darktable neutral setting for opening raw file

Is there a “neutral” setting or some global reset for Darktable. I have worked enthusiastically with this application over the last week or so, but now, it seems that the embedded jpg file that I view in irfanview is much more natural than what Darktable presents when opening the same file.

I want to spend my time in Darktable enhancing my images, not messing around trying to recover them to the embedded jpg. What am I doing (or what have I done) wrong?

Any advice appreciated.



That thumbnail/out-of-camera jpeg is the raw file, processed by manufacturer’s proprietary algorithms.
So naturally, what you see by default in any non-manufacturer-provided software does not and will not match the jpeg.
The hard truth is, either be happy with jpeg’s and forget about raws; or forget that the camera can produce anything other than raws.

See also, Reverse engineering the in camera development, anyone?

Does it have anything to do with the picture settings for the jpg in camera? On my Nikon I have a setting for “Picture Control” which affects the embedded jpg (neutral, portrait, landscape, etc.) I keep it set for Neutral and it matches my RAW but if I switch it to something else then my light table version looks different from the RAW.

Just to nit-pick: it matches the current set of default presets you have, in your eyes.

You can enable don't use embedded preview JPEG but half-size raw in preferences.

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Darktable can use an icc (icm) camera profile from other sources, e.g. created with DCamProf/Lumariver, or created within Capture One’s Color Editor (both are LUT profiles). For Nikon cameras, the free Capture NX-D creates temporary .icm profiles when you open a NEF file with it – you can copy it to the color/in darktable directory. Then you need to do three things in darktable: reset the Base Curve to linear, pick the icm profile from the Input Profile module, and then use the Unbreak Input Profile module. For my camera (Coolpix A) the correct unbreak settings are: linear (0), gamma (0.4500). You’ll have your Nikon colours to work from, as opposed to the default dcraw-based matrix profiles.

The Capture One profiles require a different unbreak input profile settings: linear (0.0500) and then I had to come up with a nice base curve (I modified the Neutral preset in the darkest area, but that’s a camera-specific and slightly subjective setting).

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Thanks for the replies. I do use other applications that seem to deliver a less harsh starting point when they present a RAW file and I have a lot of experience with Adobe PScc and LR, Lightzone from its first prorietary days to present, and RawTherapee (just as a converter to GIMP). Because I captured many shots yesterday (Happy Thanksgiving), I switched to RT because (rightly or wrongly) there seems to be less for me to do to shots that look right (on the DSLR LCD and in Irfanview) than Darktable at the moment.

I realize that I could also just use Irfanview to convert or save the RAW image as a tif and open that with Gimp. That is convenient, but I am under the impression that this is not a RAW file, but the same embedded JPG that my DSLR shows me.

My renewed interest in Darktable is due to the fact that it ships with Gimp 2.9.7 as a plugin. I have since become much more acquainted with it, but it seems to me that I may have done something to cause the harsh image that appears when I open a RAW file in this application.

I captured a large number of photos during yesterday’s holiday, and was looking to work through them all today.

My camera is a Sony A700, and I have always been under the impression that the RAW file is, for the most part, free of processing. I do not expect that it would match the JPG shown on my camera’s LCD, but I would not expect that RAW images would be super underexposed or overly saturated when opened from RAW. If the RAW file differs that much, how could one expect to use the preview or the convenient histogram display on the DSLR LCD to judge the results of a capture? Did I make some change during the processing of a previous image and then, by accident, set that parameter as a default? That is really my question. I do not experience this problem with Lightroom, do not recall that I experienced when I first started using Darktable.

Any additional suggestions appreciated.


Case study: did you see Raw Samples Wanted ? :slight_smile:
If not, what can we do so that average you would have seen it?

In other words, @carusoswi, please contribute a full sample set for that camera sample to the RPU
If that camera’s case, that is just two samples - compressed and uncompressed.
See the post for details.

You could build your image processing style from scratch – go to the history panel and choose the original state, then compress the stack. Then go to the Base Curve and apply the Sony curve preset. You could also change your demosaicing to AMaZE, do the auto CA removal, switch on lens corrections, set up your sharpening and output profile. Then make a style out of it in the history panel. You can apply that style to all your selected photos in the Lighttable view.

It’s best to establish your basic style on the basis of good studio photos for your camera – you’ll find them at DPReview or Imaging Resource websites. It’s especially important if you want to modify the Base Curve to suit your purpose.

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Continued thanks for additional suggestions. I will have to review these replies and act on them. I’m new to this site, relatively new to Darktable. Presently visiting my children/grandchildren (hence, all the photos), but will dig into this when I get back home.
Good weekend, all.