It allows you to capture photos in a file format that retains much more image data than the standard file format that iPhone uses by default. The big advantage is that you can make a lot more settings during the editing process. Apple leaves this new feature turned off by default, but it’s easy to turn it on and start using it. But first, a look at what exactly RAW means.
What is ProRAW?
You are probably familiar with JPEG, the file format that most phones and even professional cameras use for photos. It is the most common format due to its ability to compress image data and reduce the file size of an image without significantly affecting the quality. There are similar benefits to HEIC, a newer format used by Apple that creates even smaller file sizes while maintaining good image quality.
But when it comes to editing JPEG photos, on Instagram or your default photo editing app, the number of edits you can make is limited. You might not be able to fix that overexposed sky, for example. This is because JPEG / HEIC does not have as much image data to work with, as a large amount of that data is deleted when the file is compressed. This is why most professional photographers take pictures in RAW. The RAW format is lossless, which means it contains unprocessed image data directly from the camera sensor. This richer data set can make all the difference in fixing a blown sky, correcting white balance, or adjusting the colors of plants and humans to appear more natural. The tradeoff is the file size; a RAW image is several times the size of a JPEG or HEIC.
Serious iPhone photographers have been able to take RAW photos for a while via third-party apps like Halide. But what makes the new ProRAW feature special is that you don’t need to use another camera app – ProRAW images can be captured in the iPhone’s native camera app. Most importantly, it uses all of Apple’s advanced computer photography features built into the iPhone. You therefore benefit from features such as noise reduction; Deep fusion; and Smart HDR, which merges the frames before and after you press the shutter button for a better exposed shot.
Where JPEG / HEICs are processed images ready to be shared and RAW photos are unprocessed images ready to be edited, ProRAW is in the middle. It has image processing, so you have a better starting point than with a RAW image, and you still get the best editing options to adjust saturation, contrast, exposure, and more. settings.
How to activate ProRAW
This new feature is only available on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. It doesn’t work on other iPhone 12 models, only the top performing (and most expensive) phones.
Capturing with ProRAW is very easy. First of all, you will need to update iOS. The feature was added in iOS 14.3, so update your phone to the latest version. Head toward Settings> General> Software update to install it. As usual, make sure your iPhone is backed up as a precaution (we have a guide here) before the update.
Once installed, head to Settings> Camera> Formats and activate Apple ProRAW. Now if you open the Camera app you will see a RAW icon in the top right with a bar across. This means it is turned off and your camera is configured to capture HEIC / JPEG images. Tap the RAW icon to start taking RAW photos, then tap again to return to HEIC / JPEG shooting.