What’s the BEST Way to Buy Lightroom in 2023? (For All Budgets)

Essential guide on How to Buy Adobe Lightroom. Should you buy Lightroom 6 outright or subscribe to Lightroom Classic? Read this first!

Lightroom | Software | By Mark Condon | Last Updated: December 5, 2023

The best way to buy Lightroom is to subscribe to the Creative Cloud Photography Plan (1TB).

This plan includes Lightroom Classic for desktop, a cloud-based version of Lightroom, and Photoshop.

If you don’t take many photos, the 20GB plan may suit you better, but the 1TB plan is better value and the option I choose.

Lightroom Photography Plan (1TB)

Great features, regular updates, cloud storage, multi-device functionality - the Photography Plan is the best way to get Lightroom.

Check Current Price

A Lightroom subscription is ideal for professional photographers as well as casual photographers.

The photo editing, file management, and online backup/sync functions of the Lightroom software are unparalleled.

However, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding whether you can buy Lightroom Classic or even download a Lightroom standalone version.

Don’t worry – I’ll explain everything in this guide so you can choose the option that’s right for you.

What is the Best Way to Buy Lightroom in 2023?

Image Product Features
shk2-table__imagePhotography Plan (1TB)OUR #1 CHOICE
  • 1TB Cloud Storage
  • Lightroom on Desktop + Mobile
  • Photoshop on Desktop + iPad
  • Adobe Spark & Portfolio
View Price →
shk2-table__imagePhotography Plan (20GB)GREAT VALUE
  • 20GB Cloud Storage
  • Lightroom on Desktop + Mobile
  • Photoshop on Desktop + iPad
  • Adobe Spark & Portfolio
View Price →
shk2-table__imageAll Apps Plan
  • 100GB Cloud Storage
  • Includes Entire Adobe Suite
  • Adobe Stock (1 mth)
View Price →
shk2-table__imageAll Apps Plan for Students/Teachers
  • 100GB Cloud Storage
  • Includes Entire Adobe Suite
  • Adobe Stock (1 mth)
  • 70% Discount
View Price →
shk2-table__imageAlls Apps Plan for Teams
  • 100GB Cloud Storage
  • Includes Entire Adobe Suite
  • Adobe Stock (1 mth)
  • Collaborative Editing
View Price →
shk2-table__imageAll Apps Plan for School/Universities
  • 100GB Cloud Storage
  • Includes Entire Adobe Suite
  • Adobe Stock (1 mth)
  • Easy Sharing
View Price →


The Photography Plan (1TB) is best for most photographers.

The 1TB Adobe Photography Plan is what I and thousands of other photographers use every day to edit, manage, backup, sync and share photos. (Video editing is now possible too.)

Find out the latest Adobe Lightroom price in your currency here >>

Photographers need to pay monthly or annually to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop as part of a Creative Cloud subscription plan.

These ‘Adobe Photography Plans‘ include online cloud storage space for your photos to be backed up, shared, and edited remotely on a desktop or mobile device.

Also bundled into the main photography plans is Adobe Photoshop, which can be used together with the free Photoshop for iPad app.

With the Lightroom and Photoshop bundle, you get two industry-leading photo editing apps that work together seamlessly.

Most photographers should choose the ‘Photography Plan 1TB’ option, which is the exact plan I’ve been paying to use for several years.

With 1TB of online storage space, the excellent Photography Plan 1TB lets you backup and sync approximately 20,000 RAWs or 200,000 JPEGs across your desktop and mobile devices, giving you the ultimate in editing freedom and peace of mind.

If you’re on a tighter budget, the ‘Photography Plan 20GB‘ option is great value for money too, and you can always upgrade your storage space to 1TB later on.

(20GB allows you to store and sync approximately 400 RAWs or 2,000 JPEG images.)

Then there’s the ‘All Apps Plan’, which is popular with photographer-designers and other creative professionals who need access to the entire suite of Adobe Creative Cloud apps.

