I just started playing around with raw images. When opening the raw image in Raw Therapee, it looks completely different than the JPEG produced by the camera:

Raw vs. JPEG

(left is raw, right is JPEG)

I figured if I was able to reproduce the camera-internal postprocessing, I would get a better understanding of what the camera does and what information is lost in the process. The problem is, I can't even get close to the JPEG!

So here's my question:

Is there any way to figure out what settings (roughly) in e.g. Raw Therapee correspond to the automatic postprocessing done by the camera? Or am I stuck with trial and error until I get a better feeling for the individual steps?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've always wandered if there was a Lightroom preset that reproduce the same processing as the Canon Standard, Landscape, Faithful, etc. picture styles. Having that will partially render useless the RAW&JPG mode (partially, of course). \$\endgroup\$
    – Andres
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to see this question which I asked which is similar: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/10715/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 18:44
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Which is which? I would assume the first is the raw image, but maybe not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 23:44
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried the software that came with your camera? If anything gets close, that should be it. Otherwise, I do not think it is possible because the processing controls and algorithms may be entirely different as the ones in your software, so it is possible that NO combination of settings will give you comparable results. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoanneC: You guessed right (and I added that info to the question, thanks) \$\endgroup\$
    – blubb
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 13:13

4 Answers 4


Well, I'm not entirely sure why you'd want to do that if that's the outcome! Itai's point is valid, but there are a few immediate things that are happening there:

  1. Noise reduction, quite heavy from the result.

  2. It's less bright and appears less contrasty.

  3. It's been sharpened, but the noise reduction on that has definitely lost detail to sharpen.

I think, just as matter of practice, I would probably worry less about getting it like the camera and more about getting it looking good. Which is not to say that the camera can't do that, but I find it's never quite what I would have chosen.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Of course I do want to get good images instead of reproduce the camera's processing, but with the overwhelming number of options, I thought it might be a good idea to try to reproduce the camera and start from there with minor variations. \$\endgroup\$
    – blubb
    Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 19:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SimonStelling - I wouldn't bother, especially if the camera outcome is, well, not that good. I realize that you had an extremely noisy sample there, but the result out of the camera looked like someone dumped mud on it. Just let your eyes guide you, you'll do fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 20:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ RawTherapee starts with that kind of "noise" level, as far as what little I've used it. I'd guess it is a result of poor, or outright wrong, demosaicing used on the RAW data. It looks like noise, but I don't think it's only that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 7:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EsaPaulasto - Are you talking about Raw Therapee as it is now or as it was 2 and half years ago? This question and answer is pretty ancient in the history of the site... \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ JoanneC: Oh, never noticed the date. I have installed the most recent "stable" version of RT for Win-32bit OS. That is a year old version, if I remember right. Later than that, they only have development versions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 15:42

It's not Rawtherapee, but open source competitor Darktable has a new feature in version 1.4 where the base curve used by a given camera can be automatically reverse-engineered from a RAW + JPEG pair from your camera. See "about basecurves" on the Darktable web site for details — basically, you create a special reference image and use the new basecurve tool to process it.

You'll still need to play with other settings like sharpening, saturation, and so on, but having the base curve derived in this way will get you closer than any other technique I know (other than using the camera-maker supplied raw conversion software, which usually has exactly this built-in).

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    \$\begingroup\$ That post refers to out-dated scripts. Newer version of script is documented here \$\endgroup\$
    – rosencreuz
    Commented May 25, 2014 at 20:14

Use your camera maker's own RAW converter software. It comes on cd with your camera, or you can download it from the camera maker's support pages.

It is your best chance to get near the in-camera JPEG outlooks. This is because the camera maker knows what algorithms the camera uses, and similar or even the exact same algorithms are used in their own RAW processing software. Those 3rd party softwares, like RawTherapee, LightRoom, Picasa, are using just their best guestimates to emulate these algorithms.

What more, camera maker's own programs tend to be somewhat more simple to use while still offering good RAW editing possibilities. So you can get some experience in RAW editing (processing) in a slightly reduced complexity environment, and later with better understanding and experience it will be easier to start using those 3rd party RAW-tools that offer more options and features.


I do not know in RawTherapee, but you can go a long way toward your camera default in DarkTable by creating a profile with a base curve activated (that will take by defect your camera):

dark table base curve

and a denoise (profiled) which will apply a noise reduction based on your camera, ISO etc. :

enter image description here

Probably if you add a bit of sharpening and maybe lens correction you will have an image that looks much more like the camera default.

  • \$\begingroup\$ where do you get those presets for different cameras? I ass people have them in screenshots but I do not have it in default darkroom install. \$\endgroup\$
    – M.Rez
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 23:20

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