With the Darktable 3.x serie and continued with the Darktable 4.x serie, the developers have introduced a whole bunch of new concepts, including:
- scene referred processing
- display referred processing
- LAB space vs Linear RGB processing
All these things have implications about which module to use or not.
Darktable 3.x and 4.x are compatible with Darktable 2.x. All the Darktable 2.x modules are still there. This doesn’t mean that you should be using them. The older modules are only there for compatibility purposes. If you open an image already processed in Darktable 2.x, you can still open it in Darktable 3.x or 4.x and get the same output again.
If you are processing new images in Darktable 3.x or 4.x, you should use the new modules:
- They will do a better job
- The new modules will continue to be improved in future versions
- The old modules will not be improved in future versions
- The Darktable development team has said:
A number of modules are not recommended due to fundamental errors in design (based on my personal opinion, which is based on my practical and theoretical experience in image retouching), and in the spirit of streamlining the workflow with a minimum number of steps. There is nothing stopping you from continuing to use them.
Here’s a list of the Darktable 2.x modules that you shouldn’t use for processing new images.
|Darktable 2.x module||Darktable 3.x/4.x preferred module|
|base curve||color balance|
|bloom||exposure module with masks|
|color correction||color balance|
|fill light||exposure module with masks|
|fill light||tone equalizer|
|global tone mapping||filmic rgb|
|high-pass filter||contrast equalizer (for fine sharpness)|
|high-pass filter||local contrast (for the general sharpness)|
|local tone mapping||tone equalizer|
|low-pass filter||contrast equalizer (for blur)|
|low-pass filter||tone equalizer (for local dynamic range compression)|
|monochrome||channel mixer (for a silver approach)|
|monochrome||color balance (for a perceptual approach)|
|monochrome||input or output saturation to 0%|
|rgb curve||color balance|
|rgb levels||color balance|
|shadows and highlights||tone equalizer|
|sharpen||local contrast (for general sharpness)|
|zone system||exposure module with masks|
|zone system||tone equalizer|
Notice that there are many ways of doing things depending on what you want.
For example, the channel mixer, the color balance and the input saturation will give a different monochrome look.
But both, the exposure module with masks and the tone equalizer will give very similar fill light results.