Darktable no Lightroom alternative II

In the first part about the open source raw editor Dakrtable we took a look on the installation, importing images and the development modul. Today in the second part we’ll talk about other features of Darktable.


Darktable no Lightroom alternative IIDarktable even is capable of doing the geotagging , takeing the informations from your Geo-Logger and transfer it to the images. You just need a GPX file and select the pictures you want to tag with GPS coordinates. Darktable offers to respect a time shift between the data in the log files and the cpature times of your images, for example if you forgot to switch back the cameras time back to summer time.

The corresponding map causes a little bit of trouble. You can choose different map modules so you’re not fexed to Google map, but the displayed map aera is not changed according to the GPS coordinates of the selected image.

Darktable no Lightroom alternative IIThe tagged image is only visible if you search the location manually and get to a different map aerea. The way vice versa to mark a location in the map and tag a selected image with these GPS coordinates is not implemented so far.

Managing keywords

Darktable no Lightroom alternative IIBesides the keywords based on the Exif data like cpature date, camera,lens,ISO setting and so on Darktable can add other keywords to a selected image, which are stored in the already mentioned XMP files. Handling is quite detailed and not user-friendly too me, because you always have to wait 1 second or so to be sure the keyword was added to the image. While the metadata for the copyright owner of the images can be defined as a preset and applied during import presets are not available in this section. And i’m missing a hierarchical keyword list.

Even though the window should offer a function like this, meaning attaching or deleting a keyword from an image. This at least assure that keywords are spelled the right way and not adding a keyword and never find it again because it got a type in it. But the implementation too me is far away from afunctional keyword list.

Darktable no Lightroom alternative IIFiltering images according to certain keywords in the lighttable is pretty convenient. You can filter to exif-data from the images and to a film roll (which is an import’). But also you can filter for tags, meaning the keywords you added to the images. You can combine the keyword search with further logical parameters (combine with an AND or OR or EXCEPT)


Images with the same regard to content or other facts can be grouped in Darktable. This is almost the same like a stack in Lightroom. After grouping only the first image is display on the lighttable. What i’m missing is to freely choose the image displayed on top of the stack and a notice about how many pictures are in this group. Besides this it’s a sueful feature.


Most of the modern RAW convertes include an HDR implementation. Lightroom has a built-in HDR tool but there a re a couple of tools even free of charge which do a pretty good job on mergeing images to an HDR picture. Darktable is in good company offering an HDR tool. The tool allows to generate an HDR image from a single image or from a series of images. The result in done in Adobe’s DNG format.

We take 2 captures as a base for the HDR process:

Darktable no Lightroom alternative II

Darktable no Lightroom alternative IIThe result is more than modest, either absolutly false colors or at least to dark. In addition there a re problems with the resulting DNG format, because i wasn’t able to open the DNG file in Photoshop CC or Lightroom Classic.


Darktable is pretty slow displaying changes in the darkroom module in the preview, for example changeing the exposure ayou have to wait a little while until these changes are displayed in the preview window. This a little bit annoying when working on an image.

Plematic is the missing before/after view in the lighttable and in the darkroom. There is no option to define an external editor or to define more than one catalog/database.

  • slow change in preview after changes
  • long-winded keyword adding
  • only 1 database/catalog
  • no option to turn off XMP files
  • Display problems in the lighttable
  • map display for geotagged images
  • HDR Export as DNG doesn’t work


Darktable is very sophisticated for an  Open-Source appliction and i have to be fair, since we’re talking about version 2.4 at the moment. Darktable offers all the main features (and a couple on top) a user needs for RAW converting and managing images. In a direct comparism a couple of features are missing which make your workflow easier or at least more convinient.

On the other hand Darktbale is pretty fast on a batch export to JPEG files from a timelapse sequence containign 134 images shot with a Canon 7D. Darktbale only needs  9:26 min. for the complete export.

But there has to be a lot of optimization to be done in the darkroom, because it takes quite a while before the preview is updated according to the development parameters. The user interface you have to get used to and together with the other problems Darktable (so far) is no alternative to Lightroom, even though there might be some readers to decide pro Darktable rather than a subscription model with Lightroom. Darktable is on the right way and i salute to the developers doing all this a their free time.

ciao tuxoche

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