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RawTherapee, competitor to Lightroom?

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Recently I happened to read about a free software, RawTherapee, that could be used instead of Lightroom. This article is not a review but a small exploration into the working of RawTherapee. A detailed insight into each panel will soon follow as separate posts. The software appears technically very sound and provides finer control.


Sensor data(RAW) correction

RawTherapee is one of the complex softwares available for free download in the internet to process RAW files in the non-destructive processing methods. But it comes with a huge number of controls compared to Lightroom which is why I say it is not a simple photo processing tool.


raw therapee sensor data snippet


The software even has control on how to interpret the sensor data (RAW files) from applying demosaicing methods, fixing Black points, Preprocessing parameters and even having two different methods of applying parameters for sensors having Bayer matrix or X-trans matrix.


Exposure correction

This panel is having full control over exposure, highlight/shadow recovery, tone-mapping, 2 number of tone curves can be applied and 4 methods of reconstructing highlights just in case you need it.


raw therapee exposure snippet


Vignetting and Graduated filter can be applied from this panel itself. Graduated filter has limited controls only. Lab and CIE colour correction parameters are added here with many options.


Detail controls

This panel is having full control with Contrast, Sharpening, Noise reduction, Defringing.

Sharpening tab comes with two methods of sharpening application, the very popular unsharp mask and RL deconvolution with Halo controls.


raw therapee detail snippet


The very interesting part is the noise control method which RawTherapee possess. You can apply any one of the two methods either RGB or L.a.b and you can apply further controls either by graph or sliders.

Defringe panel also have a interesting way of controlling colour fringes with equaliser method.


Colour controls

Vibrance does comes with incredible color controls with yellow, red/yellow and Red, Red/Purple in a graphical control panel.

Separate channel mixer option is there to mix the three channels in different ratios to give a specific style to your photographs.


raw therapee color snippet


Black & White conversion panel comes with three methods of converting your photographs into B&W photographs. The first one is the popular saturation method, the second one being Luminance equaliser and the third method being channel mixer. Each having their own advantages and disadvantages and comes with further finer controls.


This is definitely just a minor exploration of the tool, leaving the rest to you, to explore and probably come up with more detailed and varied experiences.
If you are already a RawTherapee user, do let me know your views in the comments.

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Navanee Viswa

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