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Adobe launches Photoshop-Lightroom subscription

Through the end of 2013, those who bought Photoshop CS3 or later can use Adobe's photo-editing tools for $10 a month, but not everyone is pleased. Also: Lightroom 5.2 ships with new "smoothness" adjustment.

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Stephen Shankland
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Adobe wants photography pros and enthusiasts to sign up for a subscription that bundles Lightroom, Photoshop, and some services for $10 a month. It's only for those who bought a license to CS3 or later, and the $10 price is a limited-time offer through the end of 2013.
Adobe wants photography pros and enthusiasts to sign up for a subscription that bundles Lightroom, Photoshop, and some services for $10 a month. It's only for those who bought a license to CS3 or later, and the $10 price is a limited-time offer through the end of 2013. Adobe Systems

Adobe Systems on Tuesday announced the availability of its $10-per-month subscription for Lightroom and Photoshop and released Lightroom 5.2, which expands and refines the software's photo-editing tools.

More details on Lightroom 5.2 are below, but here's how the new subscription works. It's called the Photoshop Photography Program, and it's available only to those who have a license to Photoshop CS3 or later. Unlike the discounted promotional price for its broader Creative Cloud subscription, which costs Creative Suite customers $30 per month for the first year and then $50 afterward, the Photoshop-Lightroom subscription price doesn't increase. But customers have to sign up by the end of 2013.

The subscription also includes membership in the the Behance sharing site, a sort of social network for creative people who want to publicize their work online, online training resources, and 20GB of synchronized online storage. Adobe offered the program in response to criticism that its full-fledged Creative Cloud program is too expensive for photography enthusiasts. Although Adobe has largely ceased updating its CS version of Photoshop sold through perpetual licensing, it continues to sell Lightroom licenses for about $150.

Not everyone is happy with the subscription program. "Today I spoke to a direct sales rep, and he told me that I was not eligible because I chose to get the full CS6 suite through the Creative Cloud in 2012 and that my educational discount versions (CS4 and CS5) don't qualify me," one customer calling himself George complained in a comment to Adobe's announcement. "Even if I can't get the $9.99 per month rate, I think I should be able to get both Photoshop and Lightroom in the single-app bundle for $19.99 per month."

Separately, Adobe said customers are signing up for the full Creative Cloud subscription faster than expected, with more than 1 million subscribers as of August 30.

The subscription program has angered some customers who don't want to use software that stops working if they stop paying and who say Adobe is raising prices. Adobe argues that the program means customers will get access to a broader range of software, get updates sooner, and tap into new online services. Investors rewarded the company by pushing its stock price up based on the subscription numbers.

David Wadhwani, the leader of Adobe's creative software products, tried to convince skeptics that the Creative Cloud will expand to offer more value in the future.

"Creative Cloud is still in its infancy, and we have a lot more to do," Wadhwani said a blog post. "And thanks in part to your feedback, the year ahead should be fun and exciting as we continue...to build a creative platform with fully integrated software, services and hardware."

Separately, Adobe announced its foray into hardware with its Mighty stylus, which it'll begin selling in the first half of 2014 in cooperation with stylus maker Adonit. The stylus taps into some Creative Cloud services, for example letting an artist copy artwork to a virtual clipboard and then paste it into a coworker's project using the pen.

The Adobe Mighty stylus
The Adobe Mighty stylus Adobe Systems

Lightroom gets "smoothness" adjustment
Adobe also released Lightroom 5.2, the first major update to the newer version of the image editing and cataloging software. There was no Lightroom 5.1 because of timing complications involving the release of Lightroom and Photoshop, which share the same engine for processing raw-format photos.

Lightroom 5.2 adds a new editing tool, a slider called "smoothness" that's designed to reduce color-mottling artifacts that are most obvious in digital photos taken at high sensitivity, high-noise settings. These mottled colors often show up as large blotches of reddish or greenish tint to the photo colors.

Adobe also brought improvements to the spot-healing tool, which is used to do things like remove skin wrinkles or dust spots, for example by letting photographers feature the edge of the area being edited. And the auto exposure algorithm has been improved for those who want to let Lightroom take a first pass at photo editing settings, Adobe said.

Also new in Lightroom 5.2 is support for the Canon 70D, an SLR likely to be popular with photo enthusiasts. Other new cameras supported:

• Canon PowerShot G16

• Casio Exilim EX-ZR800

• Fujifilm FinePix HS22EXR

• Fujifilm FinePix HS35EXR

• Fujifilm FinePix S205EXR

• Fujifilm X-A1

• Fujifilm X-M1

• Leica C (Typ 112)

• Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70

• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72

• Pentax Q7

• Pentax K-50

• Pentax K-500

• Sony DSC-RX100 II

• Sony A3000 (ILCE-3000)

• Sony NEX-5T

Lightroom also includes preliminary support for two very new cameras, the Canon PowerShot S120 and Olympus OM-D E-M1. Preliminary support for Phase One's medium-format IQ260 that was in the beta version was taken off the list, however.

For those who shoot tethered -- in which a USB cable pipes images directly into Lightroom from the camera as they're shot -- Lightroom 5.2 now supports the Canon EOS 6D, the Canon Rebel Rebel T5i / 700D, the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D, and the Nikon D7100.

For lens corrections, Lightroom 5.2 can fix images from the GoPro Hero 3 and a variety of Hasselblad, Sony, and Sigma lenses.

Adobe Creative Cloud graphic
Adobe Systems is trying to move its customers to its Creative Cloud subscription. Adobe Systems