all the Adobe apps for the same price as the Photography plan (1TB) for individuals. Thus, this plan is too good not to take advantage of if you can prove your eligibility.

» More: Best Adobe Creative Cloud discounts

6. All Apps for Businesses – Lightroom

If you run a business, you cannot get away with a plan for individuals. You’ll probably want an easy-to-use license management console and instant syncing across devices, and this plan offers just that. For US$59.99 per month, you get access to all Adobe apps, including Lightroom. Alternatively, Lightroom alone will cost you US$24.99/mo per license.


Lightroom (1TB)$9.99/mo• Lightroom on Desktop + Mobile
• 1TB Cloud Storage
Photography (20GB) $9.99/mo• Lightroom on Desktop + Mobile
• Lightroom Classic
• Photoshop on desktop and iPad
• Step-by-step tutorials
• Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, Adobe Express
• 20GB Cloud Storage
Photography (1TB)$19.99/mo• Lightroom on Desktop + Mobile
• Lightroom Classic
• Photoshop on desktop and iPad
• Step-by-step tutorials
• Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, Adobe Express
• 1TB Cloud Storage
Creative Cloud All Apps$52.99/mo• 20+ desktop and mobile apps (including Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, InDesign, XD, Premiere Pro, Acrobat Pro)
• 100GB cloud storage
Creative Cloud All Apps (Students)$19.99/mo• 20+ desktop and mobile apps (including Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, InDesign, XD, Premiere Pro, Acrobat Pro)
• 100GB cloud storage

How to get more cloud storage?

If you ever need more cloud storage, you can increase cloud storage to 2TB, 5TB, or 10TB for US$9.99/month per terabyte. Additionally, you also get access to a few other Adobe apps.

Monthly vs. annual plans

The monthly and annual plans only differ in whether you pay for the subscription monthly or once a year. However, the total price is the same, which is a shame since most services offer discounts on yearly commitments.

What Every Plan Includes

Step-by-step tutorials

With every plan, including Lightroom, you also get Lightroom tutorials. Certain tutorials are available online to everyone, while others are accessible only through the Creative Cloud app after you buy Lightroom. You can filter the tutorials based on the Lightroom version (Classic vs. CC) and your experience level (beginners vs. experienced).

Adobe Portfolio

Adobe Portfolio is a website builder for photographers. Although it’s not as sophisticated as Pixpa or as advanced as WordPress (which is a CMS), it’s a great option for photographers who just want to showcase their photos. Think of it as your personalized Instagram account.

Adobe Fonts

Although not as great for photographers as it is for graphic designers, having thousands of professional fonts at your fingertips is always useful. Adobe Fonts contains all the most popular fonts in the world, even those you’d otherwise have to buy, such as Proxima Nova, the favorite of many designers.


Behance is a social media platform where artists can share their work, similar to Instagram. But you don’t have to just share photos; you can share whole projects with pictures, videos, and text. Hence, the final result is more like a blog than an Instagram post. Although any creative is welcome to contribute, it’s particularly popular among artists and illustrators. However, you can find famous photographers as well, like Albert Dros.

Creative Cloud Libraries

Creative Cloud Libraries let you gather design elements for specific projects, clients, or teams. This makes it easy to keep everyone on the same page and ensures that everyone has access to the same project files.

Access to the latest features

With the active Creative Cloud subscription, you get all the latest updates to Lightroom. Adobe releases a few large updates every year and minor ones weekly. You can find all the latest updates to Lightroom in the official release notes.

Adobe Stock

At the checkout for Lightroom, you also get the option for a 30-day free trial of Adobe Stock, Adobe’s stock image collection. During these 30 days, you get to download 10 royalty-free images at no cost, and you may keep them even if you cancel the trial.

Lightroom Buying Guide: Answering Your Questions

Over the years, we received numerous questions regarding buying Lightroom from you, our readers. Here we answer all your most common questions. If we haven’t answered yours, get in touch and we’ll add it to the list.

1. What’s the difference between the Lightroom and Photography plans?

The main difference between the Lightroom (1TB) and Photography (20GB or 1TB) plans is that with the Lightroom plan you get only Lightroom, while the Photography plan gives you access to Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop.

