If I can add to the conversation here,
First off I would recommend that you shoot RAW, and that you do your RAW
conversion in 16bit TIFF and that
regardless of it being a HDR or standard process you do as much work in
the RAW processor as possible, as already recommended by others here.
Use the Raw converter of your choice.
if you shoot for HDR, then process them in your chosen HDR Processor of
choice - unless you drop them into PTGui and let it do the HDR process
Do your pano stitching (PS: I could do with some help here in PTGui how
to adjust all the settings ;-) please)
once you have your pano image, and it can be in one file, or in
layers/exposure planes. open it for final adjustment and retouching.
I do my work in Photoshop but you can use Gimp which i believe can do
almost the same in this little process
I use adjustments layers, even on Gigabyte pano's
1. )So I have a Level's layer (adjusting for TONE) (in Luminosity mode)
where I set my output end points, and also check for any clipping, if so
and I have multiple exposure layers I may refer back to one of these and
paint back in on a Mask the area which needs attention.
2.) secondly I do Curve's layer (adjusting for contrast), also in
Luminosity Mode) You could also to the tone adjustment in here as well
as adjusting for contrast, but I prefer to do it in two or more steps.
3.) I do a color balance layer, adjusting for color bias that may have
occurred in the process (I set my mode to Color)
4.) optionally I do a Selective Color layer, where I go in and adjust
specific colors (this is also using Color Mode)
5.) I adjust for Saturation, in Saturation Mode. This is the final
global adjustment I make. It is important here to check for any color
clipping, or colors that goes out of gamut.
This can be set up as an Action, where you then go in and make the
necessary adjustments, this will also help you with the correct order of
Then there is local adjustments, and you can go on and on.
BUT remember, the better you do your RAW conversion the better the final
product will me, regardless of what bit dept you use, the more you push
and pull the file in Post production, it will be less then what it was
to start with.
I hope this will be to some help to others