“If you want that look, you’ve got to shoot RAW. JPEG Recipes are for amateurs, and nobody serious would ever use them. RAW editing gives you complete control.” —Anonymous person on the web trying to be a gatekeeper
I get tired of being told that if you’re serious about photography, you must shoot RAW and not JPEG. It’s such a worn-out argument that keeps getting repeated. I discussed it at length last year in The RAW vs JPEG Debate Needs to End… Again.
Simply: do whatever you want, and don’t worry about what other people think. There are a lot of people who play gatekeeper, but they shouldn’t have any say in your photography. They have a way that works for them—which is great—but it’s wrong to suggest that their way is the “best” or “only” way, and that you must approach your photography the same as they do. My personal approach works best for me, their way works best for them, and what works best for you might not look anything like either. You have to decide for yourself what works best for you. There’s no right or wrong way to do photography, only what does or doesn’t work well for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about my approach, I’ve discussed it extensively in various articles on this blog for years and years. It’s been a journey, and I invite you to travel along with me if you’re interested; otherwise, I published an article on Moment’s website earlier this year where I typed out my approach and why it might be preferable (click here). I don’t expect that everyone should approach photography this way—it’s simply what works for me, and it might or might not be what works for you. If you think it might work for you, too, that’s awesome, and I hope you’ll follow this website.
I just don’t appreciate when people tell me that my way is the wrong way. I’ve actually been told that I’m doing great harm to photography by suggesting that RAW editing isn’t a requirement. Or, more condescendingly, if I just learned to use RAW software, I’d realize why it’s superior (which ignores the years and years and years of experience I have RAW editing…). If you have a way that works for you that’s different than mine, that’s wonderful! Different strokes for different folks. But please don’t go around telling people that your way is the only way or the best way or the way that all serious photographers must use, because that’s nonsense and factually untrue. It’s simply the approach that you prefer, and that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. It may or may not be what works best for another person.
One day the argument that you must shoot RAW will end. Shoot RAW if you want to and if it works for you, or shoot JPEG if you want to and if it works for you. Or shoot film. Or whatever other technique you like. Or do one approach sometimes and another approach at other times. There is no single path, and you get to choose your journey. Whatever anyone else thinks about it doesn’t matter at all.
I just became aware that Fujifilm Middle East is currently conducting a photography contest just for straight-out-of-camera pictures! Use either the factory-default film sims or Film Simulation Recipes. No editing allowed, only camera-made JPEGs.
Third prize is a $500 coupon for Fujifilm gear, second prize is a $1,000 coupon, and first prize is a $2,000 coupon… enough for a Fujifilm X-T5 or X-H2! If you reside in one of those 11 qualifying countries, definitely consider entering this competition.
One of the judges is Fujifilm X-Photographer Bjorn Moerman. If you’ve ever watched any of the SOOC Live YouTube videos, you’ll instantly recognize him, as he regularly tunes-in and participates in the show. You’ve likely seen several of his phenomenal pictures; a few are found in the latest Viewers’ Images slideshow published just today! Many of his amazing photographs are straight-out-of-camera using Fuji X Weekly Film Simulation Recipes (including all of those seen in the SOOC Live videos). Sometimes in photography competitions you have to wonder about who the judges are and if they’re actually qualified for that role, but not in this case, especially since Bjorn is one of them.
I love the idea of this competition, and I hope that it catches on. Shooting straight-out-of-camera JPEGs is becoming a more and more popular approach, and Fujifilm photographers are on the leading edge of it. Fujifilm North America should definitely do a SOOC photo contest, too—I think it would be a huge hit, while also spreading the word that Fujifilm cameras are capable of capturing incredible pictures that don’t require editing. For many people, that realization is a game-changer, making photography more enjoyable, more efficient, and more accessible.
Photography is moving in a clear direction, and it is unedited. Let me explain.
There’s a new photography trend on the iPhone. Instead of using the front-facing camera to take selfies, people are taking screen shots of the preview from the selfie camera. Why? What’s the difference? The pipeline for the image preview and the actual photographs are different on the iPhone. Most notably, Apple applies an HDR processing to the exposure (but not the preview), which creates a less-contrasty picture. If you are going to apply a filter to the photo and edit it, having a flatter starting point makes sense; however, if you are not editing, one might prefer the more-contrasty image preview. Aside from that, it can be frustrating that the preview doesn’t match the photograph.
My RitchieCam iPhone camera app uses the same pipeline for both the image processing and the preview, so it doesn’t have this issue. The preview you see will be the picture you get. No need to screenshot, which produces a much-lower resolution image. Those using my camera app (instead of the native iPhone app) won’t need to go through the hassle of the screen shot (plus cropping out the non-image part); instead, they’ll have better quality pictures with an analog-inspired aesthetic to post to social media.
