Thoughts on the Adobe Creative Cloud

Lone cloud at sunrise, Mono Lake, CA, USA

Lone cloud at sunrise, Mono Lake, CA, USA

There’s been a lot of internet discussion lately about the new Adobe Creative Cloud. If you haven’t heard about this, Adobe decided that it will offer its Creative Suite applications only by subscription. You can get the whole suite (including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc.) for $50 a month, or an individual application for $20 a month. They’re offering first-year discounts for people who own a license to any CS3 or later application.

On the positive side, subscribers will get regular updates to the software when new features are ready, rather than having to wait for a new version to come out. On the other hand, $20 per month for an application represents a substantial price increase. The last Photoshop upgrade was $199. Since the original Photoshop CS came out in 2003, Adobe has upgraded Photoshop, on average, every 20.6 months. If that pace of innovation continued, a $199 upgrade price would average out to around $10 per month – or half as much as they’re asking for a Creative Cloud subscription to a single application.

I might be able to live with the price, but here’s the worst part: if you stop your subscription at any time, you can’t use the software anymore.

Imagine this scenario: You bite the bullet and subscribe to Photoshop Creative Cloud for $20 per month. You continue your subscription for five years, getting all the updates from Adobe along the way and using Photoshop regularly.

Then you decide to stop your subscription. When you do so, Photoshop will stop working – you won’t be able to use it at all, or open any of the Photoshop files you’ve created over the previous five years. You’ll have to go back to Photoshop CS6, or use some other software, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to open any of your newer Photoshop files with CS6 or another application (especially if the files have layers).

You will have spent $1200 for the subscription over the course of five years, but own nothing you can keep. Yes, you’ve had the use of the software during that time, but that’s it. If you want to keep using the software, you have to keep paying. In other words, you’re locked in for life. And there’s no guarantee that Adobe won’t raise the subscription rates, or that they will provide any new features that you find useful.

To me it would make more sense – and be much, much more customer friendly – if Adobe allowed you to keep using the software after you let you subscription lapse. You wouldn’t get updates, of course, but you’d still be able to use what you already paid for. You’d still be paying double, but at least you’d have something to show for it when you stopped your subscription. However, there are no signs that Adobe will change it’s terms, despite the online uproar and petitions.

The good news is that Lightroom and Photoshop Elements will still be available as standalone products with perpetual licenses. Personally, I use Lightroom for at least 80% of my images these days, and for the other 20% I’m happy with Photoshop CS6. For me, the biggest loss will be Smart Object compatibility. If I take an image from Lightroom 5 into Photoshop CS6 as a Smart Object, I won’t have all the new Lightroom functions available to me when I open the Smart Object in Camera Raw. But I can figure out how to deal with that and give myself the most flexibility possible.

It’s a sad day for me though. Although Lightroom is now my primary tool, I cut my digital teeth on Photoshop. I’ve been using it since version 5.5 (1999), and have bought every upgrade since. It will be weird to not keep up with the latest versions and not know what’s going on in the Photoshop world. But I’ll take this as a lesson to not get emotionally attached to software created by profit-making corporations.

If you’d like to get some different perspectives on this issue, here are some thoughtful posts by Guy Tal, Michael Reichmann, and Ctein (Part 1 and Part 2).

What do you think? Are you going to subscribe to the Creative Cloud? Why, or why not?

— Michael Frye

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

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207 Responses to “Thoughts on the Adobe Creative Cloud”

  1. Andrys says:

    Thanks for that heads-up, Michael. I was -thinking- about CC at $20/mo for just Photoshop but didn’t realize that the ability to use it ends if you decide not to keep subscribing and then you have nothing, from that. I already have Adobe Creative 6, which I’ve not opened yet. Am still using Photoshop 3.

    Was going to go to SF Headquarters to see the demo, since I thought maybe I’d try the 1st yr $20/mo. but now you’ve freed me from that trip!

    Thanks very much.

    – A

    • Michael Frye says:

      You’re welcome Andrys. :) The part about not being able to use the software if you end your subscription is the deal-breaker for me too. If it weren’t for that I’d probably bite the bullet and subscribe. Adobe makes really good software!

    • Monica says:

      I’m a rookie / enthusiast. I work all day on the computer and while I own Photoshop, I don’t enjoy that part of the digital process – mainly because it’s not a creative escape for me. As a result, I only use my version once every couple of months. Surely, there are others out there like me. I guess I can understand the pricing for customers who use a product on a daily basis. As far as I’m concerned, though, I’m going to look for another software package. I would really appreciate any recommendations because I will not support a company that tries to gouge their customer base in this way.

      • Michael Frye says:

        Monica, I don’t blame you for not wanting to pay the subscription for something you only use once in awhile. I don’t really have any recommendations for Photoshop alternatives at this point, though it’s something I’ll be investigating in the coming months. There’s Lightroom, of course, but that’s also Adobe, and it’s a very different animal than Photoshop.

  2. I don’t believe a company can grow, become great, and truly thrive in the long-run unless it cares about what it’s clientele want. It is interesting to read here that you use LR for 80 percent of images. Guess it’s time to learn LR, or maybe not. LOL because I’m way behind: still using CS4. I guess CS6 will be as far as I go for now until something changes. What Adobe needs is a real competitor. Microsoft pulled this kind of BS for years. It took some time and doing, but Apple obviously weighed in at first as a viable, but soon a superior and now arguably far more successful competitor because they LISTEN… well, most of the time…

    • Michael Frye says:

      >I don’t believe a company can grow, become great, and truly thrive in the long-run unless it cares about what it’s clientele want.

      Couldn’t agree more. And even if Adobe does an about-face with this, they’ve earned a lot of bad PR and ill-will. And you’re absolutely right about Adobe needing a competitor. There’s more competition in Lightroom’s category than in Photoshop’s, so that might be why Adobe hasn’t tried (yet) to insist on subscriptions for Lightroom. But the silver lining here is that maybe this whole boondoggle will create room for some competition, which we consumers sorely need.

  3. Well I decided it was not worth it to me. I have been a loyal Adobe user since v6.0 and also bought all the upgrades. This is the end of the road for me and Adobe. I will move on to other software that will eventually replace it. I feel the only good thing out of this is it will spur more competition and there will be others that will step up to fill the gap.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Alan, I too am hoping that this whole thing will lead to more competition. Adobe does make really good software — if they didn’t, people wouldn’t care about any of this!

  4. Also check out Capture One, their software is in someways better, and if they continue to develop their software it will be a great alternative to Lightroom as well.

  5. RB Bob says:

    Like Michael, I have purchased and used every version of Photoshop since version 5. For the past six years I have taught classes and workshops in Photoshop and ACR. During those years I have introduced hundreds of students to the power of PS.

    I feel betrayed by the CC policy. As a professional photographer who admired and promoted Adobe as a corporation which appreciated and supported its customers, I’m astounded by their turn toward corporate arrogance and greed.

    I don’t plan to be extorted into the new CC scheme. It’s time to look elsewhere for photo editing solutions. My hope is that most of Adobe’s loyal customers will balk at this slap in the face. Maybe if they lose enough customers from this outrage they will come to their senses and roll back this incredibly stupid campaign.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Bob, I’m glad you mentioned this aspect of things. You, me, and many others have promoted Adobe’s products for years, not because Adobe is paying us, or giving us free software, but because they make good products that we like to use, and want to help others use it. Now what do we do? I’ll continue to use Lightroom, and help others to get the most out of it, because I think it’s the best software in its category, but I’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on competitor’s offerings. As for Photoshop, unless Adobe changes it’s policies, I’ll be teaching how to use CS6, and maybe delving into some other programs that might provide viable alternatives.

  6. Gary Goodenough says:

    Access to my files is the primary reason I am not subscribing. I save a copy of my Photoshop files with the layers intact so I can go back and re-edit from where I left off. I may re-edit as I learn more or have a different idea of what my image should look like. By saving the file with the layers intact my re-edit could be as simple as an opacity adjustment on a single layer. Regardless, I want the option of not having to start over again if I no longer rent Photoshop.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Gary, using layers is absolutely the way to go if you want to retain flexibility, and Photoshop is pretty much useless to me if I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to edit those layers in the future. So I’m with you on this. :)

  7. Todd Fox says:


    I too will not be using Creative Cloud. Adobe is the greatest recipient in this exchange and that defies all customer service logic to me. I have no problem with Adobe making money. I have a problem with relationship being so one sided. I too use Lightroom the majority of the time as well, but layers are still important in about 5% of my work, so I will continue to use PS CS3 for that. I will have to upgrade someday, but for now, I’ll stick with the tools in my chest. Thanks for your insight. As always, it is greatly appreciated.


  8. Harvey says:

    Hey Michael, Thanks for the summary of this issue. I appreciate that you put some of the costs into perspective. I for one will not be buying into the perpetual license for Photoshop. I will continue to utilize CS6 until it is too outdated to use anymore. I suspect a number of professional photographers will continue with the cloud and consider it part of their business. Adobe is leaving the amateur and advanced amateur photographer behind, as they will not buy into a perpetual monthly fee program. This has been expressed by a number of my photo friends.

    We will just be waiting for the other software manufactures to pick-up the business that Adobe is going to lose. It will mean learning a new software program, but not a challenge for most of us. I am sure that Adobe has looked at the numbers and think this is a good move for them, and maybe it is, but it will change the photography industry.

    I keep thinking about the various conferences and seminars where representatives from Adobe and some photographers were jamming DNG conversion down our throats. They kept saying how important it is, because Adobe was going to be here forever. Their expression was that “you never know about the continuing support from the camera manufactures”. I wonder how this is going to play out for those that did convert to DNG. Wonder if Adobe is going to also throw those photographers out the window.

    The timing is funny, as I was just thinking about getting into doing video production utilizing stills and video with the DSLR. I was seriously considering Premier Pro, but now I wouldn’t touch that program or anything that Adobe does for video.

    All I can say to Adobe is: “SHAME ON YOU”!

    Signed: One less Adobe User!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Harvey, I’m a professional, and I won’t be subscribing to the cloud either unless Adobe changes the terms. To me there’s no point to using software that I might not have access to in the future.

      Interesting point about DNG. To me it’s always been a toss-up whether DNG format will be around longer than NEF or CR2. But DNG is open-source, so if Adobe abandons it, someone else could continue to develop it.

      • Harvey says:

        Hmm..didn’t realize that DNG is open source. Thanks for the tip on that.

      • Just a point of clarification, DNG is an open specification “owned” by Adobe. They have published the specification and allow anybody to to use it but still reserve the right to make changes as they see fit. It is open in the sense that everyone has access to the specifications to see how it is constructed, unlike Canon and Nikon who have “secret” parts to their raw formats.

        I believe that they have submitted it to one of the standards organizations to get it approved as a standard format. But they haven’t shown any signs of relinquishing control of it. This could be in part why the camera manufactures are reluctant to participate.

        There was, several years ago a real attempt to get the manufactures to at least publish the documentation of their raw formats and ultimately create a real open standard. You can read about this effort at This effort is ongoing and may deserve our support even more now.


        • Michael Frye says:

          Thanks for this clarification Louie. There might be some advantages to Adobe making changes “as they see fit” to the DNG format. They created the compressed, lossy DNGs last year, which are nice to have for some things, and apparently are used for the new “Smart Previews” in Lightroom 5. And if Adobe goes under, I guess it’s possible that someone could continue to support or develop the DNG format — not sure.

          As for Canon and Nikon, this is always one of those digital dilemmas. On the one hand, we want companies to innovate and develop better Raw formats. But they want to keep their secrets.

  9. Bart says:

    RIP Adobe. I will use CS6 as long as possible with hope for competition to emerge. Bigger problem is, what to replace Lightroom with? We already learned that Adobe cannot be trusted, they can and will pull the same trick with LR anytime. Time to start seeking replacement :-(

    • Michael Frye says:

      Bart, the good news about Lightroom is that Adobe has more competition in this category, and a very different customer base than for it’s Creative Suite (now Creative Cloud) products, so I don’t see them trying this subscription model with Lightroom anytime soon. But Adobe has certainly earned some bad PR and mistrust with this Creative Cloud move, and we’ll all be more leery.

