Darktable vs Lightroom: What Software is Better?

There are two powerful image management software programs available on both Windows and Mac OS platforms, called Lightroom and Darktable. These programs have different features and are therefore appropriate for different photographers. So, should you switch to Darktable? And how do they compare?

  • Darktable
  • Lightroom


Darktable was created in 2009 by a small team of dedicated software developers based in San Francisco and Berlin, and is supported by a passionate community of users. Darktable is released under the GPLv2 license.

Lightroom is developed by Adobe and is distributed commercially by Adobe Systems. It is one of the most popular photo editing programs available.

What is Darktable about?

Darktable is designed for photographers who wish to manage their RAW images in-camera. This includes photographers who shoot RAW files on digital cameras such as Nikon, Canon, Fuji and Sony. The program is aimed at prosumer users and amateur photographers who prefer working in camera.

Lightroom is for professional photographers and professionals who like to work in the Adobe environment. It offers a range of advanced image editing tools and allows you to work on multiple projects simultaneously.

The main difference between the two programs is the way they store images. With Darktable, the RAW files are stored directly in the computer. Images are organized into a project folder structure which is similar to the folders in a traditional digital camera. With Lightroom, images are organized into the standard Adobe catalog structure. In addition, there is a range of other options to customize how images are stored and presented.

How does Darktable work?

The basic workflow of the Darktable editor is as follows:

– Create a project folder for each new assignment. Each assignment folder contains the images you want to work on together.

– Import images into a project using the import button on the application interface. Each image file has a unique filename which identifies it as belonging to a particular project. You can work on multiple projects at the same time.

– Select an image, press the “Set exposure” button and adjust the white balance and exposure settings.

– Press the “Create copy” button and choose to “Save as JPEG” or “Save as TIFF”. You can also choose to make a copy of the original image. This option is useful if you want to experiment with different settings.

– Press the “Develop” button and review your progress.

– Once you have finished editing, click the “Save” button to save the image and return to the folder where it was originally stored.

What is Lightroom about?

With Lightroom, you start your workflow by opening a collection of images that you have imported. The main difference from Darktable is that you start a new project within the Lightroom application interface rather than starting a new folder.

Once you start a project in Lightroom, you can add and edit images in a similar way to the process outlined in the previous section.

Lightroom can also organize your images into collections and sub-collections. For example, you can create a family album or a photo book.

There are other differences between the two programs. Darktable allows you to set the white balance, contrast and brightness of your image during import and then apply these settings to each subsequent image.

Both programs offer basic image editing and processing functions such as cropping, resizing, rotating, sharpening, adding borders and creating slideshows.

In the Lightroom interface, the adjustment controls are grouped into tabs which are similar to those in other programs such as Photoshop.

How do they compare?

At the heart of the Lightroom and Darktable applications is the way they manage images.

Darktable organizes images into project folders and provides basic editing functions. You can import images, set the white balance and make basic adjustments.

Lightroom organizes images into collections and gives you access to advanced editing functions.

Both programs can perform basic corrections and enhance the quality of your photos.

However, Darktable is a fast and simple way of working with your images. Lightroom requires more effort and is more complex to use.

Lightroom is a powerful and flexible tool for working with large amounts of data. It is well suited to managing a library of images which you will want to work on in the future.

Darktable is a simple, easy to use program that is ideal for importing and managing RAW files.

Both Darktable and Lightroom are very powerful tools. They can be used for a wide range of purposes including:

– Managing a large collection of images.

– Organizing and sharing images.

– Creating books, slideshows and calendars.

– Printing and scanning your photos.

– Creating digital prints, slides and transparencies.

Advantages of Darktable over Lightroom

As a relatively new program, Darktable may not have the extensive feature set of the Adobe product. However, you will find it has a much smaller learning curve and is easier to get to grips with.

For example, you will be able to create a project folder from the start of your project rather than having to create a new project every time you import images. You will also find the file organization and basic editing functions are more intuitive in Darktable.

Darktable can work with your RAW images, providing you with the control you need over your raw files. It’s compatible with the DNG standard and you will be able to use the file as it is, without having to convert it to a TIFF format.

Lightroom is a much more powerful and flexible tool. It offers a range of image processing functions and will let you work on multiple projects simultaneously. It can manage a large collection of images and allow you to edit them in the context of an overall project, which is very important.