Lightroom Virtual Copies to Darktable

Hello everyone;

I would like to move from Lightroom to Darktable, so I followed some online tutorials in order to get all my work done in Lightroom exported to Darktable (creating individual XMP files…), but there is a specific issue I couldn’t find the solution yet…

I usually make all Lightroom photo editing on virtual copies, instead of the original Raw files… is there any option to get these virtual processed copies from Lightroom imported into Darktable? Otherwise, what are the steps should I make to get these processed virtual copies also in Darktable?

Many thanks in advance!

I may be misunderstanding this completely - but you create virtual copies or all your raws and work on them? Can I ask Why? Lightroom (or most raw processors) do not touch the raw at all… hence no need to create the virtual copy unless you want variants of an image.

DT creates an xmp with a _01 on the end eg 20220807-X-T4-DSCF1719_01.RAF.xmp when the original would be 20220807-X-T4-DSCF1719.RAF.xmp but I assume that when you create a V Copy a DB entry is made. I’m sure some far more knowledgeable people will be along shortly as I’m new to DT


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Also your milage may vary but DT is not an open source LR. The modules are totally different. Your LR edits will not be preserved…

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Have a look at darktable 4.0 user manual - importing sidecar files generated by other applications
The supported modules are quite old, so don’t expect an identical result

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I echo the view that DT is going to make little sense of LR xmp files. For that matter, any raw processor commercial or free will make little sense of xmp files generated by LR for LR. When I process an image in LR or DT I never consider the job done until I export a 16 bitt tiff file of the image to capture all the edits in a new image file. I personally don’t care about the editing steps I did in the past on my raw files because both the DT software and myself get better with time and I like to start developing the image with fresh eyes. I know this doesn’t answer your post, but since the LR xmp files will not be reproducible in any other software besides LR itself I just share my thoughts and approach to editing. Good luck with your editing. DT is so much more fun to work with than LR.

Of course, that works both ways: don’t expect LR (or any other program not specifically aiming for compatibility) to make sense of dt editing instructions. Though I would expect such other programs to read the xmp files and use the non-editing metadata (keywords, captions and such).

The reason is that each program has its own (implementation of) editing steps. Other programs don’t know the details of those implementations, or the meaning of the parameters. Add to that differing release schedules, and it becomes impossible to maintain compatibility with other programs.

So, the “compatiblity problem” is not specific to LR or dt, it’s a consequence of having different programs…
And it’s not an incompatibility between the “xmp formats” used either, those are the same. Being able to read the xmp doesn’t mean you know how to interpret the different fields, but that’s actually normal and expected for xmp/xml: unknown or unhandled xml tags are supposed to be ignored…


Hi @5teve; Yes, your assumption was right, I use to always create virtual copies, so the original RAW file remains untouched, but I understand this might be a mistake from my side and there is no need for doing it.

Sorry, I’m not sure what DB entry means for you, if you meant to say DT, I believe no XMP file is created for any V Copy, as far as I’m aware…

Thanks, @Terry.

I really appreciate your explanation, as it might be part of my “solution”. Exporting all the processed virtual copies from LR as 16 bitt tif files, at least, allows me to import them on DT. Unfortunately, I believe the editing history process of the image behind these Tiff files can’t be imported on DT… am I right?

Hope you are right, DT feels overwhelmed at the begging :sweat_smile:

Yes I would assume this is a mistake on your side, although I understand why… but as it is LR and all other raw processors wont touch the original file - they store the edits in various ways (database, sidecar etc) and your export is the final image. I use virtual copies when I want to try variations of an image - eg i want a B&W and colour version…

DB - sorry as in database… i’m new to DT but assume it has a database for files etc. I may well be (and probably am) wrong about it though. As for Virtual copies in Darktable they do have xmp files.

FYI… DT config files…location and function…

Translated DT Config Files Document v (31.1 KB)

Yes it has a steeper learning curve than LR which has a black box controlled by a few sliders. DT gives far more control. Now that I have got more experience with DT I could not go back to LR. Also I can now edit very quickly in DT which initially I could not. Experience, reading the manual, watching some videos and asking and reading questions here all helps.

Also reading this section about sidecar files would answer many of your questions.
LR hides the xmp files in the database (catalog) while DT places it in the folder with the image. It also stores the xmp file in its database if I am correct. I am not too hung up about preserving the xmp files and occasionally delete them as I know I can do a better edit because I have become more experienced with DT and DT has improved capabilities. Xmp files are good for sharing with people so they can see you edits for themselves. Many people post them in this forum.

IIRC Lr never touch a RAW anyway.

And IIRC Virtual Copy is the equivalent of dt clone. See documentation.