AP: Best free raw processor: RawTherapee

Hello, I saw this article today on Amateur Photographer, they write about the best free photo editors. They ranked RawTherapee as the best free raw processor, before Darktable.


Huge suite of raw conversion features
Tons of powerful, sophisticated tools
Recently updated


Complex and intimidating

Note that “Recently updated”. In an earlier article some months ago when they talked about RawTherapee, one of the Cons was “hasn’t been updated since a couple of years”. They talked about the 2.8 version. I wrote a little note to the editor, pointing him to the 2.10 versions that were recently made available.

The full article is here:


2.8 → 5.8
2.10 → 5.10

For my two cents worth. I have very high regards for RT, but I have chosen DT as my preferred editor because every module that can benefit from it has drawn and parametric masks to localize adjustments. There is much I like about RT, but this masking issue was the deal breaker for me. In my alternative universe there would be a program called Darktherapee which would combine all the best features of DT and RT into one.

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Oups, you’re right of course !

DarkARTherapee springs to mind… :slight_smile:

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Maybe just DarkArt


Then maybe someone would need to invoke: https://dontforgetthebubbles.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Defence-against-the-dark-artds.png

  • Darktherapee
  • DarkARTherapee
  • DarkART
  • DarkpeeART
0 voters

In case of dark pee a urologist may be more helpful than a raw processor. Even if you perform it as an art from. :wink:


More seriously, and without calling into question the capabilities of each application.

What are the criterias :

  • either at the user level (GUI interface, process automation, overall satisfaction, scientific interest, particularities, etc.) ?
  • or at the internal design level (Colorimetry, White balance, use of CAM, Masks or Selective Editing, use or not of Lab, type of process (scene, Ciecam,…), advanced processes such as Wavelets, Ciecam, …, etc. ?

Which mark the differences.

:wink: :wink:


My single criterium.

Depends on how you pronounce it.

I am not much of a photographer or a skilled photo “developer”, using both RT and dt, a kind of fifty-fifty it is.

Which one to use, can depend on the photo, I am dealing with, on my current mood, on beer available, on fancy new tools in development, and, often, on the hardware. darktable is much more agile with a semi-decent GPU, while RawTherapee is well optimised to use all those CPU cores and threads and stuff.

My first open-source raw editor was the good old LightZone, a proto-darktable in many ways. All those combinations of drawn and parametric masks, multiple module instances etc. etc., transition to darktable brings familiar procedures.

RawTherapee has huge amount of tools and ways to do things, perhaps more than any similar program. (A monstrosity!) Not many users can and do use all of them. With my humble mathematics skills being at their peak in the eighties, I do not understand half of the fine explanations in RawPedia. But this is so to stay, any reduction of dated old features would make somebody disappointed.

ART is optimised, mostly, for the needs of the kind developer. Some improvements have been ported back to RT, many others deserve to go the same way and some will go. As well as ART is made, one RT user will, most likely, sooner or later, miss this and that from RT.

dt and RT are very different and no ideal “combination” will ever exist in parallel universes that we may love more than this often shitty one.

Have all a nice day!

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Do you pronounce it like Raymond Luxury Yacht is pronounced ‘Throatwobbler Mangrove’?

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I find it slightly annoying how ‘outsider’ reviews of darktable keep bringing up obsolete modules like Velvia while completely ignoring all the fantastic colour science and workflow aspects of it.

But at least it was an overall positive review :grin:

As to the age old dt vs RT question, I really like DT’s exposed pipeline. It just makes perfect sense to me, and is easy to work with and understand. I respect RT (and ART) enormously but the more traditional layout I find (just personally) hard work. Probably largely as I’m used to darktable now, but I did try both for a while (few years ago) before I settled on darktable.

(P.S. - did anyone else see a recent ad from Adobe on HDR workflow showing a horrendously clipped and hue shifted example to show the benefits of HDR? 2000s here we come thru the timewarp. Seems the marketing department has a complete disconnect from the color science section they must have lurking somewhere :laughing:)

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The problem is that the reviewers often have not much experience with FOSS. They normally use proprietary software and choose the one most similar to Lightroom (no offense to RawTherapee :innocent:) .

Anyhow, it’s nice to see open source photo editors getting attention at all.


I feel this is so true for any software. Initially what I liked about RT was the ‘traditional layout’ which made the transition from Adobe easier. But recently after using DT for years I jumped into RT and it was so strange and foreign to use that I really struggled. That is no criticism of RT, it is just acknowledging that we all get used to a certain workflow and if a program changes that paradigm then we tend not to get on well with the new program.


What would be IMHO really helpful is a direct comparison of both, the UX and the processing features/peculiarities of both. Many people are likely using only one of the tools, but you often read (here) that the other tool has this or that advantage. But it is difficult to really understand if this is really a topic or not, and finding out is not simple as you need a certain degree of mastery to really get to the point where a difference may become visible. Being a darktable user, what I wonder all the time is e.g.:

  • I read a lot about capture sharpening and how much of a difference it makes, and I wonder if it is much different than what you can get with ”diffuse and sharpen”. The rawpedia entry unfortunately does not explain implementation detail enough to really understand the difference.
  • Also, i read that the noise reduction of rawtherapee is ahead of darktabe’s, and noise reduction is for sure the thing I struggle the most with in darktable. So, is it really the case, and what is the difference in that regard?

A comparison on that level would especially make sense as the information one reads about these topics may be outdated. For sure there are more topics that deserve a comparison …

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Mm, yes I think you’re right…

There was a long thread (sort of) related to this here… I expect you’ve seen it but link anyway. Settings for fine details (compared to other tools)

Thanks for the link, no I didn’t read it yet, way too much going on on pixls.us to keep track :smiley:. I fear, this thread also needs quite some time to read through … maybe this evening.

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