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Didix

AP: Using an external RAW editor (Darktable, Win10)

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I always take jpg & raw. For 90%+ the jpg pictures are doing fine for me.
I only develop out of raw, when the camera engine didn't do a good job.
Most time (for my way of taking pictures) this is the case when there is to much dynamics in the image.
I often go hiking and early in the morning sometimes one half of a valley is lighted by the sun and the opposite is still in dark shadow.
So my main application is getting around with hi dynamics, which means getting a reasonable image out of the shadow without noise.

Well, and there is the catch where Affinity Raw falls far behind ACR (&LR). Also far behind Darktable.
Affinity does a bad job, ACR a realy good one and Darktable a reasonable good one.

I bought Affinity as a replacement for the Adobe stuff and in combination with Darktable this could become a good solution.
However, there should be a convenient way to develop an image in Darktable and then changing to Affinity as a transparent process (without saving and re-importing).

Can this be done? Any idea? What is the easiest process?

-Didix

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9 hours ago, GabrielM said:

Hi @Didix,

Welcome to the forums. 

I'm afraid there is not seamless integration between Darktable and Affinity. You would have to export your file and re-import it in.

Thanks,

Gabe. 

Thanx Gabe!

What format would you recommend? TIFF16 or TIFF32 or even a different format?

-Didix

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Out of interest, why and how do you find Affinity lacking? I have found highlight and shadow adjustments to raw fine of late. I usually turn off the automatic curve adjustment first.

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I have to admit that I am a newbie to AP. But I have viewed most of the instructional videos concerning RAW development, HDR, ToneMapping, etc. to get an impression how to use AP. With this basic knowledge I have made several trials at images described in my starting post. The way of processing is somehow different from ACR/PS but that's fine for me. I am open for new things. That's why I was viewing the videos - excellent work, BTW!

However, comparing the results is sobering. The recovery of underexposed portions shows a huge difference between AP and ACR. I then installed Darktable and even the first trial was superior to my best trial with AP.

I have attached the RAW to show what kind of scene I am talking about. It's for sure not an every-day-picture. But it's sometimes real life and a good example to test RAW engines.

-Didix

2018-08-16_P1160006.RW2

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Are you disabling the automatic curve before editing the raw? It makes the image look worse initially but increases latitude for editing (this approach works in some cases). That is a pretty difficult image the highlights and shadows are a bit extreme so you may need more than just the highlight and shadow sliders to make it useful. I cannot ague in that I have always found LR raw develop module better than AP but AP's has always worked for me with some effort.

 

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You should never replace the specialized camera RAW to JPG engine with a generic one like the one in Affinity Photo. It is really not great. If possible use the RAW converter made by the manufacturer of your camera. You could also purchase dedicated programs like DxO Photolab that ships with camera (colour!) and lens profiles for every great camera on the market and with cutting edge technologies built right in. Worth every penny.

I have ten years of experience with tens of thousands of RAW images converted in LR, ACR, Capture One, DxO Photolab and Capture NX (Nikon), and I really really gave Rawtherapee and Darktable a lot of chances. AF is the worst of them all. You don't get the benefits of RAW at all. 

AF could eventually replace Photoshop for me - but never, ever a dedicated RAW converter. 

I see you have a Panasonic GX-7 and probably not a Panasonic RAW converter (I don't think it exists). But see the attached image. DxO will correct the image according to a GX-7 camera colour profile AND a lens profile. That is what you get with these programs. Worth EVERY penny. 

dxo.PNG

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5 hours ago, Wafer said:

[...]

I have ten years of experience with tens of thousands of RAW images converted in LR, ACR, Capture One, DxO Photolab and Capture NX (Nikon), and I really really gave Rawtherapee and Darktable a lot of chances. AF is the worst of them all. You don't get the benefits of RAW at all. [...]

 

I'm curious, how did it go with RT and DT?

I'm currently testing both. I find RT packed with good tools, but its UI doesn't work for me. Also, the crop tool and the lack of selections are two other deterrents.

DT, on the other hand, I like it very much.


