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So, you’re thinking of buying Lightroom?

Well, as you probably already know, you can no longer buy Lightroom outright, and you need to have an Adobe subscription to use it.

And who likes paying a monthly or annual fee these days? As a travel photographer and blogger, in this article, I discuss if Lightroom is worth it.

History of Buying Lightroom

Lightroom was never part of a subscription plan in its early days. The original versions of Lightroom were sold with a perpetual license, meaning you bought the software outright and owned it. Historical prices of Lightroom cost up to $299, but they were sometimes sold at a lower price with a discount.

Nowadays, the lowest price you can get Lightroom is $9.99 per month with the Adobe Photography Plan.

If you’re looking for a Lightroom alternative, then Capture One Pro would be the best. Many professional photographers prefer Capture One Pro over Lightroom, and you can buy Capture One outright. Read the Capture One review for more info.

Adobe photography plan screenshot

What Lightroom Offers

Lightroom is arguably the best photo organizing software and image editing application on the market — and it has been since digital photography began. Photoshop is better at image editing, but it doesn’t offer image management, and it’s a more complex software to learn and use.

List of valuable Lightroom features:

  • import and organize images
  • render RAW files
  • basic and advanced image editing
  • soft proofing for prints
  • photo book and album tools
  • multiple image export options

As you can see, Lightroom offers several effective tools that cater to hobbyists and professional photographers.

You should be aware that there are two different operating versions of Lightroom: Lightroom CC (newer) and Lightroom Classic. The names are often used interchangeably.

The newer Lightroom is cloud-based and more user-friendly, whereas Lightroom Classic is a desktop app most used by professional photographers and myself. Lightroom Classic is still user-friendly, just not a much as the other version.

When professional photographers speak of Lightroom, they often refer to Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom Classic screenshot
Lightroom Classic

Is Lightroom Worth It?

Personally, I feel paying a subscription for Lightroom is worth it. The software is comprehensive: it helps with photo filing and editing.

You receive Lightroom, Photoshop, and Lightroom Mobile Premium for $120 per year. Photoshop on its own is worth $500, though you can no longer buy a perpetual license.

If you don’t intend to use Lightroom often, then you shouldn’t purchase Lightroom. It’s better to save your money and buy a Lightroom alternative that offers a perpetual license.

Lightroom and the Adobe Creative Cloud

What appeals to many Lightroom users is the extra features that it comes with as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud.

For example, for advanced image edits, Photoshop is King. And the Adobe Photography Plan bundles Lightroom and Photoshop. This allows the Lightroom workflow to utilize Photoshop for whatever Lightroom can’t do.

As mentioned earlier, Photoshop is more complex, and many professional photographers don’t use it. Lightroom is sufficient enough, even for businesses like wedding and real estate photography.

Continuing further, with Lightroom packaged into the Adobe Creative Cloud, you can backup your photos to the cloud and across multiple devices. This means you can edit your photos anywhere, as long as you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You will have to pay a premium for extra space, but there are better cloud storage options for photos at lower prices.

Consequently, Lightroom offers mobile apps for Android and iOS devices.

Is Lightroom Mobile Worth It?

Mobile photography is becoming more prominent than the earlier traditional photography methods. Who likes carrying around heavy and volume-eating photography gear?

And while many photography enthusiasts are happy with their smartphone pictures, professionals and amateurs use them for their businesses — especially Instagram influencers.

This leads us to downsizing our photography gear — including the desktop or laptop required to edit the photos.

Lightroom Mobile offers fantastic tools to edit your photos on the go. The best part is it’s free. You only need an Adobe account to sign in.

But if you want to use Lightroom Mobile’s premium features, you’ll need an Adobe CC plan. I guess it’s really not free, more of a freemium app. But many people don’t need the premium features of Lightroom Mobile.

However, if your photography is part of your business or marketing plan, then Lightroom Mobile Premium is a good investment, especially since it will also include the desktop versions of Lightroom.

Lightroom Mobile screenshot

Lightroom Mobile Premium features:

  • Cloud storage
  • Sync presets and profiles
  • Healing brush
  • Selective Adjustments
  • Sensei search
  • Geometry tools
  • RAW editing on phone or tablet
  • Share Web Galleries
  • People Photo sorting
  • Batch editing

Personally, the healing brush and selective adjustments make Lightroom Mobile worth it.

The healing brush helps you clean up your photo. And the selective adjustments help you zone in on a photo area to make adjustments such as correcting exposure or color.

But to fully make Lightroom Mobile worth buying, you also need to take advantage of the desktop versions.


In summary, Lightroom is worth it if you use it often enough or are operating a business that needs image retouching. Often is used vaguely here, and that depends on you. Worst case scenario, you can try Lightroom free for 30 days.