2. What’s the difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic?

The main difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic is that Lightroom is a simplified, cloud-based version of Lightroom Classic that you can use on desktop, mobile, and web, while you can use Lightroom Classic on desktop only. Also, Lightroom Classic doesn’t support automatic backup, whereas Lightroom does.

Learn more about the differences between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic.

3. I also need Photoshop. Which plan should I choose?

If you need Photoshop in addition to Lightroom, choose the Photography plan (20GB or 1TB). How much cloud storage you choose depends on your needs and the nature of your work. If you prefer online backups, choose the Photography plan (1TB) for $19.99/month, otherwise choose the lower-priced Photography plan (20GB) for $9.99/month.

4. I need Lightroom for a couple of months only. Can I get a monthly plan?

At the moment, Adobe doesn’t offer monthly plans for Lightroom. However, you can cancel the plan early, but a cancellation fee in the amount of 50% of the remaining balance will apply.

For example, if you cancel in the 7th month, you will pay 50% of the fee for the remaining months. For the Photography plan (20GB), which costs $9.99/month, that would mean paying around $25, calculated as the number of remaining months (5), multiplied by the monthly fee ($9.99), and divided by 2.

Read more: Cancellation details for common Adobe plans

5. Can I get a refund?

You may get a full refund 14 days after the initial purchase. After 14 days, a cancellation fee explained in Answer 4 applies.

6. I need other Adobe applications too. Which plan should I get?

If you need multiple Adobe applications, we recommend getting the Creative Cloud All Apps plan which costs $52.99/month, or $19.99/month for students.

5 benefits of a Lightroom subscription

How to buy Lightroom - Checklist
5 Benefits of Lightroom Subscription (Credit:

In December 2017, Adobe released the final standalone version of Lightroom, Lightroom 6.14. More than a year later, Adobe became available only with a subscription plan. While this new, long-announced news angered several photographers, who to this day use Lightroom 6, it comes with several benefits.

Lightroom costs more with a subscription plan, but you get a lot more with it. If you’re unsure about the subscription plans or you’re still using Lightroom 6, I strongly recommend you upgrade. Having used the standalone Lightroom version in the past and being an everyday user of the latest subscription-based Lightroom, these are the main benefits of the new Lightroom subscription:

1. You get all the newest Lightroom features and tools

Do you like being the first one to use all the new gadgets? With subscriptions, you get instant access to all the new features, such as Creative Profiles, the new Color Grading tool, Colour Labelling, Expanded Tone Curve, and Tethered Live View.

Lightroom Benefits - Creative Profiles
An example of Lightroom Creative Profiles

In addition, with new updates, Adobe releases more free Lightroom presets that are already integrated into Lightroom.

2. You get support for the most recent cameras

Those of you who are still using Lightroom 6 haven’t received support for any of the most recent cameras. Hence, you’re either doomed to stick with your older one or not use Lightroom. This little detail is what made the majority of us switch to the subscription-based system.

3. You get the fastest & optimized versions of Lightroom

A lot of people run Lightroom on old PCs and laptops. Thus, Lightroom seems slow and unreliable to them. If this applies to you as well, I urge you to upgrade Lightroom. The newer versions have been considerably optimized for speed, so the new Lightroom Classic launches faster, imports and exports faster, generates previews and applies edits faster. As a result, newer Lightroom versions seem overall snappier and a lot more fun to use.

4. You get Photoshop CC & Photoshop for iPad

Adobe Photoshop now supports syncing your workflow across several devices. For example, you can start editing a file on your desktop and automatically save it to the cloud. Later, you continue on your iPad and export from it. While the Photoshop app for iPad is free for everyone, you need a valid subscription to be able to sync your projects over the cloud.

5. You get Lightroom CC (Mobile Lightroom)

In comparison to Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC is available as a desktop app, as well as a mobile and web app. Also, all your originals are saved in the cloud, and all your files are automatically backed up.

