Settings for fine details (compared to other tools)

I was just curious to see how the images were handled out of the gate. So I bypassed the scene referred and tried to just compare DT with ART and this same image processed as similarly as I could… I added 1 ev to both and in ART enabled both sharpening modules at the defaults. The other two modifications were auto tone curve neutral and color denoise. So basically ART defaults plus 1 EV, both sharpening modules and color denoising. To try to match things I took the coordinates from the automatch curve which in the case of this image looks a lot like the std Adobe tone curve and I created a matching curve in the tone curve module in DT and the base curve module… And I set color preservation in them to none. So DT was legacy WB with matching values from ART, plus 1 EV, color denoise preset and diffuse module.

Art seems to be a bit more saturated and despite a similar tone treatment DT was much darker if I used the basecurve … and somewhat lighter if I used the tone curve with the same parameters. I also tried the legacy vs current module order in DT and it didn’t make too much difference…



DT basecurve

Tone curve

JPG’s set to 90% best quality in ART auto in DT… looks like Art file is substantially smaller…

MJD04337_ART.jpg.out.arp (11.7 KB)
MJD04337.ARW.xmp (25.9 KB)

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The right image is a screenshot from ART.

Yeah, there are subtle differences int tone and color handling that make it non trivial to match the images in both editors. I also did compare various workflows in DT to narrow down to a specific module - tried the different tone mappings, the different white balancing methods, demosaic and more. It’s really insightful to try out the various methods and learn about their “inner workings”.

For me the case is somewhat closed, with the above mentioned DoS settings, those are a reasonable starting point to bring out the finest details in DT.

Actually I did try both of you mentioned options, didn’t make a significant difference - so I skipped this further down the thread.

With sharpness it’s somehow a double sided thing. I mean, we all know (and I really do think that), sharpness is for most of the images not a relevant factor. Yet, most of us buy the high mega pixels, the sharper lens … and the best sharpening algo :man_shrugging: So I do find it valid to pixelpeep, not for the single image, but to choose and optimize your base sharpening algo.

My trigger to post the thread, was the gap in perceived level of detail in DT and ART, that I just couldn’t believe. And did find @123sg 's posts very helpful, because I learned how to narrow the gap with better settings in DoS (and I think you need a high level of expertise to find those settings).

It’s actually not the sharpening, why I’m mainly interested in ART. It’s the color and tone handling that fit better with my editing process. I really need the curves for saturation and also for tones to be happy (in DT I’ve been using the color zones and tone curve for this purpose) and I think these tools are more prominent in ART.

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That is very reassuring news. Even though I’m so enthusiastic about ART at the moment, I know that RawTherapee is its foundation and we owe a lot to it. May RawTherapee also live forever.

Hello @micha

Just my 2 cents :grinning:

RawTherapee is still currently developed, on a daily basis [1]. Especially by Jacques Desmis. For instance, he is working now on the lacam branch (for colour stuff).

As regards the lack of some other “juicy stuff” (GPU support, mask through brushes like within ART, port the GUIs to GTK4 etc) my personal and questionable opinion, is that they require so much work that it is extremely unlikely they might be worked anytime soon (but I do hope to be proved wrong).
For the GTK4 port, for instance, the Inkscape team has hired a full-time developer and yet, after this big sponsorship, there are still a lot of rough edges (bugs) to solve (especially as regards the Apple pc systems).



Yep it is getting some love… :smile:

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Thanks again for the post. I spent a lot of time with the image overlooking the town/village and the water and misty mountains in the back ground. I got to one point when I had an edit in DT for example that in some areas would be much superior on a certain roof or one of the buildings but it would look not as good in other parts of the image and there were some trends. I was really trying to figure out the best way to compare them as I got to wondering about how screen rendering might be different between the two so switching back and forth might not be the best. I of course thought that exported files compared in the same viewer (I just pulled them back in DT and used snapshots) might be best but then the rendering of those might also not be consistent with display and then again between apps… In any case it has been a good little exercise. For example I do have a few presets for D&S that are mostly mods of the provided ones and so nothing creative on my part. The one Steven shared is good and I found you can push it harder if you like and then offset any increase in grain with a bump in the threshold slider so that was something that shook out of the discussion and I was also really happy that people went back and forth and shared examples and experience without any decay into a partisan debate so in the end everybody might find a nugget for thought or improvement…


Happy to read, that you had some fun, fiddling around with that image. There is so much details in it, I really like it. The city BTW is Riva del Garda, at the Lago di Garda in Italy.

