Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The preference menu in Shotwell allows the user to specify both an 'External photo editor' and an 'External RAW editor', but I'm confused as to why two external editors would be required. I'm not a photographer, so this confusion may simply be a result of my ignorance, but I thought RAW images were unprocessed photographs, in which case two editors would be kinda redundant. Am I simply missing one of the finer details of photograph processing?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You are correct about RAW files being unprocessed shots. In fact, they're so unprocessed that the files are not even JPEG files. Thus RAWs are typically converted to JPEG. For this, you would typically use a RAW Editor. A RAW editor usually does things like handle tint, exposure, things like that, which can be best tweaked before it converts to JPEG. This is the basic task of a RAW editor, such as UFRaw or Rawstudio. They give you control over the way the data from your camera's sensor becomes that JPEG file.

An external photo editor on the other hand would be a program typically for editing regular JPEG files, and usually offers a lot more things you can do to the photograph, such as airbrushing etc.

So why are some types of things expected to be done to RAW files while others are reserved for JPEG? Well, I don't have a good reason, except that's the way it's always been done. Programmatically, the task of converting to JPEG is quite different from the task of editing the contents of the image, even though an average person such as yourself would see the two tasks as essentially the same. Personally, I would love to see a program that let you edit RAW files as if you were editing a JPEG, and allow you when finished to save the finished product as a JPEG.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for the clarification. I'd vote this up if I had any votes left today :P I'll come back and do it tonight. – Chris Wilson Mar 16 '11 at 17:31

UFRaw is an alternative to open and modify .NEF files (raw photos) using Gimp.

  1. Go to Ubuntu Software Centre and type UFRaw, install it
  2. open the file with UFRaw
  3. You will find GIMP's icon (fox) at the very bottom right, click on it and done, you can work your raw photo out.
share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.