Very first attempt with darktable

Hi @solitone.

Look at YT channels - this is about Affinity Photo, but search videos about chanel mixer, imho it is very good explanation

Be aware DT offers modules that can do similiar effects e.g. for sharpening You can use sharpen, diffuse or sharpen, contarst equalizer modules.

I am sure You noticed DT is very different to other software. There is no simple sliders like highlights, shadows, whites or blacks.

DT offers many ways to achieve good look.
You can produce focused look “portrait like” made by f1.4 lens or landscape look made by f16 lens without harsh HDR features.

PS. This is my first post here and I can send only 4 links. Search for Aurelien Pierre and Petricas Studio on YT too.


If you post your raw as a PlayRaw, people can have a go at it, share their sidecars (XMP), which you can load into your darktable database, and see how they achieved a particular result that you like.



I try my frist steps too.

Is there an equivalent to the autolevel tool in Capture One. It’s a one clicks solution, to map the tonal values in an image. It is typically used to expand the tonal range shown in the Levels’ histogram. It is especially useful with low-contrast images, such as those taken in flat lighting or heavily diffused light (hazy or foggy daylight that contains compressed tonal values with few if any clipped areas).

Thats usually my first step in CaptureOne. It would help the type of image of the OP. Would be great if there is something like that in darktable.

With the scene-referred workflow, you set exposure to get your midtones right; then you use sigmoid or filmic to map the tonal range to the display. filmic has auto-tuners for the black and white levels (but you can adjust them manually, by eye, as well). With sigmoid, the defaults are often quite good; if not, you can adjust the contrast and the skew. If that is not enough, you could use the tone equalizer.

If you want a levels tool, there is levels (works in Lab) as rgb levels. Both have pickers and an auto button.

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Well, actually it was just my way to say hi to this forum. I’m excited to learn darktable, since I like it very much, it seems super powerful, and it’s well documented. It’ll be a long journey though!


done it: A first attempt with darktable

Welcome :slight_smile:
I guess what @paperdigits is trying to say is, the better you specify what you would like to archive, the better others can respond to your question. E.g. if you say

What is it exactly, that you are not impressed with? You hinted at the sharpness and the highlights - if you state that in the play_raw, people can put focus towards those issues.
Of course, its great fun to simply see how others interpret your images :slight_smile:

— moved by me to correct thread :slight_smile:

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

Welcome…I would say the best advice I can give you is to throw away the concept of matching the jpg. If this is the goal then just use the jpg. The jpg is good to get an overall impression of the color and esp the exposure that you might want to keep in line with however the raw is not a super jpg or better jpg waiting to happen… there is a secret sauce in your camera that is applied. There are things for sure that can be done to attempt to match color etc but really the raw file is an opportunity to manage dynamic range in a way that you cannot with an already baked jpg. Also you can be more free with WB but if you obsess about matching the exact contrast and sharpness of the jpg you will usually feel like you are coming up short… I think many will see that often even though we like the look on first impression of a jpg that the more and more you work in raw you see that they are often over sharpened and over contrasted which can actually destroy aspects of the image, introduce artifacts and reduce possible outcomes for the final product…

If you search the forum you will find several discussions around this topic. This is esp true with DT as it is not the goal of the software to match or come out looking like the jpg and often it does little initially to the image and so many users apply their experience with other packages and judge DT as inferior… its not just different

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Thanks kofa

Lovely, welcome!

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I have to say that in this experiment I didn’t even downloaded and looked at the jpeg (apart from the initial quick look at the thumbnail in the lighttable). I just followed the process outlined in an introduction to darktable’s workflow, watched Aurélien’s basic photo processing for beginners in darktable 3.6 video, to have an idea of what to look when trying the adjustments (I have no real clue!), and edited as I liked it. I also played with the correct lens distortions and local contrast modules to finalise the image.

I cannot say I was dissatisfied with the result as soon as I finished. But then I imported the camera jpeg, and noticed my development was way less sharp than that.

Now I’ll try some of the modules for sharpening (like contrast equalizer or diffuse or sharpen), and see how they’ll affect my image. I will take the following consideration into account though.

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Great! This is a fairly recent addition to the user manual and it would be good to have some feedback from the perspective of a new user. Was it fairly clear what you had to do? Is there anything that could be improved?

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I think the manual is super well written. After years on commercial software and their useless documentation, it’s great to read a manual that goes beyond a mere description of procedures, and actually teaches you how things work.

As for improvement, I was a bit confused when setting the white and black points (but consider I am completely inexperienced, previously I had just played a couple of months with OM Workspace and Silkypix). I found Aurélien’s video helpful on this regard, showing the use of the picker for the white point, and setting the black point so that some details are still visible in the darker parts of his image.


Funnily enough, diffuse or sharpen is not included in the scene-referred workflow. I’ll start with the contarst equalizer, as sharpen is described as a legacy module in the introduction in the manual:

the sharpen module is intended to re-introduce sharpness that was removed by your camera’s anti-alias filter (if present) and can be enabled by default in preferences > processing. The methods listed above (i.e. contrast equalizer, diffuse or sharpen, and local contrast) are usually preferred to this legacy module.

You may have to tone it back but try the dehaze preset of D&S module… to me its more of a sharpening effect rather than a dehaze you can always tweak with opacity and or iterations…

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Of filmic or of the actual black/white point module?

black & white relative exposure in filmic rgb

This does a nice job at fine scales!

If you get in the habit of setting exposure to give you a well exposed middle grey then you have your anchor… The pickers esp the white one generally do a great job…The black one will sometimes go astray and need adjusted to your taste… How those sliders affect the image show well in the filmic DNR map graph…


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