New RAW Developer

Fuji XT1 Test image fully processed
Fuji XT1 Test image fully processed

Many of you reading this will be aware of my move to a Fuji XT1 and the concerns I had regarding the image quality. Now to be clear, it wasn’t that the image quality was bad but rather under certain circumstances fine detail was lost during the RAW conversion in Lightroom. Sometimes foliage would have an unusual appearance that was almost false.

In the following screenshot you can see a section of the above image at 100% magnification (you may need to double click the image to view it at full resolution). Whilst this isn’t a severe problem I don’t care for the detail in the image foliage as much as I do the results of other RAW processors I have now found.

Example 1 - click to see at 100%
Example 1 – click to see at 100%

Since encountering this I have been experimenting with a number of RAW converters including RAW Therapee and Iridient. I am very impressed with both of these as RAW converters but they lack some of the tools of Lightroom and/or are a little trickier to use. RAW Therapee for example has a very large selection of tools in an interface that’s hard to grasp initially.

In the following image you can see the same image processed with Iridient, also at 100% magnification. Although lacking in midtone contrast, the image is more natural in appearance and there is greater detail in the foliage.

Example 2 - click to see at 100%
Example 2 – click to see at 100%

And here is the RAW Therapee conversion at 100%.

Example 3 - click to see at 100%
Example 3 – click to see at 100%

Again, this has more detail and is sharper than the Adobe version but also looks more natural. I also prefer it to the Iridient version if I’m honest.

I have now come across another RAW converter that clearly has parallels with Lightroom, even offering some of the same functionality. Although it’s not as easy to use or quite as well designed as Lightroom, it does seem to produce images with excellent levels of detail and sharpness. This is also true when processing XTrans RAW files and so may be another alternative for people who want an alternative to Adobe. Best of all the software is Free and the enthusiasts behind this project are to be commended. The only potential downside is that it’s not available on the Windows platform but if you use a Mac, you really should take a look at the software.

Here is a section of the image at 100% (I apologise for not matching the colour and contrast but I haven’t yet mastered the processing).

Example 4 - click to see at 100%
Example 4 – click to see at 100%

The name of the software is Darktable.



14 thoughts on “New RAW Developer

      1. I can understand this. It depends how much total image quality means to you. Given that most people will not notice and that it’s probably not visible in a print, does it matter. To me it does but I can’t tell you why. I’m therefore prepared to go to lengths most people wouldn’t in my search to minimise the effect. Nice post on your blog by the way.

  1. Hi Robin

    I am new to your site, having just purchased two of your books on Photoshop through Kindle.

    I have had a look at Darktable and am very impressed by it at first glance, and am going to work with it to try to gain proficiency. However. one of the things I really like about Lightroom is its Transform ability.

    I am strictly amateur – I am currently working on images taken inside churches and chateaux while on a visit to France. Many of the stained glass windows and wide angle shots of interiors are at an impossible angle for comfortable perspective viewing, but mostly, a quick click on Transform brings them into line beautifully. I have looked at the Lens correction pallette in Darktable but it doesn’t seem to do the job as easily or neatly, unless I am missing something. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    In many ways, I would be very happy to throw off the shackles of Adobe and Darktable looks as if it might do the job in many respects – I am thinking of Affinity for the Photoshop function.


    Kirsty Seccombe


    1. When your in the Darktable module take a look down to the bottom right of the screen and there you will find a “More Modules” list. This contains lots more modules that you can gain access to. Rather than using the Lens Correction try the “Crop and Rotate” module. In here you will find a Keystone setting. This together with the Lens profile should allow you to perform some pretty serious corrections. Having said that, it’s not as intuitive as Lightroom.

  2. “not available on the Windows platform” but available on GNU Linux. 😉
    I have setting up a dual boot Xubuntu/Windows 10 to try Darktable and now I’m using Linux most of time for computing… Darktable seems very powerfull but I didn’t have the time to learn mastering it yet
    (I apologise for my English, I’m french, nobody’s perfect 🙂 )

  3. Darktable is a solid alternative for raw and foliage. As is getting exposure and wb right and shooting jpeg. The in-camera converter is excellent.

  4. I have been using Darktable for since 2012 and agree it is a powerful and versatile raw converter but it fails me in noise management of moderately high ISO images especially with colour noise compared with PS or Lightroom. Iriidient Developer ( previously RAW Developer ) is more reliable in that area.

  5. The RAW Therapee results still look to be the clear winner, here. LR, Iridient, and Darktable all have some degree of unnatural looking artifacts. The RAW Therapee conversion isn’t as clean in flatter areas, but it looks a bit more like filmic grain that isn’t that distracting, and the improved detail in any area with texture seems fairly dramatic.

    But workflow is important, of course, so I can see the decision being a difficult one.

    1. I agree. Now that I have been experimenting more with RAW Therapee I have been able to achieve even better results. I’m also finding it fast to work with as I have a few base profiles that I have created. It’s then a matter of tweaking the colour, contrast and Gradient filter depending on the image. Workflow is important but I find an initial conversion in RAW Therapee gives improved quality that I don’t want to miss out on. I can then take the TIFF image back into the Lightroom catalogue.

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