The CC version is stripped-down and hence easier to use and provides a more intuitive workflow. You might argue that the Lightroom Mobile app is already free to download, regardless of whether you have a valid subscription plan or not. While this is true, several essential features are missing from it, which you can unlock by subscribing to the Photography plan.

How to get a Lightroom discount?

How to buy Lightroom Special Offers

From time to time, Adobe gives a discount on Lightroom and other Creative Cloud apps and products. You can usually expect these around holidays and special events, but often they come without a warning.

Alternatively, you can get a 60% discount if you’re a teacher or a student. You just need to be eligible for the discount.

How to get an Adobe Student discount?

As I’ve already mentioned, if you’re a student or a teacher, you can get a 60%+ discount on Adobe Creative Cloud. This discount means a generous reduction in price from US$52.99 to US$19.99 per month. Adobe wants to prove itself as a supporter of education and educational institutions, so you’ll have to be able to prove your eligibility for a student discount.

In short, you need:

  • to be at least 13 years old
  • have a School ID, tuition bill or any other proof of your current educational process
  • use your school email

However, from what I’ve heard, Adobe isn’t all that strict about checking these requirements. What I mean is that it is supposedly easy to fake; however, I haven’t tried it myself.

Read the full eligibility statement.

Adobe Lightroom free trial

Lightroom Free Trial

The only legitimate way to get a free version of Lightroom is with the Adobe Lightroom Free Trial, which you can get only on the Adobe website. The free trial works on both Windows and macOS. It lasts for 7 days, during which you can either upgrade to a paid membership or cancel the trial and pay nothing.

If you’re still uncertain about Lightroom, I recommend you try the free trial and see if it’s the right fit for you.

How to buy Lightroom 6?

As of May 2019, you can no longer buy Lightroom 6 from Adobe Creative Cloud. You might be able to find an old copy somewhere on the internet, but Lightroom 6 is not being officially sold anymore.

Even if you’re able to track down a license for Lightroom 6, I must warn you that the software hasn’t been updated in 5+ years and probably doesn’t support your camera model. Additionally, it quite likely won’t work with future versions of operating systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does Lightroom cost?

Lightroom costs $9.99/month with Adobe subscription plans. These include Lightroom Classic and either 1TB of cloud storage, or Photoshop and Lightroom CC.

How much are Lightroom and Photoshop?

Lightroom and Photoshop are included in the Photography plan which cost as little as US$9.99/month.

How much is the Adobe Student Discount?

Students and teachers receive up to a 62.2% discount on Adobe All Apps plan, which costs US$19.99/month for the first year, and US$29.99/month after the first year.

Is there a free version of Lightroom?

There are two ways to get Lightroom for free. First, Adobe generously offers a 7-day free trial for Lightroom. Second, Lightroom Mobile is free for everyone on Android and iOS devices. However, it comes with limited features.

Can you buy Lightroom without a subscription?

You can no longer buy Lightroom without a subscription. The last version of Lightroom that you could purchase outright was Lightroom 6.14.

What is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom?

Adobe refers to Lightroom Classic as “Adobe Lightroom Photoshop”, for some reason. It’s the same thing.

Which is better Lightroom or Photoshop?

Lightroom and Photoshop share several features, but both also have unique tools. Overall, Lightroom is optimized for photo adjustments, while Photoshop excels at manipulating images.

What’s the difference between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC?

Lightroom Classic is the most common version of Lightroom, that’s optimized for desktops, with all photos being stored on your computer.
Lightroom CC is a cloud-based app that works on desktop, mobile, and web. It’s focused on performance and workflow on several devices.

Does Adobe offer monthly plans?

Currently, there’s no option to get a monthly plan for Lightroom, Photoshop, and other Creative Cloud applications. You may choose between monthly and yearly billing, but in either case, the plan will last for one year. Also, there are no options to pause or freeze the plan.

Final Thoughts

At first, Adobe’s new subscription payment model received a lot of criticism. However, as time passed, people realized that it’s not the worst thing in the world and that it has several benefits. Regardless of what you think of Lightroom right now, I suppose you can at least give it a go via a free trial – you’ve got nothing to lose.


Leave a Comment