I'm curious as to where in the workflow most people here do noise reduction, and how that affects what they do before converting from RAW. I don't usually have noise problems except when using very high ISO, or with wide dynamic range images where detail has to be pulled out of the shadows. Up to now, my workflow has been as follows:
I fully optimized my images in Camera Raw, with the "default" NR of 0 luminance NR and 25 for the color noise. This includes pulling what detail I can out of the shadows, and optimizing contrast, saturation, etc. Where there is much noise made visible by bringing up shadow detail, I then utilized external noise reduction after conversion. I don't really utilize the NR in Camera RAW because I don't have much control over loss of detail.
I am thinking of changing the workflow for those images at high ISO where there is prominent noise, and with those where optimizing in Camera Raw will produce visible noise in the shadow areas. My thinking is that optimizing tone and color in Camera Raw exacerbates the noise, making it harder to deal with at the post conversion stage.
What do people think of *not* optimizing the tone (other than white balance and highlight recovery), and waiting until after converting to address the lightening of shadow detail, in order to leave the image's inherent noise as unchanged as possible, to then do NR with, for me, either Noise Ninja or Nik Define 2.0?
I'm beginning to think that that might produce the best over-all compromise where high noise is a problem.