  10. Al Golub says:

    Michael, Bottom line it is the money honey! Adobe wants regular amounts of cash. I don’t blame them because they have ongoing research and software maintenance. Oh Yea, a desire to make money. I have a creative masters suite and they made me a deal for $19.99 a month I get the whole master suite and Lightroom. I figured I was between a hard place and the old rock, so I went for the deal. I will have a better opinion later but now I am going with the program. Adobe told me I could load my old CS6 Master suite on another machine and use it, so I am assuming that if someone has a copy of CS6 they could keep using it until you want one a newer upgrade or your system software changes and it make PS6 obsolete. In the old days we called this being on the bleeding edge of technology.

    Old Al

    • Michael Frye says:

      Al, if it works for you great — just have a plan if Adobe raises the price for your subscription and you decide you don’t want to pay it anymore and can’t use the software anymore.

  11. John Wall says:

    I don’t like the subscription service at all and won’t be signing on for it. Manufacturers like Nikon already provide editing software with their cameras. Hopefully that’ll fill in the niche that Adobe is leaving.

    • Michael Frye says:

      John, I think Nikon’s Capture NX software is actually a closer competitor to Lightroom than to Photoshop, so it won’t fill that niche. But that competition from Nikon, Apple, Capture One, and others is probably why Lightroom won’t be on a subscription basis anytime soon, so three cheers for competition!

  12. Doug Broussard says:

    I live and work in Silicon Valley, and I have a couple of anecdotal, but possibly telling data points:

    1. I live on Park St. in San Jose. The median value of cars zipping by at 10:00am to Adobe has increased quite a bit over the past few years. IOW, Adobe isn’t hurting for money. The increased frequency of upgrades for incremental feature additions (I hold the opinion that 80% of today’s most useful functionality for photographers was already in Photoshop by 2001 – six versions ago) has clearly been good for the company at a time when Apple stole most of their pro video users and the company gave away the technical publishing market.

    2. I don’t think Adobe really knows where to go from here, and they’ve got to be petrified that someone is going to fund a useful standalone competitor to Photoshop. Rather than innovating with product features, Adobe has largely been innovating new ways (increased upgrade frequency, suites, horrible tech support) to generate and retain revenue.

    We’re talking about a company that bought Flash, made it into a monster of sorts, and which now has to release near-weekly high-priority security fixes for the same. The key lesson here? Adobe doesn’t exactly excel at software that relies on network bandwidth or security. When Adobe’s executive committee understood that Flash was going away in the age of mobile, we got Creative Cloud as an answer.

    As a Framemaker user, I’ve already seen what happens when Adobe just plain gives up on a product. For over ten years, Frame users have been locked into upgrades that build upon the same codebase written in 1992 with few new features. Sadly, indications are the Adobe won’t reconsider their move to CC, and that I’ll be flattening and re-saving a lot of files in anticipation of developing a workflow not based upon Photoshop.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Well Doug, not a lot of good things to say about Adobe! I don’t really know their motives, so can’t comment intelligently about that. I can say that I really like their software, but I agree that with Photoshop the prices haven’t really matched the quality of the new features. I can’t say about the other Creative Suite apps since I don’t use them (except InDesign CS4 once in awhile). I do think they’ve been innovating quite vigorously with Lightroom and Camera Raw. Lightroom 4/ACR 7, in particular, was a huge leap forward. In that sense Lightroom might be a good value compared to some of Adobe’s other products.

  13. Duncan says:

    Its been a while since we have seen a major Aperture upgrade .As a huge Apple fan I will be amazed if they don’t jump all over this opportunity. I was tempted by lightroom 5 but I have reached the stage that I dislike Adobe as a company so I’m happy to play the waiting game and see what our friends at Apple come up with.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Duncan, I’m an Apple fan too, but I won’t be using Aperture unless Apple adds the ability to choose and make different camera profiles, and improves their engine for handling noise, and matches Lightroom’s amazing ability to deal with high-contrast scenes, and improves their retouching tools. But I do also hope that this brouhaha stimulates more competition, from Apple or anyone else.

  14. Gary Hart says:

    Good post, Michael. I won’t be subscribing, partly because I’m not a power user and am pretty satisfied with CS6, but primarily on principle: I’m not interested in helping Adobe leverage its monopoly into more profit, to its users’ detriment. And even though Lightroom remains a standalone product, how many upgrades do you think we’ll get before its output isn’t compatible with CS6? I’m betting no more than one.

    Many companies who miscalculated their popularity have been forced to backtrack in the face of media rants and deserting customers (Netflix comes immediately to mind, and I’m pretty sure “Never mind” is in Facebook’s DNA). Adobe is squandering years of goodwill; I’ll be watching from the sideline to see how this plays out.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Gary, I too will be watching closely to see how all this plays out. Adobe is indeed squandering years of goodwill. Maybe they’ll rethink this, but even so it will be hard for them to regain that goodwill.

      • Michael Frye says:

        Forgot to address something Gary: the compatibility of future versions of Lightroom with CS6. Actually that’s already an issue, at least in a small way. If you take an image from Lightroom 5 into Photoshop CS6 as a Smart Object, then double-click that Smart Object to open it with Camera Raw, you won’t have full compatibility. If you used the new Advanced Healing Brush in Lightroom (you brushed over a jet trail, for example), you won’t be able to edit that brush stroke in ACR.

        But if you don’t use Smart Objects this shouldn’t be an issue. You can always take an image from Lightroom to Photoshop at a TIFF, and any TIFF should be editable in Photoshop CS6 for the foreseeable future.

  15. Jeff Perry says:

    It will be very interesting to watch this scenario play out over time, say the next 12-24 months. If this marketing model backfires, then watch for a return of optional out-right purchase.

    I for one am of exactly the same mind as Michael, a photographer who is devoted to LR, thank God it was not joined to the Creative Cloud hip. I use CS6 as needed, but actually prefer Elements 10 for any quick and dirty edits I can’t achieve in LR.

    What I am most perterbed about now is finding out that LR5 will not run on my Windows Vista platform. After using the beta successfully I had no idea Adobe would cripple me this way. So now I live with LR4 until I upgrade my platform. And so it goes!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Jeff, read Gary’s comment above, and my reply — we’re also keenly watching how this will play out. It’ll be interesting!

      Unfortunately, new software does sometimes require an OS upgrade. I’m not sure about Lightroom 5, but with Lightroom 4, the new engine, with all it’s amazing ability to deal with high-contrast scenes, required a lot of processing horsepower. Apparently the biggest challenge was making it run reasonably fast. They were able to do that, for the most part, but it did mean that people had to have newer/faster hardware and OS. There was a lot of teeth-gnashing from many folks at the time.

  16. Diane Miller says:

    I will stay with CS6 as long as I can and hope someone will come up with an application that is a pared-down version of PS aimed at the digital darkroom user, but at a more professional level than PS Elements.

    The highly respected market analysis company Standard and Poors has issued a STRONG SELL advisory for Adobe Systems.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Diane — you bring up two really interesting points.

      First, you’re absolutely right, there’s a niche for a piece of software that has Photoshop’s power, but is aimed strictly at photographers, not designers. That would allow it to be less complex but equally powerful for the things that photographers need.

      Second, I was wondering how I would feel if I were an Adobe shareholder, so thanks for this info. I’d probably be selling too. Maybe pressure from stockholders will force Adobe to rethink this — let’s hope so.

  17. Geoff Mower says:

    I’m another who won’t be subscribing. As a strict amateur, I can get by with alternatives to PS, but I am worried about what they might do with LR down the track. I’d find life difficult without it!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Geoff, as I’ve said in reply to other comments here, I’m not too worried about Lightroom, at least for the foreseeable future, because it’s customer base is very different, and Adobe has a lot more competition in Lightroom’s category. And I still think Lightroom is the best Raw-processor around.

  18. Harvey says:

    On another matter, think about the repercussion of all the plug-in companies that interface with Adobe. I would imagine they are also worried about the lost sales. It will take awhile before Adobe’s pocketbooks realize that those who purchased CS6 won’t be buying CS7 and so on. I suspect it will be about 18 months before Adobe really sees the difference in their market. Most likely too late for them.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Harvey, yes, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Maybe Adobe will come to their senses more quickly than in 18 months. Also, it’s not just he plugin makers who might suffer, but people who market Photoshop books and videos and such. But I’m not feeling too sorry for Scott Kelby just yet. :)

  19. Geoff says:

    What they need is layer capability in Lightroom, or a reasonable amateur version of Photoshop. Personally, I will reluctantly pay for the subscription seeing I use it for 90% of my income. And I used to do this (to 10x the amount!) for Autocad in my previous career. Autodesk has been trying to move all of it’s users to a subscription model for years. All of these companies must have been studying the printer/toner (read: dealer/addict) business model with much jealousy for the past decade and are slowly incorporating it into their future.

    The company I currently have the most grievous love/hate relationship with is Nikon. I need the D800 for my work, plain and simple. But without a competitor, they now charge ridiculous amounts for the accessories (one would believe you were purchasing them through an airport or movie theater), and they have shut out independent repair shops forcing us to pay egregious amounts for the simplest of repairs.

    I need and enjoy Adobe and Nikon products, but without serious competition, they can and will inflate their pricing as far as the market will bear, nothing we can do about it.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Geoff, yes, we need more competition. In Nikon’s case I think they do have competition for accessories. You can get a compatible electronic release, for example, for much less than Nikon charges. Software is trickier, because when you buy software you don’t just invest money, but a lot of time learning the program.

    • Judy says:

      My understanding of Autocad subscription is it is NOT rental software. You come in with a licensed product and you leave with a licensed product. Am I wrong? And what you are paying for is support and upgrades.

      Adobe is offering NOTHING if you stop paying. I wouldn’t subscribe anyway, but I certainly won’t because of this.

      As for yourself, if it’s only Photoshop you need, is there a reason why you need to start subscription now? In other words, what do you expect them to deliver in Photoshop CC that you need that is not in CS6.

  20. Richard says:

    You wrote: “If you haven’t heard about this, Adobe decided that it will offer it’s Creative Suite applications only by subscription.”

    That is wrong. The correct word is “its,” (the possessive form) without an apostrophe, not “it’s” (which is a contraction of “it is”). I stopped reading when I reached that point.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Sorry Richard. You’re right, that’s incorrect punctuation, and I’ll fix it. But if you stopped reading at that point you must not read very much on the internet, as there are spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors all over the place. I’ll submit that my blog posts — usually written on short deadlines — are better edited than 99% of blogs out there.

    • Gary Hart says:

      You’ve got to be kidding. Michael writes better than 99% of the people online—if that’s your standard, you may as well give away your computer.

    • Martin says:

      Richard, that’s what you took away from Michael’s post? A grammar error? All I can say is, “Wow.”

  21. dAVID says:

    Sorry, haven’t read every response, so this may be a repeat. What will happen to ACR in CS6, will it be updated to cope with cameras that have yet to be designed or built? Does this mean that I will not be able to process RAW files from my new, yet to be bought, dslr? So if that is the case, then the CS6 becomes redundant entirely, unless there is a good converter supplied with the camera.

    Will Adobe still support the free converter to DNG format? This is a disaster about to happen, but I WILL NOT BE SUBSCRIBING to such a suicidal financial risk. As you say, what will it cost in two or three years time, when they have the subscribers ‘locked in’?

    • Michael Frye says:

      David, I didn’t address this issue, so good question. In all likelihood, Adobe will not update ACR for CS6 to provide compatibility with new cameras going forward. But in the past they have always provided the DNG convertor for free, and even if you didn’t own an up-to-date version of Photoshop or Lightroom you could convert Raw files from newer cameras to DNG with this converter, and then bring the DNG files into ACR or Lightroom. Another option going forward is to use Lightroom as your Raw converter, since the Develop module in Lightroom is essentially the same as ACR.

