There’s an editing package that stands head and shoulders amongst the paid for and subscription editing package services out there, and it’s called Darktable. Many people would have heard of it, but presume because it is free, it is no good or not suitable. However, things couldn’t be further from the truth, as Darktable isn’t only amazingly powerful, but has a lot of useful features, especially (but not exclusively) for Fujifilm users.
What does Darktable generally offer?
Before we delve into what Darktable offers Fujifilm camera users, you need to know what Darktable offers in the way of it’s general features.
Think of Darktable as Lightroom, but on steroids. It offers a full library/Lighttable organisation section which allows you to view and tag multiple images, arrange them by various forms of ranking and much more, on a similar way to Lightroom. However you’ll have none of that importing inconvenience of Lightroom , as you can point directly to the directory your images are stored, or even just edit single images very simply.
In the editing portion of Darktable you can of course start the process of non-destructive editing. Darktable 3.4 has a wealth of options, many more than Lightroom offers for total control over the processing of your images.
Darktable has some very powerful and unique features for masking, which once used, you’ll wonder how you managed without them. Being able to curve the gradient line is something so simple, yet missing from every other editing package. There are also the parametric masks, which give you instant and full control over the areas you want with the tweak of some sliders (very much like colour or luminosity masks, but more advanced). In fact, there are a ton of masking options, something for every conceivable operation you may need to perform.
What’s in it for Fujifilm users?
Firstly it handles Fuji raw files with ease, avoiding so called artefact issues that allegedly plague some software. Noise and sharpening is handled extremely well, and you’ll always get clean looking images.
And then we have the built in colour science. Using the Colour Lookup Table module, you can instantly choose from a selection of Fujifilm film simulations. When added to your image they can be very accurate, especially when you can the exposure correct. You can fine tune them to by changing the opacity of the modules mask, perfect for getting things just right.
There is also a Velvia module, which, as the name suggests, adds colour and contrast to your image in a way that using the Velvia film simulation looks and feels. A great module for making your images pop.
Finally, you have Darktable Styles (dtStyles) which can result be downloaded. There is a huge repository for Fujifilm styles, covering dozens of film stock variants and X-Trans III sensor styles. It’s a great resource to get your image looking “Fuji”, and styles can be adjusted easily, as they are usually base curves with often other adjustments which are added to your history stack for tweaking.
Of course, Darktable can use LUT files too, so as an added bonus, you can add any Fujifilm (or other cameras) LUT files to help you achieve what your aiming for, especially if you’ve used those LUTs in other programs. Check out my good friend Marc’s website here for accurate Fujifilm LUTs.
Darktable has a bit of a learning curve, but in its latest update to 3.4, it’s easier to use that it ever was. If you’re coming from Lightroom, Darktable should generally be more accessable.
For a free and open source program, you can tell a lot of love has gone into making Darktable. Written by photographers, for photographers, and it shows, plus it is updated on a regular basis and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux computer systems.
Visit Darktable here, and give it a download, as it’s free!
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