Darktable is open source darkroom (Adobe lightroom clone) for linux.

After switching my major to graphic design, I was looking for linux software to replace the standard expensive adobe suite that is the standard of design.  While searching around ubuntu repos and my favorite resource, software.opensuse.org I saw a program with a promising description. Darktable, who’s website describes it as

darktable is a virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers: it manages your digital negatives in a database and lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable. it also enables you to develop raw images and enhance them.

It reminds me of Adobe Lightroom, my favorite piece of the adobe suite I could never convince myself to buy, because it lacked the linux support I so desperately need. Darktable, right off the bat, meets 2 of my most important needs. One of course, is linux support, specially my favorite distro, openSUSE (But I also found it in repos for Ubuntu, which I am giving another try), and it is Free, and open source under the GPLv3 or above.

In ubuntu, it, there’s a PPA and .debs listed on their Launchpad, and sure enough, openSUSE had rpms in a standard repo (multimedia:photo/openSUSE_11.3)

Installer for openSUSE 11.3.

It is not in the 11.1 or 11.2 repos, however, it has made it into the factory repos. I’d be willing to bet the current release would work on older versions of openSUSE, but if they don’t please sound off in the comments, and I shall fix it appropriately. Source and git snapshots are also available, as well as Fedora, Gentoo, arch linux, and even some (outdated) Mac OSX builds. Their sourceforge page says a windows version is in the works.

Now let me just say, darktable is awesome. Just awesome. It is just what it claims to be, a digital darkroom, contrast, temperature controls, lighttable, tonecurves, exporsure. Think of anything Adobe Lightroom can do, and I’d bet a days’ wages that darktable can do it. (Ok, pick a day, any day…that I’m not working 😉 )

I’ve been playing with darktable quite a bit for my many graphic design classes, But as I have to turn all that work in, You can see my test screenshot below, or visit their screenshot gallery.

Among its little bonus feature is the ability to save to Picasa web albums, a good replacement for the wine-cannibalized version of picasa provided by google.

As their Main developer,henrik, pointed out in a comment on the original post, Darktable is non destructive. It saves the changes to text files, not actually editing the original image. This also allows you to take snapshots of changes, and apply the history stack to multiple images, so your perfect changes using darktable’s 20 plus tools, can be reapplied to any image you want to.

To export the changes to an image, you double click the image your editing, which sends it back into the album view, where you can select one or many images, and then use an export tool, to save the changes.

Just one small example of darktable’s abilities, not particularity good, but I can safely say, this has becomes a permanent part of my  linux photo toolkit.

Original Image

Darktable edited Image, color distortion, Vignetting, and a few other minor distorts just to show darktable's power.


5 thoughts on “Darktable is open source darkroom (Adobe lightroom clone) for linux.

  1. Nice. Though, I’m kind of curious what benefits Darktable presents over GIMP which can also do the colorization. This is pretty nice though. I see the “photo reel” thingy as a bonus, but what else is there?

  2. Well temperature control vs color control with GIMP. Temperature will adjust multiple color values and other settings, as if you developed a photo in a colder or hotter dark room. Where as Gimp can only select color or images and change them, Darktable can adjust the values of the colors, hues, saturations, exposure, and god knows what else, all at the same time for a more professional feel.

    I’ll do a comparison in my screenshots when i find time.

  3. henrik says:

    you cant actually compare darktable with gimp, darktable is nondestructive (keeps your raw files intact) and works on 16bit data and not 8bit which gimp does..

    darktable has two modes, lighttable where you manage tags/ratings/colorlabels and a darkroom mode where you
    do modifications on a single image using available plugins exposure / wb / lens correction / colorcorrection / colorzones / graduated nd filter / channel mixer / vignetting / color in/out profiles and much more…

    dont forget this is all done in a 16bit colorspace and does not affect the orginal image…

    All changes is stored in a history stack that can be copied and applied to another images, lets say you had a shoot which probably all images need the same kind of finetuning, just fix one of the images then copy and apply the changes to the rest of the images in the shoot…

  4. @henrik All very true, most of that I discovered while editing images and great tip on the ability to use the history stack on multiple images. I see your the lead developer,thanks for adding that, great project, keep it running 😀

    I only compare darktable with GIMP because for most linux users, they’re using GIMP and maybe Fspot Or Eye of Gnome, etc, but GIMP is the best editing tool. While they don’t work the same way, you could get the same results with GIMP, but I’d bet it would not be as easy.

    I’ve updated the post to reflect that. Thanks.

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