3.0 How to get good results automatically?

Hi’ @aurelienpierre

Thank you for a thorough answer as always.
In the release notes it is strongly recommended to disable sharpening when using the RGB workflow. I think I recall that you in your new filmic tutorial used another tool to sharpen your images? But you recommend to disable the sharpen tool, do your filmic tuning and then do sharpening with the standard sharpening tool?

I’m surprised of your reaction to my statement that an raw image is “dull” when no type of s-curve is applied. I’m just quoting your very own words from your excellent tutorial. You demonstrate the need for filmic or base curve by showing a picture og some fancy modern architecture with the base curve and filmic module turned off: you get an image that is “very dull and very dark”!! I quite agree…….

I think it should be easy to open a photo in dt and get a good starting point for further editing. Expert users can choose to apply a lot of different tools but a new user needs or appreciates a good starting point. That could the image with the base curve applied (as it is now), filmic in auto mode or the new basic adjustments tool in auto mode.

Why has the new basic tool been released if not to make it quick and easy to do some basic editing? Therefore, I think that dt out of the box should open with the basic adjustments tool in auto mode.

I’m looking forward to study your article in the English version……

Everyone has a different module they want on by default. We should have as few modules on as possible by default and let the user auto apply a style or turn on what they want.

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You can define a style for that and let it be autoapplied for your images

When I open a RAW first I want to see what’s ging in in the file. Means: how much CA, noise, clipping, sharpness is in the RAW and how do I have to handle with them later.
If everything is fine in the RAW then I can apply my style with some presets. If not, I have to go manually in some of these issues.

If darktable applies edits automatic, that would Heide some of these problems. I could overlook them or See them after I already applied some modules. Them I have to rework parts of my edits or discard them.

Therefore I don’t want darktable to apply any automatic style at all.


Hi @all,

altough a huge amount of the discussion is about the (pretty awesome) article from @aurelienpierre, I’d like to come back to the origin topic, because it also bothers me since a couple of years. In the last years I went back and forth if I should use DT or not (long story here: On the search for a good DT workflow, although already a bit older). I had some good last years with Capture One but am now at the point where I will definitively stick to an open source workflow at all.

I understand the thoughts of the TO. I also am absolutley with @aurelienpierre that no-one can expect that photography should be easy and should be doable in 15sec and also no-one can expect to have some 1:1 Lighroom, C1, whatever clone. One needs to be willed to learn. But I do not think that a normal enduser does need to understand all the stuff regarding algorithms, pixelpipelines, and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutley honor the awesome work (especially everything in 3.0), but from an enduser perspective this is VERY technical (and I am an IT guy).

I know, opensource software works different in many regards and the scope very often is driven by the people contributing to it, but as far as I understood, DT should (besides much more) also be a Lightroom alternative. And IMHO the normal LR user does not know anything about pixelpipelines and all the other stuff to achieve some good results.

To make a long story short (I know, too late :-))
I am now at a point where I do not really know anymore, which modules should be used, which should be avoided, which can be combined, which are a good starting point to use in general, which should be used just for specific purposes, which module should be used for denoising?.. Is any module meant to replace another one or not? I would be really thankful if someone could just tell me “Hey. stfu and take this 8 modules in the beginning. And if you’ve mastered them, go further with this and that”.

I hope it is not to bold to ask for something like that. But at the moment, I am a little frustrated by the sheer amount of information and my inability to find my way through it. And maybe it is just me, but I do not know for sure if I even want to understand all that deep technical stuff. Yes I am willed to invest time, but is it really needed to be that deeply technical?

Thanks for reading.

all the best

PS: I wanted to pay something to you via paypal but have read that you will have to pay a fee for every payment. Do you have a direct paypal account, so I can send money via the fee-less “for friends” function?

PPS: I am looking forward for this book: https://www.amazon.de/geht-das-Darktable-Einführung-Fotografen/dp/3864906814/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_de_DE=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&keywords=darktable&qid=1578592115&sr=8-1
Anybody knows the author?

  1. Exposure - push your histogram towards the middle
  2. Filmic RBG - select the preset that matches your scene’s dynamic ranger. This just spreads your histogram over the whole (or desired range).
  3. Tone Equalizer - make specific tonal adjustments to luminance ranges.
  4. Color Balance - shadows/highlights color manipulation, overall saturation and contrast
  5. Contrast Equalizer - “clarity” type functions, local contrast, color contrast. Also perhaps sharpening if you need it.
  6. Color Zones - for working with specific colors
  7. RBG Curves

Some modules are old and should be avoided (for new edits) but the developers want old edits to be “readable”, so they are not removing old modules. I think that’s good. There are also users who want to keep using certain modules. Nobody is forced to use certain modules.