Of course, we’re not talking about photographers here, but snap-shooters, as I doubt that anyone who would self-identify as a photographer is taking screenshots instead of using the camera. It shouldn’t be surprising that they’re uninterested in picture manipulation, and just want good results without fuss. Maybe they don’t know how to edit pictures, and the idea of doing so is very intimidating, so they have no interest in learning. It could be that they don’t want to spend their time with picture editing, and just want to share (either through text or social media) their snaps quickly—the easier the better, but the pictures still need to look decent. Others don’t edit because doing so seems less authentic; Photoshop is a bad word, and picture-manipulation equals people-manipulation. Let’s not forget that the vast majority of photos captured across the world are by amateurs, so their opinions, preferences, and trends do matter.
For the advanced-hobbyist or professional, surely photo manipulation is a requirement, right? There’s a growing movement towards reduced (or even eliminated) photo editing. First, the less time spent sitting at a computer equals more production and/or more time with friends and family. For a lot of people, for every hour out with a camera photographing means two hours in Lightroom or Capture One fiddling with the RAW files; if those two hours can be reduced by 50% or more (especially more), that’s a huge win! Second, shooting camera-made JPEGs affords the advantage of knowing exactly what you’re going to get before even pressing the shutter. Don’t like what you see? Simply make a few quick adjustments until you do, then take the picture. Not having to pre-visualize in your mind the finished photo, but seeing it right there in the viewfinder in real time, is a game-changer for many. Third, getting great (often analog-like) results straight-out-of-camera can be a much more fun photographic process, especially if you don’t enjoy sitting for hours at a computer post-processing pictures.
I used to shoot RAW and edit, but thanks to Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes, I now use unedited (or sometimes lightly-edited) camera-made JPEGs. I will crop or straighten when needed, which is the majority of my post-processing; occasionally I will adjust the brightness a notch, but very rarely do I manipulate any further than that. Most of my pictures are unedited, even to a strict definition. This has changed my life, no hyperbole! My post workflow takes minutes instead of hours, which has made me a much more productive photographer while simultaneously improving home-life, because I can now spend more time with my wife and kids. That’s amazing!
For example, on a recent trip to the California coast, during the downtimes—such as while at lunch, as a passenger in a car, or at night before bed—I transferred the JPEGs from my cameras to my phone, cropped if needed, and uploaded to cloud storage. A few minutes here and there meant that, by the time I got home, my workflow was essentially already complete. For most photographers, once back home the work would just be getting started, with many hours sitting at a computer.
But, but, but… surely the unedited camera-made JPEGs are not good enough for serious photography, right? You couldn’t do true professional work like this, could you? You can’t print very large and still look stunning, can you? Actually, yes—you can! I know because several successful professional photographers have told me that this is how they now do their paid work. You’d be surprised by just how many are doing some or even all of their pro photo work completely unedited or just lightly edited.
It’s not just photographers who benefit from a simplified workflow, but clients. Because of social media, people often desire to have a quick turnaround on their professional photographs. The newlywed couple doesn’t want to wait two weeks for the wedding pictures to be done, and in fact their parents wished for them that very day! If you can deliver the images quickly, you have a clear advantage over your competition.
In fact, Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry told me about two recent corporate events where the client wanted the photos as the event was happening! Periodically, every so many minutes throughout the day, she would download the straight-out-of-camera images from her camera to her phone, then upload them to a cloud location that the client had access to. As the event was happening, they were able to share the pictures to their social media accounts. Delivering real-time results to the client is going to be the future of event photography. Nathalie was able to do this thanks to the Film Simulation Recipes that she had programmed into her Fujifilm cameras.
Whether it is professional, hobby, or snap-shooting, photography is slowly and stubbornly moving towards less editing. It is easier and quicker and more fun, the disadvantages of it are disappearing, and the stigmatization is dissipating. More and more, people want great results without fuss. Editing is no longer a requirement, especially if you have gear that will deliver solid out-of-camera pictures, such as Fujifilm cameras or the RitchieCam app.
The next battle will be AI. Technology allows one to simulate a photograph with a string of words, or add to an image what wasn’t there—all with a similar ease to shooting camera-made JPEGs. It will come down to authenticity. I believe that as tech pushes us towards an augmented or even fully artificial reality, society will push back with an equal and opposite force towards the genuine. People will generally prefer authenticity over artificial, but it will be a divide. Camera makers should carefully consider how to move forward through all of this, and how they can improve their straight-out-of-camera experience. Fujifilm has a clear advantage, which materialized in the recent explosion in demand for the X100V. A simplified workflow with less editing or even no editing is the future of photography, and the future is now.
