Adobe has released a new version of its photo editing and cataloging software, Lightroom.
Version 6 adds a few capabilities, fixes bugs, but most importantly it uses the GPU chips in modern computers more than previous versions which increases its speed dramatically in processor-intensive tasks. Check out the chart in this review: Lightroom 6 arrives with performance improvements and new tools.
Personally, I’m no fan of Adobe. While I think Lightroom is the best tool available there are UI and UX design issues that have persisted in it since it was born and as you will see below, Adobe just does not get user experience at all and treats users like thieves.
I was hoping that Apple’s new Photos application that has replaced both iPhoto and Aperture might be good enough for me to leave the Adobe ship once and for all, but after using Photos for a week I can say for sure that while it will no doubt improve in future versions, and I’ve moved my entire iPhoto library into it and thrown out iPhoto, Photos is not a replacement for Lightroom or Aperture for serious work with images.
Lightroom remains the best image editing and organizing tool out there for my photographic process and I upgraded to Lightroom 6 yesterday.
How to buy and/or upgrade
Adobe would like you to subscribe to their “Creative Cloud” which, for $9.99 a month gives you access to Lightroom and Photoshop and apps that run on mobile devices and a small amount of cloud space to store images to sync to multiple devices. I was concerned that this was the only way they were selling Lightroom and as a long time user I’m only interested in having the software running on my computer, not my iPad or iPhone.
If you’re not logged into the Adobe site and you scroll to the bottom of this page you’ll see 5 rectangles, the one in the bottom right says: Lightroom 6: For desktop only. Mobile capabilities not included, Buy Now. It pisses me off that Adobe buries the stand-alone application and they really want us all to subscribe so they’re pushing one over the other. I was logged into the Adobe site when I first went looking for this and it was not to be found. If you don’t see it, make sure you’re logged out (you can log back in later in the process).
Once you hit “Buy Now” and are looking at your cart, you’ll see Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 in your basket. Now comes the incredibly unintuitive part.
I was concerned that there was no upgrade path for users of earlier versions of Lightroom but in fact, there is but Adobe in all of it’s infinite wisdom (not) chose to bury it, again trying to force you to pay full price again. Ugh.
Click the “Edit” button on the right and you’ll notice that things will change on the left.
Where is says: “I want to buy: Full” note that “Full” is now a pulldown menu. Pull it down and choose “Upgrade.”
The next line is: “I own:” and a pulldown menu for the version of Lightroom you own. I own Lightroom 5.X so I chose it.
Lastly the click the orange “Save Changes” button at the bottom. The price will change from the full $149 price to the $79 upgrade price.
The orange button is now “Checkout” and once you click there you can pay for the upgrade and a screen or two later, download the Mac or Win version.
The rest is Adobe’s convoluted serial number entering process which, if you use their products you’ll be painfully familiar with.
Note: A big thank you to my good friend Edward for help with this. I had no clue it was possible to upgrade until he showed me the steps above.
Is it worth it?
In a word, yes. After opening my 8000 image library up (a mixture of Canon 5D RAWs, Ricoh GR RAWs and Sony RX100 RAWs) and moving through it I can say that on my mid-2014 Retina MacBook Pro (2.8 GHz Core i7, 16 GB memory, Intel Iris Pro 1536, 1TB SSD this upgrade of Lightroom is significantly faster at almost everything.
At some point this summer I plan to buy a Retina iMac for image editing and book creation and I was concerned that the rumors of Lightroom being slow on the huge, high resolution screen would be an issue. I’m pretty sure Adobe took care of that with this version which makes better use of the GPU to render images much faster.
All of my presets, both in the Develop module and the Print module are there and the application just feels snappier which is very nice considering I’m using it on a very fast computer.
For me and the kind of work I do this upgrade is worth it. $79 every two years might seem like a lot of money in this time where we buy apps from the Mac app store for $5 and they upgrade automatically for free, but in fact, Lightroom is a different animal and while I wish Adobe would put it in the app store with automatic .X upgrades, I don’t resent paying this kind of money for it as it’s a serious, industrial-strength application that does what it does well.
If you’re a desktop computer Lightroom user this upgrade is well worth doing.