Linux Photo Processing

Example of GIMP

At LinuxFest Northwest 2013 April 28/29, I will be giving a talk comparing the GIMP and Darktable. These are two very powerful photo manipulation tools.

I am particularly looking at two programs that provide a strong post-processing capability. You use them for different purposes and how they are used is quit different as well. There will be a few more posts on each of these. (What about digiKam? Honestly, I don’t know anyone who uses it, so it didn’t immediately come to mind. For all-around photo-management, digiKam is certainly worthwhile. I won’t speak against it.)

The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)

Largely, the GIMP is what many people might think of a Photoshop for Linux. Many would strongly disagree–commonly what you hear is this: Gimp is nothing like Photoshop. I think people will agree on this: if you need retouching, layer compositing, text, and pixel-pencil drawing, your choices are pretty likely going to be some version of Photoshop or the GIMP. If you dont want to pay for a copy of Photoshop but want to produce layered screen graphics or high-res graphics for printing, here’s your tool. (And while GIMP has some vector tools for pathings, it is not a vector drawing program–see Inkscape for that).


Example of Darktable
Example of Darktable

If you have used Lightroom, (a semi-pro and above level raw photo organizer and post-process workflow program), Darktable shall fill an analagous role. Darktable is has no intentions of being a drawing program. Color control is Darktables primary focus. It’s internals operate on color as 32-bit floating point values, which is mighty accurate. However, this means it wants a 64-bit computer with at least 2 gigs of ram. WIth it you can run through a batch of photos imported from your SD card, pick a few 4- and 5-star photos, isolate that set, apply color correction and “make snapshots” of them to jpg or png images.


I look forward to writing out a few examples comparing and constrasting how GIMP and Darktable are used. Linux and digital photography are getting along quite well these days, and I look forward to helping you get a leg up on these two programs!

3 responses to “Linux Photo Processing”

  1. I tried Darktable on my PC with 2GB of RAM and I can tell it isn’t enough RAM to work well. I would recommend at least 4GB for it. I changed to Photivo to work on sets of photos in Linux. It does not come with an organizer as Darktable, but with a little planning it’s not a big deal.

    • GIMP was originally a 16-bit color model. With the introduction of the GEGL library, it can handle 32-bit color transformations and use OpenCL graphics accelleration. Darktable started with these enhancements and only does 32-bit float color operations.

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