Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Free Photo Editing Software - RawTherapee

Free Photo Editing Software

I'm one of those people who don't accept that an expensive piece of software has to be better than something cheaper or even free. Naturally, when I started taking photography seriously I needed to edit my RAW images. I started using the software that came with the camera, it was good but I found I needed a lot more control than this software could give me.

My son is a Linux fan and is really into open source/Libre software, he suggested I have a look at program called RawTherapee.

Introducing RawTherapee 

Screenshot of RawTherapee
RawTherapee Version 4.1.1

RawTherapee is a powerful, open source, raw converter for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux! The RawTherapee project was initiated by Gábor Horváth in 2004. In January 2010 Gábor decided to open his source code under the GNU General Public License, thanks to which talented developers from around the world joined the project. This has brought about an exceptional piece of software that has become the starting point of all my photo editing projects. 

Getting to know RawTherapee

Screenshot of Sharpening and Noise Reduction paneBecause RawTherapee is so comprehensive it can take a bit of getting to know but it's well worth the effort.  RawTherapee version 4.1 has just been released and there is an excellent RawPedia Wiki - The encyclopedia of RawTherapee, raw shooting and everything raw. The version 4.0 manual is also very good but is now a bit outdated. If you're new to photo editing don't be intimidated by RawTherapee it's easy to use and a lot of fun to play around with.

Some Basic Features 

RawTherapee has very good Sharpening and Noise Reduction features. I use these a lot, I've found that by applying Sharpening and then Noise Reduction I can clean up a noisy photo without losing any detail. In fact, I sometimes think I've been able to increased the detail in some shots using this method.
To use sharpening and noise reduction in RT (RwaTherapee)  the shot needs to be zoomed to a ratio of 1:1 or 100% (there is a button to do this). The screenshot below has been zoomed to 1:1. I took this photo in extremely poor light, my shutter speed was way too fast and iso3200. Not the way to get a good photo.

I was able to get rid of most of the noise and retain the detail using RawTherapee. 

The photo below is the full fame of the adjusted photo and as you can see I was able to clean up the noise to an acceptable level.

The final photo with sharpening and noise reduction

I don't have the best gear and occasionally on high contrast shots I get color aberrations like on the shot below. The red fringe along the edge of the cloud can be corrected, quickly and easily using the defringe feature in RawTherapee.

Defringe before and after

The Lens/Geometry section of RawTherapee is also incredibly useful. I get all sorts of lens distortions and vignetting from the cheaper lenses I use and these can be corrected in this section of RawTherapee. 

Screenshot of the lens correction profiles
Adobe lens correction profiles can be utilized by installing Adobe DNG converter then finding the folder containing the lens profiles for your camera. I use an older Mac, the screenshot shows the path to where the Canon folder is on my machine. There will be a similar path on Windows and Page 76 of the RawTherapee manual explains how to do this on Linux.

There is only one profile for my camera so I look for the lens I've used rather than the camera. If the result isn't exactly right I make the adjustments manually.

There are so many other great features in RawTherapee including;
  • Tone Mapping
  • Vignette and Graduated Filters
  • Microcontrast and Contrast by Detail Levels
  • White Balance, Vibrance and Color Managment
  • Line Noise Filter, Green Equilibrium and Hot/Dead Pixel Filter
  • and Much More
Check out the full details links below.

Where to get RT?

RawTherapee is free and open source software, which means there is no charge to use it, as long as you observe the copyleft GPLv3 license. You can download the source code, you can even modify it, if you feel the need

RawTherapee is cross-platform : Linux, Mac, or Windows, be it 32-bit or 64-bit and it is available in 25 languages!

So whats stopping you, download RawTherapee and get started-


For a list of features for RawTherapee - http://rawtherapee.com/blog/features
or for a more complete list of features -  

Finishing Software

I still use Intensify Pro to finish off my photos I haven't found better software for adding structure and detail to images.  I also use SnapHeal Pro for erasing object from images. Both Intensify Pro and SnapHeal can be purchased individually or together in the Creative Kit Plus by MacPhun. 
I am an affiliate of MacPhun which means if you purchase any or their products (I recommend you do) I get a small payment. 

Happy Shooting