Andrew
-
Win10 x64 AMD Threadripper 1950x, 64GB, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 2TB, dual GTX 1080ti
Dual Monitor Dell Ultra HD 4k P2715Q 27-Inch

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13 hours ago, Didix said:

Thanx Gabe!

What format would you recommend? TIFF16 or TIFF32 or even a different format?

-Didix

That really depends on your needs and your workflow. Tiff would be fine. The bit depth would be according to your workflow, but you would probably not need 32bit. You would normally use 32 for hdr and raw developing. 

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Hello Didix,
I also think that the AP RAW converter has a lot of potential upwards.
As bad as it is portrayed, is the converter not.
The RAW file that you have provided I have completely edited in AP.
A little bit the shadows and the clarity elevated, a bit denoise and sharpen, finish.
Surely, becomes one or the other user even better results be ge. 

Cheers

2018-08-16_P1160006.jpg


Affinity Photo 1.7.0.367 :   Affinity Photo-Beta  1.7.1.404 :    Affinity Designer 1.7.0.367:  Affinity Designer-Beta 1.7.1.404:

Affinity Publisher-Beta 1.7.1.399:       Windows 10 Pro  (Version  1809 Build 17763.557)

 

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Thanx all together for participating in this thread!

During the day I had to do something for my salary, but now I am back :-)

@ColinG: Yes, I disabled the automatic curve. I followed the instructional videos. They propose flat development and then working with tone mapping.

@Gnobelix: You did a far better job than I did, so this is a proof, that it lacks me  on experience. Therefore I will not give up :-) 
However, I suppose, Darktable and ACR/LR deliver better results.

@Wafer: For way over 90% I am happy with the JPGs that the built-in raw engine of my Lumix cameras produce. Often they are so excelent, that I am not able to reproduce them by using ACR & PS. However, images as  the one uploaded, need special treatment.

@GabrielM: yep, I guess I go with 32bit.

------------------

@everybody: 

  1. Let's hope, that AP will catch up with other raw editors. Would be really nice to have an embedded process!
  2. Alternatively, a good cooperation with raw engines as DT and RT to get a seamless integration would be a great progress.

-Didix

 

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Didix, given you are in the main happy with your jpegs and just wish to tweak raw files when you are not, do you not think that the likes of AP are perhaps overkill for your needs? LR would probably be ok but it is part of a larger suite of programs now so probably not really for you.

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So far, my workflow looked like this:

A. Most images come out very good as jpeg, developed by the Lumix Camera RAW Developer. Those images I postprocess with Photoshop (contrast, sharpness, vibrance).

C. Few images come out as the one presented. Then I use ACR plus PS.

C. Of course, sometimes I need a real photoeditor to do enhanced stuff, but this is not very often. For that case I also use PS.

Now comes the important point:
for some personal and political reasons I want to go away from Adobe (please let's skip further discussions about adobe's license policy in this thread).

Therefore I need a RAW engine and a Photo Editor. For the latter, my choice goes with 99% to AP (I already bought a license).
Now I need a valid RAW editor that can hold a candle to ACR.

-Didix

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On 8/28/2018 at 8:38 PM, ColinG said:

Out of interest, why and how do you find Affinity lacking? I have found highlight and shadow adjustments to raw fine of late.

Firs of all - there is no DAM and no sidecar files/database where you can store your edits for future use.

I cannot agree that highlight / shadow recovery is fine. It's nowhere near Capture One Pro (I don't really know about Lightroom, I ditched it at 5.7 AFAIR).

And loading raw files into develop persona is painfully slow (especially Fuji X-Trans files).

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Then move on, you are using the wrong software. Affinity never had a Dam so I cannot understand why you feel that it is missing. Capture One is good stuff sure so go and pay the price of owning it. And remember AP is not a dedicated raw editor so again why do you expect it to be so? Affinity is more like Photoshop. I have no issues loading raw into Develop but I am not using Fuji X, which has created problems all around so far as I can see ( I am on Nikon). 

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On 8/29/2018 at 5:43 AM, verysame said:

I'm curious, how did it go with RT and DT?