    • Martin says:

      I believe that I read somewhere (I’ve read so many blog posts on this issue that I can’t recall exactly, but I believe it was actually from an Adobe post somewhere – so if wrong, don’t shoot the messenger)
      - Adobe will continue to support CS6 through the “next” version of the PC and Mac operating systems. My question: is this “Windows 9″ on the PC and [TBD feline name] on the Mac? Or is it Win 8 and [Latest released feline name] on the Mac? (If you can’t tell by now, I’m a PC guy – peace: we are all in the same place on the issue at hand.)
      - Adobe will continue to upgrade ACR 7 for new cameras for the life of the CS6 product. Your guess is as good as mine as to how long that will last, but those are Adobe’s words, not mine.
      - Adobe will not add functionality from ACR 8 to ACR 7 – so what you see today is what you get vis-a-vis “editing” raw files.
      - Likewise, Adobe will not add any new functionality to CS6, but will fix bugs in both CS6 and ACR7. Again, for how long will remain to be seen.
      - Adobe, at least for the forseeable future, will continue to provide Lightroom in box form (that is, perpetual license – which is what you buy now, not the rental version). Lightroom will keep step with ACR 8 and future ACR improvements, as well as add support for new cameras.

      Again … I believe this was all buried somewhere in the pile of gorp that Adobe delivered on the announcement date, so please check there first. And again, Adobe, as owner of the copyright for their work, can change their minds at any time. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

  22. Mimi Drake says:

    I’ve subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud since it first launched and I just love it, because not only do I use Photoshop, but I also use several other Adobe products (including Acrobat Pro, Dreamweaver, InDesign, and several others). I can use all these, plus download additional ones I’ve always wanted to try but couldn’t afford – all for that one Cloud monthly “rental” price.

    All my Adobe products are the latest versions now, and I don’t have to pay for any upgrades. Also, when I upgraded through Creative Cloud (e.g. from PS CS 5 to CS 6), Adobe did not remove CS5, and I can still use it. If I ever stop “renting”, I can always drop back to my CS 5 which I own outright. Ditto for Dreamweaver, Acrobat etc. others in the Creative Suite I bought last year.

    I think it’s a good deal if you use multiple Adobe products like I do. If you only use one product, it may make more sense to buy rather than to “rent”. Or get a student to buy it for you at the student discount. Mimi Drake

    • Michael Frye says:

      Mimi, I’m glad you’re happy with the cloud. From a price standpoint it’s not a bad deal if you really use a lot of the suite applications. My biggest issue, as I said in the post, is that if you stop your subscription you also lose access to the software. Yes, you can go back to CS5, but the files you create with later versions will probably not be compatible with CS5. In other words, if you try to open a file you created with Photoshop CS6, or CS7 (or the Creative Cloud equivalent), or CS8, or InDesign CS7, with your CS5 software, you might get an error message saying that the file was created with a later version of the software, and therefore can’t be opened. So, again, I’m glad you’re happy with the cloud subscription, but I don’t want you to get a nasty surprise later, so I hope you’ll think about what you might do with the files you create if you decide to stop your subscription at some point.

  23. Paul Lossowski says:

    Some of my concerns are as follows. If you are to subscribe and your current OS is not enough, or any of the other components of your system are a generation to old, in order to stay current you may need to upgrade your entire system to the latest. And there are times when I have skipped a software update/version (FCP-X) because it was not worth it’s weight in anything. It is too bad that Adobe has decided to go this route.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Paul, a valid concern. According to Mimi below, you don’t have to download and upgrade to the latest versions of the Creative Cloud software if you subscribe. You can choose what to install, and if the installation would require an OS upgrade you could decline. Of course then you’re not getting everything you’re paying for with your subscription. The cost of upgrading your hardware and/or OS to be able to use the latest CC software is something to add to the equation.

      • Andy Wallace says:

        Well, that’s always been the possibility – if a new version of software comes out, you may or may not be able to run it on your 4-year-old hardware/OS (I have a co-worker using LR3 because he can’t run LR4). So I’m not so sure that is a valid concern about Adobe CC – that can (and does) happen no matter what.

  24. Mimi Drake says:

    Michael, I hear what you are forewarning us, but, in the beginning when I first started processing in CS6, I also re-opened the CS6-processed image in my CS5 and I did not experience any compatibility issue. Mimi Drake

  25. Sue says:

    I agree with most of you…I think Adobe is making a mistake. I called to see if I could get a backup disk for my CS6 in case I buy a new computer…good chance since mine is 4 years old! They are no longer selling CS6 on disk. What they told me is that if you own CS6 you will be able to download it in the future from the website. You sign in, find your downloaded products, then download.

    This is fine unless you purchase a new camera…then how do we get the driver? I’m not thrilled about downgrading to Elements, but I guess that’s the option. Lightroom does great editing, but PS is so good for creating things like scrapbook pages and the like.

    Too bad…I’ve upgraded from PhotoShop when it first came out. Oh well…we’ll work around it :)

    • Michael Frye says:

      Sue, yes, you should be able to download products you’ve bought a license for indefinitely. For a new camera, you can download Adobe’s free DNG converter, and convert your Raw files to DNGs before opening them with Photoshop CS6. That’s a bit cumbersome, of course, but should work.

      • Paula says:

        I have to use the DNG converter and now that I’m used to it, it is only a minor pain that takes time. So I set it and walk away.

  26. Maurice Hamilton says:

    I understand that some professionals are excited about CC, but I will not pay $20 per month to access features in PS CC that are not available in CS6. A recent meeting on CC at Adobe HQ left no doubt that Adobe is committed to CC and that it is interested only in “professionals.” Regarding images edited in CC, I was told that layers created in CC will still be visible in CS6, even if they are not editable.

    I suspect that in addition to companies that create PS plug-ins, NAPP must have concerns about the number of members who will not subscribe to CC and will presumably have less need for PS updates.

    On the “positive” side, perhaps I will finally have time to learn some of the more esoteric features in CS6.

  27. Martin says:

    Michael … I will not repeat what you and a number of responders have already said.

    But I do want to say THANK YOU. You are one pro who I follow that has not taken drink of the Adobe Kool-Ade. Most of the others have done so, IMHO, in order to convince us followers to follow them to CC so that we will continue to be their faithful minions. As said elsewhere in the post and the comments, if the majority of us minions stay on CS6, the market for webinars, seminars, books, conferences, workshops, etc. ad nauseum will start to dry up. IMHO, you have hit the nail on the head – THANK YOU.

    (One editorial observation I will make on the blogs I have read on this subject … those who have drunk the Adobe Kool-Ade seem to “sell” CC harder than even Adobe sells it. Is there something to be concluded from that?)

    FWIW … after about 10 minutes of thought, and in reading the Adobe announcement I referenced in my response to a post above, I arrived at pretty much the same strategy as you … CS6, for me, has a lot of gas left in its tank. I also can stay on my current Win 7 quad-core processor for a long long time, and if I need to upgrade, to Win 8 or Win 9 on a faster processor, I will be able to do so.

    I can stay current on Raw Processing with Lightroom in a box for as long as that lasts. And when it stops, I can always fall back on DNG Conversion or Nikon Capture NX2 for my raw processing (I don’t expect Nikon will abandon NEF any time soon). My workflow may take a bit of a hit, but I cannot live without Lightroom’s catalog (at least until a better one comes along), so it will remain n my stable at whatever level it ends up at.

    So, again, thank you for being a voice of complete reason. CC is obviously not for everyone, and I believe that Adobe will not admit a mistake here. However, if they lose market share, they might come out with some form of Photoshop Lite based on CS6+ in order to regain that market (sorry, but Elements has a long way to go to catch up with CS6). But I am not going to hold my breath.

    As for competition, great. But my quick (and albeit thin) scan of the market seems to indicate that the competitors have a long row to hoe in order to simply catch up to CS6, let alone surpass it and displace CC. Adobe has a huge head start and will continue to maintain their lead. So, again, I will keep breathing normally.

    Anyway … that’s my 2 cents worth.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks for the kind words Martin. There are some people who seem to have taken a drink of the Kool-Aid, as you say. But maybe they really believe that Creative Cloud is a good thing. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. But I’ve also read many posts and articles from pros who don’t like the cloud, including a couple that I link to above.

      And yes, Adobe has a huge head start, and it’s unlikely that someone will create a real competitor to Photoshop soon. But let’s hope we’re both wrong about that. :)

  28. Judy says:

    I will not be joining the cloud. The price is too high, but I wouldn’t do it for $5/month because you have no product if you quit. I just don’t like renting software and besides, every software company is watching very closely. If they get away with this, everyone else will want to follow. A continuous guaranteed income stream. What more could they desire!?

    I won’t even upgrade Lightroom right now. I might join the campaign of not buying until 2014. I can live with Lightroom 4. And long live Windows 7 and PS CS6.

    Actually, I’m most worried about Lightroom. Their words are it will be sold outside of the cloud “indefinitely.” Some people don’t seem to know what the word indefinite means. It does not (necessarily) mean infinite. It can mean they simply haven’t decided yet. Besides, we already know they lie (e.g., you gotta upgrade to CS6 or you will not be able to upgrade again). I can find another image editor — or something to run plug-ins from. But Lightroom is a database and at this point there is no clear way out of it. Yes, you can save your metadata to the files, but no other program can read Lightroom metadata (except Photoshop). So one would have to export every file that has any develop settings made to it. I have 100,000 images in Lightroom now. Not all of them havedevelop edits, of course, but which ones do? Someone will have to help us along with tools to extricate ourselves from Lightroom.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Judy, I’m not too worried about Lightroom. For one thing, if Adobe had any thoughts that, hey, everyone is going to love the cloud! — those thoughts have been squashed by the collective reaction. For another, Adobe has much more competition in Lightroom’s category. And finally, the customer base for Lightroom is very different than for most of their Creative Cloud apps. So you never know, but I’d put the odds at 10 to 1 against Adobe going to a subscription-only model for Lightroom within the next few years. Hope I’m right! :)

  29. Susan Taylor says:

    Thank you Michael,

    I’ll just stick with Light Room 5 and CS5. Hope I can get by. I agree with many of you and thanks for all your thoughts.

  30. Shiva says:

    A huge thanks for the warning Michael!

    Here is yet another mega rich corporation trying to milk money on a consistent basis from the customer. I have not even updated from CS4 as I find all my needs met with it. But might upgrade to CS6 and stop there. This makes no sense when after multiple years of paying $120/year, we cannot own a software. The term “cloud” has become a jargon for the companies to continuously extract money from the customer and nothing more! No upgrade to CC for me!!!!

  31. Paula says:

    I completely agree, Michael. Since first hearing of this change I have not been happy. Am completely annoyed that Adobe will now force us to rent our software from them. It takes away our ability to judiciously decide when we will upgrade our software. There are those who are in a business for whom this is probably a bonus: no more deciding whether to upgrade and no more doing it twice a year. There are, however, many like me who only need to do it every few iterations. What they are forcing me to do is learn, finally, how to use Lightroom. I believe LR, Nik and Elements will make me happy. However, I won the “big drawing” at my Adobe User Group the other night. Only it was not software but a year’s subscription to the CC. I was not thrilled. Only because I use InDesign regularly will I capitulate to the point of purchasing CS6 but I am quite unhappy with Adobe’s decision about forcing CC on all of us or forcing us to other products.
    I know Ctein thinks the $10 intro price will continue after the first year but I will be surprised if it does. I believe it is only a “hook” that will no doubt catch many users.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Paula. I wasn’t convinced by Ctein either — there’s no reason to think that Adobe will keep that $10 intro price, and he also didn’t address what happens when/if you decide to stop your subscription — at least not to my satisfaction.

  32. Mimi Drake says:

    In CC you can upgrade whenever you want, it is not automatic if you select the option to upgrade manually. You have the option to choose to download as many Adobe products as your computer can handle, or just download your photography related software and nothing else. I don’t see the hook. Maybe I’m stupid because I’m just an amateur photographer and my profession is in financial management and I don’t play follow the leader very well.

