Ever since Mac App Store became opened for business, image editors took over those popularity charts, along with some games and productivity apps. There is a very wide range of available photo editors, which come in all shapes and sizes, and also in very different price ranges.
As we noted is some earlier articles, and this remained the same even today, bestselling photo editors are very simple, and they are usually designed to offer only one prominent editing feature. They all come with basic photo editing like cropping, rotation, adjusting brightness/hue/saturation, and similar basic tools. Besides that, those photo editors tend to offer one advanced tool like creating cartoon style effect, tilt-shift images, or panoramas. The truth is that you can do all of this, and so much more, by using more dedicated photo editor like Lightroom, Aperture, or Photoshop – to name a few. There’s also ever-present iPhoto, which I believe is seriously misunderstood by many users.
As you can see, digital photography is available to everyone, and it is sometimes difficult to find the best tool to help up with digital photo libraries. iPhoto is there, but many users are simply not fans of it, and other similar applications are very expensive. That’s why we are bringing a review of Darktable.
Darktable is a photo library app, which is also a very capable photo editor. The best news is that it’s completely free, since this is an open source project.
In order to explain what Darktable offers, we’ll show you its capabilities through its four main features, called: lighttable, darktable, tethering, and mapping.
Lighttable is organizational aspect of this app, so this is where you can import and organize your digital photo library. Just with any other aspect of this app, interface is really dark and seems cluttered. I’ve used iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom for quite some time, so I am accustomed to different interface styles, and it still took me a while to find my way around Darktable. Options regarding import and organization are nicely designed, and they give you full control over your photos. You can tag them, add keywords, star ratings, label them with colors, and such. There’s no classic album-oriented organization, like in iPhoto for example, which I really missed.
Darktable is where you can edit your photos. Editing features are really powerful, and I was surprised to see some professional-grade features like high pass filtering, hot pixel healing and some others, which are finely crafted. Editing options are placed in many tabs, so the interface is cluttered at first. Once you start using this app, you can reorganize those tabs and even choose your favorite features, which could be always easily accessible. Also, Darktable is very stable and fast, and doesn’t put too much effort on your computer’s processor.
Tethering is another very interesting addition, which could be found at professional-grade software. Finally, there’s mapping which means that Darktable is able to read and write GPS information written by your camera. It also allows you to write new GPS data.
Considering that this is an open-source and completely free application, I was very surprised how powerful and well-designed it is. It gives you whole package: organizing and editing, along with some additional features. I’ve got only one remark, and it refers to a bit cluttered interface which will surely be overwhelming for new users, and a bit confusing for experienced users at first.