8 June 2007

Camera RAW editors for Linux

Consider this: You have a camera that can shoot in RAW format and you are a Linux user. How do you manage/edit your RAW images on your Linux machine? Below is a quick rundown of RAW editors for Linux(I have tried only a few of them yet) which I have found over the last few days (add comment if I missed any).

Rawstudio is an open source software based on the GTK+ interface and reads all RAW format images supported by dcraw. It can export you RAW images to TIF, PNG and JPEG formats. It also supports colour management using Little CMS. Currently available version is 0.5.1 along with nightly subversion checkouts. From the releases the project looks around year old.

blueMarine is also an open source project available under an Apache License. Requires Java 5 JDK. It supports Nikon .NEF, Canon .CRW and .CR2, Adobe .DNG, Pentax .PEF, Minolta .MRW, Olympus .ORF, Sony .SRF and support for other RAW camera formats is in the plans. The latest release is 0.9.EA9.1768 and they also warn that blueMarine is in beta status. It is not intended yet for production. Please check out the project status before proceeding. Supports OpenRaw.

Qtpfsgui is basically an HDR imaging workflow GUI software. It also supports various camera RAW formats, JPEG, PNG, TIFF and PPM formats. Qtpfsgui is an open source project made available under the GPL v2 license. Uses dcraw(?).

Raw Therapee is a freeware but is uses dcraw(OSS) in the background to read camera RAW formats. Being based on dcraw it supports all formats supported by dcraw. Although loading RAW images isn't too intuitive the first time, practice to use the software brings out its features. The best thing I like about it is that changes to the raw images are listed on the left sidebar. You can always "go" to an earlier stage of the RAW image by double clicking on one of the changes in the sidebar change list.

Bibble, the much acclaimed camera RAW editor runs on Linux too. It isn't free but you can download a demo version which is supposed to work for 30 days. Full versions costs $129 (Pro) and $69 (Lite). It supports most major camera RAW formats and features fast RAW conversion, noise removal by Noise Ninja technology, multithreaded processing support, work queues, and a whole gamut of other features. Supports OpenRAW.

Just like blueMarine, Lightzone is Java based but isn't open source. Version 2.4 is available for free (latest release is v3.0) although the company does not offer any support for Linux whatsoever. I don't know if it is the Java or my machine (PIV 2.0GHz) that Lightzone had a bit sluggish response to my actions. Loading the application takes its time and so does loading a RAW image (.crw - Canon RAW). Feature wise it offers all the basic ones available in a decent RAW editor application. It also supports various colour profiles but I wasn't able to point it to my hidden color profile folder from the preferences. Its file picker doesn't seem to have a way to see hidden folders. Seems to use dcraw to read various camera RAW formats.

There are other applications which do support reading camera RAW but are either not full featured or do not focus on the single goal - camera RAW editing.

digikam, the main KDE photo library software, supports camera RAW and also supports colour profiles using Little CMS. It is able to give fast previews of RAW images (uses dcraw) but its RAW image editor is quite basic in that one has to click on the preview button to see what the effect of the changes just made was!

f-spot also supports camera RAW images and its versioning feature makes it easy to make edits without changing the original (ala a real RAW editor application).

Google's Picasa is also known to support camera RAW formats. However, as it uses Wine and Mozilla technologies to run on Linux, I wasn't even bothered to give it a try.

krita, gimp support camera RAW formats (gimp needs dcraw plugin) but they are both more photo editing applications than RAW editors. I would place krita and gimp inbetween full featured RAW editors like RAWstudio, RawTherapee, blueMarine, Bibble, etc. and photo management applications like digikam and f-spot.

I have tried RawTherapee, Bibble Pro and Lightzone2.4. Bibble looks good and I don't know if Lightzone is offering version 3.0 for Linux users. RAWstudio seems to be developing into a decent application too. dcraw looks like the library of choice with RawTherapee, Lightzone, and RAWstudio using it for camera RAW support.


Lure said...

What about ufraw?

KDS said...

Yes, I missed ufraw earlier. Someone else pointed me towards it a few days ago too. Need to get my hand on the latest release and see how it fares.

Vladimir Shestakov said...

Thanks for good article!

Esther said...

I want to use Raw Studio, but which one do I download? I have Linux Cinnamon and want to make sure I get the right on for my OS. Thanks! :)