Today’s Question: Is it a reasonable workflow alternative with an image previously processed in an older Lightroom Development version to export a duplicate, remove all processing and reprocess with the new Develop module?
Tim’s Quick Answer: I would suggest simply creating a virtual copy rather than creating a duplicate of the original image file. You can then use updated settings for either the original image or the virtual copy, preserving the original look based on the older process version.
More Detail: Today’s question is a follow-up from a couple of questions about process versions in Lightroom Classic that I addressed recently. A process version basically represents a particular version of Lightroom Classic in the context of the Develop module. To take advantage of all the latest features and adjustment updates, you need to be working with the latest process version, which can be viewed and changed in the Calibration section of the right panel in the Develop module..
However, if you change the process version for a photo it is possible (or even likely) that the appearance of the photo may change. It can therefore be a good idea to preserve the appearance based on the existing process version before updating to a new process version.
As suggested in today’s question, you could certainly create a duplicate copy of the original image, such as by exporting a copy and adding that copy to the Lightroom Classic catalog. However, you can also easily accomplish this by using a virtual copy.
For example, you could right-click on an image that is set to an older process version and choose “Create Virtual Copy” from the popup menu. You could then update the process version for just one of those images. In this case I would probably keep the old process version set for the virtual copy, and update the process version for the original image.
You could then update the adjustment settings for the image you updated the virtual copy for, even going so far as to click the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module to reset all adjustments to their defaults. But the point is that you can refine the overall adjustments based on the latest process version, while preserving the previous version of the image with an older process version for your reference.