  33. Judy says:

    Mimi, the “hook” is once you are “hooked” you must pay “forever” or you lose access to the products. For a higher price you have nothing when you leave. You don’t follow the leader? Sounds like you do. Use your financial skills to figure out how much more you will pay over time with this plan. If you had nothing to start, it will take longer. For those of us who have already paid and paid and paid, we get one year of discount. ONE year.

  34. Mimi Drake says:

    It’s already been covered in earlier comments, but I will say again: if you use multiple Adobe products it’s worthwhile “renting” via CC, but if you only use one or two photography-related products, it’s more cost effective to buy. Same fundamental economic principles apply, no matter if it’s heavy equipment or software. I will also rent certain heavy equipment for my ranch use, and not buy them. And it’s also already been previously commented, but I will repeat here for you: I did not experience incompatibility issues when I put an image I processed through CS 6, back into the CS 5 (that I had purchased). So if I stop CC, I can fall back to my purchased product. Ditto for Acrobat, Dreamweaver and InDesign/PageMaker.

    • Gary Hart says:

      Mimi, here’s the hook: Adobe lures users into subscribing by offering an artificially low subscription fee, then raises the price once you’ve become dependent on the new versions. It’s like the AT&T/Comcast cable model, only worse—at least with the cable companies you have somewhere to go (satellite or another cable company) when you’ve decided the service isn’t worth the price; Adobe has crafted its model so users who abandon ship will be stuck with files they can no longer use. In other words, embracing this change means you’ll be paying Adobe whatever amount they decide they can get away with, every month for the rest of your life (unless you simply decide you no longer care about all that work you did in Adobe’s cloud).

      Just because you haven’t encountered compatibility problems doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And anyone who doesn’t believe these problems will increase with each “improvement” is being naive—the time will come when opening a cloud-created file with non-cloud software will simply generate an error. This is like renting equipment for your ranch only if no longer renting the equipment means that you can no longer use any of the improvements made with it.

  35. Stan says:

    Thanks to everybody for their informative comments about Photoshop.

    My own position is that I am an enthusiastic amateur who occasionally sells a photo or two. When I have enough profits in my kitty I upgrade my kit and occasionally my version of Photoshop. I am currently working on CS6, which has all the functionality I think that I will ever need. I can’t imagine that I will be paying Adobe a monthly fee to access Photoshop on the cloud. My income from my photography is too small and too erratic for this commitment. Where I live the internet is sometimes not all that reliable either, and I can foresee times when I just can’t access the cloud with a fast enough speed.

    I will get by with my current CS6, and if I need an updated version of ACR to work with a new camera, then I’m sure that I’ll find another way round the problem. It may not be elegant, but I’m sure it will work!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Stan, thanks for chiming in here. Just to be clear, you don’t need internet access to use Creative Cloud apps. You download them onto your local hard drive, and the files reside on your local hard drive too. The only thing you need internet access for is that once a month the software will check to see if your subscription is up to date. If not, the software will stop working.

      I actually don’t know why they used “cloud” in the name. I think there’s an option to store files in the cloud, but not a requirement. “Creative Suite Subscription” would be more accurate, but I think a lot of companies think that “cloud” is a hot trend and a sexy name to put on a product.

  36. Jay Gould says:

    Michael, what happens when LR6 is in the Cloud?

    What happens when Nik, Topaz, and onOne are in the Cloud?

    • Michael Frye says:

      Jay, I’m not worried about Lightroom, at least for the near future. As I said to Judy above:

      >Judy, I’m not too worried about Lightroom. For one thing, if Adobe had any thoughts that, hey, everyone is going to love the cloud! — those thoughts have been squashed by the collective reaction. For another, Adobe has much more competition in Lightroom’s category. And finally, the customer base for Lightroom is very different than for most of their Creative Cloud apps. So you never know, but I’d put the odds at 10 to 1 against Adobe going to a subscription-only model for Lightroom within the next few years. Hope I’m right!

      And Nik, Topaz, and OnOne are, I’m sure, taking a close look at the reaction Adobe has received to this, and I think they’d be shooting themselves in the foot to try a subscription-only model. They’re the underdogs, and they have to be more customer friendly.

  37. Mimi Drake says:

    The basic precepts of buy vs. rent do not have to be explained to me in kindergarten tones, Gary. Don’t forget what it is you are buying vs. what you are renting, and the cost of what you are buying. The cost of the piece of heavy equipment I rent is over $1 million, Gary. My rent will never catch up to that in another 20 years, and by then I would have croaked. The measly $20+ rent I pay to Adobe will not catch up to what I have to pay for all the different Adobe products I’ve now downloaded and which use I am enjoying. Glad I have a workstation that has the capacity to handle all that.

    Repeating for the 3rd and final time: if you are only using one or two Adobe products, it’s more cost effective to buy than to rent via the CC subscription plan. The more different Adobe products you use, the more you get out of the CC “rental”.

    The speculation that Adobe may up its subscription, and that other incompatibility issues may later arise, is just that for now: speculation. Speculate away. I’m not trying to convince you of anything, and certainly I am not a shareholder of, or in any way affiliated with Adobe, except as a consumer. We can walk away and disagree and you can relax that I am not headed into a financial pitfall – on the contrary! And remember, I still have my Creative Suite 5 to fall back on if for some reason I quit CC – nice that Adobe did not uninstall that when CC was installed.

    My final remark here is, often, one forgets the value one has to pay for the enjoyment of use. If one pays $20 monthly rent for full usage/occupancy of a $500,000 10-bedroom house on 20 acres, which is constantly being upgraded and improved rent free, and after 3 years, one loses the privilege of such occupancy or usage, well. If you don’t get the picture you never will.

    • Gary Hart says:

      Best of luck to you.

      • Paula says:

        ditto, Gary.

        • Michael Frye says:

          By going to this subscription-only model, Adobe has forced a lot of us to make tough decisions. But each person has to make his or her own decision based on personal needs, finances, skill sets, etc., and there is no right answer that fits everyone. I just want people to be able to make informed decisions, which is why I wrote this post.

          Backwards compatibility is a big issue here, because if you subscribe to the cloud, then stop your subscription, you want to know whether you’ll be able to use older software (like CS6) to open the files you created with cloud software. At this point we really don’t know. As Mimi pointed out, you can open Photoshop CS6 files with CS5. I don’t think this is true of most other Creative Suite apps though; I know I can’t open InDesign CS6 files with CS4.

          And as time moves on, that backwards compatibility in Photoshop will likely diminish — in other words, it’s less likely that you’ll be able to open a Photoshop CS8 or CS9 file (or whatever they’ll call it with CC) with CS6. But I think this depends on how the software itself develops — which is something we can’t predict — and also, to some extent, on how you use the software.

          For example, you should be able to open any Photoshop file that has rasterized pixel layers with Photoshop CS6, no matter what version of Photoshop those rasterized pixel layers were created with. But if Adobe adds some new adjustment layer in the next version of Photoshop, it’s unlikely that Photoshop CS6 will recognize that layer. Or if you use a Smart Object with some new filter, or open an image as a Smart Object from a later version of Lightroom or ACR, you won’t be able to edit that Smart Object with CS6.

          Or maybe Adobe does something earth-shaking like transform Photoshop into a truly non-destructive editor, where everything you do is a set of instructions. That would be really great, but in all likelihood wouldn’t be compatible with older versions of Photoshop. Of course this is just wild dreaming on my part, and probably won’t happen!

          Again, we just don’t know all the answers to the backwards-compatibility questions. This uncertainty is part of the reason why I’m not jumping on board with the cloud, but that’s my personal decision.

  38. I agree with everyone here. Personally, I will not be “upgrading” and joining CC. I believe Adobe’s greed-based scheme is completely misguided. They will eventually be forced to reconsider their position once it fails to generate the increased cash flow they anticipate and produces dramatically fewer buckets of cash overall. The VP responsible for this debacle will be transferred to the Adobe Reader division and they will then announce an “exciting new purchase option”. Stay tuned.

  39. Karen Kirtland says:

    I don’t use most of the products mentioned here, as I am not a professional photographer or have other reasons to use most of the Adobe line. My comment is more along the line of fallout. As most of us know, when one airline starting charging for checked baggage, it proved so profitable that nearly every other airline fell in line – and quickly, too. And think of the development of new types of fees for what used to be standard airfare services, part of the normal ticket cost.

    To extend the metaphor, your subscription fee may get you the ticket for a seat (basic software), and additional fees will get you an upgraded seating position (fixes and minor changes). But if you want to eat a decent meal, or use the restroom (new software features, but not necessarily a major upgrade), that will become an extra charge.

    I’m also concerned that, while the subscription question for Adobe does not directly affect me, its potential success may result in other companies adopting the same approach. It’s entirely possible that the practice of paying a one-time fee for software licenses from all software producers will disappear.

    By the way, there are airlines seriously considering charging for the restroom, so don’t think it can’t happen.

    One more thing. As everything goes to the “cloud”, my concern for security increases. We can all cite cases of failure of supposedly secure systems.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Karen, I hope other companies don’t go this route. As I said to Jay above, I think other companies will take a lesson from the backlash that Adobe has received, and think twice about a subscription-only model. And most other companies aren’t in the position that Adobe is in. With the Creative Suite apps, Adobe has little competition. Most other software makers have lots of competition — competitors who would jump on the chance to say, “Come over to us, we don’t require a subscription!” Hope I’m right. :)

  40. Hugh Sakols says:

    I hope all of this backfires on Adobe. This is an issue of trust which I think Adobe is loosing from their customers. My problem is I have so many files that are psd. Now I feel compelled to convert all of them into Tiff (layered). This will be quite a project – thanks Adobe. On the other hand hopefully there will be some healthy competition. I’m just wondering how long I will be able to use lightroom. Michael I look forward to assisting you this summer. I think we all need some fresh air.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Hugh, I don’t think you need to worry about your existing Photoshop CS5 or CS6 files. There’s no reason to think that you won’t be able to use CS5 or 6 indefinitely.

      But we do need some fresh air, and I’m also looking forward to the Hidden Yosemite workshop!

  41. As an “advanced amateur” I am satisfied with, and have all the editing tools I need and use, with LR4 and CS5. Perhaps upgraded versions may make post-processing easier and faster but I doubt they will improve my photography and photographs. Professionals may reap some benefits but at a cost – financial and image file wise – the value of which they will have to decide as individuals.
    As for the future of Adobe’s Cloud innovation, we landscape photographers all know that interesting clouds soon disappear.

  42. Bill Keiter says:

    Just as a common amateur this means no more books on the latest software techniques, no membership fees to clubs for tutorials, no peripheral software purchases, no increased hardware needs, because everything stops with the photoshop cloud subscription scheme cutting out the amateur with its parasitic subscription setup. So it’s a great saving for me to find another interest than photgraphy manipulations, although I still have my wet darkroom stuff. But can you get film without a parasitic subscription to Eastman Kodak? Maybe camera manufacturers will need to get seriously into the software business to keep amateurs interested in photography.

  43. Stan Burman says:

    Thanks for the excellent blog entry, Michael. I, too, am very disappointed with Adobe for their Faustian Creative Cloud subscription-only model.

    No, I won’t be subscribing. I really don’t want to do a deal with the devil to be able to edit my image files.

    I think LR5 and PSCS6 will be fine for quite a while.

    I think it almost funny that one of Adobe’s justifications for the subscription-only model was that they wouldn’t have to maintain two versions of the software. So now we have two versions of the latest release of Adobe Camera Raw. One for the Cloud and one for PSCS6 without the Cloud features. Well done, Adobe.

    I do feel badly for a lot of the third party industry that had evolved to teach Photoshop. I think lots of it will fold. Again, well done, Adobe.

  44. Dan Ludlow says:

    I cannot believe that any company would devise a policy that deliberately reduced its customer base, as some suggest. With downloaded software, you have a sale with no physical shipment (or cost?). One adds direct profit even if you sell for $1.

