Adobe Offers its Photoshop and Lightroom Package to Everyone

Clouds formation over the mountains along the NC/SC border, autumn, USA

A creative cloud over the North Carolina/South Carolina border

Adobe is now offering its Photoshop Photography Program to everyone, not just those who own a license to a previous version of Photoshop. This program includes Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC for $9.99 per month. This new offer is only available until December 2nd. (If you own a license to Photoshop CS3 or later you still have until December 31st.)

For people who would like to try Photoshop, but don’t own a previous Photoshop license, this seems like a good deal. In the past you would have paid nearly $700 to buy a full version of Photoshop for the first time. Now you can get Photoshop, plus Lightroom, for $120 per year.

For those who already own a license to Photoshop CS5 or CS6 things are less clear cut. The pricing for this Lightroom-and-Photoshop package is attractive, but you’re still renting rather than owning, and if you stop your subscription you lose access to the software. Many people are choosing to stick with their older versions of Photoshop, since they own a perpetual license and will never lose access to it. I discussed some of the pros and cons of this deal in a previous post. (Be sure to read the comments, as there are lots of interesting thoughts there.)

For me, I finally decided to bite the bullet and subscribe to this package. Yes, I went over to the dark side.

There were several reasons why I decided to subscribe:

1. The price is more reasonable than Adobe’s initial Creative Cloud offer.

2. Some of my concerns about backwards compatibility have been alleviated. If I decide to stop my subscription a year from now, I’ll still be able to open files that I made with Photoshop CC in Photoshop CS6. There are some limitations, as adjustments made to Smart Objects with new tools—tools not available in CS6—won’t be editable, or even visible. But I’ll still be able to access and modify the files with CS6.

3. As some readers have pointed out, a perpetual license isn’t really perpetual. At some point old software won’t work anymore with new hardware and operating systems. In other words, I’d already committed to buying upgrades from Adobe for the indefinite future anyway. Owning a perpetual license does give you more choice and flexibility about when and how you upgrade, so the whole subscription thing still makes me a little queasy, but I decided to hold my nose and dive in anyway.

4. As a professional, and a photography educator, I need to keep up with the latest developments, which includes using and evaluating the latest software.

This was not an easy decision. I’ve been sitting on the fence for awhile, but finally decided to take the plunge for the reasons stated above. Everyone, of course, has to make a decision based on their own needs and situation. Believe me, if you’re not ready to go over the dark side I completely understand!

— Michael Frye

Related Posts: Thoughts on the Adobe Creative Cloud; Adobe’s New Lightroom and Photoshop Package

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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael 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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70 Responses to “Adobe Offers its Photoshop and Lightroom Package to Everyone”

  1. Jay Gould says:

    Those bastards knew they were going to do this all along and F*^$#% everyone who went out and bought CS6 this past month.

    And you know what; there isn’t a thing we can do about it.

    • Michael Frye says:

      I understand how you feel Jay — Adobe hasn’t made this easy for anyone. At least you have a version of Photoshop that you’ll get to keep, regardless of what happens in the future.

    • Stephen says:

      Unfortunate and frustrating that Adobe keeps changing pricing and placing deadlines on them. But I’m confused why you waited until now to buy CS6 in full. If it was for perpetual licensing, nothing has changed.

  2. Jerry Cagle says:

    It sounds like a pretty good deal if you don’t already own, but it still makes me nervous… If you cancel your subscription does that mean the edits you made will “disappear”…?

    Jay, I’d be royally pissed if that happened to me… You have my sympathy.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Jerry, as I said above, I think there’s a lot of backwards compatibility with earlier versions of Photoshop – if you have an earlier version. If not, that doesn’t mean your edits will disappear if you stop subscribing. It just means that you won’t be able to open Photoshop and make further changes. You should still, for example, be able to see your Photoshop files in Lightroom, and export them from Lightroom. If you want to be on the safe side you could save flattened TIFF versions of everything.

  3. Eric Bier says:

    Thank you for the heads up. It looks like Adobe has finally come to its senses.

  4. Jay Gould says:

    Adobe offered me two months free – $20 – for my $700 loss. I have no doubt that there are gong to be a lot of very pissed off unhappy clients. I will NEVER trust another representation by Adobe. A most unethical company. I have absolutely no doubt that this was part of a planned program and not something that was decided in the last week or so. Back stabbed is the best way to describe the way Adobe treated loyal customers that went out and bought CS6. The screwed us and rewarded those that waited until the last minute.

