Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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Does anyone have any recommendations for free software that provides the key features of Lightroom in one package? The main things I am looking for are:

  • RAW photo editing
  • Library management
  • Multiple catalogs
  • Rich keyword/tag support


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possible duplicate of Is there a more affordable program than Lightroom? – Imre Nov 8 '11 at 11:19
Free as in no-cost, or free as in open source? – mattdm Nov 8 '11 at 12:46
free as in no cost, open-source is welcome too :) – David Nov 8 '11 at 13:40
In that case, in addition to the question Imre linked, take a look at What tools are available for RAW image processing in Linux?; some of the suggestions are cross-platform. – mattdm Nov 8 '11 at 14:40
@Gapton: The second is easy; Picasa, for example, is zero cost but closed source. I don't think there is any for-money open source software in this particular domain, but it's common in general. (For example, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.) – mattdm Nov 8 '11 at 15:12

RawTherapee is a decent open source alternative to Lightroom.

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Until it crashes that is. The program is very unstable, both on Windows and on Linux. – drozzy Apr 20 '12 at 3:15
I've never had a problem with it crashing. Stability problems can be caused by a wide range of underlying system issues. In any case, it's free, so it's worth checking out. – ElendilTheTall Apr 20 '12 at 8:57
That's strange. I've never had it crash on me but to be very fair it's not a program I use since I don't really understand the flow of RawTherapee. I use Lightroom mostly. – Peng Tuck Kwok Nov 9 '12 at 7:33

You could try Darktable. It's available for Linux (and OS X) and resembles Lightroom.

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There are two approaches here:

  1. To use all-in-one applications like Lightroom or Aperture that provide editing and cataloging capabilities within the same interface
  2. Use different applications for different purposes - RAW editor/Photoshop to editing and an image management software for cataloging.

I suggest you to try both ways before coming into a final decision.

We, at Daminion Software, adhere the second approach - and I suggest you to check out our Daminion.

It's free, supports multi-user environment, can automatically sync your tags with the Camera RAW metadata (NEF, CR2, MWG, etc...), support for hierarchical keywords and categories.

I suggest you take a look at Raw Therapee as a decent free RAW editor.

BTW why you did not mention your platform (PC, Mac, Linux) and your preferable Camera RAW format. It's not free but many Nikon photographers use CaptureNX to edit RAW files.

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Please make a more obvious statement that you are associated with "Daminion Software" just to let people know that you are affiliated – damned truths Nov 9 '12 at 5:22

i think that picasa (from google) can do this, but it's not as powerful.

It is free as in beer, though.

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Picasa is a jpeg editor, not a raw editor. – whuber Nov 8 '11 at 19:28
5… :) it is more limited than lightroom, but it edits raw files. – JoséNunoFerreira Nov 9 '11 at 1:28
Thanks...I should have checked about the latest version before commenting. (+1) – whuber Nov 9 '11 at 2:29
@whuber You're right about Picasa being a JPEG editor: it converts RAW files automatically, and gives no control over the RAW conversion process. What you edit in the program is then the converted JPEG. This causes problems like this one. – Szabolcs Jun 18 '12 at 12:43

Have a look at XnView. It does what you want and, also, it has the advantage that it does need to Import the files in a catalog.

Same stands for FastStone Viewer which has a very nice interface, however its catalog engine isn't so featured.


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Light Zone is free and much like Lightroom. Give it a try. It's free

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