Lightroom alternatives

Started Jan 16, 2018 | Discussions thread
tokumeino Senior Member • Posts: 2,950

I've used LR for a long time, and Capture One Pro for 1 year and a half, developing many pictures, nevertheless. Recently, I used to experiment DXO as well. I own licences for all these softwares.

I've spent the last few weeks testing Darktable a lot (since the recent Windows release actually).

I think that DT is superior to any software I've tried before. It's not about quality vs price, but only about quality, whatever the price. It's free software but the core development team involves many people. They listen to users through many channels (forums, mailing lists, IRC).

Don't be frightened by default settings ; they are indeed not flattering (for instance, default NR is terrible but the user manual tells you how to build a much better default style). Already saw debates with COP beeing more flattering out of the box when compared to LR ? LR is somehow like COP when compared to DT. But here again, it's only a matter of one preset. For people who like already cooked presets, have a look at (including classic film looks).

Paid softwares are mainly blackboxes with sliders. With DT, you'll be welcomed to learn what's going on, and you'll get better results if you understand what' going on under the sliders. Despite using RAW since a long time, I've already learned a lot, lately. I used to learn a lot woth COP (especially about colors) but DT is even better when it comes to improvement of skills and knowledge.

What I like most :

  • generalized masking : almost everything can be used with general, parametric or drawn masking, with custom blending methods and percentages
  • auto exposure and auto levels are far more advanced than even COP, not to speak about LR
  • much cleaner NR at low ISO than COP or DXO Prime (many ugly artifacts for the latter)
  • subtle development and very high IQ with 2018 state of the art algorithms and advanced demoistacing
  • super intuitive modules for luminance and color control (even more intuitive than COP's color wheels)

You can have a look at the user manual, perhaps starting with the modules to get an overview, following links. Always have in mind that local adjustments (drawn or pareametric) are generalized all over the modules, and that you may blend any processing as you wish (method, percentage) and that you can instanciate identical modules as many times as you wish.

There are several posts talking about DT in this forum.

In addition, Darktable is supposed to be able to import LR edit along with images. I don't know if it works well but it should especially for crops, levels, exposure and such basic things. So you shouldn't loose all your edits when switching. Worth a try.

Cherry on the cake : DT is now available on Windows in addition to Mac and Linux, which makes it a long term proof solution, prone to various OS changes. I didn't try yet but the xmp management is done such as it should be easy to sync work between different workstations, by using a simple cloud solution. I myself use a self-hosted Synology backup+sync solution, not relying on any third party actor, avid with my data.

 tokumeino's gear list:tokumeino's gear list
Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 27mm F2.8 Canon G7 X II Fujifilm X-T3 Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC Fisheye +6 more
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