    Yes, it was my choice.

  5. steve schwam says:

    Micheal, or others, do you know if the monthly is for multiple computers , I think up to three now) or only one. and also if I ever finally get some brains and my a Mac, is it transferable ?????

  6. The files I created 10 years ago in Paintshop Pro can no longer be opened so I don’t feel this is any different. The flattened files will always be available for use/printing and 10 years from now, software will be so much better, I may want to reprocess the files anyway.

  7. Andrys says:

    I have PS 6 and am going over to the dark side, as I think $10/mo is reasonable for what you get.
    I want the mild-fixer for camera-blur, the better interpolation with noise-reduction+control, the ease of line straightening. Someone did an analysis that shows that over time even though he did not always update, he had paid what amounts to $11/mo. over the last 6 years. Yes, the ability to use the software if we want to cancel subscriptions remains important. It’s a judgment call re what’s more important to each of us.

    And someone else pointed out that the features we like in CC are already being offered as plug-ins by the crafty for earlier versions or are almost ready and would be for sure in a year if they raised the price on us. In the meantime I have PS 6, which is really good enough for me so that if I need to ‘fall back’ to it, I would not be that unhappy — and I think Adobe made this decision because companies were ramping up to do a Photoshop challenge with their software and eventually Adobe would lose since getting almost NO income from all the photographer hobbyists and semipro’s would likely have been a very bad thing for Adobe.

    $120/yr for Adobe from those who use only the photo tools (not counting those who want or need to use an entire suite of tools) should feed the greed of the mgmt masters and a choice to stop if the price is increased would be a big risk if they do something stupid again. I don’t know anyone except design professionals who planned to subscribe at the earlier rates. i wasn’t even tempted. This is the cost of one theater movie a month. Or one-third of a meal out after taxes and tips. I do like that friends who didn’t feel they could afford Photoshop before can now use PS AND Lightroom 5 and get some Cloud space in the meantime for work done.

  8. Andrys says:

    Steve, from what I read, it seemed we’d be able to use it on two machines, and they could be two different operating systems. Don’t trust me on this, but I remember reading that earlier today.

    Jerry, Michael mentioned (from what I remember) that the edits we did won’t disappear. Some of the later features used would not be recognized when opening with earlier software. But I think developers of plug-ins will be helping there in any case. On the other hand, I can be over-optimistic.

    • Jerry Cagle says:

      Thanks, Andrys…! I am sorely tempted. I just wonder what becomes of the stand-alone LR5 software I have. Would it be subsumed…?

      • Michael Frye says:

        Jerry, no, your Lightroom 5 standalone software would not be “subsumed.” You can choose not to download Lightroom 5 from the Creative Cloud and just keep using the version you already have.

        • I’m pretty sure it’s smart enough to know what is already installed and the cloud management updates just take over.

          • Michael Frye says:

            Stephen, the Creative Cloud app knows what you’ve downloaded from the Creative Cloud, but it does not seem to know what standalone apps you’ve previously installed. You can choose what to download or not download from the Creative Cloud. It’s not automatic. So you can be subscribed to Lightroom 5 through the CC, but choose not to download and install it.

  9. Jerry Cagle says:

    Has anyone here used the Behance ProSite…? If yes, what are your thoughts…? How does it compare to Photoshelter or Zenfolio…?

    Thanks in advance,
    Jerry (in torrid Tucson, AZ)

    • Michael Frye says:

      Sorry Jerry, I haven’t used Behance.

    • Andrys says:

      Jerry, I must say that Adobe is likely the last company whose photo presentation hosting site I would rely on, since the way they do business reminds me of thugs who come into a shop to offer “insurance” against the place burning down.

      And I’m saying that as someone who feels the new $10/mo. Photoshop/Lightroom5 rental is a decent deal, especially for photogs who’ve never bought PS before.

      I read that they said mid-year that about 700,000 had signed up for Creative Cloud but then I also read that during the website hacking of Creative Cloud accounts, 38 million members were affected. Now, I had ‘signed up’ to look at CC before but that definitely doesn’t mean I was providing them income on it. I think it’s pretty clear they had to do something before the immoinent dire results from an entire world of photographers no longer ‘buying into’ Adobe PS at all and looking elsewhere while no longer being a source of revenue since they/we couldn’t buy Adobe pkgs even if we wanted to. I think someone at Adobe should be losing a job bigtime.

