I'm posting this here as it seems it is the most popular raw converter forum in this site but I guess it is applicable not only for Lightroom but pretty much every other raw converter out there.
The trend in the last few years has been to enhance raw converters with lots of functions to make them pretty much universal and flexible tools for the digital potographer. I certainly believe this is a good thing in principle, although opinions will vary as to how much functionality a raw converter program must have before it becomes too bloated.
However, what bugs me is that, in adding image processing capabilities to their programs, developers have not made a comprehensive attempt at clearly separating (or indicating and documenting for that matter) functions that are applied to the raw (un-demosaiced) data from ones that are applied to de-mosaiced RGB data (or bitmaps). Furthermore, I have noticed no effort in indicating which functions are applied on linear or gamma-corrected data.
To make what I'm saying a bit clearer, I'll give a few examples applicable, I think, to most converters out there:
I believe that functions like EV compensation, WB adjustment, highlight recovery are functions that operate on raw data. In contrast, things like curves, most colour corrections, vibrancy or local contrast adjustements probably operate on de-mosaiced data and, as such, they are not different in principle than equivalent adjustements that can be performed on a TIFF file with an external editor (workflow considerations not withstanding).
Furthermore, there seem to exist some functions, notably noise reduction which could be made to operate on either raw or demosaiced data with arguably different capabilities and quality of output in each case.
I would like raw converter developers to clearly indicate, both through the workflow implicitly imposed by their program and through clear documentation where exactly in the image processing pipeline a function is applied. That would help me make more educated decisions about which, internal or external, tools to apply and when.
Am I the only one to be, slightly, frustrated with this situation? Do you think what I'm writing about is only of philosophical interest and I'm just moaning too much?