I hope the Why Shooting JPEGs Is So Popular article will achieve several different things. First, I want to reach Fujifilm photographers who have never heard of Fuji X Weekly and Film Simulation Recipes (yes, there are some), and perhaps they will find it all very fascinating and give one a try. Second, I want to reach those who shoot Fujifilm cameras and have heard of Recipes, but perhaps have been too apprehensive to actually use them, and maybe now they will. Third, I want to convince some who shoot Canikony and are frustrated with their current RAW workflow to buy a Fujifilm camera and give Recipes a try. Fourth, I want to explain to those who just don’t “get it” why more and more photographers are choosing to shoot JPEGs and not edit their images, because some of those who have never tried it just can’t fathom why anyone would. Fifth, I want to encourage those who do shoot with Film Simulation Recipes and some grumpy stranger on the internet tells them that they’re doing it wrong; there’s a movement within photography, and you’re a part of it, which is really an incredible thing when you think about it.
There might be more collaboration opportunities between Fuji X Weekly and Moment—this article was simply the next step in a growing partnership. I don’t know for sure what the future collabs might be, but we definitely tossed around several cool ideas. We’ll have to wait and see which ones happen and which don’t, and if other new opportunities arise. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy the article!
“I’ve been working on my photos from October rather than reviews….”
—Ken Rockwell, February 2, 2023
I just stumbled upon that quote from Ken, which was followed by an iPhone photo from October (that’s why this article begins with an iPhone picture). I bet a lot of you can relate to his statement. When you photograph a lot, your post-processing workflow can get backed up quite a bit. I have thousands of unprocessed RAW files that have been sitting on a now-obsolete computer’s hard drive for at least seven years now. I get it: you’ve got stuff to do, and your limited time is being pulled every which way, so something’s got to give.
I discovered that there’s a better way. There’s no need to get four or five months behind. There’s no need to let your photographic work back up so much. You can can accomplish so much more with the time that you’ll save. What is this better way? It’s really simple: shoot JPEGs, and skip the picture editing step (called One Step Photography, as explained by Ansel Adams in his book Polaroid Land Camera). More and more photographers are embracing this approach.
The reason why it’s important to shoot with Recipes is because the settings have been fine-tuned to produce a particular aesthetic that doesn’t require editing. The images look good straight from the camera, as if they had been post-processed or perhaps were even shot on film. Except they weren’t, which saves you a ton of time, money, and hassle. If you aren’t shooting with Recipes, you are most certainly doing some amount of post-processing, whether you shoot RAW or JPEG. There are some people who do still edit their camera-made-using-Recipes JPEGs, but they’re doing much less editing than they otherwise would be. The point of using Film Simulation Recipes is to edit less or (preferably) not at all, which has a huge upside, but it does require Recipes that produce excellent results, and a little extra care by the photographer in the field, since “I’ll fix it in post” isn’t really an option.
If Ken had used a Fujifilm camera programmed with Fuji X Weekly Recipes, surely he would not be busy right now post-processing pictures captured way back in October. Instead, he’d be writing those reviews that have been delayed, or out on some other photographic adventure. The October exposures would have been completed in October, or maybe early November at the latest. If he had used RitchieCam, there would be no need to process his iPhone images with Skylum software, because they would have been ready-to-publish the moment they were captured. Ken, you should try my iPhone camera app. And you should shoot with Fujifilm cameras more often.
With the Canikony brands, shooting awesome straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) JPEGs isn’t as easy or prevalent. Sure, it can be done, but it is much more often done with other brands because of things like the Fuji X Weekly App, which contains approaching 300 Film Simulation Recipes for Fujifilm cameras, so no matter your desired aesthetic, there’s a Recipe for you. Download the Fuji X Weekly App for free today (Android here, Apple here), and consider becoming a Patron subscriber to unlock the best App experience. Ken is sitting at a computer right now fiddling with files, since he didn’t shoot with Fujifilm cameras programmed with Film Simulation Recipes.
People seem to either love or hate Ken Rockwell. To be clear, this article is not bashing him. I’ve actually had correspondence with Ken, and he seems like a very nice guy. I think his “real” personality is much more kind and genuine than his online persona, which can sometimes come across as abrasive and perhaps even offensive. If you hate him, I would suggest that you reach out to him with an open mind and heart, and try to get to know him a little, because your mind might get changed, even if just a bit. Personally, I have found some of his articles, insights, and commentary to be quite helpful; however, I certainly don’t agree with everything that he says, and I take his words with a grain of salt (as you should with mine). He’s very successful at what he does, so he’s obviously doing something “right” even if I don’t fully agree with what it is.
