RAW Tools

13 Best Free and Open Source RAW Processing Tools

When a digital camera captures an image, image sensors in the camera record the light from millions of sensing area. The camera’s digital circuitry converts the generated analog voltage signal into a digital representation. Many cameras allow these images to be stored in a raw image file. They are similar to digital negatives, as they have the same role as negatives in film photography.

RAW files are not directly usable, but have all the necessary information to create an image. RAW files usually offer higher color depth, higher dynamic range, and preserve most of the information of the image compared with the final image format. The downside of RAW files is that they take up far more storage space. Dynamic range in photography describes the ratio between the maximum and minimum measurable light intensities (white and black, respectively).

As implied by the name, RAW files have not been processed. By taking pictures in raw format the photographer is not committing to the conversion software that is built into the firmware of the camera. Instead, the individual can store the raw files, and make use of computer software to generate better JPEG files, and also benefit from future improvements in image software.

There is a good range of open source Linux software that processes RAW files. Here’s our verdict. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who has a passion for digital photography.

Ratings chart

Let’s explore the 13 RAW processing tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.

RAW Processing Tools
DarktableVirtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers
digiKamProfessional photo management
RawTherapeeRAW image processing application
LightZoneProfessional-level digital darkroom software
ARTFork of RawTherapee
anselFork of Darktable
FilmulatorRAW photo editing application with library management
PhotivoPhoto processor for RAW and Bitmap images
nUFRawImport and edit RAW images from digital cameras
UFRawStandalone tool to import RAW data from high-end digital cameras
RawstudioRAW image converter
vkdtWorkflow toolbox for raw stills and video
GTKRawGalleryWorkflow oriented photo retouching software

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Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

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