RawTherapee vs Darktable

I’ve been using Darktable for a while and upto now happy. Recently I’ve been playing with RawTherapee and the results are better than I can I can achieve with Darktable. Noise reduction is superior and the finished images look more natural. RawTherapee appears to have a raft of options which are not available in Darktable.

Would be interested to hear other users comments.


I don’t think you can go wrong with either.

For me, RT has:

  • auto match JPEG
  • dual demoasic
  • wavelets
  • great automatic results.

DT has:

  • masking, and lots of it
  • better collection/better standard metadata support
  • equalizer is awesome
  • color zones are awesome
  • multiple module instances.

You can use one or the other, or both. Choose what works best for you.


A few extra pluses for me as far as RT is concerned:
-ability to use .dcp profiles
-better highlight reconstruction (the colour reconstruction option in the Darktable highlight reconstruction module is apparently broken and produces artefacts).
-more tone-curve adjustment and mode options
-noise reduction is less fiddly
-RL deconvolution sharpening

A couple of things that would be nice to have are:
-the ability to see the previous history stack when you reopen an image
-the possibility of creating virtual copies of an image

DT’s presets and the ability to designate ‘favourite’ modules make it very efficient if you have a lot of photos to process but I find that the cataloging side of things is a bit clunky.

Both can produce excellent results though once you get used to them.

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I find myself using
RT for the dual demosaicing and curve auto-matching, both of which show the pace of development and the propensity of its devs to try new things.
dt for the automatic perspective tool. It is much more convenient than having to do it manually in hugin — my poor possibly arthritic hands!


My first tool of choice was LightZone, I am still using it here and there, watching it’s progress, that is rather slow, but alive.

When I expect to use regions/drawn masks and parametric masks, darktable is an obvious choice, for my needs, I usually don’t have to use the Gimp (and G’MIC) afterwards. darktable also has the Zone system module, familiar to LightZone users.

This also depends on the current development. Since the new options to control sharpening and even demosaicing (ingo.pp3) have been introduced, I tend to develop my low-ISO shots by RawTherapee. Also more “problematic” photos, that need highlight reconstruction and such.

darktable’s perspective tool is excellent, so are many other modules. Since I don’t need a “workflow”, I’m happily using both programs.

For noisy images, I can’t get results, as pleasant as Canon’s software can provide, with neither of the tools. But this deserves a well prepared new thread, in the future.

@Jacal :angry::fist: at noisy Canon raw files. I admit my camera is ancient but anything 800+ ISO is not worth my time. It is butt ugly and for the life of me I cannot make it look nice. I guess part of it is that I don’t use flash (the on-camera one is broken and I don’t want to invest in one); that might help somewhat.

Thanks, @afre. I didn’t make this an issue just because none of my possible examples are “real-life” photos, just some low light experiments. Let’s use the time better.

I use darktable 'cause it is faster, allows for amazing noise reduction, has masks (drawn and parametric), allows to copy-paste history stack, has levels module, color zones module, etc. Etc.

Do you get better result with rawtherapee only because of noise reduction or do you also achieve better results for noise free images?
I can understand that noise reduction with darktable is not always easy, as I have been trying a lot of things with it. I am currently trying to get a “universal” style for denoising to produce good denoising results with darktable. This is work in progress, but you can still find it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tmEkkpI-RlgH7EHlAIqIyvTTBERNSN6n/view?usp=drivesdk
The lowpass filter in the style should be activated only if you see bright green pixels when looking the image at 100% zoom level.
I hope this can help :slight_smile:

When I returned to photography around seven years ago and being exclusively on Linux, I decided on darktable.
Fast forward, two and a half years ago I bought a Fuji X-Trans camera.
Slowly I realised that I could achieve better clear details in RT using the RL Deconvolution sharpening with damping set to zero.

So, I’m now a happy user of both :grinning:
Pros and cons.
crop and rotate, plus the perspective correction.
The ease of exporting to Flickr and google photos.
Being able to fine control sliders and curves using scroll wheel.
Not having to be at 100% zoom to see effects.
So many more :grinning:

No Deconvolution sharpening.

Better clean image.
Demosaicing Three pass fast
Standard Film Curve low iso profile,
Shadows and highlights,
Plus many more :grinning:
This is probably just a personal thing but I find dts modules much easier to finely adjust.

The biggest con and which stops me using RT more is having to view modules that are 1.1 at 100%, I’ve tried and tried using the detail windows but just cannot see it. In dt I can zoom out and see the effect.

Can I just say it’s a pleasure to have a discussion as this without all the “mine is better than your’s”
Discussions on some sites such as DP it’s like WW3 or it’s like questioning the posters manhood :wink:

Both darktable and RawTherapee are exceptional and I will continue using both.


Thanks for all the replies. I’m not knocking Darktable and Darktable would be my preference… however, I can’t replicate the results I can get from RT with Darktable, even using various DT tricks. That said, I have to agree with others here, there’s a lot of things Darkatable can do RT cannot.

For me the biggest difference is workflow. darktable is better att handlig multiple files, multiple output sizes, metadata etc.

RT is more a tool for custom crafting a new demosaiced master file.

I quite like both the denoise and sharpening of darktable but RT has many nice little tricks and I use it for files that require extra care.

I look forward to the locallab build in Rawtherapee becoming part of the main build. I find it very easy to make quick local adjustments without having to use masks.
Overall I think both Rawtherapee and Darktable are great programs. Darktable looks a bit more polished and has masks but Rawtherapee has better noise reduction and dcp colour profiles. I really like the HaldClut film simulations in RT.

At the moment RT and dt have many overlaps and many differences in approach, but I would not say one is better than the other.

One thing to consider though is that (from what I can see) dt is currently largely developed by 2 people only, while RT has the benefit of having at least 5 people actively involved. This does provide more opportunities for RT to grow than it does for dt. My message in general would be: If you see something missing in either software and you know how to contribute, please do so :wink:


I looked at DT a few years ago, then again just recently (within the last few months). I was amazed at how much it had matured in that time. About the same time, I also started playing around with RT and was pleased with the results I was able to get. There’s a learning curve (like anything else), but I’m finding it’s well within my grasp if I spend the time to play around with the controls and do my homework with it. I don’t know if DT is any better or worse (it’s just different), but for now I’m using RT for my serious editing work.

I don’t even really see them as the same type of tool.

RT feels like a raw processor & non-destructive image editor
DT additionally has an integrated dam, printing, local adjustments, etc

The difference is workflow related for me. My workflow, is much more aligned with a product with an integrated DAM so I have switched to DT.

Conversely, if you don’t want/need the integrated DAM, it will just get in your way when you use DT as a standalone editor. You can just pop the file open in RT and make the changes without having to worry about importing it.

it would be wonderful if the two applications found together: RawTable or DartTherapee. Then you can use the best filters from both worlds. Wonderful.

I hope not in my lifetime, and I think there is no danger for this to happen anytime soon. Good solutions already get transferred, in some way, when it is doable and useful.

Edit: PhotoFlow is interesting.


It is FLOSS, so code can be shared.

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It can, but in order to have a cross-product non-destructive workflow wouldn’t that mean that both products would have to fully implement all the adjustments from the other product?

You can already use both products together if you render the adjustments from one and send it to the other.

I would love to see a fully non-destructive workflow between the two but it seems impractical.