How to shoot in ProRAW on an iPhone

When Apple announced the iPhone 12 Pro, it introduced a powerful new camera feature: ProRAW. This feature is now available for all Pro and Pro Max models, starting with the 12 series and newer, and if you’re picky about processing your photos, this is definitely a feature worth checking out. ProRAW combines the benefits of computational photography with traditional RAW image capture — kind of the best of both worlds.

So why do you want to use ProRAW in the first place? Let’s go back to digital photography school. A traditional RAW image file preserves more information than is captured when you take a photo. Typically, your iPhone’s camera will process that data into a HEIF or JPEG image, discarding excess data and essentially “baking” things like white balance, exposure, and detail in shadows and highlights. . It’s a smaller, more manageable file, but it’s not as flexible for post-processing. A RAW image stores more of the original information and provides more flexibility for photo editing.

Shooting RAW images with a traditional camera is often preferred if you want to get the most out of your images, but it’s not the same story with a phone camera. That’s because a traditional RAW file is just one frame, and it doesn’t get the benefits of computational photography like multi-frame processing. A smartphone camera JPEG image may be less flexible, but it may include more detail and less noise than a smartphone photo processed from a RAW image without the benefit of computational techniques. .

Enter ProRAW. A ProRAW image combines all the benefits of one file. Multi-frame processing is applied, and the final image saved preserves more information than the standard iPhone JPEG.

A ProRAW file (left) and a standard JPEG (right) cropped at 100 percent. I increased the shadows by +100 in both Adobe Camera RAW files. There is a smooth gradation of shadow areas in the ProRAW file; in JPEG, there is banding and noise visible.

This is great if you want to process your own photos rather than leaving them on your phone, but there is one downside: larger image files. High-res ProRAW files are usually about 75MB compared to about 3 or 4MB for a standard JPEG. That means about 14 ProRAW files add up to about 1GB, so it won’t take long to fill up your phone’s storage with so many image files.

Considering that, ProRAW is a powerful tool that can be used in certain situations – you just need to know how your phone can handle it. Here’s how to do it. (I followed these steps on an iPhone 14 Pro running iOS 16.3.1.)

Once ProRAW is enabled, you need to turn it on in the Camera app. There are two ways to do this:

You can use the 12-megapixel ProRAW on any of your iPhone’s cameras, including the selfie cam, although the 48-megapixel mode is obviously only available on the 14 Pro’s main camera. ProRAW isn’t compatible with portrait mode, either.

Your ProRAW files will be recorded as DNG files, which can be edited right on your phone or in the photo software of your choice, where you can enjoy the glory of all the pixels. Just remember to toggle ProRAW off when you’re done for saving your device.

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