Is the Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription Model Worth It?

By now we all should know that Adobe has ditched the traditional one-time purchase for programs in favor of the new Creative Cloud subscription model. During the transition, there were growing pains and outrage amongst the creative community. People were upset that they would no longer be getting updates for the programs that they owned and the only way to stay current would be to subscribe to Adobe’s service. Now that the dust has settled from the transition, Justin Odisho weighs in with his thoughts on the subscription and if he thinks it’s worth it as a professional in the industry.

Throughout the video, he compares the pros and cons to the one-time purchase method versus the new subscription model, giving his insight as a videographer and how it has affected him. He also makes good points in terms of the cost by explaining a few things we could cut out to save the allotted amount for the Adobe programs we want. Personally, I remember the struggle in high school when I would have to download a cracked version of Photoshop just continue the work I was doing at school while I was at home. Then when I finally invested in just Photoshop my program was quickly outdated and to keep current I had to upgrade again. The subscription model makes the Adobe Suite more affordable and available to a vastly larger demographic and more people exploring creativity is always a good thing. What do you think about the new Creative Cloud?

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58 Comments

Jason Friedman's picture

As a creative who uses about six Adobe applications on a regular basis, I love the fact that for a monthly fee, I get access to the entire suite as well as the cloud. Updates have never been easier. And it's nice to be able to to pay a monthly fee and not worry about that $600 or $800 one time "hit" as previously when updating the entire collection. Also the being platform agnostic is nice if I have to get on a PC every now and then.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

Plus, with the platforms all your updates are in one spot!

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

Care to elaborate.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Personally I only have PS and LR subscription but I also own the older Adobe Suite. I used to use Dreamweaver a bit and some of Illustrator. I do not use them often enough to justify a monthly fee. However, when trying to install a couple of older components from the older suit, I had such problems I had to uninstall them. They now reside on another computer. Adobe does all they can to "convince" you to buy their monthly plan

My older suite is about 4 years old and works amazingly well. Unfortunately, I cannot use it on my new computer. I believe I paid around $1,000 for it so it made good economic sense.

Paying for it now will cost me around $800 CDN a year, almost as much as it cost me for a suite.

Adobe paying structure was not made for our benefit, it was 100% made for Adobe benefit. I do not see any advantage that the subscription has on top of the old ways so paying more does not make sense to me.

Adam Peariso's picture

This does bring up an important point that gets missed sometimes, the cost outside the USA. $50/month is actually $65/month up here as of today.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Yes, that is correct. In Europe and Australia the cost of Adobe suit is even higher, God knows why, it's the same product...

Adam Peariso's picture

Just glad I bought FCPX when our dollar was on par. $300 spent once, $0 for upgrades over 6 years. Now that's a software pricing model I can get behind ;)

Motti Bembaron's picture

What is FCPX?

Adam Peariso's picture

Apple's Final Cut Pro Ten, their video editing platform.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I see. I am a PC user so I am not familiar with MAC jargon :-)

Deacon Blues's picture

I guess local sales tax plays a role in this. Here in Germany, VAT is 19%, adding almost a fifth of the original price.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Excellent point. Here in Quebec, Canada it's %15. The dollar is weak so $50 USD is now $75 CDN (after taxes)

Adam Peariso's picture

I personally prefer the buy option. Simply because not every update is required so I did save money by waiting until there was an update I "needed". In terms of when I was a heavy photoshop user I was able to wait between CS2 and CS5 before I bothered to upgrade, had I been on the subscription model I would have ended up paying much more.

Honestly for what my workflow is in Photoshop these days, since I focus more on video and do as much processing in CaptureOne instead of Photoshop, I could still be using CS2.

Imagine if hardware was subscription only based...

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

All valid points.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Very true.

