ART vs Rawtherapee

Please I do not want to start a war of words by asking this simple question. I have just downloaded ART for the first time. I am very impressed with the nice GUI and ease of use I have so far experienced. I have previously used Rawtherapee and had the same opinion of that program. What I would like to know is why has ART been forked from Rawtherapee? What has been added or removed and why the two programs.

From the FAQ:

Was a fork really necessary? Wouldn’t be better to contribute to RawTherapee instead? RawTherapee has different goals, and is going in a different direction. Trying to live under the same roof would have caused a lot of frustration. Frustration is the opposite of fun. However, we often collaborate with the RawTherapee devs, exchanging ideas and code. We might also meet for drinks when there is a chance.

What ere the different goals? Thanks

For me, it was the ability to deal with CR3 RAW files and the spot/mask editing that lured me from RT to ART. But here’s a link that might be of interest: ART - The Diffs

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on the management side, ART has a much shorter release cycle.
On the development side, RT takes backwards compatibility very seriously. This is clearly very important, but that means you have to carry around a lot of legacy functionality. With art I wanted more of a fresh start. Also, local editing is handled in very different ways by the two apps.
Finally, the UIs are superficially similar, but RT is significantly more geared towards power users, offering a lot of control over quite a bit of low-level parameters. In this respect it is similar to darktable. ART is more targeted to “average users” (whatever that means…), and each tool in the UI tries to have fewer simpler controls that try to do “the right thing”. Whether or not this actually works is a different story, but that’s the goal :slight_smile:



An interesting comment.

At least thus far, there is nothing I’ve needed to accomplish while editing a RAW file that Rawtherapee can do that I found lacking in ART. On the contrary - local editing is, IMHO, far superior. I guess that makes me “average.” :wink:

It’s not so much about a difference in capabilities, but it’s more about philosophy: ART tries to focus on the “what”, assuming that the user is not so much interested in the “how”. Other tools have a different approach, giving very fine control over the how, and assuming that the user knows exactly what to do. Many people prefer the latter, but I find the former more interesting/challenging from a design/development point of view (plus it suits my usage better, which is a nice bonus :slight_smile:


I use both and I don’t know which one to prefer. Art is certainly less complicated, it has excellent local correction functions (I only use them partially because I don’t understand them a little and I miss English a little to follow the videos that explain their use). I can’t use Darktable, I’ve tried several times, but I’ve always been back to RT. But I don’t do text, I’m 73 and I was born using cameraraw on photoshop which in the first versions was much less complete. Today, for example, I’m editing some shots I took on Sunday, and I must say that in some cases I’m getting along well with Art, in some cases I can’t get what I want and I go back to RT and maybe I get the result I was looking for. I don’t know, I think it’s just a matter of knowing what you want to achieve and then both are equal in the end. Let’s just hope that the development continues …

I really like the ART philosophy. In practice, using it feels very similar to what I was used to previously with DxO Photolab. The things I use most are the tone equalizer, basic color adjustments (white balance, saturation/vibrance, color equalizer), cropping/rotating, and sometimes creative filters like film simulation, soft light, and vignette. When I need local editing, I find the tools in ART to work quite well. For me, this workflow is pretty well streamlined compared to other open source editors; it has just the right amount of tools to get the job done, and they’re collected together logically rather than having to dig into multiple modules to accomplish one task.

One wishlist item is to reuse local editing masks in different modules, as often I would like to do different edits to the same part of the image. Maybe that’s already possible and I just don’t know how to do it.


I can’t decide what I want to use LOL …

When I started shooting again after getting a new camera in late 2020 (I shot a bit in the mid-2000s), I invested time learning RawTherapee. Not that I’m a master but I’m not totally lost. :slight_smile: I’ve poked around in ART but not invested serious time (yet). But to add to my confusion after two abortive dalliances, I invested time in darktable. To my eye the three sort of sit at different places in the FOSS raw editor continuum:

ART: easier to use, power is under the hood ----- RawTherapee: more dials and gauges but they look familiar ----- darktable: align the dilithium crystals and clear spacedock, Mr. Spock

Yet darktable is statistically where I spend most of my raw time. But if I look at it objectively I’m not sure why…

  • Yes, darktable has a linear / scene-referred workflow. From what I understand that’s a Good Thing. But truthfully, my level is so far below that strata that it’s only one small factor of many when it comes to the final image. It’s not like I have these world-beater photos just screaming to linearly processed… :laughing: (and I see lots of good results from other editors)

  • Yes, darktable has DAM capabilities… but I simply don’t need nor use them. XnView MP and / or Fast Stone do everything I need WRT browsing, managing, etc.

  • An advantage darktable has over RawTherapee is full support of CR3 metadata. That causes annoying (but ultimately not insurmountable) issues with a RawTherapee workflow.