      • Stephen says:

        Andrys: The hack was on all Adobe accounts and not only cloud account. Both numbers would be true.

        • Andrys says:

          Stephen, what I was trying to say (and apparently didn’t do it well) was that 700,000 signed up to CC is a rather small percentage of their crowd of Adobe customers totalling approximately 38 million signed up online.

          I was talking about how relatively unsuccessful that CC concept has apparently been as far as sign ups of actual buyers and that I HAD been signed up for CC but had not even bought anything, so the amount actually making use of CC $-wise was not even as high as 700,000 if there were others like me who just signed up to take a look around.

  10. Gary says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this new pricing, Michael! I’m subscribing tonight.

  11. Jerry Cagle says:

    I just pulled the trigger. Wish me luck… =:o)

  12. Eric says:

    $9.99 per month for both??? I’m paying $19.99/mo just for Photoshop. What a rip off.

    I prefer Picassa to Lightroom anyway, so maybe it is time to drop Adobe altogether and give the Photoshop-compatible freeware a try.

    • Jay Gould says:

      Picassa is lightyears behind Lightroom.

      I think you should quickly signup for the $10 deal and cancell your $20 deal.

      • Eric says:

        So what does Lightroom do that is so far beyond Picassa?

        • Jay Gould says:

          Eric, I am not going to do the research for you. Respectfully, and I mean respectfully, Picassa is barely an amateur program for minimal edits; Lightroom is a full service editing program that most Avid Amateurs and Professionals are using almost exclusive to edit their images. Ask Michael!

          Google Picassa compared to Lightroom!

          • Eric says:

            Well thankfully, I have already done the research, having demo’d every version of Lightroom for the past 6 years, and I can say that for me, Lightroom does nothing that Picassa doesn’t do, for free.

            But as you said, it isn’t for everyone. Some people need to use Lightroom in order to look Professional or at least like they are an Avid Amateur. I only care about seeing my files at a glance and if I can do that without paying extra money, even better.

            The one thing it doesn’t do is edit RAW files but that’s why I have Photoshop, because Photoshop has the exact same RAW editing plugin as Lightroom.

            • Michael Frye says:

              I haven’t used Picassa, so I can’t make a comparison. If it doesn’t work with Raw files that’s a serious drawback, but as you say Eric you can use Photoshop (actually Adobe Camera Raw for that.

  13. Luis says:

    Michael, i clicked on the link you provided on this article and it says it’s a one year program. Does this mean after one year yhe price goes up?

    • Michael Frye says:

      Luis, most likely, yes, the price will go up after a year. How much is not certain.

    • Stephen says:

      The one year program simply means that $10/month assumes a 12 month commitment and there will be a penalty fee if canceled before 1 year. Adobe has claimed – although they have not given many reasons to be confident in them – that the price will not go up. Everything else is speculation because I’m sure they themselves don’t know.

      • Leon says:

        Where (Stephen or Michael or anyone) do you see that Adobe says the price will not go up? When I look at their terms and conditions for this offer, it seems very clear to me that this $10 /month is just an introductory 1 year offer, and after a year the price is going to be going up for sure. I am trying to decide if I should get this offer or not, but it seems not really great based on this:
        After the first 12 months, we will automatically renew your contract based on the current price of the offering.

        • Michael Frye says:

          Leon – Various places but here’s a quote from Julianne Kost at Adobe:

          >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:

  14. Karl Chiang says:

    Adobe is a rotten company without enough competition. They did not get enough suckers at $20/month so they reluctantly dropped the price to $10 for one year only. Once they get everyone signed up, bingo….. price will go up next year to 15-20/month. They are also doing this to keep the competition from gearing up. I am like Jay Gould, went out and bought LR 5 and CS6(fortunately at educator discount) but still paid good money. Now what? Should I wait until new upgrades make my programs obsolete in 1-2 years? Or should I piss out $120 for something I already have because the price will go up after end of December? Michael, what do you recommend to me and Jay?

    • Michael Frye says:

      Karl, I can’t tell you what you should do. As I said, everyone has to make their own decision based on their own situation. For what it’s worth, Adobe is saying that the $9.99-per-month price is not an introductory price and won’t be going up in year. They can’t promise that it will never go up, but they’re not planning to increase the price after a year. I can understand why some people wouldn’t believe them of course, but that’s what they’re saying.

