V 4.0 - What modules are active by default for RAW files

I’m new to darktable and am trying to use it in a consistent way. When I open a RAW file, I want to see what the camera provides, but there are some modules that are switched on that adjust the image before I do anything. (Note: I am the ‘scene-referred workflow’, set in the Modules panel in ‘darkroom’ mode).

For example, filmic is on by default. I don’t want this to happen. I switched it and others off. It looks like there are 4 modules that must be on at a minimum (output color profile, input color profile, demosaic, raw black/white point). These cannot be deactivated or switched off. Also, white balance must be on for the image to look ‘as-shot’. I want this to be the default condition when opening a new image.

But, when I open another image, modules like filmic, sharpen and highlight reconstruction are switched on, so some corrections are automatically applied. I want to avoid this.

I tried creating a custom module layout, but there is no way to change the on/off status of the modules. I understand that modules like filmic are inherent in the ‘scene-referred workflow’, but do they have to be on by default?

I guess you know this but the camera doesn’t provide a viewable image (well, it does embed a JPEG image in the RAW but the RAW itself is not viewable). The RAW file needs some minimal processing and darktable must make some decisions to do this (though for some of them it will try to use data included in the RAW).

This is controlled in preferences > processing > auto-apply pixel workflow defaults. Set it to “none” and filmic (and exposure) won’t be auto-applied.

Similarly, disable preferences > processing > auto-apply sharpen to turn this off (this will be disabled by default in future versions of darktable).

There is no preference that covers this one. You’ll need to switch it off, save your settings as a preset, and have that preset apply to all RAW files by default (see the user manual for details).


Thanks for the quick reply. Unfortunately, changing the preferences didn’t work. For example, I de-selected ‘auto-apply sharpen’, but, after closing and re-starting darktable, sharpen is switched on when I first open a RAW file. After setting ‘auto-apply pixel workflow defaults’ to none, filmic and exposure are also still on.

As for creating a preset, the documentation doesn’t help me create a new one or explain how to have a module active but not on.

That’s because the images were already opened with the previous default settings. You have to discard the history of the images and then the new settings will be applied.

For new imported images, the new settings will be applied.

Also for those you’ve never opened in the darkroom before (or applied styles to)

@Dementios , you could look at Styles. You can apply a style to each new raw as you start editing it, and in one quick hit you’ll have set which modules are on and off, and for each module, what its settings are. E.g. if you generally like a certain amount of local contrast, you can set that.
(Don’t include Raw Black/White Point or Display Encoding in the style. Don’t include White Balance if you’re doing scene-referred pixel workflow)

@elstoc do you know what is the reason for that?

Reasons are given in the pull request:

  1. for the vast majority of cameras around the sharpen module is not suggested to be used
  2. we now have better ways to sharpen as in D&S for those sensors that would require it

Also there is no need to have preferences to auto-apply modules, since a user can do it themselves with a simple preset.

  1. Deactivate the highlight reconstruction module
  2. Click on the hamburger menu in the module
  3. Select “store new preset…”
  4. Give it a name and click “auto apply this preset to matching images”
  5. Leave everything at its default value but un-check “non-raw” (since it’s never auto-applied for non-raw images anyway)
  6. Click “save”

Next time you discard history or start editing a new image from scratch, that module will be disabled.

With respect being new to DT I would suggest getting use to why the experienced developers apply certain modules as a starting point and then as your experience grows you can make valid judgements which modules to not auto apply or to apply differently.

I teach DT to students. One exercise I have had them do in the past is to disable filmic. We then applied a base curve based upon the camera used as our starting point and did some basic edits on a simple landscape image. We then made a duplicate version and disabled base curve and filmic and created our own ‘base curve’ based upon our own adjustments of the curve. Finally we activated filmic and followed the recommended method of starting with adjusting the sliders in Filmic. 100% of the students felt filmic method was the best method.

Also, until you are experienced and know why you want to change the order modules are applied just defer to the order carefully chosen by the developers.

DT is the best editing program I know of. Good luck learning. Read the manual often (I still do), watch some videos and follow this really useful forum.

Thanks. That worked.

I’ve researched darktable enough to know that filmic is the primary reason I want to use it. I just want to start editing from the most basic form of my RAW files as possible, to really see what it and other modules are doing. I’m not changing the order of the modules.

I’ve been reading and watching videos, including some by Aurelien Pierre. It’s a bit confusing in that I assumed modules where applied in a top-down order. I only recently learned that they are applied from the bottom up!

As of now, what I’m seeing as the ‘recommended’ order of application is to start with exposure, then filmic, then color balance RGB. My previous experience is that sharpening should be done last (or close to it). Any recommendations you have are welcome, including additional resources.

I am curious about this too. I thought filmic should be last. In fact, with the modules I use, the last, the last things before output color profile are sharpening, color balance rgb and then filmic last.

Don’t confuse the order in pipeline and the order in which you turn on and use the models. Using exposure then filmic is the order that you should use the modules when editing, which is different than the order in which their applied in the pixelpipe.

Is it? I thought exposure was indeed quite early in the pipeline and filmic nearly last.

However, I take your point. I was considering the pipeline order.

The modules are of course set in a prescribed processing order. If you click twice on the active module tab you will see all the modules listed in that order with the order running from bottom to top ie the bottom module passes it’s data to the one above and so on. The reason of course it is recommended to use exposure first is that the whole process of a scene referred edit will revolve around middle gray level and you anchor that by using exposure. Filmic is going to use this value for mapping shadows and highlights. So if you are doing a strategic edit then this is why it is recommended. If people are just pushing and pulling sliders until they get close to what they want then it really doesn’t matter. The processing order is hard coded and you can chase pixels until you tame them…

I can illustrate the confusion some of us have about processing order versus order of application.

In the docs, under Special Topics>Default module order, the modules are listed from 1 (raw black/white point) to 78 (watermark), top to bottom.

In the program, the modules are listed in the same order, bottom to top.

Then we are taught to apply the modules in what appears to be a random order, with the explanation that this is how the experts want it done, but no background as to why.

Todd’s explanation why exposure is used first makes sense. If this type of information was provided in the documentation, it would greatly help a beginner to understand the recommended order of using the various modules. It would also help if the module order was presented consistently between the documentation and the program’s UI.

Think of the user interface/pixel pipe line as a stack of layers (cf. GIMP), you look down on the top layer, which uses the layer below it as input, and so on (not fully correct, perhaps, but analogies never are :stuck_out_tongue: ).

But in describing the process, one better starts with the first module applied (i.e. the bottom of the UI stack)…

Honestly I’d be more tempted to just remove those sections on module order, since you can see the order in the UI anyway.

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Yes I’d agree with this-- remove the list but make some reference that it can be seen in the gui

You mean like this?