So I like the idea of virtual copies in LR, I just don't like LR or how slow it is.
So, is it possible to do the equivalent of Virtual Copies with bridge? The only way I can see doing this is to save all of your edits as XMP files with the various edits, and then when you launch the RAW File from Bridge, load the XMP file you need for the specific "copy" you wish to edit or work with.
I mean after all, in LR, a Virtual Copy is just a separate ("virtual") set of edits and adjustments on the same image.
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You can't do virtual copies in ACR, but it would be nice. You're idea about copying the XMP files would work.
OK that's sort of how I figured you would do various versions of a file (using different XMP files) in ACR.
TheVirtual Copy feature is a benefit of LR being database based. The XMP format doesn't support separate parallel editing parameters.
Duplicate the RAW file and apply different settings. That is quick and easy.
The whole point of VCs is that you avoid having to copy the photo file and use double disc space. A VC takes up only about 25 KB of space.
But you have to install and use Lightroom.
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You can to some extent do this using Snapshots. This allows a single set of external XMP (in the file system) to contain a number of alternative, named editing states. These states can be recalled within ACR. Whenever you do so the prior visible editing state gets overwritten so that may turn out quite laborious in practice. You'd need to have saved that to a different Snapshot in order not to lose those adjustments. It is all much less slick and fluid, than how things work inside LrC. There the image states can sit alongside, be virtually organised independently, be edited as a batch or singly, have settings copied between, and then get output freely as if they were two different source images - even though they in fact share the same source file throughout.
Snapshots read back and forth between LrC and ACR provided you are writing Catalog metadata to, and updating Catalog metadate from, external XMP at the LR end.
Within LrC all Snapshots happen in common across the master and any virtual copies, for a given source file. These all share the same single list of Snapshots, IOW. This logically maps onto how such Snapshots would otherwise work with ACR, against that same source file. So if you save a Virtual Copy out to a Snapshot in LrC, write metadata to file, open into ACR, you can recover that Snapshot which matches the VC's editing in LR - which would otherwise not be accessible to ACR. Alternatively if you switch master and copy within LrC so that what was the chosen VC now becomes the master, and write out metadata, this chosen image state will become the new primary one that's seen by ACR.