      • Karl Chiang says:

        I guess I will wait until end of December to decide. If I did join later next year, what do you think the subscription price will be? Why don’t they just stop playing games and leave it at 9.99 permanently? What has been upsetting are the $ games that Adobe has been playing since the inception. If I were to play games like that to patients, how do you think they would react?

        • Michael Frye says:

          Karl, the most the non-special-offer price for Photoshop will be after Dec. 31st is $20 per month — that’s the price announced back in May or whenever it is they launched the whole Creative Cloud thing. I hope they keep some version of the Photoshop-and-Lightroom package available for less than that, even after Dec. 31st, but I don’t know what they’ll do. Some people seem to think that all the price changes are part of some evil plan that Adobe has cooked up, but I think it’s the opposite — that they were caught off guard by the largely negative reaction to the CC from photographers, and they’re trying to figure out a way to make photographers happy — or at least less unhappy — without abandoning the subscription-only model. So they’re experimenting with pricing and packages, and they know little more about what will happen in the future than we do.

          • Karl Chiang says:

            Hmm. Adobe is akin to the government and ACA(Obamacare) is like Creative Cloud subscription. If you like your old Photoshop you can keep but it will now cost an additional $9.99 per month to keep it. Let me sign up pronto! LOL. On a more serious note, why did Adobe not poll photographers or users of PS prior to their decision? Or was the decision made by Adobe irregardless of the opinion of users?

  15. Stephen says:

    Michael: I’m starting to feel and probably sound like some Adobe evangelist – which I’m not. There are details about Adobe’s cloud services that are frustrating and Adobe has done a terrible job explaining and rolling out this platform. But I still believe that it’s a positive change, even with so much negative debate, assumption and scepticism that is both justified but also incorrect. Most of it being centred around the fear of the unknown

    • Michael Frye says:

      Stephen, I think you’re right in saying that part of the reaction is that people don’t like change. Not all of the reason for so much angst, by any means, but part of it. When you invest time in learning software, and money in purchasing the software and upgrades, you make a certain commitment, and have to feel some sense of trust in the company making the software. Adobe has certainly killed a lot of whatever goodwill and trust they have had with this whole thing. Part of it is, as you say, fear of the new and unknown, and part of it is attributable to the really, really poor way Adobe announced everything and their lack of clear communication about their program, but part of it is an understandable resistance to the idea of not getting to keep software that you’re paying for.

  16. Now this makes sense for people like me who have LR but don’t have CS and have no need for the other Adobe products. Hopefully Adobe has their customer data more secure now. I already have Nik and Topaz plugins from when I used PSe that will work in Ps but not in OnOne’s software.

    I was going to use the OnOne’s PPS 8 Beta as long as it lasted then order it as “my only real option” but now, why buy the imitation when I can rent the real thing for a similar price. I don’t like renting but is now it is less expensive than the purchase model. If Adobe jacks the price up too much I can always get OnOne’s PPS then.

  17. Andrys says:

    Interesting factor with Adobe is that in catering to the photographer set, they’ve made Lightroom 5 so very flexible now and relatively easy to use that it almost makes Photoshop superflous! So, having access to Photoshop is no longer the need (where quality of adjustments is concerned) that it was before. And Lightroom stays available as a standalone, reasonably priced purchase.

    Strangely enough, on my Surface Pro 2, which is essentially a netbook (or tabtop) with wonderful color accuracy and viewing angles, Adobe’s Lightroom team has actually dealt with the dpi scaling so that it’s all easy to see on the 10.6″ screen, while the Photoshop team has not been able to do this yet and as of only 3 days ago was saying they don’t know when they’ll be able to get this going but that they and Microsoft are working on it.

    • Jerry Cagle says:

      Regarding quality of adjustments… despite LR5′s much touted enhancemet to their spot removal tool, my experience with it is not favorable. I can always see the patch. Even in PSe the “content-aware” tool (which I assume is identical to the full-blown PS) does a so-so (although better than LR5) job. The new “eraser” tool in PPS 8 blows both of them away for blending and matching…

      • Andrys says:

        Jerry, you can see this even with the sliding adjustments you can make (a bit like Fade but with sliders for various aspects)? I admit that, over the years, I’ve preferred Cloning from specific areas I choose and am new to Lightroom 5 but was amazed at what it could do while trying it on a few photos last night, the many individual types of edits on ‘one brushstroke.’

        How do you like using the new radial filter ?