Ricky Bobby's picture

IT IS NOW!!! XD
Man adobe just thinks they're the cream of the crop! I saw one of adobe's biggest competitors at $1600 usd and now it's not even a bad price!
I was in college when i got cs6 and i bit the bullet.
Now I've learned it's one of the best decisions i ever made!
In 2013 i got a new desktop for $550 8 gig ram 500gig regular drive.
Now in 2018 last year i got a solid state laptop with 16g ram. 30 second restarts (when not updating) for $1660 (worth every penny)

Now I'm in the middle of transferring cs6 to my laptop. But my old email was hacked or something and i called adobe- they say the ONLY WAY to access my account is to get access into that email.
Hopefully i can get back in!

Oh, and cs6 as a college student in 2013 - master suite was $600!

I did the math and you pay that in like 1.5 years! (If you pay 3 (3 programs) x $30 per month = $90 x 12 months = $1080

Never mind it's way way more!!! XD

Adobe doesn't want our buisness anymore!!!

Dave Coates's picture

I actually prefer the subscription based cloud version. I do most of my editing on a desktop, but, life being what it is, i can install and edit on any computer as long as there is WiFi. if i use Adobe's cloud storage, i still even have access to works in progress and WiFi is available for free at McDonald's and Starbucks.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

That's another one of the pro's for me is it keeps my workflow center on atleast 2 devices. Back when I used both a laptop and desktop it helped tremendously.

Dave Coates's picture

Exactly! I think in today's world, mobility is one of the most important things to have. Also - down the rabbit hole, is a NAS. A decent NAS with 4 hard drives is much more cost effective currently than it was some years ago. I can upload everything to it and access it anytime without having to worry about my laptop dying or virus or some malware infecting my work folders.

Kirk Darling's picture

I didn't like the concept initially. But Adobe kept the single-app price low enough that it did compete with the cost of routine upgrades. Moreover, I'd had the experience after a hard drive crash of trying to convince a guy in India that because I hadn't planned for my hard drive to crash, I hadn't deactivated Photoshop beforehand, and I wasn't really trying to install a pirate copy. With CC, it's merely a matter of making an online switch from one computer to the other, easy and clean. First time I did that, I realized I never wanted to go home again.

Now that I'm also doing video, I'm also using Premiere Pro, After Effects, Media Encoder, Speedgrade, and Audition. Once you get past the basic Photoshop/Lightroom combination, it's all one price and it becomes absurd to want to stick to box product.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

Yep, being someone who does work across multiple programs the $50 a month is more than worth the cost.

Ricky Bobby's picture

So it's not $50 per program?

Kirk Darling's picture

Nope. One subscription fee for everything they have available.

Daris Fox's picture

Personally I'm still on CS 6, I've never felt the need to upgrade and CaptureOne handles all the RAWs just fine (in fact better than Lr/ACR) also I refuse to have my files held to ransom if I choose to stop my subscription (which is $50 for the full suite). I regularly use InDesign, Illustrator, PS/Bridge and other tools but some others only infrequently.

Kirk Darling's picture

"Files held to ransom?"

Daris Fox's picture

You can't access or use the files if you cancel your subscription unless you export in a lesser format defeating the point for many of Adobe's features found in the PSB format or EPS.

Kirk Darling's picture

That's not "my files held to ransom." My files are my RAW, JPEG, and TIFF, and those are application-independent. If you're concerned about saving your layered interim products, then save them as layered TIFF.

Adam Peariso's picture

More of a concern for the video editing and motion graphics apps.

Kirk Darling's picture

I've got some old manuscripts originally written with WordStar. At least the final output of modern image files can be output to a non-proprietary format. If that's your worry, it's a fatal illusion that box software any safer than subscription software. If anything, it's less safe. If I still had a copy of WordStar, it still would not run on Windows 10, and I'm not sure DOS 3 would even run on a Windows machine anymore. A better solution would be to use subscription software to continually render those files in each generation.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

Couldn't you just save your files that are on the cloud prior to canceling your subscription?

