Filmulator is a straightforward open-source raw editor inspired by film development

Filmulator is a Raw photo editing and library management application designed to offer users a simpler, streamlined experience at the expense of flexibility and functionality. It’s not designed to do everything that an app like Lightroom can do but rather offer an open-source alternative based on developing film.

The creator, CarVac, recently answered some questions in a Reddit thread. When asked what separates Filmulator from Lightroom, CarVac stated that while Filmulator similarly handles import, Filmulator is ‘very limited to make editing streamlined and quick’ and Filmulator offers only basic asset management for now. Like Lightroom and numerous other Raw editors, Filmulator delivers a non-destructive editing process. When answering another user, CarVac states that Filmulator works with native Raw files from all major manufacturers as well as basic DNG files.

When compared to other open-source Raw editing applications, like RawTherapee and darktable, CarVac states, ‘[Filmulator] does more file management than RawTherapee or darktable, since [Filmulator] will import from a card into a directory structure. [Filmulator] doesn’t yet have tagging though, unlike darktable, but that’s soon.’ In terms of functionality and usability compared to RawTherapee and darktable, Filmulator prioritizes ease of use and streamlined operation, which means that the software doesn’t allow for various image editing tasks, like applying individual color curves or performing healing functions. The creator also doesn’t intend to add features such as layers or masking, as these features are outside of the vision for making a simple Raw editor.

As of this past weekend, Filmulator is up to version 0.11.0. The latest update added numerous performance updates to functionality and performance. As the software gets updated further, its core goal will remain the same, to simulate the development of film in a Raw processor and deliver a simple user experience.

‘Here’s an example of Filmulator recovering highlights and lightening the shadows without losing contrast.’ Filmulator is on the right. Caption and image credit: Filmulator

‘Filmulator accepts Raw files from cameras and simulates the development of film as if exposed to the same light as the camera’s sensor. This brings about several benefits,’ per Filmulator. Large bright regions in your images become darker and smaller bright regions make surrounding areas darker, enhancing local contrast. The tone curve in Filmulator enhances saturation in bright regions and in regions that are already saturated, the brightness is reduced.

Part of Filmulator’s goal is to enhance the perceived sharpness of an image. This is like the film processing technique, stand development. A primary difference between Filmulator and stand development is that the former works in color, whereas stand development, is for black and white analog photography. If you’re interested, you can learn more about performing stand development of film by clicking here.

Filmulator is on the right. Image credit: Filmulator

To illustrate what Filmulator can do, multiple comparisons are available on the Filmulator website. You can also see a couple of comparisons in this article. If you’d like to download Filmulator and try it for yourself, downloads are available here. Filmulator is currently available for Linux and Windows, although CarVac is searching for help to create a macOS version.

Filmulator is a Raw photo editing and library management application designed to offer users a simpler, streamlined experience at the expense of flexibility and functionality. It’s not designed to do everything that an app like Lightroom can do but rather offer an open-source alternative based on developing film.
The creator, CarVac, recently answered some questions in a Reddit thread. When asked what separates Filmulator from Lightroom, CarVac stated that while Filmulator similarly handles import, Filmulator is ‘very limited to make editing streamlined and quick’ and Filmulator offers only basic asset management for now. Like Lightroom and numerous other Raw editors, Filmulator delivers a non-destructive editing process. When answering another user, CarVac states that Filmulator works with native Raw files from all major manufacturers as well as basic DNG files.

When compared to other open-source Raw editing applications, like RawTherapee and darktable, CarVac states, ‘[Filmulator] does more file management than RawTherapee or darktable, since [Filmulator] will import from a card into a directory structure. [Filmulator] doesn’t yet have tagging though, unlike darktable, but that’s soon.’ In terms of functionality and usability compared to RawTherapee and darktable, Filmulator prioritizes ease of use and streamlined operation, which means that the software doesn’t allow for various image editing tasks, like applying individual color curves or performing healing functions. The creator also doesn’t intend to add features such as layers or masking, as these features are outside of the vision for making a simple Raw editor.
As of this past weekend, Filmulator is up to version 0.11.0. The latest update added numerous performance updates to functionality and performance. As the software gets updated further, its core goal will remain the same, to simulate the development of film in a Raw processor and deliver a simple user experience.

‘Here’s an example of Filmulator recovering highlights and lightening the shadows without losing contrast.’ Filmulator is on the right. Caption and image credit: Filmulator

‘Filmulator accepts Raw files from cameras and simulates the development of film as if exposed to the same light as the camera’s sensor. This brings about several benefits,’ per Filmulator. Large bright regions in your images become darker and smaller bright regions make surrounding areas darker, enhancing local contrast. The tone curve in Filmulator enhances saturation in bright regions and in regions that are already saturated, the brightness is reduced.
Part of Filmulator’s goal is to enhance the perceived sharpness of an image. This is like the film processing technique, stand development. A primary difference between Filmulator and stand development is that the former works in color, whereas stand development, is for black and white analog photography. If you’re interested, you can learn more about performing stand development of film by clicking here.

Filmulator is on the right. Image credit: Filmulator

To illustrate what Filmulator can do, multiple comparisons are available on the Filmulator website. You can also see a couple of comparisons in this article. If you’d like to download Filmulator and try it for yourself, downloads are available here. Filmulator is currently available for Linux and Windows, although CarVac is searching for help to create a macOS version.Read MoreArticles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

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