Free photo editing software — darktable

Tim Wells
4 min readMay 11, 2021

When it comes to photo processing, I think everyone would be familiar with software called Lightroom. This Adobe software is considered by many to be the best RAW photo processing software and with good reason. It’s very powerful while being easy to use. But… that comes at a cost.

Don’t get me wrong, for professional photographers the cost is well worth it for the tools you get. However, what if you’re not a professional yet, or you just prefer something that doesn’t operate on a subscription cost basis.

There are a few decent freely available RAW photo editing applications and one of the best of them is called darktable.

darktable is an open source photography workflow application and raw developer. A virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them.

Darktable is completely free, developed by photographers, for photographers and has many of the same features and functions that Lightroom has, plus some extras. It runs on the Linux operating system as well as Mac and Windows which means you can use it on whatever platform you’re using. (If free software is something you’re interested in it might be worth looking at Linux as a replacement to Windows or Mac)

the image management interface for darktable (known as the lighttable)

Features include non-destructive editing, color management, huge range of file formats supported, powerful export system, multiple languages supported and a huge range of modules. These range from basic exposure, white balance, etc through to more powerful tools for color grading and creative effects.

You can see more information about the features here.

The online users manual explains all the applications features and offers guides on how to best use each included module but once you understand each module it becomes straightforward to use for basic editing while also offering some extremely powerful editing through the use of manual or parametric masking tools.

The lighttable allows you to organize images quickly and easily and arrange them into colored groups or by star rating. It allows batch manipulation, tagging, metadata editing and everything you expect from a tool…

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Tim Wells

Self taught software developer and photographer.