(This includes Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Premiere Rush, and over 20 creative apps.)

If you’re a Student or a Teacher, you can get an Adobe Lightroom Student Discount of 70%.

Finally, if you’re part of a team, school or university, there are various other ways you can take advantage of the entire Adobe Creative Suite.

Occasionally Adobe offers special offers and discounts on its most popular Creative Cloud products, which you can browse here >>

How Much Does it Cost to Buy Lightroom?

  • Lightroom with 20GB of cloud photo storage on an annual plan is US$9.99/mo or US$119.88/yr
  • Lightroom with 1TB of cloud photo storage on an annual plan is US$19.99/mo or US$239.88/yr

Check the latest Lightroom pricing in your currency here >>

Even if you’re not a professional photographer, we highly recommend you use Lightroom to manage and edit your photos.

Photographers of all standards can benefit enormously from the latest image editing and cloud-syncing technologies.

How Do You Get a Discount on Adobe Lightroom?

Occasionally, Adobe decides to give a discount on Lightroom and its Creative Cloud products – check this Special Offers page.

Another option is if you’re a student or a teacher you can save up to 70% on Creative Cloud products here with the Lightroom student discount.

If you want an exclusive 15% discount on the Adobe All Apps Plan which includes all the Adobe Creative Cloud apps such as Lightroom, Photoshop and all the other Adobe apps, we’ll send it to you in the Shotkit newsletter (as we can’t show it publicly.) Look for a link to the newsletter in the footer below.

Is there a Student Discount for Lightroom?

If you’re a student or a teacher, you can save up to 70% on a Creative Cloud All Apps plan using this link.

This can mean a huge reduction of US$52.99 to $19.99 a month! This is a generous offer from Adobe, in an effort to support anyone in full-time education and encourage the development of creativity.

(You didn’t hear it from me, but there are ways to take advantage of the Adobe Student Discount… even if you’re not a student or teacher!)

I don’t want to spell it out for you here, but let’s just say it’s easier than you might think – head over and get a little ‘creative’ with your application!

How do I download Lightroom for free?

You can download Lightroom for a free 7-day trial by following these steps:

  1. Click here to open the Lightroom download page >>
  2. Click the blue ‘Start free trial’ button
  3. Select the plan you want (we recommend the ‘Creative Cloud Photography plan with 1TB’)
  4. Choose your subscription billing option (which starts after your 7-day free trial ends)
  5. Enter your email
  6. Enter your payment info (no charges until the free trial ends)

What is the cheapest way to get Lightroom?

The cheapest way to get Lightroom is to subscribe to the 20GB Lightroom Photography Plan (available here), which includes Lightroom and 20GB of cloud photo storage for US$9.99/mo. It’s no cheaper to pay annually.

How do I get Lightroom 6 Standalone?

In February 2019, Adobe stopped selling and supporting the standalone Lightroom 6.

If you’re still regularly using Lightroom 6, I’d highly recommend you upgrade to the subscription plan. Despite the additional expense, the benefits above will make your investment worth it.

How much is Lightroom for Mac and Windows?

US$9.99/mo or US$119.88/yr. This includes Lightroom, Photoshop, a Lightroom Classic license and 20GB of online storage.

If you want 1TB of online storage, Lightroom costs US$19.99/mo or US$239.88 for a yearly subscription.

If you want to know how much does Lightroom cost over several years, here are the calculations:

  • 1 year on the 20GB Photography Plan: US$119.88
  • 2 years: 239.96
  • 3 years:  359.94
  • 4 years: 479.92

Although much requested, there’s no such thing as an Adobe Lightroom lifetime purchase – you can’t buy Lightroom ‘permanently’ or as a single purchase.

6 Reasons Why It’s Better to Subscribe to Lightroom (Than to Buy)

camera matching profiles lightroom

Camera matching profiles help you make your RAW photos look exactly as they do on your camera’s rear LCD.

