Math Is Hard, or, A Quick Look at Lightroom Pricing

People in a huff about the price of Adobe’s Lightroom subscription plan are threatening to switch to Capture One Pro. Okay, but…

My article about Lightroom CC for DPReview now has almost 1,000 comments (!), most of them by people upset about Adobe’s subscription pricing and indignantly threatening to switch to PhaseOne’s Capture One Pro. I’m not putting down anyone who wants to make a switch or arguing for one tool or another, but I thought this was amusing today in regards to pricing.

I just received an email saying my copy of Capture One Pro 8, which I got two years ago to review for Macworld, is no longer being supported. (The current version is 10.0). So, someone who bought Capture One Pro for $300 two years ago needs to pay $99 to upgrade to version 10. Two year cost: $400.

Adobe’s Photography Plan subscription is $10 per month, which includes the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop (and now also includes the cloud-focused Lightroom CC). Two year cost: $240.

PhaseOne also now offers a subscription plan, starting at $20 per month, or as a one-time yearly payment of $180 ($15/mo). Let’s say they go for the less expensive option. Two year cost: $360.

For some, the principle of essentially renting software instead of owning it outright is what they don’t like. I get that, and it’s a valid point. They’re upset that Adobe’s stand-alone Lightroom 6 ($150) is the last “perpetual” version Adobe will update; version 6.13 is out today, and will be supported for bug fixes and camera compatibility only through the end of 2017. (If you end your subscription, Lightroom Classic continues to work, but with the Develop module (editing) disabled. So you can migrate your library to something else.)

If I were to continue using CaptureOne Pro 8, I’d be in the same boat.

But the people in a huff about price are having some math issues.

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  1. Putting the pricing aside (I don’t mind renting software btw), why do you prefer Capture One? Your personal experience.


    1. Actually, I prefer Lightroom. See the review for more detail, but although I found C1 to be pretty good, it had some shortcomings. I haven’t used version 10.


  2. But if I keep using COP and upgrade annually for $99, I am only out a C note very year instead of $120 for the CC plan! Goddamn Adobe! Wait! You mean I can’t make composites or do layer work in COP? I still need another destructive/constructive editor like PhotoShop of Affinity? There goes my $20 savings. Goddamn you, Adobe. You make this so simple!


  3. If you bought COP for $300 2 years ago, and can update to the latest version for $99 then, assuming a further 2 years of support, (possibly a bad assumption), that gives you access to supported software for 4 years. 4 years of Adobe costs £480. Okay future value of money discounts Adobe, but I’ve notice my CC subscription creep up over time. Having said that, I’ve gone full circle round the indignation loop and will probably stick with Adobe.


  4. Sorry, but it’s your assumptions to be wrong. Out of support doesn’t mean it stops working.

    As long as a software don’t stop working if you aren’t paying, the fact that is becomes unsupported doesn’t mean you have to upgrade immediately. You may not receive bug fixes, or new cameras/lenses support, but if it doesn’t impact you, you can happily wait to upgrade.

    For the matter, I’m still on LR5 – it does what I need, I would have probably upgraded to LR7 because I’m planning to add another camera, but not with a subscription. The problem with the LR subscription it does stop working when you stop paying, sure, you can still see, print end export the photos in the catalog, but basically the software becomes a viewer, no matter how you paid already. For many people is OK to upgrade software every five years or so, maybe when they also update the computer (my GPU was not enough for LR6), and see little reason to spend money meanwhile for features they can’t use.

    Sure, if you’re a pro or a geek writing for sites you’ll want the latest and the greatest. Other people may be OK with older software and devices – after all even my camera is somewhat old now, at least I’m not forced to subscribe to get the latest model…


    1. You’re right, out of support means it doesn’t stop working. But it also means that a system update could render the software un-openable, at which point you may not be able to access your library. So, it’s a risk tradeoff.

      But yes, for some people, using old software works fine, and that’s okay.


  5. FWIW, the upgrade pricing for COP as of v11 is now $119.00 per year; a 20% increase!


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