Poll - Do you use RawTherapee as a free replacement for ACR / Lightroom ?

In another topic regarding RT GUI, there was a statement*, that the Rawtherapee is not supposed to be a Adobe ACR/LR replacement. I use RT that way and it strucked me as untrue for me. I wonder how many of you disagree with this statement. So maybe you want to take part in a poll and let’s find out ?

*As Thanatomanic clarified, I have misinterpreted his statement, and my reference to another topic is now in my opinion invalid (Please see our conversation below).

Still - I’m interested in finding out the answer to the original question - how do you use RT.

  • Yes, I use RawTherapee as an alternative to ACR / Lightroom
  • No, RawTherapee have different uses for me

0 voters

If I am on Linux, RT is an alternative or a different use ? :thinking:


@alvamatik I agree with you, tricky to answer!

Regardless of linux/windows - If you like ACR/LR and want to use it to fast develop photos, and have a decent alternative in RT to do the same - then yes. If you never used ACR/LR, or don’t like it - then No.

Intention was to see if there are more people who finds RT as an alternative for ACR/LR.

@nullnull You’re misinterpreting what I said, and this poll is therefore based on a wrong premise.

Of course RawTherapee can be your personal replacement for ACR, I never said it couldn’t. However, if you try out RawTherapee and expect something that works very similar to ACR, you can and probably will be disappointed. My statement came from a design perspective: nobody sat down and thought “Let’s make something that can replace ACR”. This is a very important distinction.
Edit: To further support this notion, some of the developers of RT don’t even own Adobe products or have only used them a long time ago. So nothing is designed only because our ‘competitors’ have the same functionality.

As a matter of fact, I turned away from Lightroom myself and started using RawTherapee to process my photos years ago.

  1. Basically, I open all my photos with Faststone which serves me as a dispatching hub to my other softwares (quick keys).
    It also allows me to process photos quickly and without worries of quality and also to resize/send them very quikly on the web.
    (I had also installed the free NIK plugins in Faststone).

  2. Affinity with Nik software plugins (free) for the majority of my treatments.

  3. GIMP also with Nik plugins for complex cases because I master GIMP well.

  4. Rawtherapee for the complex processing of RAW but more and more rarely because the quality of my cameras is better and my softwares used globally performant.

@Thanatomanic Sorry for that missinterpretation, I did not have bad intentions.

I understand now that you were focused in the answer on the fact, that RawTherapee has it own way, and ACR/LR its own way and the goal is not to blindly clone / copy from one to another.

With this poll what I really wanted to do is to maybe make a bigger emphasis on such users, which just want to quickly edit photo like in lightroom.

I regret now, that I quoted / referenced your comment instead of just asking my question - maybe I should now remove that reference. I’m eager to do that, just don’t know what to do with that now … :slight_smile:

Nevertheless, I still am interested in seeing how many people treat RT in such a way like described in the original topic - as a decent replacement for ACR/LR. Knowing that, maybe it would be more motivation to make some more GUI changes in that direction, if that of course is inline with the general philosophy of the application.

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I find your use of terms muddy. Replacement and alternative are different matters. The former implies that you used to use app A and then replaced it with app B. What if you never used A? The latter means that it is yet another app that does something similar. Different uses means you have a different purpose for app B. Free or not is the only thing that is unambiguous.

If I am to answer your question directly, the poll mechanism won’t work. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

1 There is no doubt that price is a barrier to entry to Adobe products. Other than that, I have written many times that comparison is moot. It is what you do with the tool. Each is useful in its own way.

2 RT isn’t a replacement. Nothing really replaces ACR, PS or LR. They are a unique proposition. So is RT. If I had both, I would use them differently.

3 But given the choice if there is parity in a feature I would choose to use RT out of my preference for FLOSS, ability to contribute to it and distaste for Adobe ecosystem.

In sum, no to your title and both-and to your poll list items.


My question was not about defermining what RT is. It was supposed to ask - why you use the RT - what is your reason to use it. E.g. I use it to edit my hobbistic pictures taken with my dslr, to quickly edit file by file, which I would do using LR/ACR which I don’t have because I cannot rationalize buying one for amateur / hobby use. That is my reason to click “yes”.

