I have seen several requests to reproduce in darktable the tone equalization of ACDSee or the basic blacks/shadows/highlights/white cursors of Lightroom. These users have been disregarded because, apparently, users are stupid and devs know better. (It is FOSS : shut up unless you know how to compile).
It’s yet a very efficient and powerful way to control the lightness, and less cumbersome than the tone curves. Maybe devs could listen to seasoned professional photographers sometimes.
So I’m doing it : https://github.com/darktable-org/darktable/pull/1904
First results (always used in combination with filmic):
After (different settings):
After (dynamic range compression):
After (contrast enhancement + mid-tones boost):
Comparison with shadows-highlights:
So the tone equalizer allows a better compression of the whites (see the light garland), but crushes less the midtones, and still allows more details recovery in very low-lights. See what happens when we push them both:
The shadows/highlights module turns the bush (right bottom corner) into redish (another gift of the Lab colorspace), and the gaussian masking adds this weird overbaked sharpness that looks very HDR-y, especially on a picture at 135 mm f/2.8. It also adds contrast, which is not what we asked him.
Before: (cc @asn)
After (other settings):
Here, you see it can be a bit damaging for local contrast (aka sharpness feeling) when the channels have harsh settings, so the next step is adapting the laplacian pyramid used in local contrast to apply the tone adjustments on low frequencies, and keep the details/high frequencies untouched.
But, the main advantage of this is you have absolutely no halos artifacts nor weird desaturations because… there is no masking.
Also, it works in scene-referred RGB because I have had enough of the crazy tonemapping Lab nonsense in my life.
Happy darktable 2.8 year !