Darktable ! Pro photo editing in Linux.

Many words has been written past over the years about Linux and all the different distributions offering you different packages and functionality. Yet there was no agreement between the different development teams to unite the pieces in one strong operating system . However the same fact appeared not to be a problem about the improvement of the different distributions. The problem is which one to chose !!??  Well….there is no one word answer to that but in my case I’ve installed the latest Ubuntu 11.10. I did not expect it to be the perfect OS and it wasn’t but after some updates it worked fine with no complains. To be honest I am using Ubuntu 11.10 even now and I’m using it more often that any other OS.  The main reason that made me pick this one is that it’s free, constantly updated and one particular piece of software called Darktable.

What exactly is Darktable  ?

When you enter the interface it will be a little bit confusing but only in the beginning. Darktable itself is similar to Capture One, Lightroom and Apperture but in the same time it is different and complex in its own way.  So following that direction of thoughts it wont be so hard to learn but you still have to spent some time to take a look at the different modes and  plugins which Darktable would offer to you if you give it a try.

Saying pro photo editing in Linux would probably make some people laugh but it is real and it is here. Since the developers of Ubuntu considered to put a module for color management easy enough to use you can even attach your icc or icm profile without any problems even if it is on your windows or mac partition. Just paste it in a random folder and load it from there and you’ll have your display working with correct color parameters (as correct as it can be since every monitor produces slightly different colors even if they are the same brand and the same model).

Darktable itself has some plugins allowing you to load color profile and thus to give you the chance to receive the right color . In a matter of fact the whole platform is plugin-based which helps you to turn off or turn on the different plugins in order to prevent yourself from overloading the developing mode menu with unnecessary stuff.

One of the most desired features here is camera tethering and we have it at our disposal. The module is easy to use giving you the opportunity to see and instantly edit every single photo of your camera and it is most useful in studio environment of course. The developers expanded the list of supported cameras even more than the previous versions so you’ll have the chance to use it anyway especially with the most popular camera models from Nikon,Canon,Sony,Pentax,Olympus and etc.

This is de developing module of Darktable called Darkroom. You can see the available plugins menu bottom right and some activated plugins upper right. Exif info and some other features are available on the left menu. The film strip at the bottom part of the screen is optional.

Organizing photos in Darktable is easy and you wont be bothered  with tons of features that you cant understand and you don’t use anyway. You can find here almost the same library compared to the other analogs as I mentioned before. Importing photos form your camera is easy and fast and became faster since version 1.0 as expected. Rating and marking with color is also included. You can still chose only rated photos to appear for further development or those marked with color.

This is the library module of Darktable called Lighttable 🙂

Darktable allows its user  to export photos in various formats as 8/16 bit tiff, 8/16 bit png, 8 bit jpg and other not so popular. You can also create so called styles (actions,presets) using your history panel helping you to instantly apply corrections with one click.

The editing process is non-destructive so the user can go back to the original look of the image any time. It feels  fine and easy after you check the result that every tool gives after use.

Yet it still lacks some extras as some sort of selection tool or brush tool which might be an obstacle for some photographers who are used to paint in quick mask mode to create a selection.  However the developers gave me an answer that they work on that case and such a tool will be included soon probably in the next version. However spots removal tool is present in the current version.  Actually you don’t need much of these tools if you try to do the most of your work behind the camera instead later in your primary editing software.  Don’t be lazy !!! 😀

We came to the most important feature here 🙂 Darktable is completely  free ! Yes ! You  are reading me right !

May be it wont be comfortable for you to install linux  along with your primary OS but it is not hard and it gives you significant flexibility.  In this case Darktable made me to install linux once again on my PC.

More information and recent news about this software you can find here : http://www.darktable.org/

Give support to the Darktable team ! They deserve it as they did incredible job creating this FREE product !

Oggy Dimitrov


Feel free to write to our e-mail anytime for questions, creative.lightbrary@gmail.com or also you can leave a comment below and we will make sure to reply!


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