As of April 2019, Lightroom is only available as part of the Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom 6 standalone is no longer available to purchase.

Initially, I was annoyed about this, but the more I used the subscription version, the more I understood why Adobe had made this decision.

I’ve been using Lightroom for several years and I’m confident to recommend it to all photographers. If you’re still using the Lightroom 6 standalone, I highly recommend you consider upgrading for all the latest features.

There are several significant pros of paying for Lightroom on one of Adobe’s subscription plans.

With the extra money generated since Adobe switched to its subscription models, they have invested a lot into making Lightroom much better.

Here are the main benefits:

1. You get the fastest, most optimized version of Lightroom

This is essential for most people. Adobe Lightroom Classic launches faster, generates previews faster, imports and exports faster, switches between modules faster, and generally feels much snappier than previous versions of Lightroom.

There’s still admittedly room for improvement, but for the average user, it’s the most recent version of Lightroom is plenty fast enough.

One of the most significant performance updates came in 2019 when Adobe introduced GPU Accelerated Editing. This allowed Lightroom Classic and Adobe Camera RAW to take advantage of the latest powerful graphics cards (GPUs) while editing, providing a smoother and more responsive experience.

Unless you have a subscription version of Lightroom, you won’t be able to use this, and many of the other performance updates to Adobe Lightroom Classic.

2. You can use all the best Lightroom features

ai subject selection feature in Lightroom

Lightroom uses AI to select (mask) subjects in a photo automatically for you.

This is a huge benefit. Some of my most used tools have only been released since Lightroom became a subscription service, so cannot be used by anyone with Lightroom 6 (the last non-subscription version of the software).

These include the ability to edit videos, choose attractive creative profiles, the excellent new masking features, super-resolution to enlarge images and the AI-based subject/sky selection tool which is a massive time-saver (see above screenshot and video below).

Then there are Creative Profiles, Expanded Tone Curve, Profile Management, Coloured Labeling, Folder Search, Range Masking, Boundary Warp, etc.

More recently, Adobe released version 13 of Lightroom, which includes the following updates:

  • Add Blur and Bokeh effects using Lens Blur
  • Edit and export in HDR
  • Edit colours with more precision using Point Color
  • Performance Improvements
  • Support for new cameras and lenses

These are all incredibly useful features that you’ll use every day, and they simply won’t ever be available unless you subscribe to Lightroom Classic.

While there are several other good alternatives to Lightroom, none of them offers such a wide range of editing tools, robust import/export capabilities, complete image management, seamless multi-device integration and cloud backups as Lightroom.

For beginners, the Lightroom tutorials, which appear when you open the app, are also a handy way to see how other creatives edit their photos, and you’re even able to apply their edits to your own photos.

Whether you’re a professional or an amateur photographer or simply someone who just wants to make your photos look their best in the least amount of time, Lightroom is still the best photo editing software.

(…and now, you can even use Lightroom to edit videos too.)

  • Latest Lightroom Update: October 2023 release: Desktop version 13, Lightroom for mobile (iOS) 8.4.1 and Lightroom for mobile (Android) 8.4.2

3. You get Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Formerly known as Lightroom Mobile or Lightroom CC)

lightroom mobile

Being able to use Lightroom and Photoshop across all your devices makes the Adobe Lightroom price worth it.

The way that Adobe has named its two main Lightroom products requires an explanation:

There’s Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (aka ‘Lightroom’) which is the online version of the software that can also be used as an app on your desktop. Then there’s Lightroom Classic which is desktop-based.

By subscribing to the Lightroom Photography Plan, you gain access to what is, in my opinion, the most useful editing app in existence: Lightroom.

Lightroom allows you to sync and backup your imported photos to the cloud, then use a phone or tablet to cull, rate and edit photos – this incredible feature alone is worth the price of the Lightroom subscription, and is a unique feature that no other editing software currently offers.

(You can’t ‘buy’ Lightroom Classic outright – you merely subscribe to it.)

