Darkroom

Best Software for Editing RAW photos in Linux

If you are a photographer who shoots in RAW, then chances are you have heard of and probably used Adobe Lightroom. If you use Linux however, Lightroom is not a viable option.

Some of the more popular RAW editors in Linux include UFRaw, RawTherapee, Darkroom and Raw Studio. I will briefly discuss each below so you can decide which program is best for you. Each of these programs can easily be installed through apt-get using a package manager (such as Synaptic).

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Darkroom

Pros: Works if you have no other options. Looks quite nicely integrated with KDE.
Cons: Lacks features. No apparent batch editing. Slow. Very slow.

Conclusion: This was my least favorite RAW editor I tried out. It was confusing to use, slow and did not have any features that compelled me to want to use it.

To view it in "action" view the video below:


UFRaw

Pros: Has quite a bit of features. Works well for making basic and simple adjustments on a single image.
Cons: Not as feature rich as other RAW editors. No apparent batch editing. No photo viewer; you must know the image you want to edit before opening.

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Conclusion: UFRaw is perhaps one of the more well known RAW editors in Linux. While I would say it is pretty good, I would not say it is great. I might consider using this for a single edit, to adjust exposure and temperature, but that is about all I might use it for.



Raw Studio

Pros: Looks great. Easy to use. Batch editing. Simple picture browser. Allows you to work on three versions of the same photo at a time.
Cons: Lacks some of the features of UFRaw or RawTherapee.

Conclusion: When I first started using this program I thought for sure it would be my favorite. It looks great, is very intuitive and can do batch editing. It is a great program but it sill lacks some features I need. I could see someone using this and being very happy with it if they only needed some basic functionality.



RawTherapee

Pros: Has the most features of any of the RAW editors I have mentioned thus far. Awesome for batch editing. Allows you to save different editing profiles. Great image browser. Quite speedy. Allows editing snapshots.
Cons: A bit buggy at times. Often will look pixelated until a slider is moved.

Conclusion: Initially when I started using this program I was turned off by a bug that made the window extend beyond the screen. Once I figured out how to fix that, this quickly became my favorite Raw editor. It has a ton of wonderful features. Saving editing profiles is a life saver! Batch editing works well. I think it still has a few bugs to work out, but all in all this is my favorite!



2011-05-05 UPDATE

Darktable

Pros: Has the most features of any of the RAW editors I have mentioned thus far. Plus more! Very easy to use. Pretty interface. Allows batch editing. Allows you to save different editing profiles. Good image browser. 
Cons: Not the fastest. Can still be a bit confusing at time (steeper learning curve). Not in the Ubuntu repositories (yet?) This can make it difficult for some to install (though adding the PPA is quite simple).

Conclusion: This program was mentioned to me in a comment and I am grateful it was! I think Darktable  has surpassed RawTherapee as my new favorite RAW editor. The interface looks great and is fun to use. It has an incredible amount of features! This is a program you NEED TO TRY if you do RAW editing!

Other RAW editors:

There of course are more RAW editors in Linux, but I mentioned these four because of how easy they are to install and because their sole function is RAW editing.

DigiKam is a photo manager that also allows RAW editing.
Picasa is a photo manager that allows you to view and export RAW files.

Photivo is a cross platform RAW editor that looks VERY promising. I was able to install this on my computer, but apparently not successfully because it will not run. When this program becomes more stable, I will make sure to review it. From the screenshots, it looks amazing! (UPDATE - I have been able to install and run this on my computer finally. I will say it is a very impressive program and worth checking out. I have not used it enough yet to do a review... while is is very powerful with many features it currently does not have the batch editing I need, so I have been using Darktable instead)

About McKay Christensen

After having lived in Oregon, Alaska, and China for the past 10 years doing landscape design and English teaching, I have returned to my home state of Utah and currently work for a growing tech company.

In my free time I enjoy working on my TutorialGeek.net website where I post tutorials and reviews (and anything else I think is geeky) and I also like to write songs for my Super English Kid Youtube channel.

My favorite things to do include anything with my wife and son. Hiking, camping, and photography (or anything else outdoors). Playing Ultimate Frisbee or Ping Pong. Listening to 60s, 70s, or 80s, music. 

Feel free to contact me using my contact page. I would love to hear from any of you!

11 comments:

  1. Very nice project:

    http://darktable.sourceforge.net/

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  2. Thanks! I just checked out darktable and am quite impressed! I will probably update this post once I get a bit more familiar with it.

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  3. Good review!
    How did you fix bugs on RawTherapee? 'cause last version was release on 28 nov,2010.
    Did you have a ppa?

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  4. I have actually have a draft to make a darktable tutorial soon! I have been loving darktable!

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  5. Did you try Bibble (Pro)? It is not free, but it still is my favorite (although: Darktable does a pretty good job too)

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  6. Hi,

    could you tell me please how to intal DARKTABLE to my system: 10.10 - the Maverick Meerkat? I would be very grateful if you tel me.

    I launched the package but nothings happend, ubuntu program centre did't react to it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Try typing this in the terminal:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pmjdebruijn/darktable-unstable

    sudo apt-get update

    sudo apt-get install darktable


    If that does not work, you can open synaptic and edit the repositories with the following code:

    deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/pmjdebruijn/darktable-unstable/ubuntu maverick main
    deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/pmjdebruijn/darktable-unstable/ubuntu maverick main

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  8. Got Darktable installed and gave it a try. The UI is so difficult it makes one pull their hair out. The authors would do better to focus on processing raw files instead of doing an abysmal work to re-inventing UI elements. I almost feel like pulling the sources and ripping the grotesque UI and replacing it with something sane.

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  9. I am curious what UI you prefer? What is your current RAW editor? I am sure the developers would not mind some suggestions. They seem pretty open to community suggestions and are always making improvements.

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  10. On linux UFRAW has batch processing from a terminal window command line. Ufaw saves a *.ppm file from the last manual edit. Then you can apply the SAME edits to multiple files with something like the following:

    #!/bin/bash


    ufraw-batch --out-type=jpeg *.nef

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