ART vs Rawtherapee

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:

One can hope that - in the event you lose interest and move on to other hobbies - the good people over at Rawtherapee will have the good sense to incorporate many of your methods.

I appreciate your comment that the RT platform has gotten a bit cluttered to address legacy compatibility concerns, but there’s still hope that you are lighting a path for RT’s future as well.


Yes, I understood that – sorry for the confusion!

For me that is one of the strengths of Darktable. I do plan to watch your video on masking in Art and give it a try. I am impressed with what a single person has done with ART. At least there are no committees to argue with and you can just do what you want.

BTW, another strength of Darktable for me is the ability to do multiple instances of modules, especially exposure. Is this possible in ART?

Can you clarify what “modules” of exposure refers to here? You can open multiple RAW edits at the same time (at the cost CPU resources, of course).

But do you mean edit exposure of an image, and then open another exposure edit on the same image at the same time? If so, what is the motivation for doing so?

Through the use of “snapshots” (saved in your edit sidecar in ART, unlike RT) you can save multiple versions of exposure settings and flip between them for comparison. Perhaps that’s what you’re try to accomplish with multiple modules? :thinking:

In darktable one will often use the exposure module with a mask to achieve a dodging and burning technique. It is handy to have multiple instances of a module so you can use it with different settings and different masks.

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If interested, in ART you can do the following with masks: ART - Area masks

This is a real strength in Darktable. In my opinion DT does it better than any other program I have tried so far including Lightroom. I will devote time to learning masks in ART. I like the pure simplicity and lack of clutter in Art. That is the strength of ART in my view.

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You can have multiple “regions” in the local editing tools, each with its own mask and its own set of controls. Again, not quite as flexible as darktable, but a different trade-off (if you want even more flexibility than dt, you can go to a full-fledged node-based editor like Natron, for example).
Here’s a short demo video that illustrates the concepts. (The same applies to all the local editing tools):



Isn’t the ‘highlights / gain’ function in colour corrections, essentially the same as adjusting exposure (as asked by @Terry) just with a different scale. This can be applied many times to different parts of the photograph with masks.

I think another strength of masking in ART is the ‘colour similarity mask’ to select regions of similar lightness/colour. This is so quick to use, just sample with the pipette and adjust the range. Apart from the odd occasion, I find it much quicker than parametric masks.

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Yes indeed.