Trying to emulate Adobe's clarity in RawTherapee

The clarity slider in Adobe Lightroom/Camera raw is quite a famous one, and many users of these product (ab)use it. In fact its effect seems quite complex, but used with taste, it can give a nice pop to the images.
I’ve seen people asking how to emulate this kind of effect in RT. So I’ve tried. First I tried using filters available in the dev build, using mostly the capabilities found in the “Wavelet levels” panel.
But since a couple days, I’ve tried using a build from the waveletnew branch, in which Jacques (@jdc) has added a “clarity” filter. By itself the clarity slider gives some clarity to the image, but combined with some other tools I got quite close (in my opinion) to the effect of the Adobe LR/CR clarity slider.

Let me show you the effects on one of my images, using the waveletnew build.

This is the image with just the “Automatched curve” active:

This is the effect of just the “clarity” filter in waveletnew added on top of this, with “Chroma merge” to 0, “Luma merge” to 40:

This is the effect of my “clarity” settings using basic RT tools to get close to the LR/CR clarity slider if set the maximum (100) value (the filters I used are “Dynamic range Compression”, “Vibrance”, and a bunch of “Wavelet” filters):

And this is the effect of combining my “basic clarity” settings with the “clarity” slider in waveletnew:

If you have a waveletnew build installed, try this profile: wavelet-clarity.pp3 (4.4 KB)

For the sake of comparison, here’s the same image developed in Adobe Camera Raw with the clarity slider pushed to 100 (and as much of the other filters as possible disabled):

I think that using just 3 tools in RT waveletnew got me quite close. Yes the effect is quite extreme, but it can be toned down by reducing the wavelet general slider. The only thing that is not as good as in the adobe clarity slider, is that there’s some halos. Maybe a guided filter would take care of this (and I think Jacques is actually working on it already).

What do you think?

Edit: I had uploaded the wrong first image, now it’s the correct one (white balance adjusted to get closer to the one from Adobe Camera Raw)


I think in the end I rather prefer your results over the adobe clarity a bit more. Particularly on the bricks of the building on the left. :+1:

On a slightly related note, I had looked at something similar for GIMP a while ago (holy crap, 4+ years ago already?!). Not sure if it’ll help at all.

This was basically just different detail enhancement methods masked with a luminosity mask (broad mid-tones). There are quite a few halos hanging around, though (not nearly as clean as your result above).

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Thanks Pet David. I remember of your blog post, indeed. But you know, I’m a lazy man and the less I need to fire up another program outside of RT, the happier I am! :laughing:

Edit: thanks Pat David

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Good comparison, thank you :slight_smile:

I just commit a new branch “wavelenh” : I add sliders to “soft” result (excuse my bad english)



I am not an RT expert, so maybe this is a wrong question, but isn’t the “Local contrast” tool designed to give results similar to ACR Clarity?

BTW your first image has a vary different color balance. Did the clarity slider change the color balance so much?

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@fsenore You’re right! :+1:
I had uploaded the wrong version, indeed I changed the white balance to match the the WB from Adobes’s product. I edited my original post with the correct WB.

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Actually, ACR/LR clarity does several things under the hood and does more than just increasing local contrast.

Sounds good. I have used in RT Local Contrast (LC) and Contrast by Detail Levels (CDT) to make images pop. LC is nice, easy to use and the effect is visible at all zoom levels. CDT gives more precise control, but is only visible in 100+ % zoom and is more CPU intensive. CDT (especially levels 1 and 2) is also a substitute for sharpening before downscaling in noisy shots.

As a portrait shooters who worships shallow depth of field, I usually do not use these tools in portraits and shallow dof images because they will affect the whole image. If I want to add pop to clothes, hair and surroundings, I don’t want to add it to his/her face. If I have a nice creamy bokeh, I don’t want to waste it with addition of contrast. What one really needs to make all these tools more useful, is the ability to use some kind of masks to choose the area of effect.

I can blend TIFFs in GIMP, but it is not really necessary in this case. GIMP + GMIC have plenty of tools to do the job and full support for masks and blending modes. Sometimes the ability to use masks to limit the area of effect is the only reason to continue editing in GIMP.

Nowadays with GIMP and GMIC integration it is really easy and intuitive to make new layers, use GMIC tools like sharpening / texture enhance / Local Contrast Enhancement / etc. to add some pop and use masks to limit the effect. It is easy to do it multiple times in the same image, if necessary.

I guess you use contrast by detail levels using the skin targeting slider ? This way you can avoid aging contrast and sharpness to the background, as long as it’s in a different hue compared to skin tones.
When the local lab tools make their way to the main version of RT, you’ll be able to direct everything to just the face.

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Is that Mac only? I don’t see a Windows version.

see Download RawTherapee development builds

But I see the Branch: waveletnew only under MacOS. Or is that function in Windows too? (I am still on 5.5)

Ok, I better work with RT a bit more. So far didn’t notice the Wavelet menu at all. Will keep an eye on it from now.

then Windows 64 bits : go to

then choose the branch you want to download

If you want to realy test it’s in the branch “wavelenh”


wavelenh” or “waveletnew”? And, sorry for so many questions, can the nightly run parallel with my 5.5-released?

Wavelenh because waveletnew is broken

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Thanks! The wavelenh Windows version has the clarity slider, and boy, it works!

I installed the test version on a external HDD not to mess with my installed RT 5.5, it works too, but rather slow. I think it likes SSD more.

In the meantime i am using RawTherapee_wavelenh_5.5-274 in Windows 10 and the function works nice. What is the suggested workflow to use the function?

So far I push some sliders randomly and it looks better. But I would prefer adapt a more structured method. It’s a nightly, so I presume there isn’t a manual, or? Any link with more details?

(one should really try that. What I love, btw, you don’t have to install that RT nightly version (and wipe out your stable version, I run it from my external HDD))

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@sguyader I’d have some ideas about “clarity” emulation that I would like to try, and which could be applied to RT as well.

Would it be possible for you to share two 16-bit TIFF file from ACR, one without clarity and the other with clarity at 100% (the same as the last image you shared in your initial post)?
This would provide a good “guidance” for my tests…


I have a very old license for Lightroom 3 (old means among other things that it cannot handle Fuji X-trans; but it can process Canon EOS 600D shots). Would two TIFFs (with Clarity 0 and Clarity 100)
from LR3 be able to assist you?

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden