Graham tears himself away from updating Arch Linux to search for the best new free software.

RAW photo processing

RawTherapee 5.1

Earlier, while covering Luminance, I described how Darktable is my favorite open source RAW photo-processing tool. This is true, but it's only by a small margin. That's because RawTherapee gets very close indeed and even has the better UI. RawTherapee has a much more effective light table view for previewing thumbnails, loading hundreds of images quickly, and letting you quickly scan and categorize your collection. Processing is also easier to understand, with the GUI elements easier to see and control. The visual cues, such as the icons for each filter and filter-type, look better and are easier to understand than the Darktable equivalents, and it also helps that every change is added to your photo history in RawTherapee, unlike Darktable. Darktable's advantage is my slight preference for its output, but that's purely subjective.

RawTherapee has seen huge updates recently; 5.0 was released at the beginning of the year and now 5.1 packs in even more features. Version 5.0 massively increased performance and added Wavelets and Retinex tools for adding extra detail to an image – especially useful with close crops and zooms. The big emphasis for the 5.1 release is the inclusion of Pentax Pixel Shift support. This is a range of cameras that moves the sensor by a single pixel while taking a small set of photos, allowing for less noise and better color accuracy, but the set of photos need to be specifically blended for the increase in quality to be realized. There's now a command-line tool, too. This makes running an image process much quicker and easier to automate as the entire GUI application doesn't need to be loaded. As always, plenty of new formats and cameras are supported. It's an amazing application and both the 5.0 update from January and this significant upgrade are great. Even if you're already set on your photo tool of choice, you need to give RawTherapee a try.

Project Website

If you're new to RAW processing, RawTherapee is slightly easier to use than the equally powerful Darktable.

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