@paperdigits AWESOME, thats something I can start with. Does this involve disabling anything from the default settings? Basecurve for example, as I understood has some disadvantages, isn’t it?

@betazoid: Yes, thats what I understood but which modules are those? Wouldn’t it be useful if they only appear, when an image already was edited with them in the past (or if an option “Use deprecated modules” was selected)?

Additional to Micas list if necessary:
White balance
Lens correction
Denoise profiled

Just define them as favorites and then use whatever is appropriate.
Basecurve and sharpen can be disabled in the settings dialog


Yes, base curve and filmic should be mutually exclusive.

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Thats the same for color balance and shadows/highlights?

The 8th module you’ll need is your imagination and the will to experiment!



It would be nice if the modules could be entered into the ‘favorites’ list in the corrected working order but the list gets rearranged and even the pipeline list does not show modules in that same order.
I know that I can move items in the listing but am reluctant to do that.

The modules are ordered according to their sequence in the pixel pipe (bottom first). For more sophisticated edits it might make sense to edit in this sequence. e.g. when using parametric masks these can be reused as pixel masks in subsequent modules …

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He already answered most of it in the article which was mentioned above.

Hi guys,

I’ve been reading this thread (as well as others) with some interest, as some of the topics covered here are some that I can relate to.

I’m a long time Lightroom user (and before that iPhoto, Aperture and Photos). Over my lifetime I have spent time in a real darkroom, used various types of camera from 110 cartridge to 1980’s SLRs, to small digital compacts and over the last 14 years, a variety of DSLR and Bridge cameras (and a few Phones too). Although I’m no pro, I’m no novice either.

Over the last couple of years I have been looking for a replacement for Lightroom, for a number of reasons - mainly that I want to get away from the lifetime subscription trap, but also because they seem to be dragging their heels with regards to development of basic functions.

Now, I really like darktable, but coming from Lightroom I am finding it difficult to come up with a workflow I’m happy with. I’ve watched many videos by Bruce Williams, and some of Rico’s too, all are excellent.

But, whatever I try, I cannot get to a workflow that gives me decent results in anything like the time it takes in Lightroom using a handful of very quickly accessed slider adjustments.

I sympathise with the OP here, as someone trying to make a transition after many years of doing something ‘another way’, I would welcome some kind of pointers towards a decent image with minimal input as a starting point. So far I can work away at an image, usually for some time, and after swapping about a few modules, and get to a result I’m quite happy with.

However, when I get back off holiday (for example), and want to show off some images to friends and family, I don’t want to be spending too long processing hundreds of images.

FWIW, I both agree, and disagree, with the statement above that ‘no-one can expect photography to be easy’. Yeah, I get it, we should perhaps be learning to the best of our abilities the best ways to get the best possible photos. But, it doesn’t have to be that way, and it’s a very blinkered view of the world. Why should it have to be difficult? Just because it’s always been that way? Yeah, I’ve heard that before. But, overall, why shouldn’t photography be easy? It should be enjoyed by anyone that wants to take photos. What’s wrong with wanting to be able to quickly process a bunch of photos to show off to family? It’s up the the end user how much effort they want to put into the development of their photos.

Of course opinions and advice from more knowledgeable people is always appreciated, but they shouldn’t get snobby about it either. I want to use, and fully support software such as darktable, but it’s still got to work for me.

I don’t want a Lightroom clone (if anything I’d prefer an Aperture clone ;-)). But some way to ease the transition would definitely be useful.

Apologies for the ranty part, but I feel that the flavour of the comments is trying to close off software like darktable to a wider user base, otherwise I very much appreciate that it does exist, and is so feature rich at such a nice price point.

Best regards


RT has a matched curve feature that is able to quickly make it look “good” for those of us who want it. It is kind of a lifesaver for those with little time to spare. Not sure whether dt has or could have anything of the sort.

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there‘re plenty of raw converters available that have a bunch of automatic corrections - so why should darktable try to be just an additional noob tool?
If fast automagic results are sufficient, why not just use the in camera jpeg‘s - these aren‘t that bad nowadays.
I prefer darktable beeing a tool that prioritize providing tools to get the best out of the raws, even if it needs some steps to achieve it …


In the vein of going as-fast-as-possible, I’ve set Exposure to Automatic, then enable Filmic RBG and clicked the four auto droppers from top to bottom. Looks pretty good and I’m not sure the effort can be any more minimal.

I’m pretty sure there’s nothing to be gained from that.

Yes, this is a pun, with context from another thread… :smile: