Which order is best for RAW processing files?

Started Nov 28, 2012 | Questions thread
MrSkelter
Contributing MemberPosts: 636
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Re: Which order is best for RAW processing files?
In reply to Skip, Nov 29, 2012

Skip wrote:

Sorry, not an expert, but virtually everything that I have read regarding noise recommends doing noise reduction first. I would appreciate links to any reputable sources that say otherwise.

MrSkelter wrote:

I enjoy processing and have images going back years which need tools - like lens correction - which I have to use specialist tools to handle.

I've long given up on being able to get optimal results in one piece of software and I only shoot RAW.

My question is in which order should processes take place to maintain best quality?

Currently I generally work like this (obviously, not every image requires each step):

1. Lens corrections/Chromatic aberration (DXO)

2. Exposure compensation (RPP)

3. Perspective correction (PS)

4. Noise (PS/Topaz)

5. Color/tone (PS)

6. Sharpening (PS)

I prefer DXO for lens corrections as it handles almost all the bodies I use and allows me to save the output as a 'RAW' DNG I can take to PhotoShop. With older images I use PT Lens as that handles a few bodies of mine DXO doesn't.

I use RAW Photo Processor (Mac) to lift shadows as I've been told this program, though slow, offers more latitude than PhotoShop/Lightroom/Aperture. It certainly offers more subtle control of exposure compression and I like being able to tweak.

Finally I move to Photoshop CS6 to produce my finished files.

Any expert input would be appreciated. Is this workflow optimal? If not how can it be improved (given that I can't do everything in PhotoShop as stated above)?

Thanks for the input.

As Noise reduction happens in PS6 once done the file is 'cooked' and no longer RAW.

Done my way I can export a 'cooked RAW' from DXO as a DNG for exposure compensation in RPP. Given that I frequently increase brightness by 3+ stops the magnitude of the noise can be very different after exposure compensation than before. It would be very hard to gauge how much noise reduction to apply if I had to amplify the files afterward and not before.

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