Importing Lightroom XMP sidecars

When importing raw files that have Lightroom XMP sidecars is there a way to tell darktable to ignore the development stuff in the XMP and only import all the metadata stuff? I have read this already:

My experiments with importing the development stuff usually is so far off that I don’t want it. When importing Lightroom XMP sidecars and raw files I am using scene-referred. I also tried display-referred and none. The documentation doesn’t tell me what to do. I am using 3.2.1 on Win10.

I never imported raw files with lightroom xmp sidecars, so possibly I’m completely wrong. Did you try “discard history” in lighttable after import ? This should remove all development steps except for the essential ones.

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No, that’s not possible.

@bakubo: I second @pehar’s suggestion. Import all files, select them all in the lighttable and then select “discard history” from the lighttable “history stack” module. This is exactly what you have asked for but just split into two steps.

Thank you to everyone who responded. Today I tried the suggestion to discard the history of one of the images. I got a message asking if I really wanted to clear the history and I clicked yes. The before and after history in darkroom is identical though.

Does anyone know the answer to my other question? When importing Lightroom XMP sidecars should I be using scene-referred, display-referred, or none? Or will the import work properly and automatically adjust for those 3 options?

Can you show us (screenshot) which modules stay applied after discarding history. I guess this are just the essential modules always needed.

none” would be the “safest”. But please consider : after changing this setting in preferences you will have to restart dt to make the modification active.

That doesn’t matter. Don’t expect the same result as in lightroom. There‘re only a few modules where lightrooms settings can be adapted. These aren’t specific for scene/display referred workflow

Before discard history:


After discard history:


Everything after step 11 are operations that darktable tried to emulate from the Lightroom XMP sidecar file.

Step 1-8 are essential ones, 9 and 10 are being applied due to your settings in preferences. And as you say, in 11-16 dt tries to emulate lightroom modules.
If you want to get rid of all modules except for 1-8, select 8 (orientation) in darkroom and press “compress history stack”.

I tried importing a raw file with Lightroom XMP sidecar using all 3: scene-referred, display-referred, or none. Each one looked quite different. Using none was the worst, at least for the image I used to test.

I am confused now by your reply. Before you said to use discard history, but now say to use compress history stack. I have about 120k photos to import.

Yes, that is to be expected. You should read some documentation or watch some videos about the different modes to understand the differences. As a starting point I would recommend some videos of Bruce Williams. Choosing “none” and disabling “auto-apply sharpen” and “auto-apply per camera basecuve presets” in preferences - processing" you will apply no modules at import, except the essential ones, and, in your case, the modules dt uses trying to emulate lightroom.

I’m trying to find a way for you to get rid of all settings imported from your lightroom xmp, because

We have seen that discarding history does not do the job, so we have to find another way. Compressing the history stack does the job, but only for one image.

Actually I don’t see a solution to do this with your prerequisites (saving all your tags and metadata) in an automated way.

I don’t know why discard history isn’t working though. If it’s not removing your Lightroom edits it feels like this might be a bug.

I don’t know how it is intended to work in this special case, but I have an equal opinion. For me it makes no sense to handle “emulated” modules in some way other than every other module applied by the user.

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in the documentation you mentioned in your initial post you can see that there’re only a few modules that can be initialized with parameters ‘like lightroom’.
Basecurve or filmic can’t receive paramters from lightroom since these are quite different ways to process the raw file.
So you can use scene or display referred workflow or even no predefined workflow - in each case only the mentioned modules are affected by lightroom xmps.
So if you want to get exactly the lightroom result - you’d better use Lightroom or spend a lot of time to tweak basecurve or filmic or the whole bunch of darktables modules yourself.

MStraeten, please re-read my initial post.

The manual says that dt will automatically use these development steps in a LR XML sidecar file:

crop and rotate (crop and rotate)
black level (exposure)
exposure (exposure)
vignette (vignette)
clarity (local contrast)
tone curve (tone curve)
HSL (color zones)
split-toning (split-toning)
grain (grain)
spot removal (spot removal)

One of the raw files I tried in a test has spot removal, but dt gets it wrong. Seems to be in the wrong place in some places, doesn’t totally get rid of some spots, etc. Worse than doing nothing.

I think that when importing with a LR XML file then we should have the option to only get the metadata (tags, star ratings, etc.) and not get the development stuff. Even better it would be good to be able to choose which development options to get because some may work well. Maybe crop and rotate, for example, works well.

Well, if those sidecars are indeed XML files (i.e. including the required XML header), XSLT should allow you to select only the tags that are useful to you (or alternatively, only discard the ones you don’t want). Once you have the XSLT script, you can apply it to all the sidecars you want to import.

However, some XMP sidecars are not valid XML, as they are missing the XML header. Then this will not work, unless you can add the header “on the fly”.

Adding all of this in darktable might be a bit of overkill, unless there’s a significant number of users that regularly need to import from lightroom (what is significant in this context is up to the developers, as they furnish the effort).

Maybe because you expect something that is not granted. In no way the import will give you a good result, it does 70% to 80% of the work. You then need to review all pictures, so if on some images the spot are wrong just press the reset button on this module. No big deal.

(Note: I migrated from Lightroom to darktable years ago.)

The parallel to Lightroom’s spot removal in darktable is actually the retouch module, not spot removal (which is older and simpler). Sadly, the importer does a direct port to the older module, not the better one. I’d recommend dropping spot removal and switching to retouch.

It’s true that the retouch module can be complex… but in most cases, you can safely ignore the wavelet stuff. It’s super-powerful, but optional.

The basics you should know:

  • shift-click on the image to set a source point (optional, but useful to avoid adjusting it later)

  • control-click on an icon in the retouch module to stay in that mode, so you can continually retouch the image (such as dealing with multiple dust spots in the same go)

  • use your scroll wheel to adjust the size; hold down shift and scroll to adjust the feathering

  • you can turn on the highpass module to help identify dust spots in the sky more easily (and then turn off highpass when you’re done retouching) — this is useful if you’re not using wavelets (as you have other methods when using them)

  • right-click to remove source-destination pairs on the image (just like masks and other things on the image in darktable)

  • like most other modules, you can duplicate this one too (from the icon that looks like two overlapping rectangles in the header bar) — duplicating helps you use different modules for different targets on the image (such as one for sky, one for ground), so you can adjust each differently (such as with masking)

You should consider spending some time to learn about the wavelet features in the module, especially for skin retouching. Again, it’s not necessary to use the module successfully — but it’ll help you get better results, especially with trickier removals.

Here’s an amazing video on the retouching using the retouch module and wavelets. It’s around 40 minutes, but totally worth your time:

(Note: He’s using an older version of darktable, as this was filmed over a year an a half ago, but the technique is the same and the module hasn’t really changed since, so it still applies fully.)

And, of course, here are the official docs on the module:

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