Adobe Lightroom CC review

Import, organize, edit and share your digital photos on PC or mobile device with the cloud-based Adobe Lightroom CC

Adobe Lightroom CC review
(Image: © George Cairns/Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

By jettisoning Lightroom Classic’s separate Book, Print, Slideshow and Web modules the streamlined Lightroom CC enables you to focus on the more common tasks of organizing and editing your shots. In effect Lightroom CC has only kept Lightroom Classic’s Library and Develop modules - but for most consumer photographers this will be enough, especially if you prefer to edit while on the move on a tablet or smart phone.


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    iOS and Android versions available

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    Edit where and when you want

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    Smart Previews save device space

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    Intuitive interaction on mobile devices

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    Guided edits help master the app

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    Selective Raw adjustment


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    Cloud storage soon fills up with data

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You can shoot Raw files on your smart phone, organize and edit them on the mobile version of Lightroom CC and then sync them via the cloud so that you can continue to edit them on the desktop version of the app. Alternatively you can import assets from a camera memory card into the desktop version of Lightroom CC, sync them with the cloud and then edit them on the move via the smart phone version of the app. 

There are three routes to buying Lightroom CC. You can buy it for $9.99 per month as part of Adobe’s Photography Plan, a bundle that which comes with Lightroom Classic (opens in new tab) and Adobe Photoshop CC (opens in new tab), plus 20 GB of cloud storage. Alternatively, you can buy the one-app Lightroom CC plan (opens in new tab) on its own, again for $9.99 a month, but with a much more substantial 1TB allocation of cloud storage. If you want all three apps AND the 1TB of storage, there is a supersize subscription option for $19.99/m.


Start editing shots on your desktop version of Lightroom Cc then continue editing them on a mobile device (or vice versa).  Here we’re viewing the desktop version.  (Image credit: George Cairns/Digital Camera World)
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On the whole the Lightroom CC interface looks very similar on PC and mobile versions, enabling your work to flow between mobile and desktop versions with ease. There are of course some differences between the mobile and desktop versions. The desktop version has a drop down top menu that lets you access particular tools, while the mobile version requires you to tap icons and swipe to change properties such brush flow, sensitivity and hardness.  

Lightroom CC’s interface is laid out in a way that will be familiar to users of the pro Lightroom Classic’s Develop module. There are some differences - in the Edit panel the powerful tone-tweaking tools such as Clarity and Dehaze are hidden in Effects instead of sitting alongside other tone tweaking tools such as Shadows and Highlights. Presumably this is to help novice editors get to grips with the basic exposure adjustments before making more subtle changes.  

When you first select a tool in the desktop version for the app - such as the Linear Gradient -  a pop-up note tells you what the tool can do. On some pop-ups you can click on Learn How to launch an interactive in-app tutorial that puts the tool through its paces. As you work through the tutorials by tweaking the tools in the interface you can discover variety of ways to adjust the look of your photograph. To access the same tutorials on the mobile version tap the ? icon, search through topics such as Exposure and then choose Show Me. However you do need to be connected to the web to access these tutorials when on the go.

Key features

Sort the wheat from the chaff more quickly by swiping to rate and flag your files on the mobile version of Lightroom CC. (Image credit: George Cairns/Digital Camera World)
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There are various ways to import assets in Lightroom CC. On a mobile device such as an Android or Apple phone you can import shots directly from the camera roll by selecting multiple thumbnails. Alternatively you can view a larger version of a camera roll shot, edit its properties and then tap a tic to import it into Lightroom’s Library. Camera roll shots that have already been imported have a LR label on them so you wont bring in any duplicates to take up valuable cloud storage space 

Lightroom CC lets you organize your shots using tools such as star ratings, flags and keywords. When working on smart phone or tablet it’s faster to review your shots. Swipe up and down on the left of the screen to apply a star rating. Swipe vertically on the right of the screen to flag an image as a rejection or a pick. This organic and intuitive way of working enables you to organize files faster than you could on a desktop machine.   You can then use filters to find particular  shots more quickly. Themed collections of effect filters such as Travel or Portrait provide a springboard to creatively grading your shots. You can then fine tune the filtered look using traditional tone and color tweaking tools in the Adjustment panel.

