darktable 3.4.0 is out

Well everything can be improved, so looking forward to the mockups.

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Huge release!
I followed the development day by day, but when you see all the work done together at once I must say it is really impressive.
The days of Lightroom and C1 are over!
Jokes apart, a big thanks to all the devs and Merry Christmas!


All ideas and so your mockups are welcomed and as @paperdigits just answer, everything can be improved indeed.

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A post was split to a new topic: Module Group Improvement Mockup

I really like the scene-referred workflow preset, and feel that module groupings there makes sense and are of manageable size. I duplicate that built-in preset, and make a couple of tweaks (eg. move liquify to effects, move contrast equalizer to corrections group) and then it works very well for me, cutting out modules not recommended for the scene-referred mode of operation.

I split the new grouping mockup into a new thread.

The dynamic range mapping makes soooo much more sense to me. Nice work!

Module tabs are fine. Makes more sense this way. Keep up the good work @anon41087856 :+1:

:see_no_evil::blush: :sweat_smile:

A big thank you to all the devs for this great Christmasgift !

As for the new modulegroups : I think it’s way to early to judge that. Let’s evaluate within some weeks or so and give us the chance to discover and adapt.

Merry Christmas to all of you.


Many, many thanks to all the developers and supporters of darktable. I will be patiently waiting for the new version to appear in my distros repository but I am sure it is going to be phenomenal (I watched Bruce’s 4 videos showing how it is). Merry Christmas to all the community.


I was not able to test the new release yet, but can I rename the groups? I like your suggestion here better than the default :wink:.

Big thank you to all contributors, as usual your pace is incredible.

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You can, it’s highly customizable

Literally true, at least for the non-cloud version of Lightroom:

Hopefully a lot of Lightroom users will try out darktable 3.4 and be open to its different ways of doing things. It’s an amazing release!


That might be the largest obstacle. It’s not all that easy to change habits… But once you get past that hurdle, yes, dt is an amazing program, and (imo) very easy to use once you learn the reasoning behind it.

One tiny example: blowing highlights when adjusting exposure in dt is not a problem :wink: (“blowing highlights” being “pushing them beyond 1”)

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I come from lightroom.

I have opted for darktable due to its parametric masks and being able to apply them to any layer and use fusion modes.

I like a lot its results, the filmic module, the ability to decide what to use and change order in the pipeline if it is neccesary.

But it is not an easy transition at all.
They are quite different in many aspects, despite it similar initial look.
But most of the time, when you understand how to do it at last, the results are in favor of darktable.

For the new user one of the most difficult thing is deciding what modules to use. There are too many and some of them are obsolte, you can use too many pipelines too, scene refer, display refered, lab, rgb…
Perhaps a basic mode using just the scene refered rgb an with a few modules would be desirable for thd new user.

New modules like filmic and color calibration are great, but they combine too many things in one module and too many advanced options, that confuses a new user and it is difficult to get good results if you touch what you should not.
May be it is possible to offer a simplified basic interface for them, that let you do the adjustments in a more traditional way and work well with most photos.

The contrast equalizer is amazing too.

Last versions are doing a good job in trying to simplify things and make the transition to the new linear rgb scene referred pipeline.

Unfortunately a lot of lightroom users doesn’t read the initial chapters of the manual: darktable 3.4 user manual - basic workflow
Most beginners complaints on too much modules wouldn’t be there if they don’t expect a free lightroom but spend a few minutes with the manual …


I switched to darktable from Lightroom a few years ago. And I’ve been following (and supporting) @anon41087856’s awesome work for a while now.

I highly suggest enabling the modern workflow and forget about the rest. It works even more differently from what you might be used to in Lightroom, but it’s worth it. The results speak for themselves. With darktable 3.4, it’s even better and simpler to get to a great image from a raw.

To get there, to go the preferences, make sure the following are set:

  • under processing:
    • auto-apply pixel workflow defaults: scene-referred (this says to use filmic rgb based workflow)
    • auto-apply chromatic adaptation results: modern (this means that you want the “whitebalance” module set to D65 (which you’ll generally ignore) and that the actual color balance will be managed in the
    • turn off sharpening (optional; I use “local contrast” & “contrast equalizer instead”… although contrast equalizer is way more advanced than just sharpening… you can just use sharpening, of course)

Then, in the darkroom view:

  • click on the icon and select “workflow: scene-referred” (this will give you the recommended, modern modules to use and hide the deprecated and older modules… you can search if you really want some of them, or even re-add specific ones… but > 90% of the time you’ll have the set you need in this preset)

This will give you a few module categories: What’s active (there are always at least a few modules active), and 4 groups of modules (either on or off) that work on the images in different ways. Going from left to right, those are:

  1. Active modules (already mentioned)
  2. Base modules. This is the “bread-and-butter” that you’ll use to get a photo roughly where you need it. It has exposure and dynamic-range related stuff.
  3. Color. Every image will use color calibration (for the white balance). The other two are to tone the image.
  4. Correct. This has shaprening, denoise, retouch (for intelligent cloning/healing, etc.), and such.
  5. Effects. You usually won’t use this at all for most photos, unless you dive into contrast equalizer.

