Who doesn’t edit their images today?

Straight out of camera images are irrelevant! There — I said it because it’s true.

There was a time when we used to judge cameras and lenses by straight out of camera images. They were considered the only true measure of a camera or lens’s image quality. Purists scoffed at an image that wasn’t straight out of camera.

Today’s reality is a whole different animal. We can’t escape correcting our images in some form or another — no matter how subtle — with current editing platforms. Even the most minute of edits can no longer be considered straight out of camera.

My typical editing process starts with an import of the images, and I will almost always apply the standard lens profile correction to every image — out of the gate, I’ve already ruined the mystique of “straight out of camera.” Second, I use Lightroom Classic, and I will usually apply the “Auto” button to start the editing process of my images in the Develop panel. To my eyes, it’s almost always a great starting point!

When showing images to prove a lens or cameras strength, I feel the need to post SOOC images … why?

I do a lot of lens and camera reviews, both here on Photofocus and on my YouTube channel. I’m always feeling the pressure to show images in the review that are straight out of camera to demonstrate the “true” image quality of a given lens or camera. I still see reviews where the reviewer needs to explain what edits they made, no matter how minor to get as close to straight out of camera as possible.

My question is why? I’ve recently come to the conclusion that SOOC images are essentially irrelevant for today’s photographer. I’ve even modified my reviews to show optical quality and the “quality of the results.” The rationale behind this is to show what’s possible with edited images too.

Would you dare deliver images straight out of camera?

Today’s photographer is always making tweaks to their images, no matter how subtle to improve the overall look, exposure, color, etc. So much so that I’m not aware of a photographer today that would dare deliver wedding or portrait images that were taken straight out of camera (if you know any, please comment below).

Editing has become such a natural part of the process and photography has evolved so much — and continues to evolve — in the digital era, that edited images are just the norm. Seeing an unedited image almost feels weird.

Same image, all I did was add a lens profile correction and a simple “Auto” correction in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic.

I polled my audience just to see …

I received 129 votes in the first 24 hours and results were surprising — a full 66% of the respondents said they edit every image or almost all images, while only 19% said they occasionally edit (16%) or never edit images (3%).

Do you edit every image or do you dare deliver straight out of camera? Comment down below!