Month: November 2021

The Creative Camera > 2021 > November
Dynamic Range Adjustment on Fujifilm cameras and how this affects darktable

Dynamic Range Adjustment on Fujifilm cameras and how this affects darktable

A real quick post here guys as this issue was stumping me until I found this page – – at which point it all became a little clearer.

Basically, and as you can see from the image below, my jpeg and RAW files when read by darktable are light years apart. The jpeg is reasonably well exposed while the RAW file is much darker.

On the left is the jpeg SOOC while on the right is the RAW version as seen bydarktable

Now, in some respcts this is unsurprising as the jpeg has been processed in-camera, in this case a Fuji x-T1, following either a standard base recipe, or in the case of applying a specific film simulation, what ever that receipe looks like. This is generally what Fujifilm shooters like to do as the film simulation options provided by FujiFilm are one reason why so many photographers choose Fuji eco-systems and why Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC) jpegs are so highly regarded by the Fujifilm community. Anyway, I digress.

From what I have learned, what is happening here is that because I generally apply dynamic range adjustments to my images, I often choose to use DR400, this is applied only to the in-camera jpeg only. My RAW file by contrast, which is basically what the sensor sees, has been under-exposed by 2 stops since this is how dynamic resolution works on Fui cameras. Had I used DR200 then my RAW would be under-exposed by 1 stop. In truth I do tend to push EV when I am using DR400, for example ev +0.67 however this still leaves my RAW files under-exposed by 1.3 stops. So, how to overcome this issue?

The obvious and quick answer is not to use dynamic range adjustments as a catch all in my photos. Just set the camera to DR100 (which is off) and have done. I can then use ISO 200 rather than ISO 400 or ISO 800 and I don’t need to worry about dialing in some exposure compensation. What I’ll get is a perfectly usable RAW than can be processed with darktable or any other editor I choose to use. Interestingly, this problem does not appear to manifest itself in On1 PhotoRAW or Affinity Photo, my two other go-to editors and I have also not seen it on Luminar although I haven’t used this software in some time. Even with dynamic range applied, it seems that these editors are able to figure out the correct settings for viewing the RAW file on import.

Another alternative is to look at somehow modifying the RAW file by applying a different base curve to the imported RAW. From what I have read, this seems possible but with only five or 6 days experience with darktable under my belt, yep, you read that right, I feel I might have to research this a little more!

So, there you have it. If you are using darktable and your Fuji RAW files are way darker than your jpegs, check to see if you have dynamic range adjustments applied in camera. Pound to a penny, that will be the culpret.

If you have any comments, advice or solutions, please feel free to write a comment below.

darktable – Advanced RAW Editing for FREE

Darktable is one of those pieces of software that you know nothing about until someone tells you about it. Like many open source applications it attracts wide support from a small and tightly knit community who, at least from my experience, are extremely passionate about it. But what is darktable? Well, the darktable website provides the most sustinct answer by saying “darktable is an open source photography workflow application and raw developer. A virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them”. To put this in perspective think Lightroom on steroids. If you are a Lightroom user than much of what you find in darktable will be familiar. However, that’s where the comparison stops. Lightroom, part of the Adobe stable of tightly integrated photo and video editing applications, has been designed with the average user in mind. Someone who wants to quickly process their RAW files to a good standard with the minimum of fuss and effort. While darktable does exactly the same job, immediatly you open the application you realise that you are working with something very different albeit that the various panels and tools may seem familiar. If you don’t know Lightroom, or have never used any RAW editor then darktable, like so many photo modern editors, can look very confusing and even intimidating. That being said, there is a good sized community of users out there and lots of material to help you get to grips with darktable so if you like a challange, and prefer not to pay a subscription fee or indeed buy your software on a perpetual licence then darktable is going to be of interest to you. This is doubly true if you are an editor that likes to push the boundaries somewhat.

