Glad you appreciate some of the challenges that I may not have articulated perfectly.
You truly understand my challenge when you state so correctly, and I paraphrase here, “that the filmic module alone may not be ample by itself”, for “developing” the raw image to a point that is good enough for viewing, and any further editing. You mention and I agree that some other modules such as local contrast would be needed.
Without getting too deep into the technicalities, that was my experience that to get to a basic comfortable starting point where I could look at an image, and be satisfied that I was seeing a decent representation of what the camera captured, I needed to use a couple of modules, such as exposure, (Filmic or base curve or 3D LUT) and sometimes more, to get an image to a place where I was comfortable with what I saw, to then begin to get to step 2, which is fixing any issues, and then step 3 which is adding my own spin or artistry.
If one spends too long at stage 1, creatively one is exhausted before one gets to step 2 and 3. And my experience has been that our eyes and brain are not accurate precision tools but operate relatively, i.e after too much time spent on one image, one is no longer objective cos any further adjustments are relative, and ist easy to go too far, with editing cos one has spent so much time on an edit, that you need to take a break or come back the next day to objectively see what appeared to you to be a minor edit, which had taken your image beyond the intention you had.
Kinda similar to needing to take a break when you are mixing audio or video.
I hope my comments will be seen not as in any way knocking darktable or open source tools, but as a realistic if somewhat frustrated feedback, from a real user. I once wrote software for a living for at least 10 years, and supported various software products and projects for at least another 10 years, so I value the effort that has gone into the darktable product. Phenomenal achievement. It may be left of field opinions like mine, that may stir those who have the ability to create the needed change in further darktable development.
But I am extremely glad I can close this comment on a most positive note. I earlier spoke about the possibility of seeking some other tool which may permit me to develop the photos for further editing in darktable (or GIMP - now that is a lot more complex and frightening than darktable). I do love the organisation and workflow of darktable which has come in leaps and bounds over the most recent 18 months.
I was initially thinking I’d use one of the other editors I mentioned to “develop” the raw image, i,e transform it into something that looks acceptable, then convert this to a 32 bit Tiff file, i,e with as much of the information retained as possible, then bring this into darktable for any further tweaks. One finds similar workflow where image development is started in Adobe Camera Raw, and or Lightroom and final editing is done in Photoshop, or imag development is done in darktable, for further editing in GIMP.
Its very early days yet, and I have only spent about the most recent 30 minutes downloading, installing, quick read through the available documentation, and opening up a few images, but I must say I am impressed with the immediate quality of the default appearance of the images in the tool, as it were - straight out of raw development using default settings, absolutely no changes by me and I feel like I’m using one of the commercial tools I mentioned earlier, but this one is free and also open source (albeit no binaries for Mac - only for Windows and Linux). I speak of Filmulator - its not an advanced photo editor, but it, within just a few minutes of using it, seems to have solved all of my challenges with the various methods of basic photo development stage 1, which I had in darktable.
Straight away, you get a very impressive - possibly too impressive, like I said I have only used it for less than 30 minutes, starting point of a very well developed image, at par or in advance of what I experience with the non open source image editors. It is early days, very early days, but looks promising. The number of controls are few, well laid out, and I like what I am seeing in the images, and thats before I touch any controls. I forsee my having to do very little in Filmulator - maybe only white balance, then export as tiff and continue photo edit in darktable, which I can then use for its great workflow.
But as I said, its early days, but out of the blue I remembered I had heard of this tool, and thought to try it out. Previously with all my work done in darktable, it was not needed.
But if we are all open here, and truly open, what I can see is a win win for everyone.
Can we imagine a world in which the photo development features of filmulator were reused in darktable.? That would be a wonderful world, where you could use what you wanted, as your photo development tool or tools in darktable directly. My point is - yes I have made a fuss that I think darktable photo development foundations are in need of enhancement in certain ways, but its not as bad as it seems, the solution - is already there somewhat. And I’m happy to be a go between and connect the development teams of darktable and filmulator to see what they could do together, to really raise darktables game, and bring in literally a far greater number of users, who would not face the challenges I have faced, so far.
I may be speaking too early, but with what I have seen in filmulator, there may be no need for presets, cos the default “developed” image is certainly at par or better than anything I have seen in any tool, including all the great non open source ones I have mentioned.
So here I am, having to eat my own words, within just a few hours - there is great open source software out there, with available code, that appears to mimic or exceed the “out of the box” photo intelligence that I have referred to as “color science”. Somehow the developers of filmulator have got this challenge of mine sorted - and it might just be the perfect next addition to darktable.
May I appeal to all those involved. After over a year of trying to make darktable work for me as my only photo editing tool(I do not need anything as extensive as photoshop and darktable is a cool intermediate between the kind of features in both lightroom and photoshop - a bit of both), I had to eat my own humble pie, and admit, it was not working for me, and I have aleady eplicitly stated the specific area which I found challenging.
Its not about the thousands who are using it and not complaining. If we are all humble it could be just one, just one person who has the guts to speak out and say what many others are respectfully coping with, or not even aware that there could be a better way of doing things, and say it with all honesty, that may make darktable better for current and future users.
Lets see where this leads, I only ask for significant humility on the part of all involved, including the developers of darktable. I do not belittle the work involved, not at all, but I am certain, that if this area of darktable were resolved, in the way I think has already been achieved in filmulator (and who knows, maybe there are other open source tools with similar capabilities), it would be one very big leap for mankind.
Please note its not about having identicum with a Sony or Canon or whatever camera or model’s JPEG image intelligence, no. I was not looking for such, I simply wanted to open an image and see it well presented, without my having to labour over it again - after all the work it took to capture the image in the 1st place - Filmulator does this - instantly very decent, very well presented images, straight from raw. I am not an optics expert and have no clue how it is achieved, but I have tried it out, and to any who are skeptic, it will only take 30 minutes of your time to come to the same conclusion. Great images - straight out of camera raw.
I’ll test out Fiilmulator and how this weaves into my workflow, but this is something everyone else can also try out for themselves, its free and I assure you, one look at a complex image viewed in Filmulator will set you thinking, there must be an optimal way forward for enhancing darktable to incorporate a similar instant - straight out of the box excellence of the initially developed image.
Someone in the open source world has figured out the photo science(at least to an extent that I am initially pleased with) and done a pretty good job of it, let’s not be defensive and reinvent the wheel, its already there, and we can reuse it in darktable.
I had to abandon what I thought was the best - i.e darktable as my only tool and admit that I needed better workflow, and yes it was difficult for me to admit cos I had invested so much effort and time in darktable, but the images starred me in the face, it was time to change.
If all in darktable community can see the benefit of better, darktable can have an amazing future.
One look at the default image you import into Filmulator and you will come to the same conclusion, darktable needs a similar capability. Not my opinion only - anyone can try it out for themselves.