    This is all about price in the way that you buy electricity, and its currently too high because those (like myself) who have sung Photoshop’s praises since I first started using it, feel as though we will be held to ransom at the price, and at definite physical disadvantage as that supplier holds all the cards once shared.

    If I were Adobe, I would rather have $10 per month from say 4 million (with the potential that more will join) than $20 month from perhaps 1 million. The thing is, what extra does it cost Adobe to have 4X (or more) customers when the software is downloaded? Development cost doesn’t rise either with extra customers, in fact, increased numbers bring advantages.

    If they sell at a fair price, or even less, so that using Photoshop becomes tempting to more, who loses? Compared to not selling, certainly not Adobe. Imagine Adobe with cheap, superb software, millions more loyal customers, and the potential that brings to the brand.

    I feel that faced with mature software, and perhaps “few rabbits to pull out of the hat” in future, Adobe’s management stared into the abyss, devised an ill thought through solution, and marketed it appallingly.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Dan. “Marketed it appallingly” indeed — it could hardly have been worse. But then the Creative Cloud is a tough sell even if marketed well.

      I also find it hard to believe that a company would do something to deliberately reduce its customer base – but then it’s hard to see how Adobe would think that this move wouldn’t reduce their customer base. Maybe a case of them drinking their own Kool-aid, and believing that their customers would love something that they dreamed up to increase their profits.

  45. Paula says:

    One thing Adobe seems to fail to see is those who don’t subscribe won’t know what they’re missing regarding new features. As for me, I survived very nicely with CS2 for a very very long time until I got CS4. Now will get CS6 and be quite happy for many years to come.

    No subscriptions for me, Adobe.

  46. [...] is a lot of fuss and speculations about the Adobe new cloud licensing scheme and a lot of you out there might be on [...]

  47. I was recently asked by adobe to take a survey… I am sure many of you were as well. I ask one question, why can’t you offer both……business as usual with upgrades and product ownership and the “lease the suite plan?”

    I am hopeful that Adobe will come to it’s senses and offer alternatives that leave no one stranded. Since I own Dreamweaver, Flash, Premier Pro, and CS6 now… age 68 I think I can deal with what I have for as long as I have!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Ed, I’ve heard of others who have been asked to take a survey. I haven’t been chosen — feeling left out. :( But I’m glad Adobe seems to be interested in people’s thoughts, and perhaps they’ll reconsider their course. Not holding my breath, but there’s hope, and it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

      • One thing did happen in the survey that told me they were paying attention to the answers……I had answered several questions with some lengthy remarks …..apparently they didn’t understand and in a separate email they ask me several questions pertaining to my answer.

        I suppose the bottom line will drive what they do going forward. If Cloud puts jingle in the shareholders hands – life will thus continue. If not, heads will role and Adobe will retreat to better days. In the meantime CS6 and LR5 have more horsepower than I can handle.

  48. Great points Michael. Very well said. Here’s my thought. At what point, and to what extent can we keep processing our images for a “real-life” look. Great dynamic range and so forth. For me personally, I see CS6 as my go to processing tool for quite some time. It has tremendous tools as is, right now. With all the add-ons available….for example, Tony Kuypers luminosity masks, etc…..where do we draw the line in processing files. CS6, Tony’s masks, what more is there? Maybe I’m missing the boat and I’m seeing it stickly from the point of view as a photographer. That’s all I am. How much better can it get? I feel that Adobe may resent taking this avenue. I mean, c’mon $240.00 annually and $2,400.00 over 10 years. That’s a lot of money…to many! Not all of us make a full time living with our photography. MANY photographers hold other jobs as well. Hmmmmm….I’m not sure about this one.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Mitch, I understand what you’re saying, and really the tools we have already are great. But then Adobe has a way of adding new features that seem really enticing. Personally, as far as Photoshop is concerned, I probably wouldn’t have upgraded in years except for two things: first, as an educator I feel that I need to keep up to date, and be proficient in the latest software; second, I want full compatibility with Smart Objects that I take from Lightroom to Photoshop, which I can’t get if I have the latest version of Lightroom but not of Photoshop. But everyone’s needs are different of course. For what it’s worth I think a lot of full-time professional photographers like me are balking at the new terms also.

  49. Dan Ludlow says:

    Came across this article, we can but hope that it comes to pass, it seems a reasonable solution to me.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks for the link Dan. $9.99 a month for three years sounds better, but you still don’t get to keep anything beyond CS6? I already own CS6, as I’m sure many of you do. But this is just a rumor, so we’ll see.

  50. [...] Photoshop CS6, which I’m quite happy with, and to stay out of the fray. That was before Michael Frye’s recent blog post, and the comments it generated, started me thinking a little deeper about the ramifications of [...]

  51. Ken Ziegler says:

    I also feel the cloud is NOT the way to go. I am also grateful for concerned individuals like your self who still want to be helpful and inform there people. Thank you. I own PS6 and NIK and believe that will serve my needs for quite some time, until someone fills the void PS is leaving. Since money seems to be there main interest in this move l also think all of our uproar will fall on deaf ears, that is until the shareholders have there say at a board meeting. Thanks again.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks for chiming in Ken. It will be interesting to see what happens to Adobe’s stock. The price went up when they announced the cloud May 6th, but has since declined a bit.

  52. [...] This blog is not intended to delve into the rights and wrongs of what Adobe has done. Both Michael Frye and Gary Hart have written excellent blogs on the [...]

  53. [...] would also suggest reading Michael Frye’s blog posts on Thoughts on the Adobe Creative Cloud and the new version of Lightroom with an improved Healing Brush Lightroom 5 Beta. Lightroom 5 is [...]

  54. Doug Kaye says:

    It will be interesting to see where this goes. Also interesting to note that this is from the same company that hypes the .dng format as a long-term, supported, archival file type. As you point out, new .psd files will essentially be held hostage from now on.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Doug, as Jay points out below, it’s not really the Photoshop format that’s the issue. Any layered file in Photoshop has the potential to be not backwards compatible. See my long reply to Mimi above for more thoughts about this.

      As for DNG, this is actually an open-source file format:

      Whether DNG is actually likely to be more widely supported than other Raw formats in ten or twenty years is debatable, but I think this is a different issue than renting software with the Creative Cloud.

  55. Jay Gould says:

    It isn’t just .psd or .dng that will be held hostage, all layered files including TIFF will be held hostage. As Tim Grey pointed out, if you save your CS6 layered images as TIFFs, so what, you will only be able to open them in CS6. Tim is still saving layered images as PSDs, and his flattened Masters as TIFFS.

  56. Eric Jaeger says:

    Adobe’s action raises a lot of questions, and for the time being I’m staying with LR5 and CS6 and watching and waiting.

    The photo market is changing, and we need to consider who Adobe thinks their customer is. Given the structure of CC, I suspect their model is of larger organizations with multiple users of multiple applications, in which case CC makes sense. For them. But individual photographers?

    Phone cameras and iphone/android apps are changing the map in unexpected ways. Many of the functions we’re used to on our computers are single apps on a phone. This changes the calculus.

    The meta-question here is really the long-term stability and usability of our images. You can process 100 year old negatives, but I really doubt I’m going to be able to read PSD’s in a hundred years. There is no archival stability to digital content. And no guarantee I’ll be able to use any of my Nikon digital images in the future. Nikon has dropped support for platforms in the very recent past – the Coolscan scanners. I don’t have much confidence in vendor support.

    And staying with CS6 is only a short term strategy — eventually new OS releases won’t support it.

    I have heard rumors of Adobe enhancing LR to provide photographer-specific PS functions, which might work. GIMP and Aperture seem the closest to replacements for PS, but both need lots of work. (Haven’t tried Pixelmator).

    In the long run, having a single source for a service or function leaves you at the mercy and whim of that source. And if no one thinks the market opportunity is big enough, there won’t *be* other sources.


    • Michael Frye says:

      Eric, you’re right, the photo-software market is changing. I’m not sure that smart-phone apps are really competition for Photoshop, but certainly Adobe is thinking about the future and where everything might go. As for how that plays into their decisions about this whole Creative Cloud strategy is an open question.

      Lightroom keeps getting more powerful, and Adobe keeps adding more Photoshop-like functions to it, though these functions are usually more limited than what you can do in Photoshop. The ability to correct perspective distortion in Lightroom, for example, is not as robust as what you can do in Photoshop, but nevertheless allows you to handle most photographs that need this kind of correction in Lightroom. They added the ability to edit the individual red, green, and blue channels with the point curve in Lightroom 4, but again Curves in Photoshop has even more power. The new “Advanced Healing Brush” in Lightroom 5 gives us better retouching tools in Lightroom, but not nearly as good as Photoshop — and so on.

      I see more of these developments in the future. We’ll get more tools in Lightroom, things that will allow us to use Photoshop less (if we want to), but these tools won’t have the sophistication or power of everything in Photoshop.

  57. briancmartin says:

    I thin Adobe will offer some kind of perpetrual license. There has been so much negative uproar over this I’d be shocked if they were that hard headed. Reminded me of Netflix and the Xbox one thing.

  58. Michael,

    I have read your article and the following discussion with interest. I think that Adobe’s decision change to a rental license from a perpetual license has illuminated a problem that has always existed but was not so urgent before. What I’m talking about is that much of the “information” that defines of our digital images is in fact software algorithms that are not part of the image file. We have become dependent upon something that we do not own and cannot reproduce independently.

    The only difference between a perpetual and time based license is the time frame within which you loose access to the software. With a perpetual license this happens when the licensed version becomes obsolete. All sorts of external factors effect this, OS changes, micro processors, graphics cards, etc.. This often takes several years but the net effect is that eventually you will loose the ability to use any of your current software no mater how it is licensed.

    By the way this dependency doesn’t just apply to PSD or layered TIFF files, it also applies to every raw file we have in our archives. A raw file without a raw processor (software) is just a uninteresting muddy grey scale image. Just to be clear DNG is just another raw format. There is not a web browser or a printer out there that can interpret any raw file with it’s ACR parameters and produce a pretty image.

    I think that much of the wailing and gnashing of teeth of teeth is just people recognizing this dependency and the subsequent panic about what to do. We don’t own the software and Adobe has the right to market and sell their software any way they see fit. They even have the right to fail so I do not think it’s helpful to get upset with them no matter how frustrated I may feel.

    I think that the important take away for all of us photographers is to better understand our dependencies and at have some idea of the steps needed to mitigate the risks. I myself am 100% dependent on Lightroom my whole image library is raw files with ACR adjustments. I use Photoshop CS6 sparingly.

    If the worst case scenario happened tomorrow and Adobe imploded I can completely remove my software dependencies by exporting my catalog as TIFF and make flattened TIFF files of all my layered TIFFS. That would make what I consider archival digital files and preserve of all my editing. Then I could start looking for and learning an new raw processor.

    The end of Adobe has not happened yet though some have already burned them in effigy, so In the meantime, I am waiting for Lightroom 5.1 and will upgrade when that is released (I am a firm believer in the saying, “Just say no to dot 0″). I am on the fence about subscribing to Photoshop CC. However, with the new context aware brush in Lightroom 5 a big reason for using Photoshop has gone away. Thats not the only reason and since I already have CS6 that will cover my needs for quite a while. I am also curious what if anything Adobe will do to address the individual photographers needs.

    For more on why Adobe is unlikely to change their mind any time soon I suggest that you check out Thom Hogan’s post “The Financial Side of Cloud From Adobe’s Perspective”, dated May 21 on his blog The markets seem to agree with Adobe as their stock was up over 5% today after thier quarterly report yesterday while the market as a whole was down.

    Best regards to all


    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed comments Louie. You make some really good points about how we don’t use the software that we use to access our files, and how we can lose access to our files down the road. And you’re right that a lot of the “wailing and gnashing of teeth” is a product of photographers realizing this, perhaps for the first time. One of the good things that might come out of all this is that we’ll all wake up and realize that we can’t depend on software from Adobe or anyone else, and that we have to make sure we preserve our files in more universal formats, or even in a variety of formats in order to hedge our bets.

