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Thread: Darktable (photo editing software)

  1. #1
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    Darktable (photo editing software)

    I've been using Darktable as a photo editor for the last couple weeks and just wanted to post because it is a great piece of software. Unlike Gimp, it does non-destructive editing, and the entire focus seems to be on photography instead of general image editing. Its editing modules seem to be designed more with photography in mind. For example, some of the main ones I normally use are shadows & highlights, exposure compensation, sharpening, and color compensation. There is even a "Velvia" module, which I guess is supposed to simulate the colors of Velvia film. That's not something you would expect to find in Gimp. You can also view and work with entire collections of photos easily in one session, instead of having to import a new image each time.

    Apparently, eventually the developers will add masks and conditional blending (I think these things are already in the development version) so that you can selectively apply edits to only parts of images, but for most of my tasks it is already everything I need it to be. I just hope the development and support for this program will continue for a long time, and actually if anyone knows more about the developers and how dedicated they are to this program I'd certainly like to hear it.

    Just as a postscript, I want to note that this post wasn't intended to put down Gimp in any way. Don't get me wrong, Gimp is a also a great tool and is certainly more powerful than Darktable in many ways. There are many reasons to use Gimp instead of Darktable, depending on the task, and I'm sure that using both programs you could certainly achieve brilliant results. I just wanted to talk about Darktable, and Gimp is a natural point of comparison in the open source world.

  2. #2
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    Re: Darktable (photo editing software)

    This is the first time I've heard of Darktable, it sounds interesting. I primarily use Gimp for creating digital cartoon artwork, and it's very good for that purpose after rearranging the toolbox around my workflow, so I can't testify to GIMP's photo-editing capabilities. It was pretty hard the last time I tried for a couple of memes, though, it took a lot of playing around to convincingly warp new text over a photo of a blanked road sign.

  3. #3
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    Re: Darktable (photo editing software)

    Quote Originally Posted by johnluke728 View Post
    This is the first time I've heard of Darktable, it sounds interesting. I primarily use Gimp for creating digital cartoon artwork, and it's very good for that purpose after rearranging the toolbox around my workflow, so I can't testify to GIMP's photo-editing capabilities. It was pretty hard the last time I tried for a couple of memes, though, it took a lot of playing around to convincingly warp new text over a photo of a blanked road sign.
    For that kind of work, I think Gimp would definitely better. Darktable is more for enhancing photos (i.e. changing exposure, color balance, sharpness, noise reduction, recovering highlights, lifting shadows, etc.) instead of convincingly adding elements that weren't already there.

    Apparently it has some ability to work with RAW files (I think GIMP can too) depending on the format. For some types of files it might be necessary to use some other converter like dcraw and export them to 16-bit TIFF before importing them into Darktable. From what I've read, Darktable is able to work with 16-bit files, whereas GIMP can only do 8-bit, but then this doesn't really affect me at the moment because I only have a point-and-shoot camera that doesn't save RAW files anyway.
    Last edited by montag dp; October 16th, 2013 at 07:16 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Darktable (photo editing software)

    Darktable is, in fact, a RAW developing, processing and workflow tool. Strictly for photography, unlike Gimp, which is mostly not about photography.

    They maintain Ubuntu PPA's which are usually more current than the repos.

  5. #5
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    Re: Darktable (photo editing software)

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzingrobot View Post
    Darktable is, in fact, a RAW developing, processing and workflow tool. Strictly for photography, unlike Gimp, which is mostly not about photography.

    They maintain Ubuntu PPA's which are usually more current than the repos.
    I might have to give the PPA a try. It sounds like it might have the conditional blending functionality in there. Anyway, it's a great program. There's just always the worry with open source projects that it will eventually be dropped and I will have to find different software to do the same thing. This would be a big inconvenience when you have a whole library of photos that you are used to working a certain way with. For now, it seems like development is ongoing as far as I can tell. I'm just being a worry-wart and I like this program a lot (can you tell?).

  6. #6
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    Re: Darktable (photo editing software)

    Per the site (darktable.org) they have a stable version, stable plus extra features, and an unstable development version.

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