Ricky Bobby's picture

The question is do you like the new model and the answer most people gave is no.
Adobe stock doesn't move. No one loved it.
And in the technology world especially, if you're not going forward, you're going backwards. Adobe is a dodo bird.

Spy Black's picture

My experience has been with more dysfunctional software since the subscription model. Seems a new version fixes one or more bugs while introducing others. Although this happened to a degree before, it's standard operational procedure now. For instance, an earlier version of Photoshop I'm on now requires me to select a tool (any tool) in the tool bar before hotkeys work. No hotkeys will work until I do this. Now, I had updated to a newer version which fixed that issue, but the new version reset all tools to their default values every time I started Photoshop. For example if I set the lasso tool to polygon lasso, it would revert back to standard lasso next time I started Photoshop. It did that to ALL the tools. It would piss me off to no end. So I reverted back to the version that requires me to select a tool in the tool bar in order to activate the hotkeys, which I find less annoying. However I never had issues like this in Photoshop before the subscription model.

There are other quirks too, but you get the idea. Because Adobe is now a giant corporate monstrosity, stuff like this falls on deaf ears. Logging bugs and anomalies with Adobe is essentially like buying a lottery ticket and hoping that you hit. Unless your bug or anomaly is logged sufficiently, good luck ever seeing it corrected.

Lu Natalino's picture

I don't mind the subscription model. I like how I can sign into different computers at home and at work and I have access to everything.

What I DON'T like is the quality Adobe has been lacking in the last 2 or so years.

I use a completely specced out late 2016 iMac and:

Editing RAWs in Lightroom is painful.

Premiere can barely handle 4k footage without me having to spend an afternoon creating Proxies. Final Cut is 100x faster and barely lags with playback.

After Effects is so buggy, I usually have to clear the cache and restart several times a day.

I'd be completely willing to forgo a year of features I barely use for them to focus on making these apps actually useable.

J J's picture

I didn't watch the video. Fwiw I use CS6. Probably about 5 years now. I have multiple licenses across multiple machines. I don't think I want to take on the $100 or $200 / month it would cost for CC. not when I can use Final Cut if I need to and Motion. But we mostly use PS and Illustrator. The day LR becomes subscription is the day we move to C1. We already use DxO and Focus. If you are starting from scratch the CC no doubt has appeal. But in the good times and bad it's nice to own your software and not worry about subscriptions. My monthly software cost has been close to $0. The longer we maintain our existing system the more ahead of the game we are and ultimately I think a solid non subscription competitor will become our best option unless Adobe changes which seems unlikely. I still use LR 5.7 because it works fine and our catalogs are uniform (I think we have one or two machines running older OS). But we bought multiple licenses of LR 6 just in case they close that door. Just waiting to be used when we need to move up.

Kirk Darling's picture

Multiple instances of multiple apps across multiple machines would cost $50, not $100 or $200. And if you have a crash, you just download it again, including your customizations.

J J's picture

Downloading would be handy. But, correct me if I'm wrong but CC at $50 is limited to 2 or 3 machines right?

Kirk Darling's picture

Two machines at a time, but you can drop a machine and add a new one online, practically on the fly (with your customizations), then drop the new one and go back to an old one.

Mark Davidson's picture

I like the subscription model because I have the latest version with the latest features and, at times, the latest bugs and bug fixes.

I also have the version that the developers are most responsive to.

What I really like is that on occasion I need InDesign and rather than buying a full version as I did in the past, I rent it for the project I need it for and bill the client.

The cost is reasonable and as a full time pro, a negligible cost of doing business.
I spend more on coffee.

Musing Eye's picture

As an amateur, I've gone the route of single-purchase of ACDSee. I certainly could see that if I was a professional using such a product every day then the subscription would make more sense.

william mitchell's picture

I have never used CC and am still on PS CS 5 and LR 4 I think Adobe software had better quality control before CC.

