A surprising lack on Linux: browsers for camera RAW photos

January 30, 2009

Linux has a reasonably good set of open source programs for processing and editing photographs shot in the various camera RAW formats (ufraw is the one I have the most exposure to). But, to my surprise, it seems to be mostly lacking image viewers that I could use to browse through my pictures to pick out the ones that are actually worth processing. Or at least image viewers that meet my criteria, which include 'must not want to own the world'.

(This criteria disqualifies DigiKam and F-Spot, among others, although apparently at least F-Spot may have a mode that avoids that issue.)

Of the programs I've looked at so far:

  • ImageMagick can display RAWs, but only by running them through ufraw, which is both overkill and very slow.

    (It is overkill because basically all RAW formats already include a full-sized JPEG version of the picture, as well as a thumbnail. So a quick browser doesn't really need to understand and process all the actual RAW formats, it just needs to extract the JPEG version, for which there are well-developed libraries.)

  • ufraw has no browsing at all.
  • Raw Therapee and Rawstudio can both browse but they're more processing and editing applications.

    (Also, Raw Therapee isn't open source, just free, and Rawstudio currently doesn't like my camera's RAWs.)

  • gthumb sort of mostly works but with various issues, as does geeqie (with more issues).

There are probably other RAW-capable image browsers and viewers that are packaged for Fedora, but this is where I make a grumpy observation that Fedora doesn't seem to have a web page that breaks down Fedora RPMs by category.

(Also, there's a mid-2008 discussion of this general subject here.)

Written on 30 January 2009.
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Last modified: Fri Jan 30 00:25:28 2009
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