The first question you’ll probably want to ask is what software does darktable compete with? Well, there are many RAW editors on the market and in truth, darktable competes with them all. These include Capture One, Luminar, On1 PhotoRAW, Lightroom, Photoscape X Pro and many more. What it doesn’t compete with are tools such as Affinity Photo, Photoshop, GIMP or any editors that focus on photo manipulation rather than basic RAW editing. There will be some overlap of course but in general, tools like darktable develop the RAW files for software such as Affinity Photo and Photoshop to fine tune the image as a final product. Of course, nine times out of ten most photographers will stop at the developed RAW and don’t really need to process their images further but for those photographers that do need a little more, something like Affinity Photo will enable you to apply the finishing touches.

So, without further ado, let’s get into how darktable does it’s stuff.


On startup, darktable goes initially into lighttable mode. You can also go back into lighttable at any point simply by clicking on the menu item top right. Lighttable is where you can import your images and folders, apply tags such as stars, colours and meta-tags etc to your images. It’s also where you make decisions as to what stays and what goes. You can apply all these decisions both individually or in batch mode. You can also search and filter based on various criteria so as to be able to work on a smaller subset of selected images. You can also control the layout of lightable using the various controls at the bottom of the screen.

This is what you’ll see when you access lighttable mode

As this is really just an introduction to my early thoughts on darktable I don’t intend to spend much time on any particular feature of the software, I just want to provide a quick overview and tell you my thoughts. While lighttable may not be the best DAM available today, it is certainly very useable and competent and will provide most of the functionality that you are likely to need. As a new user myself I have yet to work out how to automatically update a folder of images so that they are always current but I assume that I will be able to find this. I’ll list the pros and cons with regards to working with darktable later so for now, let’s just say that lighttable is a competent and efficient DAM without the bells and whistles found in other systems.


Now, as I have mentioned this is simply an opportunity to tell you how I feel as a new user to darktable. My total experience of using the software consists of about 4 days of intensive use. My normal editors are On1 PhotoRAW 2022 and Affinity Photo but for the purpose of learning how to use darktable I have pushed these to one side and I’m using just darktable at the moment. My frustrations will therefore be your frustrations!

Basic darkroom editing panels

When you open an image to edit for the first time you will be totally confused by the miriad of panels and functions you can use. It’s intimidating. However, as you get more and more into the software, and you watch more and more helpfull tutorials you begin to get a sense of the product and a feel for how to employ your own workflow. As with pretty much any photo editing software today, there are multiple panels to contend with. On the LHS you have information panels, your editing history panel plus export, tagging etc. In the centre you have the image you are working with and underneath this pane, although I forgot to turn it on, you have some tools for helping you with clipping and if you want it, a camera roll of images in the folder you are working on. I tend to close these although to be fair, I do normally retain the image clipping tools as these are useful. On the RHS you have all of the modules (tools) available to you to convert your RAW into a jpeg, tiff or whatever you want. These tools are grouped together – see just under the histogram – as favourites, basic, colour etc. You can re-group these if you wish or just leave darktable to do its stuff.

If you are conversent with editors such as On1 PhotoRAW then you’ll probably already have a workflow which you like to use and which works for you. For example, I like to employ tools such as exposure, dynamic contrast, tone, shadows and highlights, curves etc and darktable allows you to do all of this. The ways these tools work is no different really to other editors but the effects of the sliders is different and the way each tool is laid out may confuse. My personal tactic has been to apply the module and then push things to extremes to see how they apply to the image. Once I undestand this I can fine tune the sliders to give me exactly what I want. It’s clumsy but it works!

One nod to FujiFilm users, and depending on your camera model, darktable does include some film emulations for you to apply directly to your RAW files. These include Classic Chrome, Astia, Provia, Velvia and a Monochrome simulation. RAW files from later cameras, mine is an older FujiFilm x-T1, may however have an expanded list to choose from.

A before and after example of basic RAW editing. To view, simply move the white line to either side

Darkroom is, as is so much of darktable, fully customisable. As a new user I eventually found Workflow Beginner in the dropdown at the end of the editing groups area (under the histogram) and that helped a lot. However, you can re-group, remove and add modules with relative ease so in theory you could easily set up the RHS panels to work as you do.

