What Does SOOC Mean

SOOC is an abbreviation of the photography term “Straight Out Of Camera”, simply meaning that an image can be good enough to print straight from the camera without further processing.
Unfortunately there is a much deeper meaning behind that term than this simple explanation.

What this term really implies is that the owner of the image has not done any post processing to the image. Amazingly there are some people in the photography world that think working on an image in a program like Photoshop somewhat reduces that images worth. They believe that the photographer should be skilled enough to produce an image with the highest quality sooc, which then doesn’t need to be edited to improve the aesthetic quality for the viewer.

If you search the internet blogs that showcase photography, you will find many arguments for and against SOOC. Some of these arguments get quite heated to the point of abusive language being hurled back and forth. Who is right and who is wrong becomes irrelevant. The attacks become personal and reason walks out the door. Yet both groups of thought have important arguments, because if you incorporate the best ideas from each group, your photographs will really stand out.

The history of photography

History shows that actually some post processing has always been done between the camera and a print. It actually wasn’t until todays digital cameras came along that a print could be made straight out of camera. Back before the digital revolution they used film and even way back in the original cameras a glass plate that imprinted the light and shadow as the camera shutter was opened and closed. These plates and film had to be processed to produce a print. During the process of developing the print the photographer could dodge and burn the highlights and shadows to create an image that was pleasing to the eye. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Today images are not really straight out of camera

The camera actually applies certain settings and filters to the image after it has been taken. Images are taken in a raw format and then whatever factory settings the camera company has decided will make the final output look better as a .jpg, those factory settings are applied. We often get photographers ask us why their raw files are not as bright as the jpg’s and it’s because of post processing inside the camera. These settings can be tweaked by the photographer and yes, you certainly can output a printable image straight out of camera, yet technically some processing has occurred.

The images of the wallaby below, show the point of in-camera processing between the raw file and the .jpg file. Both were taken at the same time with the camera set to take both raw and jpg images. The first photo is the sooc raw file which is dull and flat. Typical of raw files. Below that is the jpg file. The camera has applied settings to increase contrast and make the image more vibrant.

Original sooc raw file

.jpg file

Let us recap what SOOC means.

  • SOOC is the term for straight out of camera
  • Photographs from glass plates and film have always been post processed in some way, out of the camera, via a darkroom, to produce a print
  • Digital cameras do allow for prints straight out of camera or straight off the SD card
  • Digital cameras apply in camera processing between raw format and .jpg format

We at SLR Photography Guide believe that the photographer should always strive to get the best possible image in camera then, if required, do whatever in post processing that will produce the best image that you deem, as the artist, makes that image into what your minds eye believed it was when you were taking the photo.

We all see things differently. As photographers we tweak our cameras differently, striving to produce an image that is different from the person standing in exactly the same place, taking the same shot with the same camera. If we all robotically use the cameras factory settings, we would all produce the same images. It is your ability as an artist to use the camera as simply a tool for your creative vision.

If you are the person asking What Does SOOC Mean, please don’t join either camp in the argument about producing nice photos straight out of camera versus using post processing. Let those people waste their time and energy while you use the camera, and whatever else you deem necessary, to capture magic moments in time and produce startling images for you and others to enjoy.

Get it as right as possible in camera, then turn that image into a work of art.

Below is a beautiful sunbird after post processing.

Image of Sunbird after post processing.

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