OK, I’m sure you are curious about jumping into the driver’s seat and giving this new version of Lightroom a few laps around the block. There’s a lot of cool stuff in here, and if you have been using Lightroom for awhile you should feel very much at home, but there are a few things I want to mention before you go too far. I want to help you get started with testing this on the right foot. Yes, this is beta software, which means there are bugs and it is limited in some ways to help protect your existing data, so please proceed with caution and keep this in mind:
The public beta versions of Lightroom will not upgrade your existing catalog from an earlier version of Lightroom, so don’t even try to open your working Lightroom catalog into the beta. You will get rejected.
Similarly the public beta version can not import from a catalog from an earlier version of Lightroom.
Also, Adobe makes no promises that all the work you do in the beta will transfer over in exactly the same way to the final release version (whenever that should come). In fact, head over to Lightroom Journal and read everything they tell you.
So, this means it is time to start fresh! I found it best to:
1. Select photos in my Lightroom 3 catalog that I wanted to play with in the beta (put them in a collection if it is easier to wrangle).
2. Export these photos as Originals to a folder I named Beta Test (call yours whatever you want).
3. Then quit Lightroom 3 and launch Lightroom 4 Beta.
4. Click the Import button and import that folder of test subjects into Lightroom 4 Beta.
Now you have a safe batch of copies that you can play with and not worry about doing any damage to your real photos and videos (yes, be sure to bring some video over!). If you’ve never used a previous version of Lightroom before then that’s fine too! The public beta is open to all. Just make a copy of some photos and import them into the beta to play with.
One small change that I am very excited about is the fact that Lightroom 4 is much more helpful when you first launch the program in telling you that you need to “create a catalog to store information about your photos” then goes on to show you exactly where this catalog file will be stored, and even gives you the option to change the destination. Oh so simple, but I think this will help decrease confusion for a lot of people.
From there the program launches and it is Go time!
I’ll have an article on Peachpit.com with my top 10 new features appearing soon, a few deeper dive Beta tutorials here on my blog, and a big feature article in the Feburary issue of Photoshop User magazine. Also, stop by Kelby Training at 10am (Eastern Time) 1/10/12 for a live webcast that’s sure to be a lot of fun. In the meantime, here are a bunch of resources to get you started. Enjoy!