      The scenario you describe, where you export all of your files out of Lightroom as TIFFs, is a present-day scenario for anyone who wants to switch from Lightroom to Aperture, or vice-versa. Picking one or the other is a bit like choosing between Canon and Nikon – once you pick, it’s hard to switch. I’m a big fan of non-destructive editors like Lightroom and Aperture, but this whole issue points out some serious drawbacks, since edits from these programs are not likely to be read by other programs. Maybe we should all keep TIFFs of our processed files routinely. I’ve done this already, but accidentally really, because I’ve given my assistant TIFFs of all my master files.

      BTW, the new “Advanced Healing Brush” in Lightroom 5 is not content-aware. It’s a bit like the healing brush in Photoshop, but not as versatile. Still useful though.

      Thanks for the tip about Thom Hogan’s post. Very interesting stuff. Time will tell I guess. Adobe certainly has the right to sell their software as they see fit – and we have the right to not buy it!

  59. Hi Michael. I wrote a previous note, but would like to add this. I work for state government here in VT (forensics). Our latent print department uses PS for processing latent prints, as does the Imaging Dept. This is a commonly used software for MANY agencies. When I presented PSCC to my lab director, the response was “no way”. State government is not going to open their bank accounts for Adobe to access. I contacted Adobe and their response was that many agencies are opening a separate account and having a bank roll enough to cover only the monthly fees. True? Not sure. Maybe a sales pitch. I called several other agencies that use PS, and all responded with the same answer I received from my Lab Director. So that will also be interesting. From what info I received, Corel Paint Shop pro is also a viable tool for them. Time will tell. There are NUMEROUS forensic laboratories in this country that have supported Adobe for many years. We’ll see if it continues.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Mitch. I was reading somewhere — might have been Thom Hogan’s blog — about how some institutions were balking at the subscription model. And do you continue to teach Photoshop in a high school or college course when your students would have to subscribe to use it, potentially forever?

  60. Jay Gould says:

    Michael. What about OnOne Perfect photo Suite as a Photoshop alternative?

    • Michael Frye says:

      Jay, I think the OnOne Suite does different things than Photoshop. I’m not an expert on the suite, but I don’t think it has any equivalent of, say, a curves adjustment layer with a layer mask.

  61. Harry Frank says:

    The cloud just does not work out in New Mexico where we are limited to satellite Internet providers who severely limit the amount of download in a 24h period, and then dial you back to dial-up speed for 24h. The last time I had to replace a boot drive and re-install my basic programs, my online Adobe update took 36 hours. More importantly, except for Photoshop, I may use other CS programs (Premiere Pro, Encore, Soundbooth) only for specific projects every few years. So, I have to pay monthly “rent” on software I don’t use. My option was to exercise my academic discount privilege and buy the disk (not the download) version of CS6 at my university bookstore (much cheaper, by the way, than if you order from Adobe).

    • Michael Frye says:

      Harry, I think a lot of people assume “Cloud” means that your files are stored in the cloud, which it doesn’t. But in your case, if it’s so difficult and slow to download software, the Adobe Creative Cloud will definitely not work for you. Hope you get faster internet options soon! :)

  62. David Roberts says:

    The CC doesn’t make sense for photographers that use PS on a limited basis. Most photgraphers utilize PS about 10% of editing, so unless you’re a pro, it doesn’t make sense. Why can’t adobe have a pay as you go feature, where you’re able to use the PS software in hourly increments or something. Basically “buying” minutes as you would if you went into an internet cafe or paying for 24 hour access to the software. That way people who don’t use it often can still have access to it w/o paying crazy subscription fees.

    • Dan Ludlow says:

      The price of software is arbitrary. It costs money to develop, lots of money sometimes, but once that’s done, a copy that is downloaded could be whatever you decide. So you aim to sell a million copies at $500 each = $500M if you sold 2 million for half that, or 4 Million for $125 each your profit would be the same.

      Cloud space costs, but that isn’t needed by many, and if it is, why not charge for it? Hard copies of a program incur expense in producing and distributing but not much judging by retail prices of Adobe Elements (that contain retailers margins).

      This is all about ADOBE and income. Their software has traditionally been expensive, their upgrade policy and pricing fair (in my opinion), but now, with a mature product and inability to perhaps offer substantial upgrades in the future, they have tried to bank on a “monopoly” position.

      It’s backfired, probably big time, by alienating a large and loyal customer base. The predicted profit may happen, or it may fall short, and with great damage done.

      Downloaded software can be at whatever price they choose and all adds to bottom line profit. The photographers and enthusiasts cannot in the main justify a single app licence for photoshop at the price offered.

      If Adobe offered a “no brainer” deal, what would it cost them? Far less than its going to cost them now, I reckon!

      • Michael Frye says:

        David and Dan, thanks for your comments.

        David, you can actually “pay as you go” with Photoshop CC, except that you have to pay for a whole month, not just a few hours. But if you only use it occasionally you could just pay $30 for one month’s use.

        Dan, I think you’re right about Adobe having a mature product in Photoshop, and a monopoly position. I’m not sure their new policy has backfired from their standpoint. As David Pogue pointed out in the NY Times, they’ve probably already calculated a certain amount of dissatisfaction and backlash into their numbers, and decided that they’d still come out ahead. We’ll see!

  63. nora connell says:

    Numerous people have bemoaned the loss of layers if they don’t subscribe to PS Cloud, but OnOne Perfect Layers allows you to have layers on LR!!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Nora, yes, there definitely are a lot of alternatives if you don’t want to subscribe to the cloud. I wouldn’t say though that Perfect Layers allows you to have layers in Lightroom. You have to leave Lightroom to use Perfect Layers. You can then bring the image back into Lightroom and process it further. But you can do the same thing with Photoshop, and Photoshop Elements. Elements actually gives you all the functionality of Perfect Layers, and a lot more.

  64. Philip Clarke says:

    Corporate greed, and let’s face it, this new business model reeks of it, sickens me. It’s almost like Adobe is taunting their customers as well as other software companies. Not all of us non-professional users will pay for a subscription since we only use their software as a hobby and, as per usual, Adobe could not care any less. I guess all of us that use PS infrequently will have to hope that Apple sends a couple of people to work on something other than mobile. Or, Google goes full force into the photography market (it’s looking like they’ve got their eyes on it, in my opinion). My opinion of Adobe is getting worse and worse as time goes by.

  65. Jay Gould says:

    Corporate Greed is an oxymoron – Corporate and greed are separate concepts.

    I do not like the Cloud; I will wait until I am pushed over the edge before buying into the Cloud.

    Nevertheless, Adobe is a private – yes it’s shares are publicly traded – corporation; not a charity as you might like it to be.

    For years their income too fluctuating; it rose and fell with the release of a new version of something. Now they have a model that will result in a consistent monthly income. And, apparently, other than photographers bemoaning the fact that they cannot purchase CC7 for the same price and CS6, the model is working very well.

    Philip Clarke: what % of your income do you give away each year?

    • Philip Clarke says:

      For the future, if you’re trying to articulate a point, try not to take the low road and come off as aggressive and petty right out of the gate. It doesn’t reflect a strong character, and nine times out of ten the person whom you’re trying to taunt and embarrass will instantly dismiss your comments. For the record, I wasn’t complaining that the price is higher than previous versions. It’s that I will not be pinned into a corner by a company willingly. I’ll seek out another option since photography, for me, is a hobby.

      Out of respect for Michael, your comment isn’t worth discussing any further.

  66. Michael Frye says:

    I’m sometimes hesitant to post articles on topics like this, because I realize that they can inspire a lot of passion. But I posted this article because I think it’s a topic that’s important to my readers. And I’ve been really pleased with the response so far; there’s been a lot of valuable discussion and information in the comments. But please, let’s refrain from personal attacks, or challenges. It doesn’t add anything positive to the discussion.

  67. Here is my latest thinking on this subject:

    For now I am still using LR4.4 and Photoshop CS6 as I upgraded just before the big cloud announcement assuming that was the way forward to maintain compatibility (Foolish me!). The new LR+PS CC bundle looks pretty attractive especially since I haven’t yet upgraded to LR5. But the potential negative side effects inherent to the “lease” model are just to big to ignore.

    I am planning to upgrade to LR5 as soon as 5.2 is released (My motto being “Just say no to dot 0.”.) and just live with the “incompatibility” in raw processing between Lightroom and Photoshop created by Adobe.

    What really don’t like the “CC solution” is the fact that if I stop paying I loose access to all “my work” in editing “my images”. Ok so this is a worse case scenario but what if I have an accident and die and my “lease” expires. All of a sudden my whole library is rendered useless to my family and heirs. This means that to be absolutely safe I really to always export a TIFF or at least a JPEG versions of every developed image. Oh, and also back up all those “extra” files, both locally and off site.

    I also don’t like Adobe’s heavy handed treatment of us (subscribe to CC or be left behind) into a licensing model that is primarily for their benefit. After years of promoting how fantastic it is to use “procedural editing” they are now using the fact that we are all now “hooked” on this model against us. So now that you have committed hundreds and hundreds of hours of hard work on your family photo library and professional portfolio they (Adobe) are changing the rules and forcing you into paying them in perpetuity and in effect punishing you if you don’t. This appears to me to be quite deliberate by Adobe product marketing to in place us in this position.

    I have decided that I am not going to subscribe to CC for these reasons alone. I will stay with my perpetual Lightroom license and start looking for an eventual replacement for Photoshop for those times that I do need and want a pixel editor.

    Just my 2 cents. FWIW


    • Michael Frye says:

      Louie, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. The new photographer’s bundle that Adobe announced does sound more attractive than their initial subscription offer, but as you point out, it’s still a subscription, and you’ll never get a perpetual license to the software. One thing that I didn’t quite realize earlier is that you can rent Photoshop for just a month (for $29.95 I think) at any time, so that if you want temporary access to the program to, say, archive your files in another format, it’s a relatively cheap thing to do. I’d still much rather have a perpetual license, but at least I know that I could access my files even after I stop my subscription.

  68. Eric J says:

    I think the new offer will be concurrent with the LR 5.2 release, but I haven’t seen it yet.

  69. Jay Gould says:

    If you reject the Uncreative Cloud, perhaps Elements is the down the road alternative when it surpasses what is current available in CS6. Let’s face it; there is so much in CS6 that we do not use as “basic” landscape/nature photographers.

    Elements + Lightroom + OnOne + Nik = I save a fair bit every year!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Elements won’t work for me, but I’m sure it will for a lot of people, and is something to look at.

      • Jay Gould says:

        I never thought it would work for you or other Professionals!

        However, for the masses – beginners to avid amateurs/semi-pros that sell the occasional image – ME!, it might be a viable alternative.

        Through Lightroom I can run Nik, Topaz, and I can also run OnOne without Photoshop.

        Elements might give me the cleanup abilities with clone and content-aware.

  70. Diane Miller says:

    I can’t imagine Elements ever being what I need, although it may be fine for many people. Why would Adobe add the features to it that sophisticated digital darkroom users need? They would be competing with their own CC model.

    Some day I’ll be forced into an OS upgrade that won’t run PS CS6, and then I’ll have to cave in to Adobe, but I’ll hold out as long as I can. Maybe an alternative will come along. If Adobe starts adding real features to CC instead of bling and marketing junk I will get interested.

  71. Eric J says:

    A thought: since you’ll still have the install files for CS6, couldn’t one “back rev” from CC to CS6 by uninstalling all of CC and then re-installing the old software? Or would Adobe’s “verification” process catch that?


  72. Diane Miller says:

    No need to uninstall CS6 (or whatever prior version) if you go to CC.

  73. Diane Miller says:

    I hadn’t seen this article, but I use all the things he mentions that PS offers that Elements doesn’t, plus the ability to create animated GIF’s and I’m sure several more that I don’t have time to research and list but I really doubt they would ever be in Elements. I’m not a web designer or a “Creative Pro” (whatever that is) — I’m a very serious digital darkroom user. But for many people, yes, Elements would work.