All of that is to say, if you don’t want your workflow backed up for months because you have so many exposures to edit, and you’d rather spend your time doing something else—including capturing more photographs—then SOOC JPEGs might just be the thing for you. If you don’t own a Fujifilm camera, consider picking one up. Download the Fuji X Weekly App. Select a few Film Simulation Recipes to try. Let your RAW editor subscription expire.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
We’re two weeks away from kicking off SOOC Live Season 3! Join myself and Nathalie Boucry as we talk about Film Simulation Recipes, Fujifilm cameras, photography, and so much more. There will be quite a few changes to the show, which we’ll discuss in the initial episode, so you’ll want to tune in. We’ll be broadcasting live on February 9th at 9 AM Pacific Time, Noon Eastern Time, and we hope that you will join us. Mark your calendars now!
One big change is that SOOC Live has its own YouTube channel. All of the “old” episodes will be added there, but it is a work-in-progress and will take some time, so please excuse the construction. You’ll want to take a moment right now to subscribe to the SOOC Live channel, that way you’ll get notified of new broadcasts. Also, the Season 3 Kickoff episode has already been scheduled, so be sure to set the reminder. You know, hit the bell and smash the button and all that fun stuff.
If you haven’t uploaded your photos, don’t forget to do so soon (click here)! Which pictures should you share? Submit up to three of your favorite images captured with the Mystery Chrome Film Simulation Recipe (which was created live during the last episode of Season 2) and/or festive photographs captured over the holiday season with any Film Simulation Recipe. Be sure to include your name and the recipe used in the file name. All the pictures submitted will be included in a slide show, and some will be shown during the show. Everyone who submits a photo will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a 12-month Patron subscription to the Fuji X Weekly App. Please submit your pictures by February 7th.
If you haven’t visited the SOOC Live website, you’ll want to do so and bookmark it. It’s also a work-in-progress, and you’ll see a few changes and updates over the coming weeks and months.
There are some big things in store for SOOC Live Season 3! Come along for the ride and see where this journey takes us.
“The effect of one-step processing on both amateur and professional creative photography has been revolutionary.”
—Ansel Adams, Polaroid Land Camera
I woke up this morning unsure what to write about. It just so happened that I had a handful of exposures I captured yesterday evening still sitting on the SD Card in my Fujifilm X-T5. Using Fujifilm’s Cam Remote App, I transferred the pictures from the camera to my iPhone, cropped and straightened a few of them, and uploaded the images to cloud storage. It took maybe 10 minutes tops start-to-finish, and I don’t even think it was that long. One-step photography, which removes the second-step (the editing step), is truly revolutionary, just as Ansel Adams stated. Of course he was talking about instant film—something he was a big fan of—and we’re talking about straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, something that I’m a big fan of. Now I know what to write about today!
Why is shooting straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) JPEGs revolutionary?
First, it allows for a faster, more streamlined workflow. When you use Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes, the camera does all the post-processing work for you. You don’t have to spend hours and hours sitting in front of a computer fiddling with images. This can save you an extensive amount of time and effort, which can significantly increase your productivity, plus make photography more enjoyable. It’s not only a faster workflow, but an easier workflow. Achieving a desired aesthetic is as simple as programming the correct recipe into your camera.
Next, SOOC JPEGs allow you to be more consistent. Because the camera is applying the recipes, the photographer doesn’t have to worry about inconsistencies in their editing process. This makes achieving cohesive results for a photo series or project much easier.
Also, JPEGs are more efficient than RAW in terms of storage space. You don’t need to buy a larger SD Card or external hard drive or pay for more cloud storage nearly as quickly. Upload and download times are faster. You have a ready-to-share photo the moment that it’s captured—you don’t have to wait for a program to process it first.
Finally, SOOC JPEGs might be considered more authentic. Film Simulation Recipes often replicate the look and feel of classic film stocks and processes, and seem less digital-like in their rendering. There is a growing sentiment among photography consumers (not photographers, but those who view pictures) that “Photoshop” is bad, and picture manipulation equals people manipulation; however, unedited images don’t carry that stigma, and can come across as more authentic.