Tim Tilden's picture

I never had a problem with renting the software. I didn't like doing away with the option to upgrade software I had a perpetual license for. I was not interested in another monthly bill since I wasn't a professional using it to make a living. In exchange for giving Adobe your money every month, you were supposed to get a more continuous update cycle. As Tom Hogarty acknowledged recently the update cycle hasn't done anything for the performance issues for LR. I haven't paid attention but I wonder if Adobe has lived up to it's promise of continuous upgrades in all the apps.

Michael DeRose's picture

I wish we still had the option. I think they still could if they priced it at $100-200 dollars (PS/Lightroom combo) with the option to go subscription. They could get rid of elements and Adobe basically has two years "prepaid". Having flexibility of going off and on a sub, would be great. Want that update later, well resub (maybe at half a years rate). Lastly, I think that this might push adobe to make improvements. What incentive does the company have to push and improve the platforms if they have almost everyone by their private bits? To me, the CC is only really great if you use all the different products.

Tino C's picture

What exactly is this 'latest version' that subscription fans are taking about?

I am a pro real estate photographer and was subscribed for a couple of years and the 'latest version' was nothing more than the free update we used to have on the buy outright model.

I think the subscription sucks, and hence I stopped it. With the buy outright model, you only buy if there is something worth upgrading to.

With the subscription model you keep on paying monthly, and all you get is slow outdated software (Lightroom in my case) with bug fixes, or new bugs dribbling in.

Photoshop is full of bloat and I only use a fraction of it.

I used to give money to Adobe when a new version was worth buying...now I'm giving them nothing and enjoying every moment of it.

I am a small business and another monthly bill is the last thing I want to worry about. There is this misconception that if you are a professional photographer, you are somehow making millions and can afford to spend more money than you have to on software and gear.

gabe s's picture

I use CC currently, simply because of convenience. I looked at Capture One, and its $300 for the initial download, with $99 upgrades. I just use Photoshop and Lightroom, so at $10 a month, thats 4 years of CC for the price of C1, assuming upgrading once.

Andrew Swanson's picture

As an individual user the platform is definitely worth it. Especially if you are a creative professional. However, one aspect a lot of people don't talk about is the Creative Cloud suite on the institutional level. There's a whole host of problems dealing with the license institutionally, for example, constant updates which render previous versions unusable in regards to backwards compatibility. Rather than being able to update on-demand like you can as an individual user, institutionally we are at the mercy of the update being driven on the schedule of our IT department. With the buy option, you at least knew if you have had CS6, and another machine had CS6, you could open your project file no problem. However, with CC, it can be a crap shoot.

Joe Black's picture

My 2c. If you are a creative and you do work for an agency or you get a job in one you can put stop your CC membership and use their business membership until you finish your work with them. Some cost saving opportunity :)

Tino C's picture

Adobe is the dominant player in the photography software space, and their arrogance is conspicuous by their apathy to improve their products. They can decide how much, and in which way, they prefer to put their hands in your wallet and take your money.

Lightroom is pathetically slow and not being updated and modernised for professional photographers that actually spend hours using it. Instead we get unless mobile app gimmicks.

Photoshop is a clunky sledgehammer, when most photographers need a mallet. Photoshop Elements just lacks the critical tools photographers need.

Geoff Adler's picture

It's worth it for pros, IMO. If you're an amateur and complaining, then maybe don't? It's a professional suite, not meant to be a once-in-a-while leisure toy to make HDR pictures of flowers and tilted cityscapes or "logos". It was easy to pirate when I was in college, but the education discount made it affordable-ish. I feel like a lot of who still complains about it are just butthurt that it isn't easy to pirate anymore. Photoshop and Lightroom alone are like $10/month though, aren't they?

Paul Elliott's picture

The Photography plan is perfect for me. I think it's considered carefully by Adobe to be for photographers who just want full access to the potential of their photos without the massive cash outlay of a professional designer/editor. Some of us want the power purely for personal work that may never make any money at all. Great price point. Excellent tools.

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