You can also use Photoshop CC to perform more fine-tuning on your images via your iPad, all from the cloud – very impressive.

I love the ability to create an online gallery of images to share in just a few clicks, using the Albums feature of Lightroom CC and the included Adobe cloud storage space.

Also, thanks to Apple iOS13, Lightroom Mobile is finally able to import photos from your camera directly to the Lightroom app, bypassing the camera roll.

This ‘direct import’ feature is a huge time saver to what was once a rather clunky process. Also added to the update are multiple export options, including options for the file type, pixel dimensions, compression and watermarks,

The Lightroom Mobile app is 100% free to download and use whether you’re a paying Creative Cloud subscriber or not. It’s been renamed to the Lightroom Photo & Video Editor and is available for iOS and Android.

However, unless you subscribe to a Lightroom plan, the mobile app’s functionality is limited, and you can’t take advantage of cloud syncing of your images across devices, which is an essential feature.

4. You get Adobe Photoshop on Desktop

By subscribing to the Photography Plan, you gain access to Photoshop, an essential graphics manipulation and photo editing software.

Despite the emergence of various Photoshop alternatives, Adobe Photoshop is still an essential piece of software for photographers, and the way it works with Lightroom is seamless.

While Lightroom allows you to do the majority of your photo editing within the app, some advanced compositing features can only be performed with Photoshop.

Adobe has also introduced Generative AI to Photoshop, which allows you to do some amazing things that weren’t possible before.

5. You can sync and back up your edits on Photoshop for iPad


Photoshop for iPad is a powerful and fun way to manipulate images on the go.

The Photoshop iPad app lets you start editing a PSD on your desktop and then continue editing on your iPad, with everything automatically backed up to your cloud storage.

While anyone can download the Photoshop iPad app for free, it’s only with a Creative Cloud subscription that users can take advantage of all the cloud syncing benefits, and this is what makes it so powerful.

(If you’re confused about why you might need both software, check out Lightroom vs Photoshop.)

6. All the most recent cameras are supported

If you own any camera released after Dec 2017, you need to get Lightroom Classic to be able to edit your photos.

When I bought a Sony a7III, I had to stop using Lightroom 6 and upgrade to their subscription plan in order to edit the photos.

All the latest cameras are supported by Adobe Camera RAW (the included app that processes the files for Lightroom and Photoshop).

What’s the Difference Between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic?

When you buy Adobe Lightroom, you actually get two versions of the software – a cloud-based version and a desktop one.

(Confusingly, the cloud-based version can also run on your desktop, but it’s actually more like you’re viewing a web browser.)

Lightroom provides a streamlined, simplified and intuitive ‘mobile’ editing experience, with easy access to your photos through the cloud on multiple devices.

It’s best suited when you need to work with photos on the go, create online albums or share images on social media.

Lightroom Classic, on the other hand, provides a more comprehensive and powerful set of editing tools, making it the software of choice for professional photographers.

It offers more advanced organizational and batch processing capabilities, as well as faster performance for certain editing and exporting tasks.

It also includes support for tethered shooting, advanced colour grading tools, AI masking, and the ability to use plug-ins.

Here’s a handy table that helps compare Lightroom vs Lightroom Classic:

Feature Adobe Lightroom Classic Adobe Lightroom
Work Location Preference Desktop only Desktop, mobile, and web
Location of Originals Local hard drive Cloud
File Backup Not included Automatic
Ease of Use Most comprehensive Intuitive, streamlined
Organization and Photo Search Manual keywords Automatic tagging and intelligent search

Adobe Creative Cloud / Adobe Lightroom FAQs

Since writing this post, I’ve had a lot of questions regarding the various options available. Here are some answers to the most common queries:

How much is Adobe Lightroom?

You can purchase Lightroom on its own or as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, with both plans starting at US$9.99/month. Lightroom Classic is available as part of the Creative Cloud Photography plan, starting at US$9.99/month.

