To edit or not to edit? When is SOOC jpeg better?

After a particularly interesting photo walk I found myself unusually torn between editing my raw files in Lightroom or using the jpegs straight out of the X-T20.

On the one hand, the standard approach would be to lower the highlights, punch up the shadows, boost the contrast and detail, etc. On the other hand, after editing I often looked at the jpeg copy of the raw file and found it more appealing. (granted, the light had been incredibly nice and soft that day, which meant great images at the outset)

So my questions: How often do you go with the jpeg straight out of camera, unedited? What quality about an image do you want to improve/change when you edit?

And further, do you have any tips for getting a cohesive look when some photos are sooc and some were in need of edits? I find it difficult to eyeball adjustments to give them the same look overall…

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Most things I post from my Fuji are effectively SOOC jpegs. I shoot RAW but if there’s one I like I’ll convert it in-camera with whatever film sim seems best for it, transfer to my phone and maybe tweak a little. Most of the time (in my case) it’s a little brightening of the shadows and some contrast.

When I’m back at the ranch, I’ll more often than not chuck the jpeg, import the RAW and do my edits on it with the rest of the shoot. They wind up consistent with each other but maybe not perfectly with the one I posted. They generally are delivered and viewed in different forums though so I don’t worry about it. If I’m in lurrrrve with an image in Classic Chrome (for example), I’ve always got the film sims in Lightroom or other tools.

This workflow has evolved for me within the boundaries of what works best for the job and laziness. Everyone’s got their own path. :)


For me, it’s the opposite. I shoot RAW+JPEG, but in the end I only take the RAW and don’t care about the JPEG. YMMV

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It happened to me recently to shoot two days for a client. I had my camera set up as always for client work to save RAW+JPEG on two cards (to have a backup in case one card dies), reason why I also keep RAW+JPEG is to be able to zoom 100% on the image at the back of the camera to make sure that focus was perfect. When you shoot RAW only then the image you see on the back of the camera is just a jpeg generated internally that is not full resolution.

On all the images I shot there was a few ones where I prefered the JPEG result (I shoot Classic Chrome by default, -1 on shadow and -1 on highlight and -4 on noise reduction) but there was also a few ones where I would have been screwed if I didn’t also shot RAW.

SD cards are becoming cheaper and cheaper and I don’t see the point of setting up your camera to JPEG only (unless you’re on the go, edit on mobile). I think that it’s always a good idea to have the RAW file. And if you prefer the SOOC rendering of a few images nothing prevent you to mix them with some other images shot as RAW, in the end most people won’t see the difference when you post your work online.

To get a cohesive look I work on my files then export JPEG and browse them full screen, I flick through them and if I notice one image that seem too different I go back and edit it. I don’t display images side by side in Lightroom and pixel-peep unless the client has a special need (for example shooting portraits over the same background and having for each image the exact same background luminosity and tint).


Thank you for the feedback! Very interesting. I’m also quite partial to classic chrome, so I’ll check out those custom settings.

Right now I’m doing most of my editing on an iPad because my PC monitor (really, just a 4k TV) isn’t exactly calibrated for color accuracy. But it would probably be a good idea to use that to compare images.

Another problem, of course, is that some images look better this way than that way, and that can differ within the same shoot… So it takes discipline to find the middle ground and apply it evenly to all photos in the same session.


This topic will never lose relevance!