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How to Buy Lightroom in 2022?

Matic BrozUpdated May 4, 2022

The best way to buy Lightroom is to subscribe to Adobe’s Lightroom plan (1TB). With this plan, you get Lightroom for desktop and mobile, plus 1TB cloud storage for $9.99/month. If you need Lightroom Classic instead (and Photoshop), choose the Photography plan with 20GB ($9.99/month) or 1TB ($19.99/month) of cloud storage.

➥ Click here to start your 7-day free trial (credit card required).

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

Why is it so complicated?

Buying Lightroom used to be simple. You’d buy it once and that was it. But now you have to choose between five subscriptions and find the best one for your needs. And it can be difficult if you’re not exactly sure what you need.

Lightroom Buying Guide – Real-life Questions and Answers

To help you find the best option for yourself, we composed this short guide with real-life questions and answers. These are the questions we most often receive from our readers. If there’s a question we haven’t answered, feel free to reach out to us.

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 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.

How much does Lightroom cost?

Lightroom costs US$9.99/month with a monthly subscription when bought the Photography plan (20GB) or US$19.99/month with the Photography plan (1TB). New users can get Lightroom free for 7 days.

How to choose a Lightroom plan?

How to choose Lightroom plan

I’ve been using Lightroom for years, and during this time I learned a lot about Adobe’s plans. Personally, I use the photography plan (20GB) because I need both Lightroom and Photoshop, but I do not need 1TB of cloud storage.

Option 1: Lightroom (1TB) – US$9.99/mo

The Lightroom (1TB) plan is the most basic plan you can purchase 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.

Based on features, Lightroom (1TB) plan is the most suitable for photographers who only need Lightroom and love cloud-based backups. However, I prefer Lightroom Classic over Lightroom CC – hence, I highly recommend the Photography plan.

Buy Lightroom 1TB

1TB (one terabyte) of storage is plenty for every photographer. It helps you store around 20,000 raw photos or 200,000 JPEGs. By storing your images in the cloud, you give yourself the option to access them across all your devices. This way you can continue your work on other devices.

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.

  • Adobe Portfolio (use it to build your portfolio website),
  • Adobe Fonts (useful for customizing your website),
  • Adobe Spark (for social graphics, videos, and web pages).

This plan, however, does not provide Lightroom Classic, Adobe Photoshop, and Photoshop on iPad.

Option 2: Photography (20GB) – US$9.99/mo

For just US$9.99 or US$119.88 per year, you can swap the large cloud storage for Photoshop (for desktop and iPad) and, most importantly, Lightroom Classic. This plan is the best for photographers that rely on their backups but need Photoshop for their photo editing or Lightroom Classic with its unique features.

Buy Lightroom Photography plan 20GB

As a tradeoff, you only get a modest 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 a 1TB plan, which is next on my list.

You also get access to Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Sparks, all of which I listed in the previous plan.

Option 3: Photography (1TB) – US$19.99/mo

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, Adobe Lightroom Classic, and Adobe Photoshop.

Hence, I recommend this plan for photographers that want to use the same software as professionals do – being able to use the same tools the best photographers in the world do for US$19.99 per month is quite reasonable, in my opinion.

Buy Lightroom Photography plan 1TB

If you still need more cloud storage for your photos, you can easily upgrade to 2TB, 5TB, or 10TB for US$9.99/month per terabyte.

(You also get access to Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Sparks, all of which I listed in the first plan.)

Option 4: All Apps – US$52.99/mo

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$79.49 per month.

The All Apps plan is ideal for photographers that, besides Lightroom, also need other Adobe apps, such as for video editing or website design. The All Apps plan includes

  • Dreamweaver
  • Premiere Pro
  • Premiere Rush
  • After Effects
  • Dimension
  • Audition
  • InCopy
  • Lightroom Classic
  • Media Encoder
  • Character Animator
  • Prelude
  • Fuse
  • Bridge

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 Sparks, all of which I listed in the first plan.

Option 5: All Apps for Students – US$19.99/mo.

If you’re a student of 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 on that later.

Option 6: All Apps for Businesses – US$59.99/mo or US$33.99/mo for 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.

5 benefits of a Lightroom subscription

How to buy Lightroom - Checklist
5 Benefits of Lightroom Subscription (Credit: Dreamstime.com)

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 the 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.

To find all the current discounts, check this link.

The best way to catch the limited offers is to re-check often. I recommend you bookmark (save) this link: https://photutorial.com/go/Adobe-special-offers

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

Here’s how to get it.

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 Photography plan that cost as little as US$9.99/month.

How much is the Adobe Student Discount?

Students and teachers receive up to 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 is 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.

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About the author

Matic Broz profile image

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

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