How to learn darktable 3.0 first time right?

I am newbie in raw development and started to learn darktable a couple of weeks ago (2.6 on Windows). I am impressed by the extra quality that raw development can bring to the table, but I also realize I still need to learn. After unpacking the Christmas gift (thank you developers, translators, testers and all other dt3 contributors!) I read the blog (darktable 3.0 | darktable
) and learned about the new Linear RGB workflow. From what I understand this workflow is the future, but is also a new skill that has to be acquired and I suspect it is probably a skill that requires more advanced learning. On the other hand, a new module for basic adjustments has been introduced as well. However the blog warns not to use this basic module in conjunction with the new linear RGB modules. So I am facing a personal development challenge:

  • Should I start to learn the Linear RGB workflow right away and skip the older modules?
  • Is that too much for a newbie and should I first start to learn the basis adjustment module? If I do that, do I create an extra hurdle (or roadblock) to migrate to the linear RGB modules later?
  • Or should I continue to learn dt3 in the 2.6-like fashion, using the excellent tutorials available (most of them are not focused on 3.0 yet)?

I am not afraid to learn and put in some extra sweat, but you first have to learn to walk before you can start to run… Does anyone have some good advise on what a good learning path would be for a dt&raw newbie now that dt3 offers the linear RGB workflow?


Excellent, you’re already on the right path!

I think you should learn, in general, why linear RGB is better than scene-referred editing, but I don’t think you need those ideas fully fleshed out before you start learning a module.

I would start learning the filmic RGB and tone equalizer. They’re so powerful.

It is pretty easy to get the basics of the filmic module:

  1. Use the exposure module to push your histogram to the middle.
  2. Choose a filmic RGB preset that corresponds to the dynamic range of your photo. If you choose the wrong one the first time, just choose another one.

That’s more or less the basics. You should have a decent looking image. One thing is that filmic demands a good exposure in-camera. If you’re consistently missing your exposure in camera, then you’ll want to work on that in order to really get the best results from filmic.

I find the tone equalizer module to be quite intuitive… ask any questions you may have about.

Even more generally, don’t try to learn every module. Pick a few and really master them, then branch out and try new modules one-by-one. I personally recommend these modules:

  1. Exposure
  2. Filmic RGB
  3. Tone Equalizer
  4. Contrast Equalizer (the Clarity preset is nice)
  5. Crop & Rotate
  6. Color Zones

Also most of the modules have the ability to have parametric and drawn masks. Learning to effectively use masks really unlocks all the power darktable has.

There are many good youtube tutorials. There are many good blog posts. Read them!

We’re here to support you, so ask questions!


@eherle, I totally agree with what Mica said, I just wanted to add, that, in my opinion, first time right might happen but you cannot plan it. Many years of work and learning experience have been teaching me that, most of the time, a second go is required. Things I thought I understood at university became real meaning when I learned them a second time by using or implementing them. And, as much as project management wants products to be first time right, engineering is still an iterative process. And, this IMHO holds for all creative work.

Should read display-referred?

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Hm, I should have written what that IMO means: Having learned something, don’t expect it to be right or comprehensive but stay curious and willing to replace some of what you’ve learned and learn things a second time.

Mica, I think we should write a short article how to start with darktable 3.0 for I’m happy to help, should I start one on hackmd?


That’s true. Currently I am learning about linear workflow after using filmig RGB for a while which replaced several modules I used before.

Just found a good and short explanation about linear workflow.

If I would be starting new learning darktable I would concentrate on the new (linear working) modules.


Thank you very much for your guidance: the Linear RGB workflow will get you in photo nirvana. I know what to do… Would be great to benefit from the article that @asn suggested and I am happy to serve as a test case for it.

We’ve already started work on the article!


Nice, btw I found more material to get more into the rabbit hole:

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My suggestion is to learn first how to use rgb curves and rgb levels, this is the basic everywhere :wink:

Learning to master the way mica described is more useful if you want to learn darktable. Without having darktable or a specific system in mind rgb curve might be more useful …

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You can see latest 3 Aurelien Pierre videos:


hello everybody,

in order to process the raws entirely with a linear RGB workflow, is there a list of the (old) modules that work in RGB space?

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I shoot a lot of night photos which are naturally dark. How would this affect your suggested workflow? I think moving all my data to the middle would reveal a lot of noise. Or, is there a benefit to brightening the image and darkening it higher in the pipeline?

I’d still try and push the mid-tones towards the middle. Filmic just spreads your histogram out.

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@Ivan_M76 darktable 3: RGB or Lab? Which modules? Help! - HackMD I think the explanation you were requesting…it was in French…now I think translated here…Best