There’s no such thing as a SOOC raw photo!

If you’ve seen any of my retouching "before and after" posts you might have noticed that I’m always very careful to explain that the "befores" are rendered using ACR’s default settings.

This is because there’s no such thing as a straight-out-of-camera raw photo!

It irritates me like crazy when I see this statement on a forum or a blog: "Here’s what the SOOC raw file looked like".

No it’s not.

Raw files aren’t photos yet. They’re just data. You need your software to turn the data into a photographic image for you.

Look what I got when I opened a Raw file in my text editor:


See what I mean? That’s what Raw files really look like. Complete gibberish. And lots of it.

For human beings to view Raw data as a photograph, it needs to be interpreted for us. And like any form of interpretation, it’s a bit subjective. If you opened a Raw file in three different programs (eg Lightroom, CaptureOne and ACR) you’d see three slightly different versions of it. In fact, most programs have a suite of "camera profiles", which all render the data differently.

(It makes you ask “Which one is right???”. Of course, the one that looks the best is the right one!)

So, next time you see someone declare a SOOC raw photo, remember that they’re wrong. Such a thing doesn’t exist. SOOC data, yes. SOOC photo, no.

If I may be permitted a religious analogy, it’s similar to somebody saying that they’ve read Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. No you haven’t! Jesus didn’t write it down, and anyway, he spoke Aramaic (or whatever). What you’ve read, friend, is an interpretation of it into modern English.

There endeth the lesson. Go in peace.


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