    • Michael Frye says:

      To me, the biggest thing missing from Matt’s list is curves. You can’t apply a curve to only part of an image in Lightroom, and Elements doesn’t have curves in any form, so the only way to do apply a curve to part of an image in the Adobe world is with a full version of Photoshop. This can be extremely useful for separating closely-related tones in part of an image without spending a lot of time making a precise selection.

  74. Jay Gould says:

    Michael, While nothing is 100% perfect, can you make multiple copies with, e.g., Color Efex Pro and multi process, or use Viveza and process parts of the image. I haven’t studied OnOne thoroughly; however, the multiple brushes will allow for multiple processing.

    Finally, I have had these thought: I am getting ready to do an expensive Long Exposure B&W course; the application of the procedures requires extensive pixel work. If I want to do the course, I have to buy into CC.

    Rationalization: I do realize at the end of the day I am kicking and screaming about $20/month which I clearly piss away many times each month more than once, while the pleasure I get from capturing and processing images and the time spent (easily 100+ hours/mo) definitely reduces the $20/mo to pennies per hour.

    If I want to bail from CC, someday I may have to convert all of my images to flattened TIFFs and move on from there; yes?

    To add to the discussion of why “yes”, and you can bail out:

    • Michael Frye says:

      Jay, none of the Nik or OnOne apps have curves that I know of, but I could be wrong about that. I can do other other adjustments to part of an image with Lightroom; I don’t need those other programs for that.

      Regarding your course, you can subscribe on a month-by-month basis just to do the course.

      Regarding your rationalization, you will be able to pay $10 a month for Lightroom and Photoshop CC quite soon.

      As for this:

      > If I want to bail from CC, someday I may have to convert all of my images to flattened TIFFs and move on from there; yes?

      I would never want to convert my layered files to flattened TIFFs, because then if I ever want to change anything, or update the files in some way, I’d have to go back to the original Raw files and start over. Not a good solution IMO.

      Having said that, Photoshop CC files should be backwards-compatitble with Photoshop CS6 for the foreseeable future, unless you’ve used some feature that’s new to CC that isn’t available in CS6, and you’ve left that feature editable. For instance, if they come out with a new Adjustment Layer in CC, and you use that, and then try to open the file in CS6, CS6 won’t be able to read that adjustment layer. You may still be able to open the file, but it would be as if that adjustment layer weren’t there. Or if there’s some new filter or tool in CC that you apply to a Smart Object, that simply wouldn’t show up if you open the file in CS6. An example of that might be applying the new Photoshop CC Smart Sharpen filter to a Smart Object. If you open that file in CC it would either not have that adjustment or it would be different. But if you applied the filter to a pixel layer (not a Smart Object), then everything would be just fine. I love the flexibility that Smart Objects give you, but there’s a certain risk to using them in the CC world if you ever think you might stop subscribing, and if I used CC I might rasterize some of those Smart Objects.

  75. Jay Gould says:

    Michael, OnOne does have curves; I am still learning the program.

    The Course: month to month is not the answer because the reason to do the course is to then shoot and process thereafter.

    Only those persons that have viable CS3 and newer pay $10. Interestingly, I just learned that while the UK is recognizing CS3 and higher Education versions – less expensive versions, the USA is not doing so.

    TIFFS, I intentionally said flattened because if we are three or four years down the road and someone bails on Adobe, they are going to be left with layered files, perhaps PSD the day before they bail, and those layers will probably – not definitely however probably – contain adjustments layers, filters, and tools from the CC that the old version of CS6 will not read. That would result in a mess; wouldn’t it?

    I, most of the time, open both Nik and OnOne in a smart object; I do go back and open the smart object a good portion of the time.

    Have you made a final decision; are you going into the CC?

    Great thread/dialog you have created!!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Good to know that OnOne has curves. One of these days, in my abundant free time, I’ll explore that further. And thanks for clarifying your points about Photoshop CC and the flattened TIFFs. I value flexibility, but clearly that comes at a price — you’re commited to a certain piece of software.

      I’m wondering if having the “maximize compatibility” option on in Photoshop would allow you to open flattened versions of your psd files with another program without having to go through the process of saving them all as flattened TIFFs.

  76. Jay Gould says:

    Michael, this has been running since June 13 with 200+ responses. Has anything written or what you have read changed your original position that you are not going to become part of Adobe CC even at $10/month? Thanks,

  77. [...] in June I wrote about Adobe’s new subscription-only model for licensing Photoshop, called the Creative Cloud. Let’s just say that I wasn’t happy about it. But recently, as I’m [...]

  78. Bill Keiter says:

    You may trust in the customer-friendly attitude of Adobe, but your quote of their present attitude with reference to the offer of LR plus PS CC at $9.00, “Adobe says that they don’t have any plans to increase the price at this time” could also be used with any offer such as “I have some valuable swamp land I’ll sell you cheap,” and “I’m from the government and here to help you,” or any other fill in the blank con artist statements. I’m looking for software I can own and thanking you for the warnings about Adobe, because their change of policy does not indicate an inclusive plan but a move to sell only to professionals. I didn’t know there were that many professionals out there, but I guess there are or Adobe wouldn’t cut us amateurs out.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Hmm… Well I actually look at this latest move by Adobe as a way to appeal to amateurs by giving them a low price for both Photoshop and Lightroom. Obviously it’s not for everyone, and even as a professional I’m still hesitant about a subscription program that doesn’t offer a perpetual license, even if the price is good.

      • StevenP says:

        I still debate the ‘low price’….most people would have a hard time spending $120 a year, or $360 for a standard software life-cycle. I have 3 macs at home and I never spend that amount for software, for all 3 of them for all of the upgrades.

        • Michael Frye says:

          Well I’ve been paying $80 per year for upgrades to Lightroom, and $200 every 18 months for upgrades to Photoshop, so yes, $120 per year for both seems like a low price to me.

      • david says:

        The subscription service is actually a good idea for someone who has little to no experience with Photoshop. I couldn’t afford Photoshop and I wasn’t sure if it was right for me. So back when PS3 (not CS3) was old I “borrowed” it from a friend who wasn’t using it any longer. As an amateur, I played with it for about a year. It took me almost a year to save up enough money to purchase the licence. I have been hooked ever since. I would have been happy to “rent” the app on a month-by-month subscription until I was ready to make a commitment. As a licensed user of both PS&LR, I would love to continue purchasing a licences. I’m not sure I want the whole subscription thing now, especially with no guarantees. Adobe can do anything it wants to do without breaking the law because there are no guarantees from Adobe.

        • StevenP says:

          In re-reading some of the postings I also have one further comment. Adobe has committed to what they would term a ‘loss-leader’ pricing scheme until the end of the year. With some caveats, $10 a month.
          However, Adobe can raise this price pretty much any time that they want. The user has little recourse, except to cancel the subscription. You would have to convert all of your files to JPEGs etc and move them from your cloud-space, but pretty much you are being held hostage.
          They have committed not to raise their prices…but no guarantees there.
          As another poster has reflected, a ‘I own it’ scheme whereby after a year of leasing you effectively own the tool…or maybe 3yrs, whatever…but like most lease plans there would be included a buy-out option.

  79. StevenP says:

    I own Lightroom, but have never found that I can justify the cost of Photoshop. Been thinking about it of late, but the entry price for this is exhaustive and really the wrong approach for Adobe to be taking. At $20 a month, over 3yr period we are looking at $720…considerably more than the purchase price of the new product. For a casual user it is too expensive. So when does it go down to $10 a month, never…why not? How about $200 + $10 a month or some other pricing scheme.
    Even at $10 a month its a hard justification, but I do find I am updating my software on a more frequent basis these days. But, most of my tools are inexpensive. I buy the Office family pack which is good for all of my machines, my OSx updates are $20 every couple of years…really, nothing dramatic. This is (was) the wrong approach and, to me, encourages software piracy similar to when Microsoft released office and charged $400+ for the priviledge. Microsoft has realized their error and now its a reasonable price…cheaper to buy it than to pirate it.
    I am quite disappointed in how Adobe has approached this.

    • Jay Gould says:

      It is $10/mo now to the end of the year. I use it enough that when I divide the number of hours per year into the annual cost/annual pleasure I receive from processing my images in both LR and PS; it is pennies per hour.

      I actually bought CS6 from Amazon so that I would qualify for the $10 and not miss the window of opportunity.

      • StevenP says:

        I think that is gouging myself. They have pretty much 100% marketshare for professional image tools and I think its unnecessary to charge that much, or to lock in the average consumer.
        Lightroom is ok to purchase separately, for now…but for how long.
        So this year alone Adobe gets $720 from you…that is a lot of dough…pretty much a second-tier lens.
        I do agree that its an essential tool, I think it will do damage to their reputation and encourage more companies to enter into the market. While they still won’t be Photoshop, they will siphon off some of their business to matter.

        • Jay Gould says:

          From all reports so far that move hasn’t hurt Adobe.

          Gouging? This is a private company not a charity.

          Damage to their reputation how? Photoshop isn’t a program for photographers; it is for so much more in graphics arts and on and on.

          While I don’t like their move the idea that photographers are right in their analysis and Adobe is wrong just doesn’t make sense. They didn’t get where they are without thinking through their moves.

          • StevenP says:

            Gouging at they are taking advantage of a limited market. They have even acknowledged this fact by dropping the price by 1/2 of their original amount…so they have obviously felt the effect of their policy already. If people were not reconsidering their purchase of PS then they would never have done this.
            Nobody reflected that Adobe should not be compensated for their efforts. We already purchase their product, but the community objection is the requirement that you lease the product. If I chose, why would I not be able to buy CS6, or CS7 and then not buy it again? That is my choice, I might lose updates to Camera Raw, but that would be the risk I take…
            And yes, I am sure that this decision was made with considerable discussion…but I think it is short term (I think made by accountants)….can anyone say New Coke….
            But you are probably correct, they are defining PS as a product for high-end graphical arts and photographers…not for the average joe.

  80. Paula says:

    I commented my feelings about this some time ago. Since I have purchased CS6 so can now sit back, relax and see what happens. I will most likely never buy into the Cloud as it just doesn’t justify itself for me. One disappointment: CS6 can not work with my Nikon D600 RAW images so am STILL converting to DNG. LR, interestingly CAN read the images right out of the SD card. It isn’t a perfect world so we all just have to work with what we have the best we can figure out. However, I really thought my RAW image extra step would be eliminated with CS6…Alas.

  81. Dan says:

    The $10 per month price offer price (until Dec 31st) and the package on offer are fair both to subscribers and Adobe. More than fair, considering what’s on offer and the fact that the spend is now at or below what I have been paying historically.

    Paying less, getting more, cannot be bettered. There’s the issue of not having a “perpetual” licence, but it’s no different to paying for broadband, a mobile phone, or electricity, just a mindset adjustment. Break the subscription, you lose the deal price, so why would you?

    This way Adobe can prosper, and I can use a comprehensive Photoshop CC package. I signed up at the first opportunity, its too good not to IMHO. Within days there were 2 bug fixes, and once again I’m feeling part of a community together with Adobe. I hadn’t felt that since May.

    Each to their own, everyone must decide for themselves, but remember, if you cut off your nose to spite your face, there’s one definite loser, and not two.

    • Michael Frye says:

      I’m glad you’re happy with this offer Dan. I do agree that’s it’s a reasonable price. However, I think a lot of people, including me, see a difference between paying for broadband or a mobile phone and paying for software that we use to access and modify our images. For broadband or a mobile phone I can always choose a different provider. It may not be exactly the same, but the switch should be relatively painless. For Photoshop or Lightroom, switching to something else is quite difficult, as no other software is compatible. In other words, you can’t buy software from another company that could read all your Adjustment Layers and Smart Objects from a Photoshop file. So that makes a subscription-only model for Photoshop a more serious commitment for many of us.

      • Dan says:

        I’d have been happier with things left as they were Michael, with perpetual licences and selected upgrades but that isn’t to be. Adobe will have a predictable and steady income flow instead of ” all or nothing” It should let then plan and operate effectively. Without customers they have no business, so keeping their customers “sweet” is important.

