Why I’m back with Darktable… Again!

I’ve been a longtime user of Darktable, but there are spells where I decide I’m going to use the paid for software that I own as my main editing packages. After all, they’re commercial software, so should be amazing compared to free software! Over a month ago I decided to live full-time with ON1 2022, but I’m back to Darktable, and here’s why…

First, why I really like ON1 2022

Before we get into why I am back with Darktable, there are a few reasons I actually love using ON1 editing software.

Firstly, the way it handles shadows, mid-tones and highlights is really impressive. Usually, a few little slides of the sliders can bring out the details you need, quickly and easily!

Secondly, the cataloguing, light table view is perfect. You have access to all your images, can compare them etc and if makes the workflow so much easier for myself (I’m a fan of these views).

Thirdly, but by no means lastly, it’s feature packed, and you rarely have to use another image processor to finish it off.

Why I’m back with Darktable…

Darktable has all those things I mentioned about ON1, however, I’m sometimes a bit heavy handed with sliders, and Darktable doesn’t allow as much room for error as it’s got a lot of power under its hood, and this was frustrating me! That’s why I find ON1 slightly easier to use when flying through images and editing them.

But, I’m back with Darktable, not just because it’s an excellent program, but because ON1 kept giving me no end of grief, making simple tasks harder than they needed to be.

Here are just a few of the many issues I ran into that made me leave it (and I will only use it for certain things if needed). This list is in no way exhaustive!

Sluggish once you get started – At first, ON1 feels really fast, but after a while, the program just feels sluggish. As soon as you start using masks (which I do quite often), things can grind to a halt.
Unacceptable complete crashes – ON1 has a habit of just randomly crashing on my computer when I just expect it.
Image blacking out – When moving certain sliders in various modules, the image you’re working on sometimes blacks out for no reason.
Batch saving issues – When batch selecting images to save, they sometimes simply refuse to save any actual images, even though it’s gone through the process.
Saved images corrupt – If you’ve used layers, quite often a saved image doesn’t save correctly.
Slow saving – Saving images is possibility slow, and can takes minutes per image saved.

I don’t seem to be alone with this, various groups I’m in have people having endless issues. The strange thing is, with each new update, something gets fixed, and something that worked fails! It’s a never ending battle that just takes up too much time, and time is money!

Conclusion

Using a development version of Darktable (3.7.1406) has proved more stable, much faster and given more control over the images, with no issues in editing, masking or saving. It’s been a joy to get back to Darktable and do what I love doing best.

Of course, it’s strange that ON1 is so good, yet suffers with so many issues. I have used many other packages on my computer from Luminar, Aurora, Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One and more, all with no performance issues or major bugs. So it’s not the computers I use!

I’m happy with Darktable, and combined with Photoscape X Pro, it’s perfect for getting the things done I need to do, and I need to remember that!

Published by mgadams1970

Fujifilm Documentary Photographer & Blogger.

9 thoughts on “Why I’m back with Darktable… Again!

  1. Once you get the hang of it darktable is fantastic. There is a lot to take in but there is with the other software and this often gets overlooked.

    There are articles/videos on getting good photos with just 4 modules etc.

    pixls.us is a great resource, as is the darktable manual.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I love Darktable, and indeed part on there and introduce it to many others. It’s a fantastic program, that I’ve written about many times before. Sometimes, the grass isn’t greener in the other side!

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      1. DT is not a program I have used but have used MS Digital Image 2006, ON1, Luminar, Affinity Photo, Photolemur etc. Currently I am using PhotoScape X Pro and have been creating a Libre Office 7.2.2 user manual/tutorial because there is very little available to learn the program. If I find someone that has access to providing the info, it will be provided. I have zero need to make this a “job” as I have been retired comfortably for almost 22 years.
        I just would like to find a forum or such similar ability, email directly would be useful, to communicate with other PSX users. I don’t use any social media programs.
        There are many good things about PSX but the lack of Layers except under some circumstances, lack of History, lack of Histogram certainly distracts from its usability but so far I have coped.
        Any other PSX users that know of a means to communicate are more than welcome to send an invitation.
        Anyone interested in the user manual/tutorial to view and comment about as it is almost ready. I am going to try to convert to a .pdf so it should be functional to all. Not sure how to go about sharing the file and have to see how it looks in .pdf rather than .odt from LO.
        Anyone who has not used PSX, there is a free version that one can try with most functions available and the cost is only $40 US for an upgrade. I mainly wanted the clone/stamp tool but find I likely could have done without as it is not a tool that I have found easy to use but that might be due to lack of knowledge.

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      2. Yes, Photoscape X Pro is my go-to for most things. If you need a hand on PSX let me know, I’ll see what I can do. I spoke to the developer recently, and they said there would be a new release soon. I then contacted them a few weeks later, but no return email, do not sure what is going on with development.

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  2. Tempting me to try yet another software! I’m assuming/pretty sure raw development settings made with one program don’t transfer to another and wondering how you manage (keep up with) having edited portions of your library in different and multiple post process programs. It seems that keeping chaos at bay would become exponentially harder the images and software you have and use.

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    1. Scott, I will get 95%-100% of image edited in Darktable and then if I feel it needs something extra, I’ll load the completed Darktable file into Photoscape as a jpeg to just add colour grading if needed, or add one of their fancy borders etc. Usually very little extra is done once finished in Darktable.

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      1. I was unclear. I used only Lightroom but decided to give Capture One a couple of months ago. But before I really decided whether or not I really liked Capture One better, I got seduced into trying Aurora HD and Luminar AI. All the while I’m still taking pictures and processing them. I’ve also experimented a little with Fuji’s XRAW Studio. And Of course, I’ve got a few years of images that were processed with Lightroom in the past but am now revisiting with these other packages to see if they yield better results. How much of the improvements are due to me learning how to be better with a tool and how much is due to a better tool.Adding Darktable to the mix, means that any given jpeg could have come from any one of 6 different workflows/raw processing engines. Using so many different packages on a continuing basis seems like madness and yet considering learning curves to master a tool, it’s a madness not ended quickly. Bit off too big a challenge, perhaps I have.

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  3. I’ve been working with open source image editing software since the day I switched from analog to digital. For Raw, I think Rawtherapee is by far the best, especially when it comes to fine-tuning such as shadow/mid and highlights. These days I use Darktable more than I used to – perfect for anything that can’t be done in RT. And then there’s Luminance for HDR, Hugin for fusion, focus stacking and panorama, and best of all: everything is free!
    And with the money saved : out for dinner with the wife, or a new lens, or …

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    1. Rawtherapee was the package I started off with on Linux, and used for a couple of years before finding Darktable. I needed something special for my workflow and the images I was selling, and it didn’t let me down. Rawtherapee is great though, just they don’t seem to work on it as much as Darktable these days.

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