I'm currently testing both. I find RT packed with good tools, but its UI doesn't work for me. Also, the crop tool and the lack of selections are two other deterrents.

DT, on the other hand, I like it very much.

It was interesting monkeying around with them both. But... They can never replace any of the commercial RAW converters for me. I do, however, think that hobbyists can use them. Both also matured a lot in just a few years. But they should stop adding advanced, complex, meaningless features and focus on how to get great image quality with HELP from the software itself. I am a photographer. Not a Linux enthusiast. The coders just adds tons of technologies with many options to RT and DT - while fx Capture One has fewer sliders, but they do magic things with a few clicks. But still - if I was a poor student etc. I could use both. DT is inspired by Lightroom and I do understand you like that better.

My big problem is that the commercial programs just deliver much better results in just a minute - and that it takes too much tweaking to get acceptable results in RT and DT. 

And worst of all. RT and DT are made by pixel peepers. More or less. Look at images from Capture One, or Fujifilm or Olympus cameras. They RENDER images in a aesthetic way that is natural and pleasing to the human eye. That is why I purchased Capture One the very same day my trial expired. It is expensive, but it is just like an upgrade to my cameras.

Affinity Photo is great and cheap - but the simple, boring demosaicing algorithm (UFRaw I guess), lack of camera colour profiles and lens profiles results in 'meh' images from the RAW module. You can probably improve that somewhat with the use of LUTs - a great feature in Photo (and RT + Photoshop).

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I have to say I have become a big fan of Darktable (ex Lightroom user).  I do still have a current Adobe subscription in place but I almost never open either Lightroom or Photoshop any more as the Darktable/Affinity Photo combination satisfies my requirements. I won't be renewing my Adobe subscription when this current year runs out.

Just because Darktable is free and opensource does not mean it cannot achieve excellent results. Yes the interface is different to Lightroom, but at the same time it is very familiar. Yes some of the tools seem a bit geeky in their presentation, but in many cases are far more powerful that the equivalents in Lightroom.  Like any new software when I first used it I felt lost and became frustrated because I knew what I wanted to do but not how to do it. But, if you invest some of your time trying things out, watching a few videos on YouTube, playing with each module to understand what they do, limiting the visible modules to the few favourites you use on nearly everything, setting up a few default module settings that can be different depending on the incoming file's EXIF data, making use of the straightforward (hierarchical) tagging system (which uses separate sidecar files - no central catalog to get corrupted) and your life becomes so much easier.

The only thing, and it is only one thing, that I miss from Lightroom is the side by side comparison feature that is not present in Darktable although you can achieve something similar using the snapshot feature. I would pay good money for Darktable, the fact that is free is quite unbelievable. It's worth noting that you don't have the ability to create a panorama within Darktable, and although you can merge several backeted shots to a HDR file (you do your own tonemapping using the existing DT tools) the images have to already be aligned as the process does not currently do that.

It is possible to more or less integrate Affinity Photo with Darktable. There is an extension to Darktable that gives another option in the export module to open the selected image in The Gimp. It's straightforward to install (copy and paste a few files into a folder) and then instead of pointing it at the gimp executable, you point it at the AP executable.  Then in Darktable you select the file you want to edit in AP,  use the new export option which opens up the file in AP, do your edits, save and close AP and the new image is automatically imported back into DT and grouped with the original source image. Works a treat (on my Win 10 machine - no direct experience of any other OS). some info here: https://github.com/darktable-org/lua-scripts If you are at all technically minded you can edit the script to change references in the displayed text from "gimp" to "external editor" although this is not needed for this to work.

Spend some serious time with Darktable and I'm sure some people will find it an excellent replacement for Lightroom, whether you are on a budget or not.

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20 hours ago, Wafer said:

[...] DT is inspired by Lightroom and I do understand you like that better.

My big problem is that the commercial programs just deliver much better results in just a minute - and that it takes too much tweaking to get acceptable results in RT and DT. 

