From Lightroom to Darkatble. I'm a little bit lost. Any help, please?

I’ve been Lightroom user for a while, and now I’ve changed to Darktable. The software is awesome, it seems to be very comprehensive. However, I can’t find some basic stuff like the auto adjustments you can make to any photo in Lightroom, which sometimes corrects color, saturation, exposure, etc.
Is there any similar option in Darktable?


No not really. Be sure to read the manual, moving from Lr to dt without looking at the manual is not an option. The UI seems similar, but that’s all. There is also huge list of Youtube video on different stuff and some for beginners.

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For a very basic edit, check out this old article:

However, darktable is not a 1:1 replacement of Lightroom. The learning curve can be steep. The Resources page lists a number of great YouTube channels:


The manual covers this and so much more: darktable 4.0 user manual - process

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You’re better off forgetting everything you think you know, based on Lightroom. DT is very different. It’s more like colour-grading film, where you start with something very desaturated and then add colour and such.

This video explains the basic workflow: [EN] basic photo processing for beginners in darktable 3.6 - YouTube
If you have a nice, clean exposure, that may well be all you need.

This video covers issues faced by new users and is worth watching to get a grounding for how to begin with DT…

I agree that DT is not a direct LR replacement. That is because DT is way better. I describe LR as the automatic car you drive to the shops to get groceries and DT is the Lamborghini which really is a drivers car. DT has so many more options for editing than LR. The investment in time learning how to use DT is really worth it. Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

  1. Apply denoise (profile). The default settings for most images works well.
  2. Apply demosaicing sharpness preset from the diffuse or sharpen module. Most cameras have an AA filter, but check if yours does.
  3. Apply basic colorfulness preset from the color balance rgb module
  4. Consider making a style to apply this to new images quickly (see user guide for how to)
  5. Set white balance correctly before using filmic
  6. Adjust exposure module if necessary
  7. Go to filmic and use the auto tune levels as a starting point. Works well for most images, but some images you will need to move black and white relative exposure sliders yourself. Watch the videos and read the manual on how to use filmic.

Keep in mind that this is just some tips to get you started. You will develop your own workflow that suits you and your images. I would suggest no two DT users work images the same way. DT has so many options.

Good luck.


Darktable can be a bit overwhelming when starting out. Focussing on one adjustment at a time in stead of trying to learn it all at them same time can also help.

In Darktable there are quite some different ways to achieve the same result.

Good luck and have fun.

Hi Milo!

I was going to walk through the modules to use for these adjustments, but Terry has done a good description above…
I was in a similar situation sometime over a year ago. I tried to use darktable WITHOUT doing any reading or youtube watching about it first. Predictably, as the others have said it was a fail. To the point where (hard to believe now) I uninstalled the software in disgust ( :open_mouth:)and started looking for other options.
It was a couple of months later after I came across some videos explaining how it’s meant to work, that I installed it again and started using it properly. Now, although I’m very far from being an expert, I’d find it hard to use something else!
This link mentioned above darktable 4.0 user manual - process is really good to get started. Good luck!

I agree. Don’t try to learn them all at once. That is why I have suggested starting with just five modules to get the editing process going. These five modules are the essential modules for my work flow. They denoise, sharpen, enhance the color and set the exposure for the image. There are many good videos and I have the user guide booked marked on my browser for quick reference. Don’t ever feel overwhelmed, because the numerous choices in DT are not there to frustrate you but rather to give you creative control so lacking in many alternative programs. Good luck.

Milo if you like colorful contrasted images then you could give this a quick read and try the formula. Its actually not bad and it can really produce nice results out of the gate or it can be a bit over cooked but very easy to pull back… but its a start from which you can build…

For the exposure part now I find I am often doing a spot exposure set at 50% …depending on the image I use this as a gauge of where I might set it or leave it. I leave it on the full image first run then do a manual tweak or do a second auto one an area that should be middle grey… This helps to set up filmic in a good place…

Then after trying a bit of this …play with the filmic settings to see what gives… if you re-adjust exposure at some point in your edit its not a bad idea to re auto adjust filmic. Again you can just back out if that is not an improvement…

Beyond this then use denoise profiled and experiment with diffuse and sharpening for your sharpening needs… there are other technical modules and a boat load of UI and other bits and bobs but this would be not a bad place to start…

The tone eq can also be great esp for areas that are left dark or are too bright after doing the above but that can be part of your exploration… there are lots of topics and info on these key modules on the forum.

@Terry : While I agree with the modules you listed, I’m not completely sold on the order you suggest: “denoise (profiled)” and “diffuse or sharpen” can be slow, and they show little enough interaction with other modules (unlike e.g. “exposure”). So they can be applied late in the workflow to limit lag while adjusting more basic parameters.

@Milo_Rambaldi : Once you master the outline @Terry gave, you may want to explore other presets of “diffuse or sharpen”, like ‘add local contrast’, and other modules like “tone equaliser”.
If you have images with a very large dynamic range, you end up with either a low global contrast or crushed shadows and highlights. To correct that, you have several options: add local contrast, or lower the dynamic range.

To increase the local contrast, I prefer the “diffuse or sharpen” preset, but the “local contrast” module also works.

Lowering the dynamic range can be done with “tone equaliser” or “exposure” the latter with masking. Often the “tone equaliser” works faster, once you get a feel for how it works. The module is not all that complicated to use, but the mask that’s essential for its operation works just a bit different from “normal” masks.

@rvietor I don’t disagree that these modules may slow down the processing, but the reason I denoise so early is because I have suggested trying auto tune levels in filmic as an easy way to get started with DT. White balance and denoising is stated as important by AP for the auto settings to work.

I also, usually test local contrast on nearly all my images. The default setting in the module is usually sufficient, but of course some images require more or less. I was just trying to give some starting options. DT has so many great modules and alternative ways of processing. I feel learning these five modules I have suggested is a good start and then yes explore more options including the wonderful tone equaliser module. Thanks for your feedback.

I see. I never use the autotune, as I find it as easy to just move the slider to get something I like.
But yes, with autotune, especially the black reference reacts very badly to noise…

I believe this should be slightly improved in darktable 4.0. See the PR for details.

In filmic 6 auto tune levels gives a really nice starting point for most images. Because I am teaching a number of people in my photography classes how to use DT I now using this technique so they are not overwhelmed. I use to teach from the start how to move the sliders manually in V4 and V5, but with V6 it is just not necessary for most images. I am not using the white and black relative sliders to set contrast as AP has given us the contrast slider in the look tab of filmic. I have really grown to like the new filmic 6. It took me a little bit of time to get use to, but I just love it now.

They were never intended to set the contrast. They were intended to set the white and black point.

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It’s much better now …not as erratic as it once was

I totally agree, but I suspect some people see them as a way of setting contrast, rather like the white and black points in Adobe’s level adjustment. Since the original poster came from an Adobe software I thought it was worth clarifying. Hopefully they will read the user guide and maybe watch some of AP’s videos. I don’t believe he has made one specifically for Filmic V6?

He has one where he touches on the use and how it now interacts with wb settings…

The overall it handles color differently now wrt saturation but that is easy enough to see…

There have been several fixes and tweak but essentially its is just this