Translate Lightroom instructions to Darktable

Sometime I watch som Youtube videos with explications on how to edit a specific photograph. I find them useful to improve my editing skillt. Example: Youtube edit video.

Unfortunately most such videos are geared towards Lightroom users. I don’t know Lightroom at all. Ist there some “translation” from Lightroom to Darktable for the main functions ? Essentially something which goes though the main sliders in Lighroom and points out the Darktable equivalent.

The two software have very different tools and approaches. Therefore, translating a tutorial is hardly possible. However, there are great darktable tutorials. Check the Videos section of resources | darktable.

I’m aware of the videos about Darktable. I’m specifically trying to see how I can replicate edits from Lightroom to Darktable.

That’s a bit like trying to get into your house with your car keys


generic translation between Lightroom and Darktable is hardly possible as stated by @kofa and @TonyBarrett but maybe if you pointed toward a specific transformation/processing done in lightroom you’d like to acchieve in Darktable some of us could help, maybe even try to use the vidéo as an example and try posting a raw of your own where you’d like to see the processing applied as a “playraw”


IME, once you get below the high meta-level of “adjust exposure”, “change saturation”, “alter tonality”, “sharpen”, etc. and into any of the functional details, darktable differs considerably from what I’ve seen of LR. LR now has masking but even that’s very different from how masking is done in darktable. I’d say the best you can do is apply general photographic principles. However you need to be careful even there since LR and darktable have very different operating paradigms.

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At first glance I misread your post to say, “That’s a bit like trying to get onto your horse with your car keys”. Actually, that’s not too far off either. :smiley:


“Now, where’s the ignition?”


I saw the link to the video you provided… That LR edit didn’t really do much unique in anyway to LR that I could see (I admit I scanned it) and used mostly basic raw adjustments in the same way that you can set in DT exposure highlights shadows … Then there was some fiddling with hue… The equivalent would be color zones for now in DT. A bunch of drawn gradient masks were used for some local tweak. DT has the same masking tool in all or most modules. and before that initially some LR profile was added so maybe a curve or other color tweaks and in the end maybe there was some wb tweaking and of course a “famous” preset was added I think… So for the most part it was tweaking the basics of tone exposure hue and saturation. Then some local tweaks. All things with pretty much directly comparable DT functions or any other raw editor for that matter so at least for this example I dont think there was much need for translation…

I’m attempting to follow the editing instructions (second half of the video above). Some I think I sort of grasp, others I’m still struggling. It actually looks like he is editing in Photoshop, not Lightroom. This may be an additional difficulty. But I presume that Adobe uses the same terms for the same adjustments in both.


  • Making the photo warmer with white balance. This is the same in DT, although in DT color calibration is better for this adjustment
  • Exposure is the same
  • Highlights would be white relative exposure (filmic)
  • Shadows would be black relative exposure (filmic)
  • Vibrance is the same (color balance rgb)
  • Oval mask and exposure: Clone the exposure module and apply the desired exposure with a drawn oval mask

Esstentially a translation table.

You seem to know the software pretty well. I guess the problem with making some kind of translation chart is that, as I understand it, LR isn’t really trying to tell you what it’s doing under the hood. So if you say such and such function is equivalent to something in DT, it may not be, except in a very general sense, and there may not even be a way of knowing whether it is equivalent. Might end up confusing more than helping, IMHO. Of course, asking if a module is kind of like something in LR is a reasonable question but not sure having a text that says this equals that might not lead people astray.

The settings in the 4 way tabe in colorbalance esp with the internal tonal masks set for the module are more like the traditional highlights and shadows IMO …than the filmic settings which are controlling those regions wrt DNR mapping but not exactly true highlight and shadow sliders again maybe this is just my understanding or how I use it…

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I agree with most of your list, except this bit:

No, these two I would definitely say would be done in tone eq in in darktable
The filmic adjustments are more akin to tweaking the tone curve in Lr I’d say.
I didn’t see a link to the video…? Edit, sorry found it! will have a look.

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Tone equalizer might be more apt for this. Filmic sets the over all maximum boundary for the scene. Use it to push the histogram as far as you need. Use tone equalizer for everything else.

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I’m still watching the video (quite interesting) but I followed the instructions and downloaded the file and made my own version, using darktable, before watching the others.
My version, quite by chance, looks quite similar to the version he made himself in the video - I’ll attach the xmp file in case you want to see what I did.
DSC00774.ARW.xmp (14.7 KB)
I should warn you it will be a bit slow if you don’t have OpenCL set up as I’m using a couple of presets in D&S, but you can switch them off with out loosing too much of the overall look.

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Yeah, the video is interesting. Good to play with.

Until now I’ve rarely used the tone equlizer, I’m playing with it now and it is much easier to adjust.

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A few more pointers…
The “Texture” and "Details"stuff can be done in either contrast eq or diffuse and sharpen. There is an (older) sharpen module too, which might be more similar to Lr.
The “Color mixer” in the video is pretty similar to color zones in dt (which has a HSL preset to mke it more like the Lr tool),
the "Color grading is very similar to the 4 ways tab in color balance rgb,
and the “Calibration” bit is a good match to color calibration in dt. Although with this one, if you’re using CC for wb already, I would create a new instance for the more creative adjustments.

I never gat the hang of “tone equalizer”

As an equivalent to shadows and highlight, I prefer to first set the scope of what I want to retain of information on these both ends with filmic then use the very powerful “Color balance RGB” then use in first tab “perceptual brilliance” highlight/mid-tones/shadows sliders and in the second tab lightness/shadows/highlight and power

The other tools present in color balance RGB enable you to manage colour saturation (normal boost) and perceptual intensity (respecting the intended perceived brightness of the tonal range affected)

I think these tools are wonderful to set the equilibrium between shadows and highlight as well as the general perceptual luminosity/brilliance of the image. Plus I find these rather safe in the way the induce next to no artefacts and really respect colours and prevent hue shift.

With the catalogue of tools available in DarkTable I guess it’s expected to get many different answers from many different persons :smiley:

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@clind I’ve never looked at “Color balance RGB” for this. But the sliders you mention are genius !

They to exactly what I was looking for to adjust shadows and highlights.

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tone equalizer preserves local contrast, pixel-wise methods, such as tone curves and color balance rgb do not.
Suppose that you have a shadowy area. In that, you have some pixels that are darker than the average; others are brighter.
If you use a pixel-wise operation to lift the shadows, the darker pixel is lifted more than the brighter one; their relative brightness difference becomes smaller, and local contrast is diminished.

If you use tone equalizer with proper masking, the value of the mask will be the same for the whole shadowy area. Now, when you lift that area, both pixels will be affected the same way (say, get brighter by 1 EV). Local contrast will be preserved.

To help you, you can enable mask display, as the exposure adjustment is not determined by the value of the pixel, but rather by the blurred mask. The tricky bit is finding the balance between smooth masks that may cause halos, and detecting edges, that may break the nice smooth areas in the mask even though you’re not at a real boundary, you just have some local detail. When the mask is not smooth where it should be, you get (almost) pixel-wise operations, and fail to preserve local contrast.