What is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom?

Sometimes Lightroom is referred to rather confusingly as ‘Photoshop Lightroom’. It is the same thing.

Can I get Lightroom Free?

You can download a free 7-day trial of Lightroom here.

Is Lightroom only available by subscription?

Lightroom Classic is only available by subscription. Lightroom 6 (the previous version) is no longer available to purchase outright. There’s no such thing as a Lightroom one-time purchase.

Which is better, Photoshop or Lightroom?

Lightroom is like a ‘lite’ version of Photoshop, but it also offers image organisation features that Photoshop lacks. One is not technically better than the other – they are intended to be used for different purposes, often in unison.

Typically, a Lightroom user will only use Photoshop to edit or manipulate images in a way that Lightroom cannot. Similarly, a Photoshop user will use Lightroom in order to organise, cull and add keywords to a library of images.

What is Lightroom used for?

Lightroom has two main uses – image management and image editing.

Is Lightroom CC free?

Yes, it is free on mobile devices. You can download the app for iOS and Android devices and use it for free to edit and share your images.

The desktop version of Lightroom CC isn’t available as a free, standalone product – it comes bundled with the Photography Plan, which includes Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC.

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

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC is the renamed version of the original Lightroom application. It is optimised for desktop-focused workflows, including local storage of your photos in files and folders on your computer.

Lightroom CC is the new cloud-based photo service that works across desktop, mobile and web. Lightroom Classic CC is a desktop-focused digital photography product.

When referring to the Lightroom desktop software, it can be confusing since both Lr Classic and Lr can be used on a desktop – the difference is that one is 100% locally installed while the other is cloud-based.

When you buy Lightroom Classic, you automatically get Lightroom CC.

Is Lightroom Mobile free?

Yes, it’s 100% free to download the Lightroom CC mobile app onto your smartphone. However, there are certain features that are missing:

  • Cloud Storage
  • Sync Lightroom Presets & profiles
  • Healing
  • Selective Adjustments
  • Sensei Search
  • Geometry
  • Editing Raw Photos
  • Sharing Web Galleries (Lightroom Web)
  • Sort your People Photos

Some of these features are unnecessary for the average photographer, but others are genuinely very useful, e.g. RAW editing, sync presets and cloud storage.

The premium features are only available to users on an annual or monthly Adobe Lightroom subscription.

What happens to my photos if I cancel my Adobe subscription?

Lightroom CC: Adobe stores your original images for an additional year after your membership lapses. During this time, you can continue to launch Lightroom CC to download your original files from the cloud.

Lightroom Classic: You’ll still have access to all your photos on your hard drive through Lightroom Classic CC. You can continue to import and organise photos, as well as export your edited photos through Export, Publish, Print, Web, or Slideshow. However, access to the Develop & Map modules and Lightroom Mobile are not available after your membership ends.

Is there a Lightroom 7?

No. Lightroom 6 was the last stand-alone (i.e. non-subscription) version of Lightroom that could be purchased outside of a Creative Cloud membership… but now even that has been phased out.

All the advantages of Lightroom lie in the subscription versions, with regular updates, powerful new features and helpful support.

Is Lightroom free on iPhone?

Yes, you can use Lightroom for capturing, editing, and sharing photos on your iPhone for free. However, when you upgrade, you enjoy the use of much more features.

How to increase Lightroom cloud storage?

With the Adobe Lightroom plan, you get 1TB of cloud storage. To increase the storage space, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Creative Cloud app
  2. Click on the little cloud icon at the top of the window
  3. Click Upgrade
  4. Review your upgrade options
  5. Enter your email address
  6. Press on Continue to payment
  7. Follow the instructions
  8. Wait for Adobe’s confirmation email

Will Lightroom Classic be discontinued?

No, there are no plans to discontinue Lightroom Classic. Contrarily, Adobe is working continuously on developing the software with new upgraded releases every two or three months.

What is the newest version of Lightroom?

