New (free) Raw Editor

Filmulator is an open-source RAW photo editor based on the process of developing film, and while far more limited than software like Lightroom or Capture One (it lacks tags, for example) its tone mapping algorithm is supposedly designed to be faster and easier to get a good result that mirrors the depth of color film. 

Filmulator is not the typical “film effect filter” that merely copies the outward characteristics of film. Instead of adding the flaws from film into a digital photo, Filmulator gets to the root of what makes film so appealing: the development process.

In film development, the highlights consume more developer than dark regions. This depletes nearby chemicals, limiting the overall brightness of large bright areas, as you see in the above example. At the same time, though, small details remain contrasty because small bright areas take developer away from nearby dark areas. Because of the continuous diffusion of the liquid chemicals during the development process, the transition between these two effects is almost imperceptible. This avoids the classic “HDR” look, with no harsh edges or haloing.

Like Adobe or Capture One, it has a histogram and overall image corrections with an easy to use workflow and a few interesting “filters” that remind me of Topaz lab edits; like it’s drama filter. It also has features that tie into the idea that it emulates film; it compresses the bright areas to help avoid clipping, and it enhances dark regions to subtly play up contrast. Like true color film, it enhances color without blowing out tonal range, much like “detail” in camera raw. You get really lush color images with very fine tonal contrast.

Of course, it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of Lightroom or Photoshop’s Camera Raw, but it has one feature I think is worth noting; you can see what the image looks like whilst editing even when not zoomed in to 100%. This is a really annoying flaw of Adobe that students have a hard time understanding; in a raw file, to truly see what’s going on and not just a general preview, you must zoom in to see true color and noise.

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