Facebook Pixel Opening RAW Images In GIMP with UFRaw For Windows - The Basics

Opening RAW Images In GIMP with UFRaw For Windows – The Basics

gimp-logo-blog-1.pngNow, before the Mac crowd starts getting hot under the collar that this is another GIMP post excluding them, I can explain.  There’s a very good reason you don’t need these instructions on installing UFRaw for GIMP; because it’s already included with the Mac build of GIMP.  So not only do you have reason to not complain, you may gloat a little if that is your style.  You may still find these instructions helpful.

And for Linux folks, instructions for installing are as vast as there are flavors of Linux.  All of the appropriate packages can be found on UFRaw’s download page.

This fine tool does a great job of converting a few of the basic RAW formats (Canon, Nikon and a few others) into your choice of outputs.  The tool has quite a few controls for adjusting the image even before opening the converted file in GIMP and it can, indeed, be used as a stand alone program if desired.  In this post I will explain just the basics of opening a photo with some simple changes.  The tool has a LOT of controls beyond the basics, best left for another post.

For the Windows people to get started, you’ll need to download UFRaw from Sourceforge, located here.  I’m also assuming you have a copy of GIMP already loaded.  If not, it’s here.

Starting Up UFRaw

UFRaw can be found in the GIMP program group in Programs.  It can also be invoked by attempting to open a RAW file from within GIMP.  If you are starting directly with UFRaw, upon clicking the icon the first screen you will notice is a file selection window.  You can use the standard Ctrl and Shift keys to select multiple images.  After selecting the right image, click Open.


The Main Screen

The main screen UFRaw opens can be a bit daunting.  Just take a look (click for larger view).


There is a LOT going on in this screen shot.  The image of boats I have selected is on the right with the size and current viewing scale below.  That’s the easy part.  Zoom controls are below that.

On the left side, starting at the top is the RAW histogram, then an exposure slider with a few extra buttons.  Next is a row of tabs for making adjustments during conversion.  Below that is a panel that changes depending on which tab you’ve selected.  Finally, at the bottom, is the histogram of the image your are viewing with all changes applied.

On the far right are the Options button, Delete button (be careful!), Cancel, Save and Open in GIMP.

Load The Adobe RGB Color Space

The first time you start up UFRaw it only comes with a standard output option for sRGB.  If this works for you, cool.  But if you want to output to AdobeRGB(1998), you will need to load it first.  This is a one time action and will make AdobeRGB available from this point forward, so it’s worthwhile to get it out of the way.  The ICC profile can be found here.

Download that file and save it to a useful location.  Next, in UFRaw, click on the Color Management tab image .  From here, click on the open folder next to sRGB to select the ICC profile you just saved. image After selecting the AdobeRGB1998.icc file and clicking Open, you will see AdobeRGB1998 as an option going forward.


The Most Handy Features For Quick Image Conversion

As mentioned in the intro, I’m only going to touch on the simple, quick edits that can help you get started editing your image in GIMP.  There is a lot of experimenting you can do with this tool so please, take some time to fiddle with the other features.  But for now, the most vital to note are:

  • Exposure Value Settings – This is the image section at the top.  It will likely autoset the first time an image is opened.  If not, click on the image button.  To reset to the default, click the first button on the right.  Otherwise, use the slide to get the look you desire.
  • imageWhite Balance – UFRaw will default to the camera settings for white balance.  This can be changed by clicking the selector.  The normal allotment of options are given, including manual, auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, flourescent, and flash.  Also, you may select the white balance from a spot on the image itself.  To do this, move the mouse over to your desired sampling location and right mouse click.  Then click on the eyedropped tool image.
  • Crop and Resize – These two functions can be found by clicking on the image tab.  Most handy is the ratio selector located in the middle of the screen.  It looks like this image . The difference between lock and unlock is hard to see when clicking on the padlock image.  To adjust a crop, move to the edge of the image until you see the adjustment arrows, then drag the sides in.  If the aspect is locked it will remain constant with the drag. Once the appropriate size is selected, click and hold in the middle of the selection box to drag it around the screen.  This can all be reset by clicking the reset button image .
  • Rotate – This deserves its own bullet point.  First, there are the simple rotation buttons. image Those are easy to use and I like the ‘flip’ capabilities being added at this point (although I have a personal grudge against flipping images most of the time).  Below that is the arbitrary rotate slider and grid selector.  image I really like the Alignment Line Count (what I call a grid selector) as it allows you to overlay a grid on the image with varying quantities of rows and columns.  Rotation is then very easy to exact.

Saving The Output

imageAfter making some simple changes (more advanced changes described in a later post here on DPS) it’s time to save the file or open it in GIMP for more tweaking.  Click on the Save tab image and you’ll see the options listed at right.

  • Path will be the same as the location of the original RAW file and can be changed using the arrow to the right.
  • File name, well, that’s an easy one.  Change the desired file format if desired to PPM, PNG, TIF or JPG.
  • Create ID is to create a sidecar file that contains all the changes made in UFRaw to the image.

At this point you are either ready to save the file by itself with the image button or open the edited file in GIMP with the image button.


UFRaw is a very handy, open source tool for converting even the most modern RAW files.  It can be used as a stand alone tool or in conjunction with GIMP in order to smooth work flow of your photographs.

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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