Discuss: Is true SOOC possible?

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Here’s a question for you, my friends. Do you think it is possible to “get it right” straight out of the camera, with no post-production necessary? Or do you think it’s impossible to obtain the correct exposure, white balance, and color balance without post-production?

I recently watched this video, in which Mark Wallace explains why he believes it is impossible to get perfect exposure in-camera. I thought his points were interesting, though the topic itself seems (to me) to be a bit misleading. For example, everyone’s definition of “perfect” differs, so the perfection that I strive for may not be the same quality of perfection that someone else strives for.

Personally, though I think post-production is required if you want to get everything technically perfect, I think it’s possible to get a “perfectly” aesthetic photo right out of the camera.

With the use of custom white balance, a light meter, and good working knowledge of the exposure triangle, I don’t see any reason why a photograph couldn’t be pretty darned close to technical perfection, either. However, if you’re going for such qualities as “absolute” white and “absolute” black, you’re probably doing it for a reason, so post-production is a must.

RAW shooters will tell us that post-production is just as necessary as developing film in a darkroom – that step has always been there, it has just been replaced by digital capabilities. I’ve heard some folks compare JPEG shooters striving for SOOC, to Polaroid photographers – they take whatever the camera gives them. RAW shooters have questioned JPEG shooters, wondering WHY, if they have the ability to do so much more with their photos, they choose not to?

JPEG shooters, on the other hand, will sometimes accuse RAW shooters of being lazy and forgetting their photographic fundamentals. Instead they rely on Lightroom or Photoshop to fix their errors, whereas true photographic capability is demonstrated with the result you get straight out of the camera.

I shoot in RAW so that I have the ability to edit if I need it, but I’m always striving for as little post-production as is necessary to achieve a quality photograph. I rarely find instances where I need the “absolutes” of black and white, and feel that using a light meter and setting a custom white balance pretty much achieves what I need in my end results.

So what is your opinion? Do you think “true” SOOC is possible? Does every photo you take go through some steps in post-production, every time? Or are you of the “it depends” line of thought? Please, discuss your thoughts in the comments, or head on over to our Facebook Page, where I’ve started a thread for this subject.

Photo copyright Tiffany Joyce.

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  • axelpix

    Did you ever see a professional slide show in the good old film era? All these slides where SOOC. And I’ve seen lots of them that where absolutely perfect. 

  • axelpix

    But to come back to today…
    I use RAW exclusively since the availability of Lightroom (in 2008 I guess). I tried to go back to JPEG several times since then. But I never was happy with the results again. I do all abberation correction automatically in Lightroom like lens profile correction, CAs, ISO noise filter. Often I do some adjustments on exposure and white balance. Rarely to almost never I open up a photo in Photoshop to do some further manipulations.

  • JBL429

    I could care less about what’s “technically perfect” if the picture looks good.  I post process close to 100% of my pictures, but if it looks the way I want it to SOOC, I don’t touch it.  Here’s one of my SOOC shots.  Is the WB perfect?  Nope.  Do I like the SOOC shot better than when I balanced it?  Yep. http://flic.kr/p/9NGG8w

  • Richard

    I think the goal is always to get the best photo in the camera, and then tune as needed in post.

    This photo is one example of a direct RAW to jpeg conversion taken with a 5Dm3, as you can see the low light capabilities provide a fantastic image without needing further tweaks. It’s not perfect for every situation, but it’s still pretty amazing.


  • Bob

    Do you have any idea of the darkroom processes involved in professional film? The dark room was half the job. There is no such thing as SOOC in film.  

  • Axel Becker

     That’s why I was talking about slides, not prints from film.