One of the things I was most keen to try was masking, cloning and healing and while I am not going to labour on these in this short article I just want to say that they all perform really well. While not as intuitive as some other software I have used, On1 for example, after some playing around how they work and what they can achieve becomes very clear. In fact the image of the two ladies having coffee does benefit from having my knee and a dogs rear end removed. Masking is equally good, once you realise that every module allows for masking rather than say, as in On1, needing to go into a local adjustments panel. Here’s another example of removing an object using the retouch tool plus some final adjustments to the image.

Before and after image showing object removal. To view, simply move the white line to either side.

With regards to other useful feature, I also like the history panel on the LHS. While confusing at first, I soon realised that this allows you to quickly remove modules and edits as well as enable you to take a snapshot of where you started from and to compare this to where your edit it at any moment in time. Very useful to see how things are going.


This was never going to be a long article as I really wanted to just give you a flavour of what I have managed to learn about darktable over just a few days. Now, I am quite an experienced editor so while darktable was somewhat of a shock to my system, it wasn’t catastrophic. I recognised much of what i was seeing and I was able to apply the various techniques I had learned elsewhere to darktable. I also made good use of the various online tutorials that I found, these being mostly on Youtube, and I spent a lot of time experimenting. Now I haven’t spoken much about tools such as masking, cloning, healing etc but I have tried them and they are pretty damn good. Once I learned not to transfixed on the history panel I found making adjustments really easy and if I didn’t know what something did, a quick look at that particular module answered any questions that I had.

In summary, play with this software for more than a couple of days and if you are anything like me you’ll love it more and more. It’s a super-lightweight, fast and effective RAW processor that just seems to get the job done. I honestly can’t believe that this is FREE software, it’s so good at what it needs to do. Sure the interface could be better streamlined but the results it produces are exceptional. If you give it a week you’ll love it and you’ll wonder why you are bothering to pay a small fortune on products such as Adobe Lightroom, Capture One etc.


  • Hugely powerful RAW editor with lots of features
  • Ultra-lightweight, no bloatware
  • Adobe Lightroom users will be somewhat familiar with the interface
  • Comprises of a comprehensive DAM plus RAW editing platform in a single application
  • Fast to edit once you understand the software and workflow
  • Tooltips help you understand the various functions and modules
  • Comprehensive tools (modules) for practically everything you can imagine
  • Some support for FujiFilm Film Simulations (under Colour Lookup Table)
  • Fully customisable
  • Open Source
  • Updated regulalry
  • Helpful community and lots of online resources to help you get started / become expert
  • FREE


  • Overwhelming at first, there’s a lot to take in
  • Overly complex layouts daze and confuse
  • It looks like what it is, a product developed by a community rather than a single development team
  • Not particularly intuitive on first look
  • You’ll need help from tutorials etc to get the best from it
  • If you are a user other editing software, eg On1 PhotoRAW, much of what you see will be familiar but in an unfamiliar way. You’ll need to poke around to find the tools you want to use and to learn what they do
  • There’s stuff in here I didn’t know I needed or missed from other editors

Here are some useful links to darktable

Learn more about darktable here

Access the darktable manual here

Noise Reduction Software – Is it worth the money?

Noise Reduction Software – Is it worth the money?

Before & After Noise Reduction

A friend recently sent me a RAW image taken on a very old Lumix digital camera with a 1/1.7″ sensor. The image was a really tricky one, very under exposed and while it was only shot at ISO 400, combined with the small sensor this created quite a messy, noisy image. What this did though was to formulate the idea in my head of writing a short article on how to improve a difficult, noisy image using some of the noise reduction tools I had available to me to clean up this image. These are basically On1 2022 NoNoise, Nik Dfine (the old stand alone verion not the newer DxO version) and Affinity Denoise. However I eventually decided just to keep this article short and sweet by focusing on one of my images and just looking at the new kid on the block which is On1 2022 NoNoise Ai.