And worst of all. RT and DT are made by pixel peepers. More or less. Look at images from Capture One, or Fujifilm or Olympus cameras. They RENDER images in a aesthetic way that is natural and pleasing to the human eye. That is why I purchased Capture One the very same day my trial expired. It is expensive, but it is just like an upgrade to my cameras.

Affinity Photo is great and cheap - but the simple, boring demosaicing algorithm (UFRaw I guess), lack of camera colour profiles and lens profiles results in 'meh' images from the RAW module. You can probably improve that somewhat with the use of LUTs - a great feature in Photo (and RT + Photoshop).

I agree about the FOSS spirit: often very promising software don't go far because there are too many ideas, some implemented, some only partially, no serious thinking about the UI, a messy community, etc. That’s the price we have to pay (pun intended) for free software. Nonetheless, sometimes there are true gems which not only compete with commercial software, but easily beat them.

Like you said, with C1 (which is a software that I like a lot by the way) you only need a few tweaks and the image looks great. With FOSS software this is not always true and the user has to get through theory and several steps before he can get similar results. But that’s the thing, it means learning from scratch rather than relying on automatisms. When I started with Cinema 4D my idea of 3d was to use pre-built models, adding some deformation and continuing from there. With Blender 3D I had to learn how to properly model, which now is a valuable asset for my profession and something I can take advantage of, no matter what 3D software I’m using. With DT I’m going through a similar process: I’m really enjoying its modules, the equalizer is awesome, as well as the color zones, the logarithmic curve, and many others. It definitely takes more time compared to C1, but after all now that I’m getting used to it that is not always true. I find some things even faster in DT (the crop tool, for instance), other things equally powerful (masking).

That said, if you are a pro who needs to edit many photographs in a short amount of time, then C1 makes perfect sense.

Funny you mention the similarities with LR, that was the first thing I noticed and it almost stopped me from using it. I never liked LR, and I don’t think I’ll ever will. But luckily the similarities between DT and LR are only superficial, they really are two different software.

I totally agree about the color science of some manufacturer, you could easily call me a Fuji fanboy.

As for Affinity Photo our relation didn’t end well. It’s just sitting there, I don’t open it anymore. It’s very similar to a FOSS project that has never grown, it’s like a Frankenstein software.


Andrew
-
Win10 x64 AMD Threadripper 1950x, 64GB, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 2TB, dual GTX 1080ti
Dual Monitor Dell Ultra HD 4k P2715Q 27-Inch

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On 8/30/2018 at 11:57 PM, ColinG said:

And remember AP is not a dedicated raw editor so again why do you expect it to be so? Affinity is more like Photoshop.

Since AP offers a RAW editor, it has to face a comparison. I think this is ok.
I have the feeling that people in general judge fair about this and use AP in combination with a different RAW editor.

 

21 hours ago, AffinityFran said:

It is possible to more or less integrate Affinity Photo with Darktable. There is an extension to Darktable that gives another option in the export module to open the selected image in The Gimp. It's straightforward to install (copy and paste a few files into a folder) and then instead of pointing it at the gimp executable, you point it at the AP executable.  Then in Darktable you select the file you want to edit in AP,  use the new export option which opens up the file in AP, do your edits, save and close AP and the new image is automatically imported back into DT and grouped with the original source image. Works a treat (on my Win 10 machine - no direct experience of any other OS). some info here: https://github.com/darktable-org/lua-scripts If you are at all technically minded you can edit the script to change references in the displayed text from "gimp" to "external editor" although this is not needed for this to work. 

Thanx! Exactly what I was lookin for!

@AffinityFran : since you got a lot of experience in using DT, I would be happy if you could show us, what you can get out of the RAW that I have uploaded with post #5 in this thread?

 

On 8/31/2018 at 12:45 AM, Wafer said:

But they should stop adding advanced, complex, meaningless features and focus ...

YES! A problem we face from most software, whether free or commercial, whether imaging or something different.

 

-Didix

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@Didix I wouldn't say I've got lots of experience of DT, but I have spent time understanding what it can do. I just had a go with your raw file. I wanted to emphasise the warm golden sun, so this is my interpretation of the image. One final stage I would do would be to open it up in AP and use the inpainting tool to get rid of the cable and the lens flare as DT's spot removal tool is not that great.