OMG I had to think and so funny I didn’t recognize it but I think I cycled through there in 2019… I did a trip from Innsbruck to Venice… I think I took a ferry from there… would have been nice to cycle around the lake…

Very nice! I immediatly recognize the tiny toy houses :smiley:

I almost died there. I was like an idiot tourist trying to shoot a video of my ride down the hill into town… as I got to the bottom where the arch is entering the town two drivers were honking and stopped fighting over who would go through… I maxed out my brakes and then some and managed by the grace of God to stop and not fall or collide with anyone… laughing now … heart in my hand back then… My wife was not happy with me… :slight_smile:

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Luckily all went well :+1:
The car drivers over there are also a bit more … err, vigorous (?) don’t want to say “aggressive” :wink:


There’s no ‘auto quality’ in darktable. You set the quality, and you can adjust the chroma subsampling, or leave the default value ‘auto’:

In your screenshot above, your quality setting is 80, which may not be sufficient if you really want to pixel-peep. I don’t know if you used that value in the actual export, of course:

No that’s my default for normal posts HD resolution and 80 for compression… Thanks for clarifying for others I did mean auto quality in terms of chroma sampling… I think I checked the exif and DTcused 4:2:0. I think ART was 4:4:4 but still had a significantly smaller JPG footprint

I remember quite well when this pixel peeping competition led to the possibility of implementing capture sharpening in DT … my question about this would be :

Would capture sharpening in DT be less CPU/GPU intensive than D&S ?

As I never gat the hang of D&S because it’s far too slow on my computer to experiment.

I’m a long time DT user and I’m totally ok with the concept of not having and OOC jpg like starting point when opening a RAW in DT but I’ve been from time to time a little bit envious of the sharp appearance and the highlight recovery available in ART/RT kind of out of the box without any significant settings adjustment.

Contrary to the apparent bland/low contrast starting point in DT that tends to lead me to more unbiased creativity with my RAWs, I consider less fine details available and less highlight details out of the box a drawback of DT compared to ART/RT nevertheless this feeling did never outweigh the other perceived DT advantages though leading me to still exclusively using it.

Certainly yes :slight_smile: At least i would guess about 4fold better performance …

Could you explain this? Not satisfied with inpaint opposed?

Sorry I’ve been a little too fast to comment on that, I’ve not compares since inpaint opposed have been introduced but now that I’ve said that I’m testing it right away !

Having checked re opening old raws where I remembered struggling with highlight details I compared with RT playing with highlight compression and exposure on both softwares and I can say :

  • The inpaint method compares to old edits effectively brought more details out of the highlights
  • I could not find significant differences in the amount of details I could recover from the highlights

I totally retract that part of my previous post, I’m sorry as it was rather inconsiderate from me of the work being done and results achieved.

Thanks for the work and improvements !

With sigmoid and inpaint opposed (as mentioned by @hannoschwalm) most of the “deficiencies” of dt are gone imho. It’s now mostly workflow and ui differences.

When sigmoid came along I was impressed enough to consider switching back from RT to dt. For most photos handling dynamic range becomes very easy and fast with sigmoid. Filmic should be avoided imho unless you really know your stuff, judging from play raws and showcases a lot of people still fail to take care of the pink issue.

RT still has better sharpening, pixelshift and the highlight recovery still works better. I find that I often have to switch between inpaint opposed (which RT has gotten from dt I believe) and colour propagation to find what works for a certain photo.

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Personally I try to use DT periodically because there’s a lot to like in it on paper but when I compare the final result with RT edits I often find the RT ones better (although for some pictures I prefer DT), not sure exactly why. I think part of it is that the colours are better in RT our of the gate for my camera, but even for things where DT should have an edge like use of masks I find that RT’s local adjustment hold their own.

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“Personally I try to use DT periodically because there’s a lot to like in it on paper but when I compare the final result with RT edits I often find the RT ones better (although for some pictures I prefer DT), not sure exactly why. I think part of it is that the colours are better in RT our of the gate for my camera, but even for things where DT should have an edge like use of masks I find that RT’s local adjustment hold their own.”

I read in a thread in the forum on dpreview that such problems are due to the scene-referred workflow, which would only have disadvantages apart from HDR on screens. I don’t have the knowledge to judge this statement, but it makes me think.