Each time a new version of Lightroom is launched there’s the inevitable question: “Can I use my LR version-x catalogs?“
The short answer is yes, of course. Lightroom engineers make it that way. Today Lightroom 4 was officially released after an initial public beta period so those folks with Lightroom 3 catalogs are asking that very question.
When you try to open a LR3 catalog you will be prompted to upgrade the catalog.
Please pay attention to the destination of the catalog. You have the opportunity to move it to a separate location if you wish but by default it will be in the same location as the version-x catalog. Note too, that the previous version catalog is not deleted so you may want to take care of that yourself once you are satisfied the new installation is solid and you are comfortable with it.
What about the new Process version?
If you have processed any images in a previous version of Lightroom you will notice a small symbol on the images when you look at them in the Develop Module. One of the changes that were made in Lightroom 4 is the “Process Version”. Essentially everything on the right side of the Develop Module.
If you click the symbol you can update the processing of your file to the current version but you should take care when doing this. Even though it is undoable you may want to check the box “Review Changes via Before/After before pressing the Update button.
As you can see, the difference can be quite dramatic. (click for larger version)
To accept the new version simply press the “D” key to continue processing.
Why the difference?
Lightroom 4 has changed more than the terminology used for the Basic Panel and added more options to the Local Adjustments.
Can I have both versions?
If you want to keep your current adjustment AND create a version with the new Process Version you can use Virtual Copies to achieve this.
Photo > Create Virtual Copy. This will create a duplicate version in Lightroom without making a duplicate version on your hard drive. Thats why they call it virtual. In fact this file doesn’t really exist until you Export it or Edit it in Photoshop with the changes you apply in Lightroom.
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