Adventures in learning DT (DarkTable)

I’ve just tried out Darktable with this raw file and I gotta say I’m liking it. I just wish I could do the Darktable things along with the things I love in RawTherapee …or if Rawtherapee tools could be included as modules. I know it’s silly and I probably offended more than a dozen fine folks that work their butts off to make this program happen …but I gotta say all I could think of was "how do I make the “film like” curves effect in here; with the way they respond and such. Anyway fantastic job everyone!

Some questions about everyday use in Darktable:

  • how do I handle cases where I use the individual colour editor …in the color checker tool (I don’t have it open right now) because it gives me noise in the overlapping areas between tones. Is there a module that smoothens things out?

  • I also found the colours look a little washed out initially?

I’m only new to the community - but from what I have observed so far. The community is reasonably free from politics, elitism and toxic online behaviour when compared to other similar Internet Forums. It is one of the reasons I’ve stuck around.

Why not make these questions a Play_Raw challenge? Have some examples from RT that are your style and challenge the general community to use their different tools: ART, DT, Filmulator, GIMP, PS, RT, etc… to get as close as they can and explain how they did so.

I have become addicted to Play_Raw and spend hours looking through the xmp of other community members. I have probably spent days dissecting the editing ideas of who I consider specialists like: @priort, @kofa, @Terry, @Tim, @paperdigits, @123sg, @lphilpot, @dqpcoxeas, @qmpel, etc… I have learnt a lot - more than I would have by myself.

I suspect that such a challenge would be well received and an educational experience for everyone in the community.


I echo this wish and have previously stated I would love to see a program called DarkTherapee which combines the greatness of these two programs. I presume the coding let alone the politics would be a nightmare.

This is also my observation and why I have stuck to this forum.


To master color in DT you can go to this epic thread …

and check out the content from the YT channel that it is centered around… @s7habo has an amazing library of content that is especially helpful in demonstrating how edits are done in DT which as you noted doesn’t do much with the image out of the gate and so often new users see the colors as dull… In reality most programs have added a profile which adds tone and color out of the gate. Even in RT if you change the model of the curve used the resulting color is very different. There are many nuances like that in DT that can dramatically influence color.

Its a long thread and the earlier stuff is now using a much older version of DT but there is abundant information in there…


Filmic, sigmoid, and base curve are all technically curves, but only base curve gives you a curve-esque interface, filmic and sigmoid are both sliders (you’re adjusting points on the curve. There is also tone curve and rgb curves as well.

Learn to use the masking that is at the bottom of every module. IMHO best feature of darktable.

Use a Color Balance RGB preset to bring in the colors.

Mica suggests using a Color Balance RGB preset to bring in the colors. I agree that this is essential when using filmic and feel it is designed that way deliberately. I usually apply the the preset of basic colorfulness.

However, now I have become a little bit more experienced and confident with the module I use it for all kinds of stuff to do with color, saturation, contrast and brightness. I just use the master tab sliders for this. With sigmoid the colors are better straight out of the box than filmic so the colorfulness preset is not needed by default. However, I still tend to tweak sliders in the color balance RGB module to get the look I want.

I often use Colour Balance RGB and I have a standard slider pattern that I set for my camera which works most of the time. But my main colour edits are typically Colour Zones and Colour Calibration with occasional use of Colour Correction.

I have grown to love the color balance rgb module. The brightness sliders often replace my need to use the tone equalizer or shadow and highlights module. I also often finalise contrast with the slider found here. Then saturation and vibrance can be tweaked if needed.

When I become more experienced I may learn to use the options in the 4 way and masks tabs, but for now just focus on the sliders in the master tab. I love how saturation for shadows, mid tones and highlights can be tweaked independently.

I don’t even think it would be necessary to have a separate DarkTherapee. From what I gather one of the strengths of Darktable is how modular it is. Filmic itself is a separate program in its own right but in Darktable shows up as a module you can add.

RawTherapee being open source has the functions of each of its tools out in the open so they could be implemented as individual modules such as say … RT-Labor RT-whitebalance.

I suspect parts of RT wouldn’t work well and would have to be excluded; but especially the ability to have multiple instances of a module; not to mention in any given order is a very powerful feature with much potential which I would love to see in RT.

Now, that being said, I understand that RT is built in a particular way and it would be very out of the way to implement a multiple instances mod to it (there is a thread about it); but still, I have to say I’d love to see it :slight_smile:

thank you! will check out the link!

I agree that multiple instances is a brilliant feature of DT. What was the deal breaker that won me over to DT was the incredible masking options that allow localised edits. Pre-DT I might do two edits in RT or other programs and then open the exported images in GIMP to combine the two outputs using mask and layers. Multiple instances combined with drawn or parametric masks in DT have replaced such a cumbersome workflow and allow me to do everything I need in DT for most images.

RT is a great program so I am not knocking the effort put into it. It would be great to include modules in DT that are adopted from RT where this is possible.

I had never thought of it like that, but it is a valid way of looking at filmic. Also when you talk about filmic, V7 and V5 can be so different. I have learnt to like V5 with no chrominance preservation for some images to bring out the colors.

These days RawTherapee has decent local adjustment options, though I don’t find myself using them much. I guess the way that tone curves work in RT has me spoiled. I tried my hand at the curves in DT and boy did i ever make a mess. I suspect one way to do curves in DT is to split them up in different instances. What I generally end up doing in most of my edits is I boost the low-midtones and then put a dip in the near-black area; so like an S shape but down below the mid-point of the curve; and I found that in DT it’s not very well received. I guess RT has some algorithm that smoothens the result.

I tried to replicate one with the other and results aren’t great.
S7_08508.ARW (47.1 MB)

S7_08508.jpg.out.pp3 (14.3 KB)

S7_08508.ARW.xmp (14.9 KB)

Try using RGB curves instead of tone curves. RGB curves work in the RGB color space and tone curves work in LAB color space. I rarely used tone curves but often use RGB curves for what you describe.

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will try!

Well. That’s very blunt and claims not to leave any room for argument. Trust me, there’s plenty of room. It’s a great module, and a lot easier than some others. It’s worth playing with.

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I still don’t after 40+ years as a photographer really understand the dimensions of color. But since photography is about the look I am happy to tweak sliders and see what they do. I would hate to be without this color balance module as it is fundamental to many of my edits. But yes, when I first looked at it I was overwhelmed and only used the presets.

No, it’s not (not in the technical sense). There’s no separate filmic executable that you can run.

That’s weird, I feel like at one point i was able to download a program similar to it that dealt with a RAW file as if editing film.

Okay so I did some digging in my folders and it turns out I got names mixed up. I was referring to Filmulator not Filmic. I found a post here that actually compares them.

“As far as filmic versus Filmulator, both of them can compress highlights while retaining colors, but Filmulator does it by simulating the depletion of developer while filmic has a whole bunch of math to maintain hue and saturation while rolling off the highlights pleasingly. Filmulator also enhances local contrast, which as far as I know filmic does not.”

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You should probably start a new thread for this. Lot’s of interesting discussion here, but it’s “buried” in, effectively, a different topic.

@paperdigits Maybe split the thread?

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Adventures in learning DT… :grin:

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