I’m thinking about the (far) future of my Lightroom catalogue and how these hundreds of thousands of images will look like in 20-30 years from now. Are they gonna change slightly (or drastically) due to the software changes, or they will look exactly the same as I edited them. I’m talking about DNGs here, not TIFFs and JPGs.
I use several 3rd party profiles, including NLP, and I’m wondering, what would happen when NLP doesn’t exist anymore and when it’s not updated anymore, even though Adobe continues to update Lightroom. Is there a danger that somewhere down the road, our conversions with NLP will be useless and we’ll have to convert them manually again. For example, in 20 yeas I cannot find the right profile anywhere and I have 60,000 photos embedded with that profile. Or simply Lightroom changes so much that they don’t support profiles as we know them today, and since NLP doesn’t exists anymore, there’s nobody to update to the new version.
We never know what will hit us in the long term. The safest bet is to store photos in a well known format instead of a recipe stored in a database in an application that might go away at some point in time.
For electronic storage, this format is probably TIFF, which has been around for a long time. And how about a good old print? Not practical if we want to safeguard our umpty-thousand images…but allows us to see images without batteries or power supply.
Technology moves very quickly, for instance desktop computers are being displaced by tablets and/or phones and look at the way hardware has changed over the last 20 years - SCSI, Firewire, USB, USB2, USB3, Lightning etc. One wonders how long cameras can continue to be made profitably now that everyone is using their phones. You mention your Lightroom Catalogue, I’m still using Lightroom 6.14 Perpetual because I know that I can run it on my computers for as long as I need to, I own it in effect. ‘Upgrading’ to the subscription service means that catalogues are upgraded and if I were to choose to stop the subscription I’d be left pretty high and dry. Yes, you can continue to use the Library, but that’s not a lot of consolation, could you export the images as tiffs after you stop the subscription? I don’t know the answer to that.
I wonder how long Adobe will continue to support LR Classic, you have to know what you’re looking for to find it on their site, you are pushed instead towards the dumbed-down Cloud-based version with its hosting options.
So I agree, tiffs seem like the best option for longevity, or indeed prints. However practical long-time preservation of digital images, through generations, passing down through your family perhaps, it seems pretty unviable. I have my grandfather’s negatives and prints, some over 100 years old, I don’t see that working with digital.
The Adobe CC manager just offered to update Lr 11 to Lightroom version 12.
Note: This is an update with a major release number change and you might want to backup your catalog for fallback, should you need it.
A bit puzzled by your question. Changes to your software and file formats will be incremental; as changes are introduced, you will update your software and apply any format changes as they evolve.
Adobe’s official preference for long term archiving of files is to use TIFF, in spite of the fact that they actually created PSD. Adobe also pioneered DNG, and it is their expectation that this, too, will become an ISO recognised file format. As it is, it is a de-facto ISO format, a technical difference more than anything.
Rest assured that there will be something which will manage your files in the future; for example Photoshop (a single function software) dates from 1987 and survives. Some of us remember Apple’s Aperture, which likely inspired Adobe to invest heavily into Lightroom. As they have a monopoly on this dual function software at the moment, it’s hard to imagine that changing in the future. If Adobe are stupid enough to continue to push people to use their crappy Lightroom Cloud version, someone will no doubt develop a LR C replacement.
Long term archiving usually requires a migration to newer technologies every nn years. I’ts not just about the image files themselves, but also about metadata. Keeping the image files should be a lesser issue than keeping metadata, development settings etc. Also, the data carrier can age or die. Staying on top of these things requires some thought, preparation and action.
Just to answer my own question, it seems that you can. You can’t use Develop or Maps but you can use Quick Develop from the Library. You can continue to import and export and you can edit (presumably as a 16-bit tiff or psd) in a third-party program and the result comes back in to the Lightroom catalogue. If you are importing RAW files then that camera would have to be supported by that version of Lightroom and its associated Adobe Camera Raw. Not a CC subscriber so just going from what I’ve seen on the web. Official Adobe guidance here.
“You can continue to access all your photos on your local hard drive through Lightroom for the desktop. You can continue to import and organize photos and output your edited photos through Export, Publish, Print, Web, or Slideshow. Access to the Develop & Map modules and Lightroom for mobile is not available after your membership ends.”