The latest/most current version of Lightroom Classic is 13.

The latest/most current version of Lightroom is 8.4 Lightroom for mobile (iOS/Android)

The latest/most current version of Lightroom for mobile (iOS) is 8.4.1, and Lightroom for mobile (Android) is 8.4.2

Is Lightroom not free anymore?

Lightroom for computers isn’t free and requires an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for as little as $9.99 per month.

On the other hand, the Lightroom mobile app is free for both Android and iOS devices, but it has limited features.

What is the difference between Lr and LrC?

Lightroom (Lr) is a cloud-based digital photography software that works on desktop, mobile, and web. Lightroom Classic, on the other hand, is a desktop-only version of the software that uses the local hard drive as storage space.

How long is Adobe’s free trial?

It varies according to the Adobe app. Creative Cloud apps used by individuals offer a 7-day free trial period. As for team usage, Adobe offers a 14-day free trial.

Products such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements, Stock, RoboHelp, and FrameMaker offer a 30-day free trial.

Can you use Lightroom without the Internet?

Yes, you can use Lightroom without the Internet. However, synchronizing your photo files to the cloud won’t be available in that case.

How to download Lightroom on MacBook?

To download Lightroom on MacBook, all you need to do is:

  1. Open the App Store
  2. Type Adobe Lightroom in the search tab
  3. Click on Get then Install
  4. Follow the instructions

Can you buy Lightroom permanently?

Lightroom is no longer available as a standalone purchase (also known as a Lightroom one time purchase). Now, you need to subscribe to an annual plan to get it.

How much is Lightroom for Mac?

Whether you purchase it from or the App Store, the Adobe Lightroom cost is $9.99 per month as a yearly subscription paid monthly. If you purchased the prepaid annual subscription plan, you pay a sum of $119.88 per year.

How much is Adobe Lightroom for PC?

The Adobe Lightroom Classic price is $9.99 per month, whether alone or inside a Lightroom and Photoshop bundle. If you prefer to pay the annual fee upfront, the Lightroom prepaid annual subscription costs $119.88 per year.

Is Lightroom paid?

Yes, Lightroom for computers is a paid service. To use it, you must subscribe to an annual plan.

However, the Lightroom mobile app is free to install. Yet, it may also require a subscription if you want to access the full range of software features.

Is Lightroom free on laptops?

No, it’s not. You only get a 7-day free trial period to test the product. However, after seven days, you must pay a subscription fee to continue to use Lightroom.

If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments below so I can consider adding them to this list.

Final Recommendations

No one likes the idea of paying each month for a subscription… especially when that product or service used to be available as a one-off payment.

However, once you’re committed to buying Lightroom Classic CC, you’ll soon realise just how many huge benefits there are to paying for Lightroom in this way… whether you’re an amateur or a pro photographer.

Many believe that with the massive revenue Adobe has created by encouraging its users into this model, it is now more able to invest heavily into the improvement of Lightroom, Photoshop and every other creative program we all rely on.

As a Lightroom subscriber, I’m happy to keep paying the subscription fee, as I feel the benefits hugely outweigh anything else.

I hope this article. Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Lightroom Photography Plan (1TB)

Great features, regular updates, cloud storage, multi-device functionality - the Photography Plan is the best way to get Lightroom.

Check Current Price


Mark Condon is a professional photographer with 10+ years experience taking photos and editing them using Adobe Lightroom Classic. He enjoys being able to edit and manage his family photos on an iPad via the free Lightroom app.


If you take thousands of photos each year, the 1TB Photography Plan is the most cost-effective way to take full advantage of all the amazing features of Adobe Lightroom.



Mark Condon is a professional photographer with 10+ years experience taking photos and editing them using Adobe Photoshop and the free iPad app. He also enjoys the integration with Lightroom, the best image editing software.


The Photography Plan is the most cost-effective way to take full advantage of all the amazing features of Adobe Photoshop.


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