I'm wondering if there's any plugin or 3rd party software for Lightroom which lets me reduce noise on RAW image data directly?

I'm currently using Define2 from Nik Collection for Lightroom but it creates a .tiff file instead. That leaves me with two copies of the same file, and I don't want that.

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    A RAW file doesn't really contain any noise (or color information or ...) - it's the raw sensor readings from which the image is derived (via demosaicing as a first step, and then potentially many more algorithms applied as well). As such, removing noise from a RAW file doesn't even really make sense... – twalberg Jan 22 '18 at 20:59
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    @twalberg A JPEG file doesn't really contain any color information. It's encoded discrete cosign transformation coefficients, from which an image can be derived. – mattdm Jan 22 '18 at 21:05
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    @mattdm Fair enough, but the DCT used for JPEG compression is reversible (at least to the limits of the precision of the math in use, whether it's fixed or floating point) - which does not necessarily imply the entire compression/decompression is reversible, because of the quantization and discarding of some coefficients - while it seems rather unlikely that demosaicing and many other post-processing steps are. In other words, converting from an image, where noise reduction algorithms operate, back to RAW is at least difficult, if not impossible... – twalberg Jan 22 '18 at 21:33
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    Yeah, but that's not the clear point of the question. I'm not a Lightroom user, although I've played with it, but it certainly has a denoising function as part of its intrinsic RAW-based "development" workflow. The Nik plugins are old, and not made to plug into that workflow — instead, they work on a raster image exported from Lightroom. The question asks if there exist plugins which work as part of the RAW development process. All of this "welllll, actuallllly" about RAW files is not just beside the point but almost the opposite of it. – mattdm Jan 23 '18 at 1:37
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    @MichaelClark raw file also has only one "correct" solution - the one reflecting the objective reality being captured. the other solutions are image manipulations. sure, there is more room for manipulation in raw than in jpeg, but the difference is quantitative, not qualitative. – szulat Jan 23 '18 at 8:42

It sounds like you want to use an alternate noise reduction algorithm integrated into Lightroom's RAW conversion, as an alternate for or addition to the built-in noise reduction.

I don't think there are any plugins that work that way. Everything I can find uses Lightroom's external editing functionality — which sends a processed TIFF or JPEG to the other application. (See for example the instructions for Topaz Labs.)

The program Photo Ninja, which can operate as either a stand-alone program or a RAW converter, apparently has some workarounds where it will match up previous settings to the linked file. That might be Good Enough for your workflow, depending on what you want.

The other good news is that Lightroom's internal noise reduction functionality is quite good. Make sure you master that first and are sure you'll benefit from an external piece of software.

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