Today’s Question: Recently my photos all started showing a lightning bolt on the Histogram panel, and when I click on that symbol, I get a message saying my photos need to be updated for “new processing technology”. Why did this happen, and should I update the photos?
Tim’s Quick Answer: The recent upgrade to Lightroom Classic version 12.4 involved an update to the latest Process Version (version 6). You can simply update existing photos on an as-needed basis if you’re going to work with them in the Develop module. While it is possible to update all photos in batch, this could cause some minor variations in the appearance of photos.
More Detail: With some updates to Lightroom Classic a new Process Version for the Develop module is created, reflecting changes in the adjustments available or the algorithms for processing photos. With the update to Lightroom Classic version 12.4, the new Process Version 6 has become available.
All new photos you import into Lightroom Classic will have the latest Process Version applied automatically, but existing photos will retain the Process Version that is assigned to them. The number of Process Versions in use will vary depending on how long you’ve been using Lightroom Classic and whether you’ve updated the process version for existing photos along the way.
It is possible to update a large batch of photos at once to the latest process version. For example, you could select all photos in a given folder, or all photos in your entire catalog within the All Photographs collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. You could then select all the photos and click the lightning bolt icon in the Histogram section of the right panel. In the confirmation dialog you can then click the “Update All Selected Photos” button if you want to update all selected photos to the latest Process Version, or the Update button if you only want to update the single active photo.
However, updating the process version can cause a slight change in the appearance of a photo. You may therefore want to only update the Process Version for photos you’ll be updating the adjustments for in the Develop module. There’s nothing inherently wrong with leaving existing photos set to an older Process Version so they’ll retain the appearance based on the original adjustments you applied.