        • Jerry Cagle says:


          I can. Although the (relatively) recent addition of a feathering slider was an improvement, it still doesn’t work well enough to satisfy me 95% of the time.

          That said, I like the new radial filter quite a lot, actually. Here are a couple of example:


          • Andrys says:

            Jerry, unfortuntely we have to sign in just to -view- something and I try to limit my must-sign-in places…

            The ability to manually reposition the source for the spot healer should be a help for what you’ve been experiencing though ?

            • Jerry Cagle says:

              Been there, done that… It is an improvement, but still doesn’t compare with Perfect Eraser. It’s quicker, easier, and works 99% of the time w/o “futzing around” trying to find a good match. It just works. Occasionally you may have to “go over” the spot again, but it is still, logistically and aesthetically, superior.

              Did the 2nd link (below) not permit you to view w/o logging in…? It should. If not I will see if I can fix that…


      • Andrys says:

        I’m adding that, in reference to my preference in PS for cloning mode over the healing brush, Lightroom 5 allows us to manually reposition the source area, since it doesn’t always automatically pick the best match, as you’ve found.

        There is a good overview of the new LR features at

        Apologies for going somewhat off-topic but it was joining CC last night that was the boost I needed to explore Lightroom 5.

        • Jerry Cagle says:

          Even with the reposition, I still don’t find that it’s as effective from an aesthetic or a workflow POV as is Perfect Eraser. In PPS 8 there’s nothing to “repositions”… I don’t know how it actually works though. I assume it is some sort of magic… =:o)

          BTW: the previous link may not work, but this should

          • Andrys says:

            Sorry, had to leave for awhile. Yes, this link worked without making me sign in, thanks! and they’re very nice uses of that feature in a sort of highlighting.

  18. Doug says:

    I’m in the, “They are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming camp.”

    Any software that I have to perpetually rent to still access my files had better be so compelling that I will get over my aversion to this model. Right now, it isn’t. I have Lightroom and PS 6. Good enough, and it will be for a long time.

    If they force Lightroom to this model at some point, I am going to be an unhappy camper.


    • Karl Chiang says:

      I am in the same camp too. Why change something that wasn’t broken in the first place? The only explanation that I can think of is the same problem for everything wrong in this world…. “greed for more money”. They already had the monopoly but they wanted more money so they decided to convert to subscription service. What do you think the reaction would be if we had to pay a month fee for use of Windows or even Microsoft Office?

      • Michael Frye says:

        Doug, I also hope they don’t make Lightroom available by subscription only. There is some reason to hope that they won’t, based on the negative reaction they got from photographers to the CC for Photoshop, and the fact that they have a lot more competition against Lightroom than Photoshop.

        Karl, I hate to break it to you, but Microsoft is already moving to a subscription model for Office. So far Office is still available for purchase with a perpetual license, but that may change. I’m sure MS is looking closely at what Adobe is doing.

      • Doug says:

        Companies are in business to make money. Everyone seems to be surprised by this. They are beholden to their shareholders who are driven by money. Most people work to make money. Adobe made a business decision here, so I have to assume it was driven by making more money. They just made a bad business decision IMO :-).

        Now, if they gave me a subscription model that allowed me to keep the software to the point that I have updated it and that allowed me to back rev if I did not like a new version, I would find it much more appealing.

        As it is, they have opened my eyes to the other possibilities out there, and I have no intention of subscribing if I can find alternatives that meet my needs.

        There was a good interview on Luminous Landscape with Thomas Knoll that touched on all of this.


  19. Andrys says:

    I just revisited this thread because of a spam note written to it, that made it to my email.

    While I’m here, I wanted to say that I’ve come to find the “Shake reduction” tool extremely valuable after trying it with different parameters and Fading too, of course, for any blurring caused by camera shake only (and sometimes camera shake partially. It’s amazing.

  20. Andrys says:

    I’ve been at the zoo a lot and just moved from a 300mm to a 400mm to even SEE them but I love what I see, and so I have a lot of chances for camera shake when the light is not ideal!

    :-) The difference is that the bold outlines are gone, or the contrast differences that tried to make up for lack of actual sharpness. If our lens is good and we do manage to get the details, the software actually gets that all back and there’s nothing unnatural or bloated about the fixed result. Am more impressed by the day. Took something indoors in very low light with a small camera at ISO 3200 last week too, and a picture ‘lost to camera shake’ was fixed, with the detail in there. Now, if the movement is due to subject movement, the results can be ugly, but that makes sense.

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