So I don’t want to say “RT is a replacement” and to force some kind of definition on RT, or reduce RT to mearly a copy of ACR/LR. I just want to say “10 people said that that is their reason to use”.

As I learned today - I would of course use a different framing / description to the question, which is I think - normal in the questionaries - you learn that you framed the questions wrong and would do it different way. I certainally would :slight_smile:

This feels like a question with a false dilemma.


I use rawtherapee because it allows me to start from a really neutral raw :muscle:t2:


@age You are right. My desire to tinker at a more fundamental level drove me in the direction of FLOSS photography. Magic Lantern helped even further when it started supporting my camera in 2010.

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I think there is a very common sentiment that RAW developers are interchangeable. That you can use, say, Capture One instead of Lightroom and basically get the same tools with a different user interface. I think this is born from their similarly labeled sliders, which imply similar implementations and intentions.

However, I recently tried the following experiment: take a black-to-white ramp into a number of RAW developers, raise/lower highlights/shadows, then analyze the resulting files to see the effect of the slider.

And let me tell you, they were entirely different. In one tool, Highlights manipulated the top half of the tone curve, but left middle grey and white alone. In another, it mostly affected the top quarter only. In another, it shifted even shadows a little bit. In another, it moved things past the white point into clipping territory. In yet another, the behavior changed past a highlight value if 50. Most of them also seemed to include some kind of masking behavior.

So even though the sliders were all called “Highlights”, and usually ranged from -100 to +100, their actual effect was very different. I believe that this same wild variety applies not just to the Highlights slider, but in fact to every tool in every RAW developer. They might look similar on the surface, but their behavior is not.

Thus, I think it is a (very common) fallacy that one tool is a “replacement” for another. They are not. They are all different, they all require learning to grasp the intricacies of their tools, and knowledge does not transfer well between them.


Not only do tools differ in behaviour, their algorithm, their starting point (default) and their position in the pipeline are different. Comparison is a marketing tool. Same with cameras. Obviously, there are better higher priced ones. At the end of the day, it is how you use them and what you get out of them.

In another topic regarding RT GUI, there was a statement*, that the Rawtherapee is not supposed to be a Adobe ACR/LR replacement. I use RT that way and it strucked me as untrue for me. I wonder how many of you disagree with this statement. So maybe you want to take part in a poll and let’s find out ?

I object strongly to this way of questioning. Why in heaven’s name do I have to pass judgement on an incredibly capable piece of software and compare it to a product I only know from advertising and stories of others?

Why this incessant need to compare open source software which was developed on Linux with existing non-free products on other ecosystems just because someone took the time and trouble to port it to those ecosystems? (and yes, it happens every time F/OSS gets ported by well-meaning people)

If you prefer ACR/Lightroom, by all means stick with it. If you want software that behaves like ACR/Lightroom, by all means learn how to program and develop it. But stop these silly comparisons of cross-platform programs. It contributes to the fake news surrounding Linux and software which is developed on that system as if they forever pursue equality with Windows or commercial software.

If you use RT as an ACR/Lightroom replacement, you are stuck in an unhealthy place from which there is no escape except back to ACR/Lightroom - so give in to the inevitable, PLEASE!


I think we should split some hairs, between replacement and replica. Sure, RT can be a replacement, as they very generally do the same thing, edit raw photos. But RT certainly does not aim to replicate the LR/ACR tooling, the details of using it are quite different.

Never used ACR, LR, or PS. I start from one or another raw developer, including RT, according to how different programs tilt the user toward one or another result. Want pop and a postcard look for a bright summertime photo? Start with DxO Photo Lab. Want careful extraction of detail, or effects attainable with Lab curves, or skin smoothing? Start with RT. Then all photos go into Picture Window Pro 8.

I used Picture Window Pro way back and went to the DL-C website today and saw it is now free.
What do you like about this program?
I’m tempted to download it and see how it has developed. Thank you.

When I was in highschool, I started out using Rawtherapee and Gimp because I didn’t have the means to afford the Adobe Creative Suite. Now, I have the opinion that Rawtherapee is SUPERIOR to Lightroom!

I find it quite easy to get a pop look in Rawtherapee. Just use Dynamic Range Compression, Shadows/Highlights, and wavelets local contrast enhancement, and the results are awesome.