The sequence of edits - does it matter?

I’m working with the trial version of PL5 (Windows). I have some image editing experience with several applications but still have a lot to learn. One thing that I’d like to understand is whether the order of edits can affect the quality of the final result. I do mostly nature photography and my editing needs will vary but are currently pretty straightforward: crop, exposure/highlights/shadows, sharpening and noise reduction. So what order to do these adjustments? I usually crop first so that I have the image content that I want to work on. But is that the first thing that should be done? Or noise reduction first? Or…?

If I’m not mistaken I think some software (darktable?) will buffer the edits and apply them in a set order when ‘developed’. I don’t know if that’s the case with PL.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

The order you make the edits is irrelevant, PL applies them in the necessary order.

The sequence of edits doe NOT matter from a technical point of view, but it can matter for workflow “economics”.

Technically, DxO implements the sequence in which your changes will be applied during customising and export, as @stuck notes above.

Imagine editing an image and after a while, you decide to change colour rendering, e.g. to apply a custom DCP profile. This can make all your previous edits obsolete or nonsensical, depending on how great the impact of that profile was.

There is one thing you need to be aware of when it comes to order and that is when applying presets.

Presets come in two main flavours - partial and full.

A partial preset will only contain certain adjustments - basically it is a “batch” of adjustments all applied at the same time. PL Elite allows you to create your own partial presets, that will allow you to do a certain set of adjustments so, if you always tend to do the same series of adjustments, these can come in useful.

As long as you know what a partial preset does, you can apply them at any time.

However a full preset will tend to reset a lot of adjustments at the same time as it applies others. In which case, if you don’t know what exactly a preset does, only ever use it before you do anything else.

If you are considering adding FilmPack, then @mwsilvers and I have put together a bundle of partial presets, which will allow you to preview what each film emulation does. You can find it here but do be aware that you will also need to download FilmPAck in order to benefit from them.


but also do be aware that ‘download’ means buy

Unless you download the free trial to try with the free trial of PL.

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I am not sure what you mean by ‘download’ means buy. FilmPack has a 30 day free trial


Hi Steve and welcome.

In addition to what the others have written, please be aware that Geometry adjustments must precede any and all local adjustments else the masked areas will be shifted when the geometry is changed.


Thanks to all for your very helpful responses. I’m happy to hear that PL handles the edit sequence, which is really nice. And I appreciate the comments relating to those settings that can interfere with existing edits (custom profiles, full presets) as well as any geometry editing done after local adjustments. I’m not quite ready to employ those features yet but it’s good to know that they’ll need to be used carefully.

Don’t worry too much. Your raw file will never be touched/changed. All the changes will only be applied at export. Worst case is that you start from scratch with your edits. The only thing lost is your time.

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Yes, thanks. You can certainly start from scratch with your edits - if you remember what they were!

Can I just bring your attention to the ability to create virtual copies?

If you are ever unsure about whether to apply a preset, or any other adjustment, simply make a virtual copy first and apply the preset to that. You can then compare the copy to the original, or you can create more copies to see what several different presets or adjustments give and compare them.


Thank you for pointing that out @joanna. I recall an option like that but I wasn’t sure which of the apps that I’ve been reviewing supported it. Obviously a very convenient way to do the “what if’s” without messing up the current edits.

And you can create a virtual copy of a virtual copy of a virtual copy…

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I wonder if in the dop file the sequence PL uses is hidden.
I still have my doubts about the sequence doesn’t matter.


If the editing sequence is indeed controlled by PL then I would think it likely that the adjustments within the dop file are read and appropriately sequenced by the software each time an image is re-opened.

EDIT: Obviously the adjustments are not applied to an output file until it is eventually exported.

The adjustments are only truly applied to the image in any meaningful way is when the image is exported.

That being (correctly) said; it’s a good idea to apply any geometric corrections early in the process … as the result can impact on other corrections, particularly Local Adjustments. (that is, best to apply geometric adjustments before applying LAs).

John M


Together with @Joanna’s comment, this means that it’s best to do the following

  1. apply a preset (DxO Standard and No Correction are absolute, all others seem to be partial)
  2. apply optical corrections and denoising (if you want it)
  3. apply colour rendering
  4. create a new absolute preset from the above and make it your default preset
  5. do all the rest…but if you apply an absolute preset, you’re back to square 1…

I name my presets “A01-blabla” and P01-blabla" if they are absolute or partial respectively.

This is confusing. The image is builded from an importing disk file. It’s in memory and visible on my screen. All adjustments are added to it and are visible. I see the changes. Exporting/saving means writing the image I see to a disk file. When not exported a list of edits with parameters is added to the original disk file. That’s why it’s called a parametric editor.