Photivo vs Lightroom - A comparison and tutorial

Photivo is an open source RAW photo editing program that is cross platform (Windows, Mac, Linux). I have known about Photivo for quite a few years. In the past, I tried it just a handful of times but generally always found it quite cumbersome to install (successfully) and a bit confusing to use. Recently I decided to try it again. I must admit, feature wise, Photivo might be one of the best RAW photo editors existing for Linux. Even after getting familiar with it though, I still find it a bit awkward and tedious to use.

Here is my basic video review and tutorial of Photivo.
--> The tutorial below shows a professional making edits on a photo using Lightroom and compares that with me making similar edits in Photivo. The object of this tutorial is not so show which program is superior, it is simply to demonstrate (mostly to myself) that Linux and open source software can in fact be used in most of the same ways more expensive software is used.

Previously I did a very similar tutorial comparing Lightroom to Darktable. You can find that tutorial here.

To help me with this tutorial, I used the wonderful website Fro Knows Photo. The website provides the RAW photo if you want to go along and follow this tutorial. In the video, a few edits are made to the photo from both Jared and Adam. I will be copying Adam's main edit. On the left, you will see what Adam did in Lightroom. On the right, you will see how I tried to copy him in Photivo. I recommend you view the video before trying to follow along with this tutorial.
--> While viewing the tutorial below, please click on the thumbnails to see the larger image.

Note - Many of my edits were later changed to match Adam's final image. All of the settings I have listed are quite close but may take a bit more fine tuning.


One thing you might notice from the screenshot below, the unedited image in Lightroom already seems to start out being more exposed than the unedited image in Photivo.


Basic/Color/Exposure    -0.65
Basic/Color/Fill Light        33
Basic/Color/Blacks            29

The lighting edits made were all quite basic.

Basic/Color/Contrast       +54
Basic/Color/Clarity          +27

I did not notice any difference in Lightroom with Clarity. From what I have read however, it changes the contrast in the midtones.


Detail/Sharpening/Amount       75
Detail/Sharpening/Masking       70

Perhaps it was simply just the resolution of the video, but I really did not notice a visible difference with sharpening.


Basic/Color/Temp            4701

The following items I did not give specifics on how to do them, because they do not really have set parameters.

Crop - Crop and straighten

Vignette - Effects/Post Crop Vignetting


Adam's final image.


(In Photivo, if you want to make changes with specific values such as what I have listed below, you will need to right click and manually type them in).

RGB/Exposure/EV                   0.95
RGB/Brightness/Gain               0.60
RGB/Brightness/Catch Black  -0.35

So far Photivo seems to be able to make very similar edits to lightroom. I was surprised that I was not able to find "Fill light" in Photivo.

RGB/Sigmoidal Contrast/Strength   3.0
RGB/Sigmoidal Contrast/Threshold   0.25


Lab Sharpen/Noise/Weiner/Strength       0.30
Select "Only Edges"

Because I didn't notice a significant difference with sharpening, I just had to guess.


Camera/White Balance/Temp           5100

Crop - Geometry/Crop

Vignette - Lab Eye Candy/Vignette (soft)

Local Edit/Spot tuning
(Spot tuning was the closest thing I could find to what "Mask" does in Lightroom. In my opinion, the inability to to fine tune specific parts of the image is one area where almost all RAW Linux photo editors fail.

My final image.

Conclusion: The edits in this tutorial are VERY basic. This shows nothing near the full capacity of what either Lightroom OR Photivo can do. That being said, I was quite happy with how well Photivo works and I feel that most basic edits done in Lightroom can be done in Photivo as well.

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!


  1. Hi,

    Darktable version 1.3 will have the ability to create masks and fine tune specific parts.

    1. I have been using masks on the unstable branch and love it! I will probably do a tutorial on masks soon.


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