Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Misconception about SOOC Raw

Recently I saw a question posed about which camera (or camera brand) had the better colour. I explained that each camera will likely have a different colour profile and it should not be viewed as a technical superiority, the merit is most often subjective and affected by artistic interpretations. In short, it's a matter of taste.

There is also a misconception that if one takes a raw file from the camera and displays it the preferred editing program of choice, without touching any adjustment sliders, that it is SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) raw. This is not correct. In order for the editing program to create a display on screen for you to asses, it has to demosaic, apply colour profiles, tonal curves, sharpening, noise reduction and even lens corrections. It's a bit like the old Australian ad phrase - "Clayton's - its the drink you have when you are not having a drink". Every editing program has to apply "factory defaults" as determined by the program maker (as opposed to the camera maker). In most programs, you can replace the factory default with your preferred "look", either on a one by one image, or in batch with a Develop Preset or save that "look" to the default.  In the last case, that means whenever you bring in a raw file, this camera calibration will be applied.

As Lightroom is one of the most popular raw editing programs, here are some screenshots of where you go to set up your personalised import defaults.

Edit > Preferences in Lightroom

Import Dialog in Lightroom showing Import Presets and Develop Settings
Preferences Dialog in Adobe Camera Raw

Develop Presets Panel in Adobe Camera Raw
Here's a video explaining this:

And here is a video by Mark Wallace about how to use the Xrite Color Checker Passport with Lightroom to set reference profiles and switch and also to offset the neutral colour to a wamer or cooler white balance:

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