I normally wouldn't do this much in DT alone, so this has been an interesting exercise.  My preferred way of working is to use DT to get a well exposed, tonally even but very flat looking image with no clipped highlights or shadows, remove any lens distortion, set the white balance and correct any colour shift and then pass that on to AP as a 16bit TIFF for any other manipulation, also making use of the Nik Collection toolset.

[Edit - just replaced image with a slightly tweaked version I prefer]

 

2018-08-16_P1160006_01.jpg

Edited by AffinityFran
Tweaked Image

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On 9/3/2018 at 2:02 PM, AffinityFran said:

@Didix I wouldn't say I've got lots of experience of DT, but I have spent time understanding what it can do. I just had a go with your raw file. I wanted to emphasise the warm golden sun, so this is my interpretation of the image. One final stage I would do would be to open it up in AP and use the inpainting tool to get rid of the cable and the lens flare as DT's spot removal tool is not that great.

I normally wouldn't do this much in DT alone, so this has been an interesting exercise.  My preferred way of working is to use DT to get a well exposed, tonally even but very flat looking image with no clipped highlights or shadows, remove any lens distortion, set the white balance and correct any colour shift and then pass that on to AP as a 16bit TIFF for any other manipulation, also making use of the Nik Collection toolset.

[Edit - just replaced image with a slightly tweaked version I prefer]

Thanx a lot @AffinityFran !

Sorry for answering that late, we were three days in the mountains to gain more visual material :9_innocent:

Your development of this image strongly encourages me for going with the combination DT/AP.
Personally I think, It did even better cope with the dark part of the trees behind the lake than ACR did (well,
the way I parameterized it).

How did you cope with noise and sharpening? Did you do this in DT or AP? How?

-Didix

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6 minutes ago, Didix said:

How did you cope with noise and sharpening? Did you do this in DT or AP? How?

Everything you see in that image was done in DT (although I would not normally do it that way!)

Noise was reduced using a combination of the "Denoise (profiled)" module with very low settings and also the Equalizer module, only for chroma noise.

Sharpening and contrast was achieved with the Equalizer, Local Contrast, Tone Curve, Sharpen and High Pass modules, each one contributing only a small amount.

I have found that layering small amounts of different processes often achieves a better result that trying to do everything in one or two steps. It does take longer, but you are less likely to "break" the picture. 

I have also found that changing the blend mode of a module can make a dramatic or subtle difference to how it works.  For example I used the "average" blend mode for the Sharpen Module, but sometimes also use "darken" as well as normal, and change the opacity of the module to get the effect I want. 

If you haven't already seen Harry Durgin's videos about DT on Youtube, check them out.  They are quite long and very technical in places, but I learned a lot, many things that can be applied to lots of different editing programs, not just DT. https://www.youtube.com/user/harrydurgin/videos

36 minutes ago, Didix said:

Sorry for answering that late, we were three days in the mountains to gain more visual material :9_innocent:

No apology necessary - that sounds like an excellent three days! 

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Also check out Bruce Williams  DT videos. He's clear, straight to the point with zero fluffing. The tuts are for those who're newbies to the app. Recommended!

This is a better link as it links to the playlist in order of creation. Bruce uploads a new tut each Monday afternoon.

Edited by PedroOfOz

https://www.peterdinnan.com/     photography with elements of mood, abstraction, pareidolia, gestalt and the morphics

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On 8/30/2018 at 11:57 PM, ColinG said:

And remember AP is not a dedicated raw editor so again why do you expect it to be so? Affinity is more like Photoshop.

An odd statement – when did you use Photoshop the last time?
Any Photoshop version for the last dozen or so years comes with Adobe Camera Raw – it's the same RAW engine as Lightroom has.
Whenever you throw a Raw file into Photoshop ACR will open.

So, when comparing with Photoshop it's also fair to compare with Photoshops  superb RAW editing capabilities.

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