More masking tools in RawTherapee?

I have also used Lightroom for many years. I was not so interested in RT before RT 5.5 and with improved Shadow/highlight recovery. If I have a picture and all I have to do is global adjustment , RT gives me very good result ( sometimes even better than Lightroom and DxO ).

But whats holding me back is the lack of local adjustment. Lightroom has had local brush for many years , and some time ago came with Range mask ( including color mask + Luminosity mask ) With Range mask you can do some very advanced local adjustment.

Hopefully some of the developer from Github can take a look at these 2 videos.
5 first minutes in this video

From 3 to 8 minutes in this video

If RT can do something like this , it could be my RAW editor number 1

have a look at darktable. I think masks are not coming ever in RT. But darktable can do many things much better than Lr. However it is worse than RT in terms of noise reduction.


The local lab builds or RT have a tool that uses masks. So they are coming, when the feature is ready.


Is local lab going to be as powerful as dt or Lr in terms of masking?
There are since quite some time several tools in RT that actually use masks (kind of “under the hood”), such as sharpening or noise reduction. So you are right. Is is just not that obvious. I mean even the highlights/shadows tool actually works with masks.
If RT is going to get masks I whish that darktable’s noise reduction gets a “recover details” slider.

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Have a look here: Local Lab build

It looks very powerful but it is a completely different approach than in Lr or darktable.

In the thread you will also find locations for the nightly builds with the feature enabled so you can try it for yourself.

I have already been using Local Lab Build for some time.

I found this video by Riley Brant showing mask and Luminosity mask ( !! ) done in darktable.
He stated that you can’t do that in Lightroom , which is incorrect.

If Raw Therapee could do these kind of advanced mask , I would be thrilled.

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If all the programs do all the same things in the same manner, there’s no point in keeping this diversity of programs.
RT and DT have strengths in different areas, and I enjoy this diversity in approaches.


Actually, I am improving mask in “locallab”.

I’m doing this gradually

In first step, I put a simplified version with

  • 3 curves c=f(C ) ; L=f(L) ; L and C = f(H)
  • a blender
  • radius to smooth result with “Guide filter”

These features are for “Color and light”, “Exposure”, “Shadows Highlight”

Now I work to add for working on mask : gamma and Chroma slider



I see this in another way. Talking about Shadow/Highlight recovery. It’s been a weak point for both RT and darktable for many many years. Lightroom has been light years ahead.

If the developers ( RT and dt ) at Github could work together , they could have narrowed the gap in much shorter time. Do those team help each other at all ?

RT 5.5 has improved a lot , and is not an issue for me any more. It is on par with luminar , On1 , Alien Exposure and the others. But I still think Lightroom has the edge.

My point is , if they have a major weakness , like shadow/highlight for both - local adjustment for RT - Noise reduction for darktable , both prog would benefit if they could cooperate.
They are still not the same , with very different UI

Thanks for improving Local lab :grinning:

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Yes, the teams speak regularly in IRC.


do you have some examples that you can share? I don’t have lightroom, but I am interested in seeing some comparisons. Thanks!


@agriggio I think @DxO-user, by saying

means that Lightroom still has the larger amount of individual features, versus RawTherapee. I’ve been a Linux user for many years, and I am used to witnessing the Open Source community struggling and striving to make the [ software ] world a better place, and in the meantime, whenever a huge milestone is finally met, only to receive comments like "yeah, nice, but < insert commercial product name > is still ahead of it, and how it can feel quite painful to us, even though most of the time it is not meant that way. Non Open Source people don’t consider the price we take in what happens here, in fact are quite oblivious to it most of the time, and they just objectively comment based on what they see; and indeed Lightroom does have a whole bunch of features RawTherapee doesn’t have.

I’ve recently had a conversation with a friend about local adjustments in RawTherapee. She just can’t wait until they are available, since she dreads the prospect of having to save, then open in some other program, then save again… I promptly called her lazy and pointed out how she must appreciate how lucky we are to even have such powerful tools as Gimp and RawTherapee and how the things we are able to do these days were not possible only a few years earlier. Then I realized that, indeed, commercial photographers are people who run businesses and they do gravitate toward tools that make work quicker and easier to do, so I do understand why when they finally find a product with such features, as local adjustments, that spoil them a little, they would rather not give them up :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s tough to remain objective and unphased when one invests a lot of emotion in a project.
Just thinking.


thanks for your thoughts, but I think I might have not been clear :slight_smile:
I am interested in seeing comparisons about dynamic range manipulation in lightroom vs RT, because I’m fully aware that LR is the state of the art, and I don’t have any experience with it. sorry if that sounded emotional, it definitely wasn’t.


Incoming wall of text. :stuck_out_tongue:

@stefan.chirila While I don’t disagree with your assessment, the main issue is that consumers of FLOSS and commercial products alike are entitled, impatient or both. Let me explain: the same type of user who is frustrated with RT experienced the same thing with Adobe for a very long time in recent history. LR was way behind and Adobe wasn’t supportive of people’s issues. In fact, they were dismissive of its customers. I am talking about bugs and corrupted databases, not even missing or incomplete features! It took some deep reflection, restructuring, research and development, and real competition to move the dial even a bit.

Since then, things have been going well with Adobe. In the same way, RT needs time to mature. But just look at the past year of development and how receptive and friendly the community is! There is no comparison; I will be using RT and friends even if I get a free subscription to Adobe.


I have a free subscription to Adobe. I hardly ever use it (any more). Lr’s strength is mainly managing photos, not necessarily editing. I think both RT and dt are better editors than Lr. dt does much better with masks, RT is better at sharpening/noise reduction. Lr is much easier to use though.

With some exceptions, we don’t help each other.
Sometimes dt ‘steals’ code and ideas from rt and vice versa.

The exceptions are:

  1. Dan Torop and I ported xtrans demosaic to dt and rt almost at the same time and worked together really good!

  2. whenever I make an improvement to an algorithm which is also used in dt (amaze demosaic or raw ca correction), I inform one of the dt members (usually @hanatos or @houz).

And of course, when we meet on LGM or wherever, we enjoy :slight_smile:


I did some shadow lift comparison from a dark underexposed image


RT 5.5

@DxO-user do you think maybe it would be a good idea to balance the white balance when making such a comparison, and to provide the raw file? You can pick the white balance from the white building.

You can make a test using this raw file:


thanks for the example. it would be more helpful if you could share also the raw and pp3 of possible