Darktable 1.2 RAW converter

Into the Dark

© Lead Image © Mischa, Fotolia.com

© Lead Image © Mischa, Fotolia.com

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Darktable shines as the most powerful free RAW converter, with impressive new features in the current version 1.2.

RAW converters generate normal bitmap files from digital negatives. One of the most powerful representatives of this genus is Darktable [1]. The free program (see the "Installing Darktable" box), which is strongly oriented on the commercial Adobe Lightroom relies on a fixed workflow that guarantees reproducible results. It implements non-destructive image editing; although it loads the original files ("negatives"), it always creates separate output files ("positives" or "prints") with the settings you have chosen. Darktable writes these settings – as well as keywords, geospatial information, and other data for the image – to so-called "sidecar files" with a suffix of .xmp.

The program interface takes some getting used to and consists of four different parts in the current version 1.2 [2]. Besides a light table for file management, there is a darkroom for photo editing, tethering for triggering of cameras, and a map for geotagging images.

Darktable basically divides the window into three vertical panes with two broad sidebars that frame the image window. In the bar on the left-hand side, you usually find management information, whereas the bar on the right displays information and actions for the selected shots viewed in the image window. Clicking the small outward-pointing triangles in the panels hides them temporarily and enlarges the image window.

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