OK, now here’s how you’ll probably want to edit most photos:

  1. Exposure.
    • Get it about right. You can “cheat” and use the eyedropper on the part of a scene that should be right, such as drawing a box around someone’s face or if it’s a landscape, a bit of the landscape (minus the sky a lot of the time).
    • You can just bump it up or down using the slider until it looks about right too. Forget about parts being too bright (as you’ll fix it in filmic and/or tone equalizer)
    • If the image has dark parts that go to complete black, you can adjust that in the exposure module’s “black level correction”. Just bump it one click of the scroll wheel at a time, as it’s super-senstive, usually.
  2. Adjust highlights and (sometimes) the dark tones in filmic.
    • Defaults are usually fine enough. You might be able to even skip touching filmic in some cases.
    • If highlights are blown, you may want to use reconstruct here to smooth them out and make it more natural.
    • If highlights are indeed blown a bit, you might want to also visit the “highlight reconstruction” module (which is probably on by default, in the active modules group) and change it to LCh (a good default that makes the highlights fade to white) or Color (which often works, but sometimes has side effects). Clipping is usually not what you want, even though it’s the default. If you shot your scene correctly, you’ll usually not have blown highlights though. (But sometimes you can’t avoid it or have been a little sloppy. Speaking from experience.)
    • Filmic has a look tab where you can adjust contrast & saturation… or you can do both of these in the “color balance” module.
  3. (Optional) If you want to make parts of the image brighter or darker, expand the “tone equalizer” module
    1. then visit the “masking” tab, click on the “mask exposure compensation” eyedropper icon, wait until the image preview is computed, click a second time
    2. adjust parts of image with your scroll wheel
  4. (Optional) “Local contrast”
  5. Adjust the color balance in “color calibration”. You can usually just use the eyedropper if it’s not correct already. (By default, it uses what your camera’s white balance was set to.)
  6. Denoise.
    • Default is pretty good, especially if you had a profile match with your camera.
    • I like wavelets and denoise the color more than the luma.
  7. Sharpen, if you want/need it. You can use the “sharpen” module or something like contrast equalizer.

You’re usually done. You can usually copy and paste this with similar photos taken at the same time and might need to adjust a little bit (like exposure and perhaps filmic).

This sounds like a lot, but it’s usually pretty easy and quick for typical photos (sometimes where you can just adjust exposure – if you even need to) and be done with the picture. Everything can be adjusted, but it might not even need to be. A lot of it depends on your camera and how you used it.

Note: With Lightroom XMPs, there is currently a Lightroom importer bug where darktable is a little bit too agressive on translating the edits. You may need to click on “original” in the history stack (on the left) in the darkroom mode, then “compress history stack”. If you have something mentioning curves or split-tone (both older modules, not for the scene-referred workflow), do it again. Then you’ll be at a good starting point.

But my biggest suggestions:

  • read the manual
  • watch @anon41087856’s videos
  • read various threads here on the forum
  • check out some of the play raw threads here on the forum and consider playing along (you can learn a lot of things – people even share their metadata and describe their techniques as well as a post export previews of their take on the images)

Just a little note to anyone switching from other raw software (especially Lightroom):

When you were figuring out how to use your old software, you probably read documentation, watched videos, and experimented.

While darktable looks a good bit like Lightroom at a glance, it’s different. Don’t try to map 1:1 from Lightroom to darktable. Embrace that it’s different (especially now with the scene-referred, linear RGB workflow). But when you embrace the differences and and learn how to use it, you’ll be happy.

The new stuff in darktable is amazing once you understand how it works (at least at a basic level). For example: I recently managed to rescue some photos from the past that I couldn’t do anything with in Lightroom or even darktable a few versions ago. In some of the raw images, the dynamic range was intense, the shadows were noisy, the colors were whacked way out of gamut. But I was able to address all of that in darktable 3.4 (pre-release at the time) and make some very nice prints.

Basically every “pro” tool has a bit of a learning curve. (darktable, Rawtherapee, ART, GIMP, Hugin, Blender, Inkscape, Scribus, Kdenlive, Lightroom, Capture One, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) They’re all powerful. Don’t be daunted by the options; most of what you need is in < 20% of the tool. The rest is there to learn as you go and for doing the extraordinary (stuff you usually don’t need, but sometimes it’s nice to have).


I think those processing and views options mentioned by @garrett should be the defaults if we want new users to use scene-referred workflow, have a nice learning curve and be ready for the future of darktable.
Any experienced/advanced user can switch those back to liking/needs.


What’s wrong with the modules: default set? They are clearly for scene-referred workflow.