darktable's filmic FAQ

If I click on the white relative exposure auto icon in filmic, adjustments are made to the settings. If I then click on the black relative exposure auto icon, nothing happens. And vice-versa. Is that the way it is supposed to work?

It’s the same with all color-pickers and has nothing to do with filmic. It seems that the second one selected needs to be resized before being synchronized with the setting. Not sure why, but it should not.

Juste enable the gray slider and tweak it …that is what I do instead of going back to exposure

Sometimes but not always unchecking the first one before selecting the second one seems to make it behave better but still it will do that forcing you to adjust the box a bit for a recalc…

It would be nice if the modules had a user or auto setting …so for example if you name a preset auto or default that is how the module will open. I know its dangerous and likely has implications but with modules like filmic and others it might be nice to be able to customize your initial defaults…maybe I am the only one thinking something like that would be useful…I know I can tweak everything for an auto apply style but I don’t always need all of that it would be better if I could open or apply a module in a predictable way…

You can make presets auto-apply. Or do you want to not apply it automatically, but, when you turn it on, use your own defaults? Either create a style (like ‘portrait’, ‘landscape’…) and apply your tuned defaults for a bunch of modules at a time, or instead of turning on a module with the “on/off” switch, select your default settings from the “hamburger” menu and turn on the module that way. I know it’s more clicks, but it works.

Thanks I know of those ways and really it offers most of what I suppose anyone would need. I was thinking of being allowed to set my own defaults or to save coding maybe or maybe it wouldn’t have modules recognize a preset called auto or default or something and just run with those parameters when activated…I guess I could try to retrain my self to open from the hamburger and name the preset so it came up at the top of the list…

Sorry, I’m not quite following – what’s the difference between creating an auto-apply preset vs setting your own defaults?

An auto-apply preset is applied automatically to a matching set of images. What Todd wants to achieve is to have a module apply some preset automatically, if he decides to turn on the module (instead of using the defaults specified by the developer).


The enabled state is part of the preset so you can create a preset that is auto-applied by default but is switched off, and then manually switch it on at your leisure.


Yeah, great idea!

Thanks Chris, I actually need to go thru and do some customizations but I was unclear how a module would react if I simply set the auto apply globally to everything. I was worried it might somehow affect previous edits but it seems not to so I have set filmic to no color preservation and enable the grey slider and it seems to not misbehave on previous edits…if set to scene-referred and I do a compress from original…it applies the my auto preset so I think I can simply do the same for any other modules…thanks for making me use my brain…

I think maybe there is not a difference :blush: I was just a bit hesitant to do this with all the changes to the history stack and xmp processing over the last year and now with a new version of filmic I wasn’t sure if there was a possible issue to be created by doing this but it look like if I just create it with my intended defaults and set it to apply to everything ie no criteria it seems good to go……

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Should I still use the ‘highlight reconstruction’ module together with filmic v4? I see similar results with and without it.

You can use it. Since it is earlier in the pipe it will affect filmic: if you select clipping, then filmic won’t have stuff to reconstruct; If you select „reconstruct in lch“ or „reconstruct in color“ there might be additional information remaining filmic can use to deal with.
Filmic cannot reconstruct things no longer available - it just can mitigate hard clippings


Thank you for this very helpful clarification on some of the points with the new scene-referred workflow! After reading through this FAQ as well as this other recent thread, something finally clicked for me and it now is much clearer. I think the two things I was missing before were:

  • understanding that the exposure module is primarily for adjusting the midtones; don’t worry about the shadows and highlights since we will adjust those later in filmic rgb. Also, using the color assessment toggle to help with getting a proper exposure
  • understanding the difference between clipping in the raw file verses clipping introduced as part of the editing process (and understanding that filmic rgb’s reconstruct tab is targeted at the former)

I think previously I was underexposing the midtones because I was concerned when the highlights were getting clipped in the exposure module, but now realizing that I can mostly ignore what is happening to the highlights when using exposure and then pull them back afterwards in filmic rgb has helped.

I wrote up the steps I am now using with the scene-referred workflow here; I am amazed at how fast it is to process images now and get good results.


One thing I believe it’s missing in the FAQ is: how do I choose the right preserve chrominance mode ?


Hi, I was following that workflow too so thanks for sharing it and confirm me that I understood all that I read :slight_smile:

Your post is pure gold, a step by step guide to process a photo in Darktable using a scene-referred workflow.

You should review the new modes in clipping indicator added to master over-exposure warning : add meaningfull modes by aurelienpierre · Pull Request #6253 · darktable-org/darktable · GitHub
And if you want/can update your clipping section. Probably, in your example, the clipped zones are not really clipped (read the PR and look for luminance mode).

I’ve found that trying to match portions of a color image to middle grey is, for me anyway, very difficult, either with or without the color assessment tool. It’s hard to “un-see” color when it’s right in front of you. Here’s a quick trick for making that approach usable if you have the same problem as me:

  1. Ctrl-B to show color assessment view.
  2. Turn on monochrome module.
  3. Tweak exposure using the Exposure module or the histogram until the “right” things in the photo are in the vicinity of the middle grey surround of the color assessment view.
  4. Turn off monochrome module.

Thank you both for these great tips! I’ve updated my workflow guide accordingly.

You should review the new modes in clipping indicator added to master over-exposure warning : add meaningfull modes by aurelienpierre · Pull Request #6253 · darktable-org/darktable · GitHub
And if you want/can update your clipping section. Probably, in your example, the clipped zones are not really clipped (read the PR and look for luminance mode).

I’ll probably wait until the next Darktable release is out be for adding this update (since most users aren’t compiling from master), but this looks like a fantastic enhancement. I agree that being able to just look at luminance clipping should make a huge difference. For now I added a note to be careful when using the over/under exposure indicator since it is likely showing more than just luminance.

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