How to get a pleasing result in a quick way? (Comparison to Lightroom)

I’m a huge fan of darktable and have used it for quite some time now. But in October last year I got the opportunity to try out Adobe Lightroom for a year. It is so different in many ways and works well but I love the “cleaner” output of darktable.

However it seems to be easier to get pleasing results with Lightroom than with darktable. I took a sunrise photo and with a few slider movements it looked nice. But I couldn’t manage to replicate that with darktable. Perhaps some of you experts here can give me a few hints what to do to at least achieve a comparable result. I will provide the raw file and the jpeg output from Lightroom.

Any help appreciated, thanks everyone in advance!

Files may be used under the conditions of CC BY-NC-SA

DSC_9310.NEF (26.3 MB)


I will download the file and take a look. LR is like an automatic car. LR does the job quickly, easily and well, but you have very little control over what is happening in the blackbox when you move one of the sliders. I am not knocking LR as it is a good program, but it gives less creative control than DT. Also, can you get LR to match a DT edit? Probably not for the same reason DT will not perfectly match a LR edit. I will post my attempt here shortly.


Thank you, Terry! You are absolutely right, I will never get the same result and that’s OK. On so many photos I think I got a way better result with DT than LR could ever have done it. But at least something comparable in this case would be great.

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I am working on it. I have really pumped up the saturation in the color balance RGB to get the high saturation levels that LR has given. I am not sure that I regard that color as natural, but I am able to pump out similar colorfulness.

quick vkdt render ^

basically set a more hdr style film curve (light 7, contrast 0.9), dialled saturation and clarity to max default slider range to account for the slightly overcooked reference above. sorry did not want to reproduce the yellow. if you want that (it’s an artifact of colour clipping) set the film curve colour reconstruction mode to per channel. also did not remove the streamline in the sky.

could probably add more contrast/pop by using the equaliser module or go to 11 with the clarity slider.



Not a perfect match, but I hope this shows DT can produce similar vivid colors. I used a second instance of exposure with a drawn and parametric mask to lighten the foreground. Color balance module and color zones module to work saturation hard.

DSC_9310.NEF.xmp (18.4 KB)


Thank you, hanatos! That’s exactly what I love about darktable: (I know this is vkdt but I noticed it in dt too) No artifacts on the treeline in the background/horizon where the top is darker in the lightroom result. And yeah, I know the yellow color is somewhat fake :slight_smile:

I think dt does a good or even better job in the sky than LR but I miss the contrast and clarity in the shadows, like on the grass and fence. It’s more vibrant in the LR output. I think I didn’t mess around with the clarity slider in LR because I hate what it does most of the time. I can share the settings in LR as well.

My quick version, a little bit of color zones to come more near the LR colors, while I would have preferred a little more realistic / less saturated verison.

DSC_9310.NEF.xmp (8.1 KB)


My proposal…


I agree LR has handled these areas very well. I did not attempt to work the contrast or clarity in the shadows but DT certainly could improve the picture in this way as well.

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I love this! The lower part really comes close to LRs result. What did you do there? Can you share your settings?

This is great as well for my taste, Thanks Pascal! (and thanks everyone so far, really appreciate your takes on this!) Could you share your settings also, please?

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DSC_9310.NEF.xmp (21.0 KB)

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Ah nevermind, Dennis, didn’t notice you attached it, sorry! Thank you!

Adobe RGB

DSC_9310.NEF.xmp (27.4 KB)

You will need to fix a lens profile for your lens and a noise profile for your camera. With my settings you will need a decent graphic card and Open CL.


OK, these great results show me, it is possible and I’m just too stupid :smile:
Thank you so much for your help!

Here’s my go. :slightly_smiling_face:

DSC_9310.NEF.xmp (10.1 KB)
In case it’s of interest, this is a screen capture of me doing it - minus the last two color calibration tweaks in the xmp’s history stack, as these were an afterthought…


For me, it’s already there in dt 4.3 -287.

Yes, profiled denoise isn’t working without manual fine tuning - massive over-smoothing on default.

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