  • A disadvantage of darktable is, it’s slower.

And then (on-topic!) there’s ART, which fully handles CR3 metadata and is apparently a bit simpler to use than RT. At this point my relative lack of motivation to seriously go after ART is two-fold:

  1. ART is a one-developer show. Alberto is from all indications a superb, responsive developer and seriously nice guy. No worries nor negative implications there. At all. But he’s also indicated he’s doing ART for his own interests. And what if something beyond his control was to force him to curtail ART activities?

  2. ART’s user footprint is smaller, which means a smaller Internet “resource base” for instruction, guides, tutorials, etc. But the more I learn in general, the more I’m able to figure out for myself so maybe this isn’t as much of a factor after all.

I know… all three are FOSS and I tailor my expectations / approach accordingly. If I had the resources to help, I’d love to be on a team. But I love choice and having all three available is seriously great.

Hmmm … …


@lphilpot Fair considerations, all thoughtfully made.

I imagine if someday Alberto simply got tired of this scene, inasmuch as he’s offered his ART creation to the world through the FOSS model, perhaps someone else may pick up the torch and carry it forward.

Certainly beyond my limited coding skills, but something that’s at least possible.

So, @agriggio … how can we best keep you interested and excited to stay the course?! :slight_smile:


Everyone here will tel you, “use the tool that works best for you.” Of course, we all think our tool is the best :slight_smile:

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Thanks for all the replies and information here. I used ART for the first time yesterday. I was impressed with the GUI and the ease of using simple sliders to achieve the basic edits needed for an ‘average’ photograph. It actually reminded me of the simplicity of Lightroom. Move a slider and achieve the desired result. That is want so many people want in software so ART has done well with this.

It looked and felt like Rawtherapee and hence my original posted question. I will later do a comparison of the two for myself now that it has been explained here. I suspect each will have individual strengths and weaknesses.

I personally went down the Darktable rabbit hole and use that for most of my editing. Darktable is a very complex program to learn and teach, but the deal breaker for me was the amazing masking options in Darktable. I have never seen Adobe or any other program produce such amazing masks in my opinion. Besides the parametric masks which I use occasionally, I mainly use drawn paths around areas to add effects such as relighting the scene through multiple instances of exposure. I then have the option to feather, blur or add a gradient edge to the path to create an invisible transition. However, Darktable is possibly just too challenging for many users and ART looks a great option.

My day job is a research scientist, so the complexity of Darktable suits the way my brain is wired. However, my night job is teaching photography and imaging classes through community education. I have been very successful at promoting Darktable through my courses, but I am now going to offer lessons with ART as well. I just know many of my students would prefer the great GUI and ease of use found in ART. Great job done by the developers.

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In that case, I’m the weak link in that toolchain! LOL

I need to look at the masking capabilities of ART and as I said in a previous post in this thread it was the masking ability of Darktable that lured me down that rabbit hole. I would love to see the masks from Darktable incorporated into bot ART and Rawtherapee, but maybe the coding would not be compatible or the developers do not share the same priorities as me.

That is amazing. Thanks for your great efforts @agriggio you have produced a nice piece of software. I love the GUI.



So has ART, fwiw. If you didn’t notice, it’s because of the “what” Vs “how” I mentioned above.

All of these are possible in ART as well. The main difference is that in darktable masks are pervasive and available in nearly every module, whereas in art they are limited to the local editing tools. But these tools are meant to cover most of our aforementioned average user’s needs (again, that’s the goal, I’m not claiming we achieved that fully…).

Regrading popularity and support. Yes, art is a hobby project and at some point I might just move on. I’m trying to design it so that it will require minimal maintenance to support new cameras, but at some point it will stop working if nobody maintains it. For now, I enjoy maintaining it but I can make no promise. So, if a raw processor is critical for your income, it would be wise to look elsewhere. On the other hand, most open source projects started as someone’s hobby… It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation really.



Hello, as Alberto already said, this can all be done in ART. The following article gives an idea on how to use masks for recoloring, relighting or blurring a photo. The article is a bit outdated (I wrote it in the spring of 2020), but the basics are still there.

Have a look as well at the sections ‘deltaE and Brush masks’ and ‘Processing scans’.


Check out the tone eq with the color mapping turned on…makes it so easy to target and adjust tonal areas… I believe you can also turn this one for the global image as you edit to show tonal ranges… it nice imo…

Excellent! I mean, the quality of my shots doesn’t change due to this LOL but it’s good to know.

I thought I remembered seeing something abou this in ART. I’ll have to take a closer look, but ATM I’m trying to come up to speed on a couple of other things simultaneously, so…

And I was making no inference toward any obligation on your part, just an observation of my own. Also, truth be told, in the grand scheme of things if my “photography” went totally away (for any reason) no one would be the poorer, so… :slight_smile: