Linux and photography

For many years photography and linux have not been the best friends. But it seems, as if this has changed.

This week I did something which seemed impossible until now. I kicked Windows.

No more XP/64, no more 7/64. Go figure.

DigiKam 1.4

Finally there are linux-replacements for the have-to-have-apps like Adobe PS and LR. Now I use Digikam (currently 1.4, see screenshot above) to manage/edit all my photos, Gimp (2.7, devel) as additional editing-software and also Krita, which has some potential. And the Kipi-plugins are a real time-saver for re-occuring tasks.

The 8-bit-barrier has been overcome by Digikam and Krita, which both can handle 16-bit-files. And I am sure that it is only a question of time, until Gimp can too. This was a big step ahead. Also the handling of RAW-files has become very easy – as well as implementing color-profiles. Now I can say, that there is hardly a reason – at least for even ambitious amateurs – to shell out lots of money for commercial products. On a sidenote: This is also true for video-editing. My recommendation: KDEnlive…

During the years I had many linux-distributions on my HD, but there is one that I always come back to. So… there must be a reason ;) It is Arch/64.  Hard to beat speed-wise and there are tons of fresh apps for any purpose you can think of.

If you want an overview on what the alternatives for bread-and-butter-apps on windows are, I suggest that you have a look at this site.

ps. When I said, there is no more windows, this was not all true. I still run xp/32 in a virtual machine eventually, as there is one program I could not replace: Nokia PC Suite. I need it to sync my mobile phone. But this is easy and works well.

In case you’re interested…

– Very comprehensive article by Nathan Willis

-- "Linux and photography" als PDF herunterladen oder drucken --

33 Kommentare

  • Loved your article. I still have to use Windows to prepare taxes. But other than that, I have made the move to Linux.
    Oh, your photographs are Outstanding!

    • Virtualbox could be a remedy for you. Speaking of taxes… I still have to do my declaration for 2009. I just hate it! ;)
      But certainly I’ll use XP in a virtual machine for it this year.

    • Yesterday I converted (reformatted) my data-drives from ntfs to ext4. This is going to be the litmus test. Now we’ll see how well Digikam copes with 24.000 photos. But I am confident. ;)

  • I like digikam too. However for editing even on 64 bit it can be a little slow. Maybe it’s my machine, maybe not.. However I’ve found a program that you’ll drool over but it’s not a replacement for digikam.. Digikam is a teriffic organizational app.. For RAW and jpg manipulation check out Darktable. It’s young, very capable, supports tethered shooting with several camera’s and offers a lot.. (I’m a user not a dev.. )

    • I read about it before and it is on my to-test-list. thanks anyway! ;)
      A general hint: I gained a lot of speed using KDE (4.5.1) by turning off Nepomuk and Akonadi (I don’t use KMail, KOrganizer etc.).

  • I find that Bibblepro from Bibblelabs nicely fills the space that Photoshop leaves if one leaves Windows behind. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux. Unlike the poster, I do not find RAW handling on Linux very good. And I am getting kind of tired waiting for GIMP to catch up to 16 bit.

    • What exactly don’t you like?

      Did you try to convert your camera-files from proprieary RAW to DNG?

    • KDE 4.5.1.
      That’s the way I like it – as minimal as possible.

    • thanks, I’m aware of cinepaint/filmgimp, but these are rather old and as far as I can see they are not develöopped anymore.
      We’ll see how Krita develops.

    • Nice ;)

      But actually I did not start to use it, as I always had a linux on my machine during the last almost 20 years, but finally I free myself from the grip of Big Bill.

  • I’m a big fan of Digikam myself. But as a replacement for LR you should also give Darkroom and Rawstudio a look.

    • I am sure, you mean Darktable, right?

      I just built the git-version and played with it for a while and like it ;) But I’ll have a closer look soon. Rawstudio is on my test-list as well. I used it some years ago, but wasn’t happy with it. Guess it has made some progress in the meantime…

  • I find hugin an indispensable part of my digital darkroom. For correcting vignetting, correcting lens distortion, combining panoramas and doing HDR work, it is outstanding.

      • I think it’s fairly safe to state that for image quality, Hugin is the best of the panoramic tools, even when compared to commercial tools on other platforms. It may not be quite as easy to use as Autopano Pro or as fast, but even there it is improving.

        And because it can examine your lenses and save the calibrations away for future use, you can calibrate your lenses using a panoramic picture and then apply the same corrections to all your photos, allowing you to remove the distortions and vignetting (and even purple fringing). from your collection.

  • thanks for such helpful article. Presently using LR3 and PS4. I enjoy the linux platform and agree the linux is getting close for serious photo work,


  • gald to find this site .. me running KDE 4.5.2 with digikam 1.4.0
    i am loving it… I have Fujifilm Finepix HS10 super zoom camera… where most tool fail to open the raf (RAW) files even on windows .. it works like a charm on linux :) Great blog … for some reason cannot install darktable .. errors with repo …. Eagerly waiting for digikam 1.5.0 to hit the repos :D

    • Hi

      great that you can process your files on linux so much easier. ;)
      But just in case: Adobe supports RAF since ACR 6.2, at least that’s what they say.

  • I’m sorry, but Linux is nowhere near Lightroom 3 or some other Windows/Mac based programs. Yes, you can browse your images with Linux and even browse, but getting professional result photography. In your dreams.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Linux. I even write this with my Linux computer. But for photography – no way!

    • …you can browse your images with Linux and even browse…

      I think you meant browse and edit, right?

      Anyway, I’d like to contradict and say, that Digikam with some Kipi-Plugins has come very close to Lightroom. I would not say it drew level with it, but things have changed a lot during the last years. For someone who does not have the money to get the Adobe Products the various linux-tools are an alternative. There are shortcomings of course and I wrote about that too.

      Personally I went back to editing my stuff on 7/64 in the meantime because a) my workflow is much smoother and faster with my usual tools and b) I’ve paid quite a lot of money for apps and plugins both for LR and PS and I don’t like lost investments.

      I do not agree that you cannot get professional results with linux-tools (not linux, that’s an OS). You sure can, but it may take some more time and more steps and some workarounds. If you don’t mind that and have the time, you’ll be fine.

      BTW: No offense, mate, but in your gallery I see nothing that could not be done easily with Digikam, Gimp, Darktable, Imagemagick and alike…

  • So we are on the same boat. When you need professional work flow then Linux’s _software_ isn’t good enough. That said, Linux (as a system) is not good enough for professional photography.

    In my pictures there is a lot of features that cannot be done in one Linux program. Yes, you can do gradients and even add grain with different programs, but when wanting a straight forward work flow, you need one good program that does them all.

  • Hi, I use Ubuntu in gnome desktop, I’ve been trying bibble 5 till I ran into digikam, but I’ve been looking around in forums trying to find out if there is no drawback in installing it in my gnome platform since it is intended for kde primarily. I want to know if it is worth the try and if it has more friendly and easy to use features than bibble, I’m no professional photographer, only into the amateur thing, but looking for a good app in ubuntu for managing and editing my pictures (shotwell and f-spot out of the question). So can you give me your comments about this two? and if I use digikam on my gnome can I still have all the features it has on kde? thanks

    • Hi,

      the short answer is: yes.

      The “problem” with installing KDE-apps in Gnome and vice versa is: when you do so, your system will pull some KDE-libraries as well, as the apps needs them to work. this is not problematic, but some people just don’t want that to happen. it is more about ideology IMHO. But basically you can install any KDE-app in Gnome and any Gnome-app in KDE.

        • Hi

          sorry, I do not know Bibble well. I used it some years ago, but only for short time. I have never tested it thoroughly. As fas as I know it is not free either whereas Digikam is.

          But if you are looking for an application that does not rely on KDE you should definitely have a look at Darktable.

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