Straight Out of Camera - Dreamstime

The term “Straight Out of Camera” is often being used in the photography community but it’s also a subject of debate, something that’s totally uncalled for.

Straight Out of Camera (SOOC) means exactly what you understood it as. It just means the result (photo) was as it is, straight from the camera.

Why “Straight Out of Camera”?

With RAW files you can adjust pictures any way you like. With presets, you can apply to all your photos. Why bother SOOC?

Trainers, workshop conductors, conference speakers will often show you how their photos look SOOC – that’s not to show-off but to let you know that IT IS entirely possible to get great photos straight out of the camera.

They share this to set the mindset of newbies correct. I’ve come by many newbies who think their photos suck because they do not have post-processing skills, and when they attempt to post-process, the photos often turn out more ugly than ever. The sad part is that their photos are hailed as AWESOME by other newbies.

Everyone with a camera must understand that though camera sensors are not perfect, they are most definitely able to produce photos that look decent straight out of the camera.

Digital imaging technology allows us much headroom to tweak our photos, especially how darkroom techniques are now available on software.

Despite the availability of software, tweaking can still be time consuming. The idea behind SOOC is to get as close to perfection to the desired output, so that little to no time is required on tweaking.

For example, one of the events I covered was a Honda Service center opening. The PR agency wants the photos immediately after the event. Now if I had the wrong mindset, how would my photos turn out to be? It wouldn’t be good.

In other cases, for example wedding photographers, they often need the photos of the wedding day to be used as slides for the dinner on the same day. They also would do their best to get it SOOC so the photos can skip the post-processing process and jump right into the slide-show creation, with ample time to improve the slide show or even have a rest!

I think the problem with this is when people start to hold-fast to it so religiously that it restricts their creativity, and they start to think people who post-process are incapable of getting things right to begin with. Then there’s also the other party that thinks exactly opposite, that every image must be post-processed given the technology available and that people who SOOC are just incapable of post-processing, hence holding on to SOOC.

Looking at the above, I think both parties are just plain ridiculous.

In my opinion, all photography newbie should practice SOOC as this helps you master getting the exposure and control. Get it as best as possible right out from the camera, down to every bit of detail you can handle. With that, use post-processing techniques to improve the photos.

Photo credits: Brian Chong.

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February 05, 2013


Thanks everyone! Let's not assume SOOC people are lazy or incapable of using editing suite. Some of them are like that but not all. Many of them are just VERY COMPETENT photographers and SOOC works best in their line of work.

There are instances where you need to SOOC, for example photo journalists on assignment. Sports photographers for example, they upload the photo right after the game ends.

Same goes to event photographers, they SOOC do deliver to PR agency for immediate press release right after an event.

For wedding photographers, SOOC gives you huge advantage for same day edit and creation of slideshows.

There are cases where you don't SOOC, for example when I do my food or interior assignments - I aim to get it out as close to perfection as I can but often I can't submit SOOC work. Editing has to be done to maximize the outcome.

Some scenes are literally impossible with SOOC, like say when the exposure variances between the dark and light areas are too great. You end up having to shoot multiple exposures and composite them.


February 05, 2013


For me SOOC is very strange idea. Human eyes that look at the reality, human eyes that look at the image and camera looking at the reality are "3 great differences". So, to adopt the things to each other one needs some processing.

Here is a simplest example. Summer sunny landscape obtains the dynamic range of ~17EV. A modern camera is able to cover only ~10EV of them (while human eyes can take ~30EV and more). So, how the hell one supposes to shoot the landscape in SOOC mode?! It is just technically impossible. Well, it's possibe is one needs by some strange reason to have either a white sky or black forest on ones image.

And note that it was really a simplest example...

On me, the SOOC strategy is developed for lazy people who do not want to learn and know things as they are.

February 04, 2013


You shoot SOOC means you shoot in .jpg, which has a processing engine inbuilt that literally throws away parts of the file that it deems to be NOT wanted. So whomever shoots SOOC is doing themselves and their potential clients a disservice and like Digitalexpressionimages says, even back in the days of film if you were a photographer that wanted decent images, the film you used was carefully chosen, it was processed in countless numbers of ways, push, pull, crossprocessing just to name a few and then once the negative or transparency got into the darkroom that negative/ transparency was treated to another whole number of ways of creating and printing the finished image.

All I can say is that you are doing me and the rest of us photographers that shoot RAW, process in Bridge/ Lightroom, then finally into photoshop to complete the process a very BIG FAVOUR as our images are going to have a greater tonal range, less digital noise and finally and most of all look more professional and saleable when seen online, compared to images SOOC.

Just my 2 cents worth

February 04, 2013


Great blog, thanks for sharing. I totally agree with you.

February 04, 2013


When you diligently set up before shooting, for example selecting the white balance setting to suit the light conditions, you're selecting from a group of presets (direct sun, overcast, tungsten, flourescent, shade etc.) Those presets are approximations based on common lighting conditions and will not take into account multiple light sources, angle of the sun due to time of day and so on. Therefore SOOC will not give you accurate proper results. Meanwhile if you set white balance to auto you're basically letting the camera make decisions for you.

I often tweak the white balance in post as part of the development process. That way I, the actual photographer, am making the decisions for what best suits my photo.

I had to add that.

February 04, 2013


How many people shooting film would pull the film out of the camera and hang it on the wall? No one would do that because it's just stupid. The film needs to be developed first. And of course that's also true of digital images. In fact the camera applies several filters right in camera so there is no such thing as SOOC in those terms, white balance, sharpening etc. is applied automatically before you even see the shot. All digital photos benefit from developing. It has nothing to do with correcting mistakes it has to do with make it look it's best.

February 04, 2013


My experience of people that say that only use SOOC shots are people that can't use an editing suite. They also seem oblivious of how bad their work is with tilted horizons, bad colour and contrast, incorrectly exposed shots etc. Mainly in Facebook photo comp's. I'll take a well edited shot any day as there can be just as much skill going in this end as taking the shot also, as we know RAW's are meant to be edited as their defaults are lacking in sharpness, contrast, colour etc.

February 04, 2013


yes I am also sure that SOOC is a good training for a photographer, in my case as a wildlife photographer, however, I seldom have time to prepare the settings and sometimes just shoot and ask later, in that case I depend on post editing totally.

February 04, 2013


Well written. The greatest advantage of getting things right SOOC is that you cut down on editing time in a huge way. Better image quality also follows as you don't need to mess around with the image. SOOC though does require more preparation and planning. Good luck!!

February 04, 2013


That is why using a point and shoot/compact camera actually helps makes skills better. I've been improving a good deal. :)

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