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Thread: DarkTable

  1. #1
    Dukatum's Avatar
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    DarkTable

    Just to increase awareness, thought I'd post a little about DarkTable ( http://www.darktable.org/ )

    I'm not sure they are still developing for Windows, but certainly Mac and Linux users are being looked after. DarkTable just released a new version this morning, V1.1.3, and is totally free to download and use.

    Although I am not sure it's really ready to replace Aftershot Pro or Lightroom, it is well worth keeping an eye on it, as the guys are regularly updating and improving the tool. And if you can use a free tool that will hopefully compare to ASP or LR in the near future, then why wouldn't you take advantage?

    Well worth a download and taking a look at it if you are interested in trying out alternatives to your normal software. I've had it on my PC since version 1, the only reason it's not yet become my main choice is the lack of "layers" support making it difficult to apply changes to specific areas of your photo. Otherwise I think it's a very capable piece of software. I'd be interested in some more experienced photographers out there to give their feedback/review, as I am still very new to such things, meaning I'm easy to impress

  2. #2
    gaijin's Avatar
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    Re: DarkTable

    There is no support for layers in Lightroom either, so, if they're set on providing an alternative to that you'll not find layers in DarkTable in the near future. It is not in Adobe's interest, of course, to have Lightroom encroach too much on Photoshop territory, but it makes sense (to me) to have multiple tools that intersect to some extent but which are separate - adding layers to Lightroom, adding catalogues to Photoshop would probably (I'm hedging my bets here!) result in unwieldy software monsters. Indeed some would argue that that is what Photoshop is already. DarkTable just needs to interface with Gimp (also free) and you've got layers. Do you really need more?

  3. #3
    Dukatum's Avatar
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    Re: DarkTable

    Hi allen,
    I believe there is a plugin for Layer support in Lightroom? although I never bothered to hunt for it to install I was sure I've read that it existed 3rd party wise (OnOne I think?).

    I see what you are saying about Darktable linking to GIMP, but I feel that if layer support was built into Darkroom, there is little-to-no need for using GIMP. I am inexperienced with photography and post processing so I might be wrong. But if my current intention is to not swap out the sky or cut people out of photo's to move them into another, then I find GIMP to be over-powerful for my photography (I use it for general web graphics though). I am sure a lot of photographers work along the same line (a colleague refuses to use any software beyond the basic levels/curve).

    The least amount of software needed to reach the goal, and the least confusing, the better. GIMP is an amazing bit of kit, but I'd like to keep my photo's in one app rather than moving about. GIMP is so powerful (as is photoshop) because it is designed for so much more than just a photo.

  4. #4
    gaijin's Avatar
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    Re: DarkTable

    Regarding the plugin (one of the plugins?) someone made the following comment:

    "I have no clue why people are so excited about that. Did you guys try it? This is not bringing layers *inside* Lightroom at all, this is just providing yet another external editor to combine two or more files into a PSD file. This has been possible for ever by right-clicking and selecting: “Edit In -> Open as Layers in Photoshop”.

    Gimp may not be as integrated into DarkTable as Photoshop is into Lightroom but, if it is then it's not like you're using 2 completely different bits of software. Instead you use Lightroom to manage your catalogue and to do as much processing as you can, then, if the photo requires it, you go into Photoshop (or Gimp, or Photoshop Elements, or whatever) and then the finished photo is integrated into Lightroom along with the original photo, sharing the same keywords and title and metadata (that you can change if you wish). So yes, the external editing program is not part of Lightroom but the experience is very much as though it is.

    There is much more to Photoshop and Gimp than Lightroom could ever reasonably handle. Anyhow that's how I see things....
    Last edited by gaijin; 12th February 2013 at 04:17 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: DarkTable

    Quote Originally Posted by Dukatum View Post
    Hi allen,
    I believe there is a plugin for Layer support in Lightroom? although I never bothered to hunt for it to install I was sure I've read that it existed 3rd party wise (OnOne I think?).

    I see what you are saying about Darktable linking to GIMP, but I feel that if layer support was built into Darkroom, there is little-to-no need for using GIMP. I am inexperienced with photography and post processing so I might be wrong. But if my current intention is to not swap out the sky or cut people out of photo's to move them into another, then I find GIMP to be over-powerful for my photography (I use it for general web graphics though). I am sure a lot of photographers work along the same line (a colleague refuses to use any software beyond the basic levels/curve).

    The least amount of software needed to reach the goal, and the least confusing, the better. GIMP is an amazing bit of kit, but I'd like to keep my photo's in one app rather than moving about. GIMP is so powerful (as is photoshop) because it is designed for so much more than just a photo.
    There are some rather fundamental differences in the way those two programs work.

    Darktable is a parametric editor geared towards RAW development, and as such only does global adjustments to an image (as far as I know/remember). That also means there are no masks involved to protect parts of the image from certain treatments. Also, darktable cannot combine several images to create composites. That means that there is no real need for layers. Including that capability would require adding a lot of other stuff as well (masks, for one).

    (As a side note: iirc, darktable allows blending modes for certain operations, that might function as a limited layer capability)

    The GIMP on the other hand is a bitmap editor/drawing program, not specifically geared towards photo editing. It allows you to combine different images in several ways, and to add freehand drawn elements, texts etc. to the image. To organise and simplify this kind of work, you need layers and masks.

    So those two programs are completely different beasts, with very different aims. They just happen to complement one another nicely for photographers .

    For me, I can do 90+% of my editing with just darktable or a similar editor, and need the capabilities of GIMP only for a few images. Not too much trouble to switch program for those few.

    And, switching to the GIMP as late a possible means that I can work in 16 bit/channel as long as possible (GIMP is for now limited to 8 bit/channel, but can import 16 bit/channel PNGs), not to mention save some disk space (darktable needs relatively little space to store the edit parameters, like Lightroom; GIMP needs lots of space when you start adding layers). Saving disk space isn't all that important for tens of images, 100s or 1000s times 100 GB is a different story.

  6. #6
    Dukatum's Avatar
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    Re: DarkTable

    It's an interesting area for the developers. I think that Allen is spot on regarding Adobe, it is dangerous territory to bring Photoshop and Lightroom to start overlapping when they have people buying/downloading both. This makes decisions hard for them.

    Although Darktable impresses me, I actually currently use Aftershot Pro (ASP) as my main bit of software, which I think is fantastic with its support with layers.

    With GIMP/Photoshop, it's forcing you into TIFF/JPG format and the usage of layers is therefore destructive. In ASP you can set an area within the layer, do all your colour editing etc, and then later on zoom in and move the selected area about to fine tune how close you get to the edge, and ASP will keep applying all your layers changes to any new ground that you cover. I guess this is the big advantage for non-destructive editing, where as GIMP and Photoshop, you have to undo what changes you did, fine tune then redo your changes, but you might have done 20 other things before you realised you've applied a layer change that isn't in perfect alignment and undo all those 20 actions.

    Initially I considered non-destructive just purely meaning they never edit the actual file (and create the sidecart file) but now I am starting to realise the advantages such as above.

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