For many photographers, there are only two choices when it comes to photo management software, and those are either Aperture from Apple or Lightroom from Adobe. Both are great pieces of software and have their pros and cons. However, Adobe recently added Lightroom to their Creative Cloud solution, thus adding yet another benefit to the Adobe tool belt.
So what is the Adobe Creative Cloud? Think of it as a digital hub where the entire Creative Suite 6 package may be downloaded and used at will. This is a subscription based program that ranges between $30/month – $75/month depending on educational discounts and committing to a yearlong subscription or not. This may not sound cheap, but then again, nothing from Adobe is terribly inexpensive. The big question many users are debating currently is what comes with this monthly fee and is it worth it.
To start, the entire Creative Suite 6 is included. That means Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Muse, Lightroom, Illustrator, After Effects, Premier, and more are there for the using. Sure, Premiere may not be high on the priority list, but for anyone just wanting to try it out for a few months, it is there and available with no trial limits or expensive upfront costs. However, there is more than just software too. Also included with that monthly subscription is cloud storage and device syncing. This means work stored in the cloud is easily accessible for work and collaboration anywhere there is an internet connection.
Say you went with the $50/month plan, meaning you spend $600 for a full year. Photoshop Standard is $1,300 by itself, or the full-blown Master Collection is $2,600. Now factor in that software is always changing and getting the upgrade treatment. Lightroom, for example, sees a new version every 1.5 – 2 years. Photoshop receives incremental updates frequently with major releases every few years, and none of that includes additional features that come out between updates. It becomes expensive to keep up with all the upgrades and license changes. Perhaps the biggest issue is changing from Windows to OSX. Adobe has some strict rules when it comes to what they will allow users to port and what users have to repurchase.
These issues disappear with the Creative Cloud. The apps constantly update with new apps appearing, like Lightroom, to the overall package. No longer will someone have to fight to get CS5 upgraded to CS6. The subscription has it all handled.
It may be hard to bite the monthly cost right now, especially as LR4 and CS6 just came out this year. However, those that have not upgraded yet, or those that are debating it, this is the prime time to give Creative Cloud some serious consideration. There is a bounty of apps to use and the cost turns out to be roughly the same as trying to just purchase and upgrade every few years. Despite some initial negative reactions, Adobe is trying hard to provide all of its users with financially feasible ways to legally own their software!