        I hope that the “enthusiasts” in their organisation are able to keep progressing their software, with the accountants and shareholders happy this ought to be the case.

        I really enjoy using Photoshop and have invested a lot of my time and effort learning it. That is also a serious commitment. I was extremely unhappy when the initial single app price was set at a price nigh on double what I have been paying for Photoshop. Halving it I’d have been happy, but in adding more to the package, such as Lightroom 5 improves the cost-effectiveness.

        Adobe have been fair, and I’m more than happy signing up. There can only be a future where both sides are benefitting from each other. Adobe senior management made a massive marketing error and damaged that relationship. I think that lesson has been learned.

  82. david says:

    So no perpetual licence, no guarantee of a fixed cost ($10/mo), and not being able to work on images if your subscription runs out. Is Adobe doing this to protect itself from pirates? If this is the reason I doubt if it will work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a longtime, licence subscriber, to Photoshop and Lightroom. There will always be pirating of software (just ask Microsoft). Adobe needs to create a better lock. Adobe will fail if it tries to survive on a subscription-only software. Photoshop CC hasn’t been out for a year and Adobe has already cut the price in half and added Lightroom to the package. More sooner than later, Adobe will discover people want something they can call their own, albeit a serial number and a bunch of 0′s and 1′s, there is still a box sitting on my bookshelf that Photoshop CS6 arrived in. There are many other companies that sell image editing software who would love to sell us an license.

    • StevenP says:

      Guess what worries me is that people think this is ok. Some people might choose not to upgrade every release, some might have CS5….but Adobe has taken that option out of the equation.
      Its a strange marketing move in my view. As you reflected, if you let your subscription lapse you will lose access to your PSD files…unless your alternate tool will read these, or convert to JPEG/TIFF etc.
      From what I have read Adobe did this so they could continuously upgrade their product stream. I am sure piracy was a factor though as CS6 is an expensive tool.
      I just think that Adobe should offer options, a purchase option, a lease option or a combination of the two (for updates). The one-size fits all seems self-serving, and there are lots of loyal users out there.
      Come this time next year we should look, and ask the same questions. I have my predictions, sealed in an envelope…be interesting.

  83. Diane Miller says:

    Wanting something I can call my own is an idea I could get over, IF I could decide to stop my subscription sometime and keep access to the current version when I quit. (An initial 2-year plan, like with my cell phone, would be OK.)

    I want to be able to edit all the adjustment layers in my master files, any time in the future. How long until the algorithms for even basic things like Curves will be changed, so that I can no longer revert to CS6 (which eventually won’t run on future computers) with any meaningful editing capability, and certainly nothing else will manage to code in all the details to be able to edit CC layers.

    It’s the lifetime commitment that I choke on, and uncertainties about just how many improvements will be made relative to future price increases. That requires a leap of faith, and the rocky start so far doesn’t favor that.

    • StevenP says:

      Yes, and I believe this is a ‘test the waters’ thing. I believe that Lightroom will become a pure subscription tool as well.
      I have seen an increased number of email advertisements for Photoshop Express so I am going to assume that Adobe is going to move the casual user to that avenue. Not sure, not a big user of PS right now, but I wanted to start experimenting with layers to provide more dynamic range and flexibility in my post-processing…just not possible with Lightroom.
      So, with this new scheme we don’t really own anything…we just have the rights to use it. This is commonplace in the software industry, companies such as IBM or Oracle have been doing this for years with their products, but traditionally the consumer market has been a purchase/own model. I think most people are going to gack at the lifetime-commitment idea…I think if people bypass these ‘deals’ that Adobe will offer alternatives.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Diane, I’d also love to see a model where you can subscribe, but keep access to the software after a certain period of time. That would solve all the issues for me. Think Adobe is listening? Probably not, unfortunately.

  84. Eric J says:

    Mmmpffhh…. I bit the bullet and subscribed to CC at the new rate. One of my computers stays at CS6 for now. Yes, Adobe could raise the rate in the future. But then, they could have raised the purchase price for Photoshop before.

    Yes, there’s uncertainty in the software world. Digital images don’t have the same existence as negatives, and you can’t store software the way you could Dektol. I think this is the bargain we made when we went digital in the first place: we’re now lashed to the same rocket sled as the rest of the computer industry.

    I don’t know what I’ll be able to use to “develop” and print my .NEF files in 2023, but it won’t be what I’m using now. And I have no idea how I’ll get from 2013 to 2023.

    If you’re in photography for the long haul, I think it’s worth thinking about.

    p.s. one benefit of CC is that it lowers the cost of entry to photography for those without the $500-700 purchase price of LR+PS. Students and young people will be grateful, I think.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Eric, you’re right, we don’t know what we’ll be using in 2023. Considering how much cameras have changed in the last ten years, well, it’s hard to even imagine what they’ll be like ten years from now, and what software we might want or need. And yes, the entry price for Photoshop has been lowered considerably by the CC. I tend to look at this from the perspective of someone who’s been using Photoshop for a long time, paying for upgrades along the way, and wondering whether they should go along with this subscription model.

  85. Horace Staccato says:

    It’s infuriating that Adobe is “offering” what is essentially a con job. What they are doing is extremely shortsighted by arrogantly taking their customer base for granted, and doing what they think will up their cash flow. And you will note that they are not offering a choice in the matter because they know that Creative Cloud would lose out in a competition with traditional packaging.

    And of course they are selling this confidence game by telling us it’s the “Latest thing” and it’s “Cutting edge.” It’s a familiar Big Lie that any change represents progress, that if it’s new, it’s the greatest. CC represents regression. It represents a sharp degradation in customer service.

    I’ll never, never, never buy it. I WILL find alternatives. There WILL be many new alternatives to fill the sudden vacuum that will be caused by this insolent attempt to put a Happy Face on a total rip off.

  86. Paula says:

    This has been a great blog for all of us to voice our thoughts. Any of this going to Adobe where it might make a difference if anyone will listen?

    • Michael Frye says:

      Paula, I doubt anyone at Adobe is monitoring this thread, but trust me, they’ve heard plenty of negative feedback about the Creative Cloud. That may be one reason that they’ve offered this Photoshop Photography Program bundle with Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 a month.

  87. Gary Hart says:

    Michael, I’ve been flying under the radar, just following this thread, but at least want to thank you for sharing your thoughts (especially since I agree completely). As others have pointed out, Adobe’s refusal to give us an option to buy our Photoshop indicates they know many of us recognize that the CC paradigm is actually offering less for more. I’d be more okay if Adobe increased the price of the updates, as long as I could evaluate a new version before paying, and actually own it once I did.

    While Adobe has every right to do this, I’ve chosen to exercise my own right to express my opposition by not buying into the CC rental plan. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that as pros we may eventually have to drink Adobe’s Kool-Aid, but I’ll hold out as long as possible.

    Long live CS6.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Well you’re welcome Gary, and thanks for chiming in! Unfortunately you’re probably right, and pros like us may indeed have to drink the Kool-Aid at some point. I’m still debating whether to subscribe to the $9.99 a month plan for Lightroom and Photoshop before the end of the year.

  88. Dan says:

    Whilst subscription sticks in the craw somewhat, it is an increasing fact of (commercial) life.

    Many things are paid monthly and this will continue. My main argument was not the subscription, but that the original price was more than double my historical outgoings and in exchange, I was worse off not owning software.

    This Photographers Package offer gives me more than I had at a price which is definitely less. I have signed up and I again feel part of a community with the Adobe Photoshop team, to me its a closer relationship than it was, and that’s heartening.

    With my gained experience using Photoshop, the ease of use, stability, and the scope of the software, why would I abandon it and seek an alternative?

    The Offer is a “no brainer” as far as I’m concerned.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Dan, that seems like a reasonable point of view, and everyone has their own situation and has to make their own decision. It is hard to switch to another piece of software once you’ve invested time to learn something.

  89. Eric J says:

    Adobe just loosened the restrictions on the $9.99/month charge for CC. Apparently now available to almost everyone.

    So, a question. Does the license for CC remove the license for CS6, CS5.5? If not, are they decoupled, in the sense that I can now run CC on two computers, CS6 on two *different* computers, etc etc?

    Trying to figure out the strategy for someone with three Macs…

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks for alerting me to this Eric. A CC license doesn’t remove the license for earlier versions of Photoshop. You can continue to use CS6 or 5.5 as well as CC.

      • Harvey says:

        The extended offer for discount on the CC expires on Dec. 2nd, for those who do not own earlier PS versions (CS3+?) or Lightroom. Those who do own the programs have until Dec. 31st to purchase at this program.

  90. David says:

    I was ready to give in any sign up for PHOTOSHOP CC. Then I looked at the renewal offer. I have pasted a copy of it right from the Adobe Web site.
    The price is valid for a full 12 months. After that, we’ll renew your contract automatically, at the then-current price of the offering, unless you cancel. The price is subject to change, but we will always notify you beforehand.

    The part that bothers me is the, “your contact will automatically be renewed at the then – current price.”
    I have a registered copy of PS – CS5 and CS6, along with light room back to LR-v1.
    Here is my question: does this mean that my subscription will go from $120/year to $240/year ($19.95/mo)? Does anyone know what the subscription will cost a year from now or we at Adobes mercy where it can raise the price to anything it likes?

    • Michael Frye says:

      David, here’s what Julianne Kost from Adobe has to say about that:

      >By Julieanne Kost – 12:14 PM on November 21, 2013 Reply
      The difference is that this is a limited time offer for those who do not have a copy of Photoshop CS3 or newer.
      For both offers, Photoshop. $9.99 is *the* price – not a first year promo – so the price won’t go up to $19.99 after a year. All the memberships carry that disclaimer because we can’t say the price won’t ever go up in the future to account for things like inflation. We also can’t say the price won’t go down in the future either. For example, Lightroom’s price was cut in half between Lightroom 3 and 4 – and Photoshop’s price has gone both up and down over its 23 year history.

      You can see the whole thread here:

  91. […] Frye – first thoughts here, and some more later, after $9.99 deal, […]

  92. Although the conversation has gone a little quite, I’m getting close to pushing the button from CS6 to CC and wondered if there was anything that should be considered since the last update.

    I’m probably in a similar boat to most that I like to just ‘own’ a software license rather than paying monthly, but I guess it is something we are getting used to now and unfortunately things are not likely to go any other way.

    Anyway, as I said, any hints, tips, suggestions, please do first them at me.



  93. Violet says:

    I believe what you published made a lot of sense.
    However, what about this? suppose you were tto write a killer post title?

    I am not suggesting your content isn’t solid, howsever
    suppose you added a headline that grabbed a person’s attention? I mean Thoughts on the Adobe Creative Cloud

  94. Paula Varner says:

    A comment of a slightly different note. My Adobe User Group received the following email:

    Adobe has sponsored a robust User Group program for ten years. However, during that time, a lot has changed within the community and at Adobe and the program has not evolved with those changes. In order to ensure we provide the best support for the User Groups that are strategically aligned with our focus on the Creative Cloud and in key geographic areas, we are making a number of changes to the program. These changes will bring the User Groups closer to the teams within Adobe that can provide them with the best support. There are some group that will be retired. Unfortunately, in order to ensure we could provide a high level of support to user groups, we had to make some difficult decisions about the membership of the program. Unfortunately, we were not able to invite your group back into the program.

    To say the least we are disappointed. Also suprised. No thoughts on what we might do to be worthy of re-invitation or what it was about us to get this notice.

    I subscribe to the $9.99 deal and am enjoying it. I “won” a year in the cloud twice in my User Group but did not ever get it. Now I can’t even send an email to them through the user group web site (I can write it after many tries to get to the place but then I get an error message). Might have to increase my hunt for alternative software.

    Anyone know who else interfaces with OnOne and Nik? Probably not as we’ve all been so loyal and happy with Adobe for so long…
    I’m actually enthusiastic about change and generally think it is good, maybe not this time.

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