All of this and more are why there is a revolution in photography right now. More and more photographers—from first-camera beginners to experienced pros with recognizable names—are using Film Simulation Recipes and shooting SOOC JPEGs. It’s a growing trend, and I believe it will become much bigger in the coming years. I’m truly honored to be a part of it, and I’m glad that you’ve come along for the ride.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
When the Nikon Zfc was announced in 2021, I preordered it, and waited a long time for it to come. When it finally arrived, I pulled the Zfc out of the box and began to use it, and I was quickly disappointed. I said that it was most similar to the Fujifilm X-T200, yet significantly bigger, heavier, and more expensive. Still, I put the camera through its paces, and even created 11 Nikon Z Film Simulation Recipes using the Zfc. Then the camera went back into its box, and I strongly considered selling it.
After months and months of none-use, and after moving to a different state, I decided to give the Zfc one more try, but with a significant modification: I ditched the lousy Nikkor 28mm lens in favor of the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4. Why? Because the TTArtisan lens has an aperture ring, and the Nikkor doesn’t. The TTArtisan lens is better optically than the Nikkor, too—I’m much happier with this setup.
Right now I’m working on my full-review of the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 lens, and that means using it. Initially on my Zfc I was using the recipes that I had already created, but then I decided to make a few new ones—I guess I couldn’t help myself. If you add these three to the 11 others, I now have 14 Film Simulation Recipes for Nikon Z cameras!
Obviously, I made these JPEG recipes on the Zfc, so it will render differently on the full-frame models, but I’m not sure exactly how differently, as I’ve never used a full-frame Z camera. The reports have been positive, though, so I assume that they work well, including on the more expensive bodies—I just have no first-hand experience.
For those who might not know what “Film Simulation Recipes” are, they’re JPEG camera settings that allow you to achieve various looks (mostly analog-inspired) straight-out-of-camera, no editing needed. It can save you a lot of time by simplifying your workflow, and it can make the process of creating photographs more enjoyable.
Vintage mood with a deep-teal cast.
Picture Control: Sepia Effect Level: 40 Quick Sharp: 0.00 Sharpening: +1.00 Mid-Range Sharpening: +2.00 Clarity: -2.00 Contrast: +1.00 Filter Effects: Red Toning: 7.00 Active D-Lighting: High High ISO NR: Low White Balance: Cloudy WB Adjust: A1.0 G4.0 ISO: up to 3200
Similar to Kodak Gold with the film spooled backwards (redscale).
Picture Control: Red Effect Level: 50 Quick Sharp: 0.00 Sharpening: -1.00 Mid-Range Sharpening: 0.00 Clarity: -1.00 Contrast: +2.00 Filter Effects: Green Toning: 6.00 Active D-Lighting: Normal High ISO NR: Low White Balance: Day White Fluorescent WB Adjust: B2.0 G4.0 ISO: up to 3200
Reminiscent of brightly exposed color negative film.
Picture Control: Melancholic Effect Level: 100 Quick Sharp: 0.00 Sharpening: 0.00 Mid-Range Sharpening: +1.00 Clarity: -1.00 Contrast: +3.00 Saturation: +3.00 Active D-Lighting: High High ISO NR: Low White Balance: Daylight Fluorescent WB Adjust: A6.0 G6.0 ISO: up to 3200
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I love getting an analog aesthetic right out of camera! Fujifilm X cameras offer many great tools to get film-like results straight-out-of-camera without the need to edit. By adjusting the JPEG parameters, you can create various looks that I call film simulation recipes—I have published nearly 200 of them! These settings save you time, simplify the photographic process, and make capturing pictures even more enjoyable.
“By making it possible for the photographer to observe his work and his subject simultaneously,” wrote Edwin H. Land, co-founder of Polaroid, “and by removing most of the manipulative barriers between the photographer and the photograph, it is hoped that many of the satisfactions of working in the early arts can be brought to a new group of photographers.”
Ansel Adams called it One-Step Photography, and added, “The effect of one-step processing on both amateur and professional creative photography has been revolutionary. As with all art forms, we must accept the limitations of the medium as well as revel in the advantages.”
Land and Adams were specifically talking about Polaroid pictures, but I think it applies similarly to Fujifilm X cameras and film simulation recipes. The “manipulative barriers between the photographer and the photograph” have been removed! Now you just have to decide which recipe you want to use, like picking which film to load, and start creating, without worrying about how you’re going to later manipulate the pictures, because the straight-out-of-camera pictures are pretty darn good, and don’t require manipulation. Sure, edit if you want—there’s nothing wrong with that—but you don’t have to if you don’t want to, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. Ansel Adams called it “revolutionary” and said to “revel in the advantages.” There’s freedom in this.
All of the pictures in this article are unedited (except for perhaps some minor cropping) straight-out-of-camera JPEGs that I recently captured using a Fujifilm X camera and a film simulation recipe.