Graphics and photo manipulation applications are essential for photographers. If commercial software is too expensive, you can try darktable, an open source alternative. This Linux program has many features, but at its heart it is a virtual darkroom for photographers.

darktable comes with numerous effects and filters. These include lowlight vision, bloom, soften, vignetting and watermark among others. The quality is similar to the effects found in commercial software. Aside from the effects there are correction modules (hot pixels, denoise, sharpen etc) and color image operations. Some of the features are input/output/display color profile management, color correction, color contrast and a channel mixer.

darktable’s tone image feature set includes tone mapping, zone system and tone curve. You can of course perform basic operations such as rotate, crop, invert and white balance. What will attract photographers to darktable is its non-destructive editing. There are other features worth pointing out. It has a very good export system.


The user interface is well designed. Users can see the numerous plugins available clearly on screen. The modules (Effect, Correction, Color, Tone, Basic) are easily within reach. You can expand each part by clicking the More options. Remember, the effects you apply are in an xml file linked with the image. The original source is unaffected.

Graphics artists will also appreciate its tag searching and sorting capability. darktable is an image enhancing program. This isn’t designed to make new images. You will use this to touch up existing images. Because it is non-destructive, any effect you apply does not touch the image.

The software is compatible with the following Linux distros: Ubuntu, Fedora, Opensue, Arch, Gentoo and Macosx.

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