The B&W mixer helps you create contrast where it’s needed by using the shot’s original colors to darken or lighten specific parts of the frame (Image credit: George Cairns/Digital Camera World)
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On the desktop version of Lightroom CC you can summon clipping warnings to help you see which areas have no detail in the brighter highlights or the darkest shadows. However unlike Lightroom Classic you can’t turn on highlight or shadow clipping separately - both warnings are either on or off. This subtle difference is an example of how Lightroom CC is simplified compared to pro Lightroom Classic version. 

Lightroom CC enables you to create effective monochrome conversions using the Black and White mixer. This enables you to lighten or darken greyscale tones based on their original colors, such as darkening the blues of a sky to make clouds stand out more in contrast for example.

Lightroom Cc provides color grading tools to change Hue, Saturation and Luminance in shadows, mid-tones and highlights (Image credit: George Cairns/Digital Camera World)
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Counteract perspectival distortion’s converging verticals by drawing straight lines on the screen (Image credit: George Cairns/Digital Camera World)
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Lightroom CC also sports the new color grading tools that have also been added to Lightroom Classic, enabling you to produce a wide range of creative looks by independently adjusting the hue, saturation and brightness (luminance) in a shot’s shadows, mid-tones and highlights.  Other high-end Lightroom Classic tools are also present and correct in Lightroom CC, such as lens profiles that reduce distortion. Lightroom CC also has Classic’s guided Uprights that enable you to draw on converging verticals to straighten them. It will also counteract converging horizontal lines. You can retouch a shot using the Healing brush to replace unwanted content with adjacent pixels and drag control points to fine-tune the healed area. Setting the brush to Clone produces less smudgy and more effective results when removing overlapping objects.

Quality of results

Lightroom CC’s built-in camera helps composition with a Rule of Thirds grid and spirit level. It also lets older smart phone users shoot in a Raw .dng format (Image credit: George Cairns/Digital Camera World)
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An effective way to populate Lightroom CC’s Library with high quality images is by snapping shots using the mobile version’s built-in Camera. This is packed full of features to help you take more control over your shots. It has a clipping warning zebra that shows overexposed areas when you compose a shot, enabling you to tweak exposure to capture more highlight detail. Unlike the iPhone’s native Camera app you can manually adjust the Lightroom camera’s shutter speed to capture blur-free action shots or use a slow shutter speed to add motion blur to slowing water.  

The Graduated filter enables you to claw back hidden detail in a Raw file’s an over-exposed sky. Here we’re viewing the iPad version. (Image credit: George Cairns/Digital Camera World)
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The camera also has a handy spirit level that shows you if your horizon is tilted or level. This saves you the hassle of having to straighten the horizon later (which involves cropping the image and spoiling your composition). By enabling you to shoot better images the Lightroom CC camera saves you time and hassle of fixing exposure and composition problems in post.  Another key bonus is the Lightroom camera can capture .dng (digital negative files), giving older smart phone users the ability to shoot in a Raw format which leads to more editing control and artifact free results.

The ability to make selective edits to your Raw files is particularly useful and effective.   Once you’ve used the Graduated filter to darken the sky you can remove objects from the adjustment (such as people overlapping the sky) by using brush tips.

Adobe Lightroom CC: Verdict

Themed presets enable you to transform a shot’s colors and tones in a click (or a tap) (Image credit: George Cairns/Digital Camera World)
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Lightroom CC jettisons the flab of Lightroom Classic to create a streamlined organizer and darkroom that gives you the freedom to work where and when you like. By looking similar on mobile and desktop versions you can start work on the go, sync via the cloud and carry on editing on your PC (or vice versa.)  It’s a joy to work on the mobile version as you can interact with your photos quickly and intuitively - swipe vertically in the left off the screen to add a star rating or swipe in the right to flag it as a pick or reject. Thanks to Smart Previews you won’t fill your mobile device’s storage space up with images (though you can download an original if required.)

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George Cairns

George has been freelancing as a photo fixing and creative tutorial writer since 2002, working for award winning titles such as Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N-Photo and Practical Photoshop. He's expert in communicating the ins and outs of Photoshop and Lightroom, as well as producing video production tutorials on Final Cut Pro and iMovie for magazines such as iCreate and Mac Format. He also produces regular and exclusive Photoshop CC tutorials for his YouTube channel.