Why bother about noise? Well, the vast majority of photographers will tell you that noise is ugly and that therefore you should do everything possible to remove it. For this reason trying to control noise in-camera, and if this fails, later in post, becomes hugely important. This is in sharp contrast (excuse the pun) to grain which can add enormous character to photos giving them an ageless filmic look which can be very attractive, even in a digital image. The two are therefore very different but beware, overdone digital grain can be equally distracting so it needs to be used with care.

Getting back to the main theme of this article, as a start point I needed a suitable image to work with. Racking my brain I recalled an image from a night shoot a couple of years back which was taken on a Lumix GX-80 and exposed at ISO 25,600. It was of revellers coming out of the theatre here in Torquay after The Rocky Horror Show. Regrettably, the RAW in question was inadvertantly deleted a year or so ago but I was able to locate a jpeg, which at just 2400px wide offered even more of a challange than the RAW would have done as NoNoise is really designed to process large RAW files not small jpegs. Anyway, as you can image the jpeg was full of really horrible noise so presented a stiff test to On1 NoNoise Ai.

Now for those that don’t know On1 NoNoise, this application is a core feature found in the latest release of On1 PhotoRAW 2022. It’s embedded in the development functionality although since it is usually the first process to be applied, it’s somewhat strange that On1 have chosen to embed it towards the end of the development tools. That being said, it’s perhaps also worth noting that there is now a stand-alone / plug-in version available which works with Photoshop, Capture One, Affinity Photo and others although unlike previous On1 releases, you now have to buy the plug-ins seperately, either individually or as a plug-in bundle. That’s good news for say Lightroom / Photoshop users who only want the plug-ins but not so good if you are an exisitng On1 customer or looking to buy On1 PhotoRAW 2022 as a new customer. Personally I have some strong thoughts on the way On1 have treated their existing client base but rather than bloat this article, feel free to visit to learn what they are!

Now, with regards to the results I obtained, in all fairness to On1 2022 NoNoise Ai did a pretty good job – see the split image above which is a before and after of the image I was working on. Here the noise in the original was completely removed using just the base (default) settings in the NoNoise panel. As I didn’t want to phaff around with this image, I just wanted to get a good comparison, I only really adjusted the white balance after the application of NoNoise simply to make the image look a little more realistic. I did this simply by picking on something white in the image, in this case the mans shirt,and applying a colour shift to it. You could also use Curves if you prefer or the colour settings available in the Effects section. This adjustment reduced the greenish tinge between the original and the processed image. Whether it’s worth working on the image any more than this is debatable as it’s such a low resolution but it does make a great image for comparison purposes.

In Summary

So, what are my thoughts on the results? Well, this is an image that isn’t going to stand a lot of close inspection. Had I started with the RAW, I think the results would have been much much better. If you do a deep dive into the image you’ll see that yes, the noise is really well controlled but at the expense of any real details in the faces. They look very plastic close up although that is as much a result of what I started with as what NoNoise was able to achieve so please don’t go away thinking that this is not a good result. As I mentioned, I made no effort to fine tune the image using either the sharpening or details sliders that are available. Stand back and look at the image from a distance though and it looks pretty good, especially given its history.


Although I initially decided not to do comparisons with other software I did throw the original jpeg into my FREE version of Nik Dfine2 to see what it could achieve. Now bear in mind that this version of Nik has received no updates since it was acquired by DxO in late 2017 so you are looking at the results here from what is now classed as old, defunct technology. Make you’re own mind up as to how far digital noise reduction has come in the past few years or so.

Processed using the unsupported, non DxO version of NIK Dfine2

Something else I noticed about On1 NoNoise, this was on a completely different photo, was that where the software was confused by shadows, in this case rain on the window, it caused some difficulty with the colours and tones behind it. This is best explained by showing you a before and after – see below. I’m not sure if this is a one off or it can be modified in some way but it does show some limitations with the technology.

Original on the left / with NoNoise applied on the right. Notice the degradation in skin tones in the NoNoise image.