Here’s some Lightroom 3 Beta Q&A’s for ya:

Q. Will the beta run next to my real version of Lightroom 2? Basically, can I use both?
A. Yep. No problem you can use both at the same time.

Q. Will my Lightroom 2 Catalogs Work with Lightroom 3 Beta?
A. No. You’ll have to import a whole new set of images in order to use the beta. You can’t just open (or export) a LR2 catalog.

Q. If I use the beta will I be able to upgrade to the real version of the software and keep all of my work?
A. That’s where things get tricky. Adobe always recommends that you don’t do any work in the beta that you’re not prepared to eventually lose. It really is just for testing and demo purposes. So there’s no guarantee that the work you do will be portable to the full version of LR3. However, in the past, the catalogs have upgraded but again, that’s not a promise for the future. I always have a hard time with this one because once the beta comes out, I have to be honest with you and say I start using it full time. I know I shouldn’t and I know its bad, but what can I say. Once I get a taste of the new features its no fun to use the old ones anymore. Let’s hope that it does indeed upgrade the catalog from the betas as Lightroom has done before 🙂

Q. When will the full version of Lightroom 3 actually ship?
A. Adobe isn’t releasing that information right now. In an interview I did with product manager Tom Hogarty, he mentioned that it wouldn’t be as long at the beta period for LR1 (like a year or so) but it wouldn’t be as short as the beta for Lightroom 2 (only a few months). And the software itself has no indication like a “This software expires on October 31, 2009” or anything like that.

Q. In your movie on the Lightroom Learning Center, you said that the Luminance slider under Noise Reduction was grayed out and not hooked up yet. But I imported some photos and its there. Why?
A. Yeah, the Luminance slider will be grayed out when editing raw files that haven’t been edited before. If you’ve imported a photo into Lightroom that was edited in a previous version of LR or Camera Raw, then Lightroom is applying the old noise removal and sharpening stuff to it. You’ll know this is the case if you go to the Settings > Process Version menu in the Develop module and see “Version 1”. That means its using the old stuff. You’ll have to update to Version 2 to take advantage of the new sharpening and noise removal improvements (and the lack of Luminance slider).

Q. What’s all the hype around the Import dialog? I don’t have any problems importing photos.
A. As an existing Lightroom user I don’t think the Import dialog improvements were really meant for you. If you’ve been using Lightroom, then chances are you know how to import by now. However, an easier Importing process is essential for Lightroom to grow beyond current users to new ones. Its been a little clunky in the past. Those that know it, know it. Those that never used Lightroom will now understand that importing process (hopefully) easier then you did when you were learning.

Q. So Matt, what’s your take on the beta?
A. My take is actually very similar to what Tom Hogarty was saying in the interview I did with him. The beta feels a bit more unrefined to me then previous ones. That’s pretty evident when there’s a slider that doesn’t even work (Noise Removal). For so long people have almost gotten used to the fact that a beta was really close to a shipping version of the software. Adobe’s not saying for sure but they have alluded to the fact that there will be more features coming in the full version. So I think its cool for now. The features that are there are definitely worth trying out, but there’s a handful of features that aren’t there (as many of you pointed out) that I hope make it into the full release. In the short term, the beta is nice but not life-changing. It does whet my appetite for what’s to come which, in the long term, I’m sure will have a bigger change on my everyday workflow in Lightroom.