Should I start neutral profile instead auto match?

I use Raw therapee for a while. Normally I open with auto match low iso. Then adjust white balance, explosure then keep 1st curve from auto match same but add 2nd s-curve to more taste I like the picture. Then often finish with sharpening and noise reduction. Some time also adjust Lap for
Chromatic and some curve. For vibrance color.

Question is : I often see tutorial start from neutral. Should I also start from neutral? Which mean not use auto match curve? Coz I’ve try few picture with neutral. Seem like it hard to get very nice result. Any comments or suggestions pls.

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A lot depends on the image and what you are trying to do with it. There’s nothing wrong with using the auto-matched curve to start with but if you notice that it is pushing your highlights out of range or crushing the shadows, or you simply don’t like the result then you may want to start with the Neutral profile. The Standard Film Curve in the Bundled profiles can also be a good starting point in some cases but again it really depends on the image. It’s also worth playing around with the curve modes.


I never start with neutral profile, I use my own base preset which sets as a default automatically for my camera. It has auto matched curve enabled, and has some basic settings like lens/ca corrections, and also some pre-set values for disabled modules, so that I can enable them quickly without need for too much of values tweaking (sharpening, local contrast, skin tone correction in vibrance module, etc.).

As I said, I always start with auto matched curve - it is handy to have some visual starting point, but nevertheless most of the time I tweak it or change completely. I found, that control cage is very convenient, and sometimes I use flexible curve as well. Fine tuning with Ctrl button pressed is very handy.

Very rarely I use second curve, mostly when the histo in the first curve is very narrow - I can “decompress” it by the first curve, and then I will have more room/precision on the second curve.

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@Prapan_Chulapinyo You can start from Neutral, but you definitely don’t need to. That’s the beauty of a flexible piece of software: you can choose whatever suits your purpose.


The auto matched curve try to mimic the OOC jpg by getting about the same histogram.
Some people prefer absolutely to start from something that is like the jpg, others (like me) not at all.
There is no better way.
I build my initial processing profiles like @a286 but without auto matched curve. I use the dynamic profile mechanism to choose applicable processing profile. I have some partial profiles for specific use ( for instance channel mixer values)


For raw files from a bayer-sensor I never start from neutral, because that would mean I would always have to enable raw-ca-correction as a first step.

Most of the time I start from auto-matched, but often I set the curve to linear afterwards.


To my simplistic way of thinking, starting ‘neutral’ tells you essentially what the camera sensor thought of the scene, and provides a grounded starting point for modifying to taste. Starting with ‘auto-matched’ is starting with someone else’s notion of tone already applied, and you may be both undoing some of that as well as amplifying another part, all in the same curve.

Also, ‘auto-matched’ is based on the OOC JPEG embedded in the raw, which the camera processed under the assumption of a middle-gray-anchored exposure. That processing gets thrown out the window if you’re ETTR-ing, for which I can posit no “one-size-fits-all” processing.

In any event, I think starting from neutral is a better approach to controlling your final rendition. It takes a bit more thought, but you’re not fighting previously-applied processing.


Thank. I just follow step from tutorial. The basic and advance one. Most of the time I always keep the auto-match curve as starting point and add 2nd curve as a small s-curve. Some time auto-match curve alone is good enough. I’ve confuse that should I adjust that auto match curve or keep it and add the second like I do before. Some suggestion pls. Yes I will play around curve mode now. Thank for that guide.

Question is auto matched is flexible curve right? You tweak it or change in that type? If you use control cage meaning you change it completely. I’ve confuse that it is good to have keep auto match as starting point, then add my own version 2nd s-curve control cage? Or just adjust from that auto match curve itself.

What you mean to start enable raw-ca-correction as a first step, it mean by neutral it not enable this like auto match iso low or something like that?

I usually leave the auto-matched curve alone and use the second curve for fine tuning but you can also adjust both as suggested in Rawpedia:

While you are free to use only one tone curve to make your adjustments, you can gain much finer tonal control if you use two curves at once. The typical use of both curves is to lower values using the first curve, and to raise values using the second one. It is similar to creating an S curve in one of them, but you should be able to make finer adjustments by using both without entering too fast in the “danger zone” where your colors becomes unrealistic.

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For most of my raw files I want (or even need) to use raw ca correction. In neutral profile this is not enabled, so I would have to enable it manually when starting from neutral profile.

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Thank for that. I think I keep auto-matched iso low/medium as my starting point maybe once I get more experience then will think about nuetral. Anyway I like to ask. Between use auto match curve as 1st and keep it there then add my own 2nd s-curve or tweak from that auto match curve what do you think is good?

Thank you. I’ve done that for sometime. Good to know that it ok.

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Thank you, Now I know.

I think that’s quite fine. In my raw processing world (not dt or RT), I’ll usually start and finish with a filmic curve, but I’m not above also putting in a control-point curve to manually mess with what filmic won’t easily do…

after a lot of experimenting I’m back to Auto-Matched Tone Curve. If you use it, you should apply it before any other brightness adjustments (that’s how I understood the info in this forum). The A-MTC is excellent for me, especially since I learned to reduce certain exaggerations with the slider “Shadows/Highlights”. I don’t know if this is an ideal way, but for landscape shots with high contrast it is wonderful to work like this. I get very good results very quickly and easily.
Sometimes it is good to switch on “Dynamic Range Compression” (additionally), but I can fine-tune “Shadows/Highlights”.
I don’t manipulate the A-MTC given by the Jpeg, I don’t want to break it, there is still the “Tone curve 2” and if necessary another one in Lab*.

In the forum it is recommended not to select the “Tone curve” in the tab Color -> Color Management -> DCP when using A-MTC. I think “Tone curve” also does the curve of the default setting: Standard Film Curve (without displaying it anywhere else).
Base table ON.
Look table ON or OFF.

A request to all experts: If I have written something wrong here, please correct me so that I can correct the text as well. I do not want to spread nonsense. Thanks in advance.


You’re right with this assumption. Tone curve in DCP settings is the Standard Film Curve in almost all cases. If there is no Tone Curve in a dcp file, RT adds the Standard Curve and if there is a Tone Curve in a dcp file fro DcamProf it’s also the Standard Curve (at least it was it the last time I checked the code)

Using curves to get a particular aesthetic result seems to be a lifelong pursuit for me. Recently, for example, I took up a technique I saw in a video about Hasselblad’s Phocus program. If you have room to increase exposure, do that then start a tone curve (I like to use Lab-L) in Control Cage mode, place a point at about the third quartile or a little higher, and pull it down to taste. It is a smooth way to increase the tonal range of the image without moving it toward high key.

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