Is it time to move to more paid subscription services?

I have to admit, the events of the past few weeks have made me look much more seriously at paying more for the IT services that I’ve taken for free up until now. Of course they’ve never been free, I’ve had to put up with the adverts and the email messages I don’t really want – alerting me to this deal, or that deal, and I’ve willingly put up with that as a price worth paying for the service I’ve been receiving. But two events have changed my mind, and moreover I feel the IT world is actually changing slowly as a consequence of the mistakes (to be exceptionally generous) of Facebook and Google; and the decision of Apple to switch more attention to Services, targeting this as their  main income stream for the future, and not relying on Hardware alone.

So what were the earth-shaking events in the Harrison-IT-world? Well the first was Google’s announcement that having hidden the news of a potential security weakness in an API, for several months (presumably to secure their stock-market price at the time Facebook was struggling, and presumably also after ensuring that the potential breach was secured) they used this as an excuse to kill-off (sorry “sunset”) Google+ next August. Now this service was not the success Google hoped it to be, and most definitely has not generated the revenue they hoped it might, but for me, my family and for many communities (particularly of photographers – because of the close linkage to Google Photos) – it was a hugely valuable tool. Now, we have to look for another social media platform. It could be Google Photos – Google may have plans to “enhance” it to take on features from Google+, or it could be another platform, but it’s just a pain in the neck having to move off something we’re used to! Google have real history with “sunsetting” tools that people get used to using [Thanks to @MrSimonWood for this link.]

The second was Flickr’s announcement that they were going to limit their Free account to 1000 imagesexcluding those that were licensed under Creative Commons, which a lot of mine are. They are encouraging users to take out a Pro subscription to remove restrictions and allow more and larger images to be uploaded. This didn’t meet with the same “horror” feeling. I immediately felt that this was a decision that would secure the future long-term of the service under the new owners – SmugMug. [A feeling that I didn’t have when 500px made changes to their platform which led me to delete my account.] So I immediately subscribed and took advantage of the first-year discount price (still available for a few more days I believe).

So what am I saying. I’m saying that if there’s a service that I really want, and I really need some feeling that it’s going to be around for a while, I should pay for it. I wasn’t given that option by Google – shame on them; it appears I’ll never be given that opportunity by Facebook. Both of them are essentially marketing and advertising platforms. I don’t see either of them being able to develop a hybrid model as Flickr has been able to do.

This all makes Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan and Microsofts’ Office 365 seem so much more sensible. I’ll continue with the former, but decline the latter as my roots are now firmly planted in the Apple world where I look to see how they will develop their Service offerings in Music, TV, Home and Car fields.

Interesting times.

Decisions, decisions … Adobe Lightroom

A couple of U3A members have expressed an interest in purchasing Lightroom. It’s a confusing time in the Adobe world at the moment and the window for purchasing a stand-alone desktop version of the software (Version 6) is possibly closing, possibly … I don’t know!!

Adobe wants its users to move on to a Subscription-based Photography Plan which includes access and use of Photoshop as well as Lightroom, or alternatively a new Lightroom Creative Cloud Plan that is cloud-based with loads of cloud-storage and access to just Lightroom.

I decided to join the original plan about two years ago, and I hadn’t regretted it (until recently), but it does involve an ongoing commitment of c.£10.10 (currently) per month to allow you to keep editing your photos. If you cancel your subscription you can still access them, but the main editing functions are disabled. On the plus side you are provided with all the updates and new versions of the software whilst you still pay your subscription. As it was the main piece of photo software I used – it was a no-brainer for me back in 2015.

When I moved from Lightroom v.5 back in 2015, I opted for the Adobe Photography (20Gb) Plan Creative Cloud subscription. This is obtained from this link.

However beware. Adobe are pushing the cloud based service, rather than Lightroom as a desktop application, and are confusingly using the name of the old subscription Desktop application – Lightroom CC – to describe the mobile-world, cloud-based version which they are trying to push to the consumer market.

The desktop application is however ALSO part of the Photography Plan and IN MY HUMBLE OPINION this is the one you should be installing if you opt for the Photography Plan. It’s NOW called Lightroom Classic CC. This is the version that I upgraded to in the New Year – you could call it Lightroom 7.

However, as I said at the top of the message; if you just want a standalone, one-off purchase of Lightroom v.6 with a CD, it’s still available from Amazon for instance (also John Lewis, Curry’s and PC World I believe), or from Adobe direct.

Installing the standalone version from Adobe is relatively straightforward. You need to create an AdobeID as part of the process, and then you get a Licence Key. If you want to save c.£6  and NOT have the CD you can get it as a download to install the software – see the links from the Amazon page to get the “ xxx Activation code by email” version.

If you have an earlier version of Lightroom (e.g. v 4 & 5) you can upgrade it from this link and save yourself about 50% on the purchase price of Lightroom v.6, and if you’ve installed the Lightroom CC trial here’s a link if you want to change to Lightroom v.6.

Now this is important. Lightroom v.6 will not be upgraded in the future. It is not straightforward to go back to Lightroom 6 from Lightroom Classic CC (v.7) without losing some of the information you’ve applied with that later version. However for the amateur photographer there is plenty in Lightroom 6 and unless you’re thinking of buying some very expensive camera bodies and lenses in the future you probably won’t suffer from just using Lightroom v.6.

Installation assistance for Lightroom 6 is provided here.

If you decide to go down the Creative Cloud subscription route (as I did initially), you should be careful during the installation process, and you may find it useful to follow the assistance provided in this link.

If you want to ask me any questions before making a decision, don’t hesitate to do so, it will be my pleasure to try and answer them. If I can’t answer the question I will point you to a link which I think will answer the question.

So what is my recommendation? This matter has taken up a lot of my time just recently and I’ve agonised over the decision I should make. You can read about my reasoning and the decision I eventually made to probably stay with Lightroom v.6 whilst trying out Lightroom Classic in this blogpost.