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digiKam-GIMP overview


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 PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 8:40 pm   
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This post was designed to answer questions about digital photo-editing raised on the Desktop Linux Review Forum. Before I could post it that forum shut down. My intent is to offer some brief guidance to people trying to select a photo-editor such as GIMP or digiKam. I hope this is helpful and I invite more knowledgeable people to correct any errors!

Photo-editing is a complex topic. A cursory search of Amazon will turn up quite a few listings for GIMP. There are fewer for digiKam. The documentation on both websites is very good. Partisans of GIMP and digiKam can be rather passionate about their preferred applications. The fact is that both systems are very good and they meet the needs of many photographers. They are also quite different.

GIMP was written for a Gnome environment and so it assumes the GTK toolkit as it is found on Gnome-based distributions. So people running Gnome, Mate or Xfce, for example, may find it loaded by default. GIMP seems to have been intended as the open-source answer to Photo Shop. As such it is both powerful and arcane.

GIMP is an extremely powerful tool for the manipulation of digital images. The only thing I know that can be considered more powerful is Photo Shop. GIMP costs a bit less.

GIMP does not manage a collection of images on an HD. For that purpose a person needs something like Shotwell, which also can display RAW thumbnails.

Note that GIMP does not import RAW files directly. There are a variety of ways to work with RAW. The best, which also is advised on the GIMP web-site, is to use the RAW converter on the disk included with your digital camera. Ufraw also can do this and it works as a GIMP plug-in as well. (RAW files are another of those topics beyond this post. Pardon me if I lost you a bit.)

GIMP can save images in a wide variety of file formats, from the ubiquitous jpg to tif and png, among others. So too can digiKam.

digiKam is QTE-based and its lengthy list of dependencies assumes a KDE environment. GIMP is friendlier in this regard, so pulling GIMP over into a KDE environment brings along a much smaller set of dependencies than people encounter when they pull Digikam into their Gnome system, for example. My advice is that digiKam works best with a KDE desktop. Suse/KDE provides a current digiKam, so I suggest it for that reason. I believe fedora does as well, though I have not used it.

digiKam reminds me of something like Photo Elements, which runs under Windows. It is both an image editor/manipulator and an image collection manager (like Shotwell). Unlike GIMP the newer versions of digiKam can access and work directly with RAW images, which also is convenient.

So which of these is better? There are no losers in this competition, both GIMP and digiKam offer a rich set of tools. digiKam strikes me as a more integrated system but it is less powerful in some respects than GIMP. GIMP is the big-dog image manipulator in Linux, but it is less integrated than digiKam. Somewhere in GIMP, or available as a plug-in, is the needed tool.

Both GIMP and digiKam can be used to print photographic images effectively, but photographers should be aware that computer monitors and printers build their color palettes differently. The upshot is that what you see on your monitor may or may not match what comes out of your printer. Both GIMP and digiKam can deal with this problem. Indeed any digital editor must deal with it. Photographers who work closely with commercial printing houses use Photo Shop because commercial printers use it and they have optimized their high-end printers to print what their monitors show. What photographers working under Linux need to know is that they also can solve the problem. Either GIMP or Digikam can be used to set a printing profile for your printer at home.

So what do I use? I use digiKam most frequently because it meets my needs in ways I find convenient. It does not take a lifetime to learn. At my age that is a good thing. I certainly would suggest that anyone interested in digital darkroom work (darkroom?? permit me the term) audition both GIMP and digiKam. Both websites are very good, so time spent there is helpful. Enjoy!

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 PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 3:42 pm   
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Thanks for the overview and introduction to the world of Digital image editing and photography, and your thoughts on two of the most prominent freely available solutions to digital photo editing.

I've never done any digital photo editing, and I've really not been much of a camera buff over the years, even though I took a photography course as an after school member of the photography club during my middle school years. Band and music dominated much of my academic life, and the study of math and the sciences grabbed most of the rest of it, and that served me well for much of my life. Up until the turn of the decade, life was good. From 1979 until 2001, I had a good paying, interesting job to go to every day.

I've been up and down since then, currently doing well, but life has changed. The fast pace turns hectic. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to stop. For me though, the past 15 years or so have been very up and down - a couple of really good years, then a couple of lean years. That eroded my retirement savings and so instead of stockpiling investments to make those final plans, I'm instead working hard to provide even a year or two of cushion, if that's even possible. As long as SSI remains intact, I'll certainly exist; I've paid max amounts into that thing for many years. But a solid retirement plan it isn't, so I keep working.

Free software is becoming more and more common in the workplace. Until about ten years ago, I'd never see it. Then about a decade ago I started to see Red Hat Enterprise Linux appear in financial system software, and I've now seen it in financial systems, data analytics, and automotive applications, as well as the more obvious social networking systems and open collaboration projects.

At least that is something I can speak to and use comfortably in any context.

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 PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 11:59 pm   
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julian516 , good to know that digikam has similar purposes, I'll probably head there next time I think I need to edit a photo.

Photo editing hasn't become much of an issue for me, not since my digital cameras all seem to provide red-eye features. That was about the only time I used Gimp, to reduce red-eye.

Today, I see HDR is a popular photo manipulation technique, but I'll probably never modify photos for that end.

OTOH, I know that when I was taking an online course for graphics design (just the rudiments), I was able to do everything in Gimp where the course said I needed Photoshop. Again, I only learned the rudimentary stuff, but Gimp had similar powers to Photoshop.

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 PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 6:32 pm   
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Another tool to work on raw images is Darktable. I bought the course linked below and found it very useful for my non-professional interest. Would recommend it to the individuals interested.
http://www.rileybrandt.com/lessons/


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 PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:34 pm   
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Thank you hakova. When I first heard about DarkTable I was intrigued. But the version I reviewed lacked any help files at all and the interface impressed me as arcane. That is too bad. It looks as though it runs natively with the GTK library. (try running digikam on something like Mint and observe the dependencies it proposes to load. Egad. What you have is a KDE core.) It might do a great deal of what most people want to do. So I will spend some time with the tutorials you suggest. We'll see.

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 PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:51 pm   
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I actually know a few people who use darktable quite a lot. They're all very ipressed with it's capabilities, especially given it's price vs. lightroom.

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