What is Apple ProRAW and how to use it on iPhone?

How to shoot photos in ProRAW on the iPhone

The Apple ProRAW picture format was one of the distinguishing features of the iPhone 12 Pro series. From there, it has been continued on the iPhone 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, and the new iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. The RAW picture format, used by professional DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, is what Apple calls ProRAW on iPhone.

It’s the ideal format to shoot in if you want to do advanced editing and highlight the sharp details of the shot. Therefore, you must try using ProRAW on your iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max once. It’s very simple to shoot in this format. But what distinguishes Apple ProRAW from the iPhone’s normal HEIC or JPEG files? Let’s look at it.

What is Apple ProRAW?

ProRAW is a format that gives you an upper hand while editing your photos. It does not preset the lighting of the image so that you can enhance it in whichever format you want. In layman’s terms, if you capture an image in night mode and wish to brighten it like a daytime image, you should capture it with ProRAW mode.

You might wonder how this is even possible. This is because Apple ProRAW merges the information of a standard RAW format with iPhone image processing. This lets you play with the exposure, color as well as white balance of the image. These captures can be edited using third-party applications or the built-in Photos app. The formatted images will be larger. Hence, they might drain your storage quickly.

Note: ProRAW format can capture pictures with Smart HDR, Deep Fusion, and Night Mode features but cannot be used with Live Photos, Portrait Mode, or shooting videos.

What’s the difference between RAW and ProRAW? 

Most photographers prefer taking pictures in RAW Mode as it gives them unprocessed data with the capture. This lets them play with the composition and go crazy with their imagination. This means RAW images are as flat as you expect and may not look appealing. This is precisely why it gives you room to work on the image as much as you want. This is the beginning of computational photography.

The ProRAW Mode, on the other hand, is adding Apple’s touch to the RAW format. This means it is a slightly processed image, thus in a better format than a RAW image. ProRAW covers the groundwork for you and gives you equal opportunities to tweak the image according to your demand. The program is the Midas touch to RAW format.

Normally, when you capture any image with your iPhone HEIC or JPEG format. Also, Apple’s Deep Fusion technology optimizes the image before saving. So, you don’t need further editing. ProRAW is akin to a cross between RAW and JPEG/HEIC. You get a 12-bit RAW DNG file with 14 stops of dynamic range when you shoot in ProRAW. 

Also, ProRAW files are often approximately 25 MB apiece because of the amount of data they include, as opposed to the typical JPEG file size of 3-5 MB and the average file size of 1-3 MB for a HEIC. The upgraded camera capabilities now enhance the ProRAW to provide the cleanest original data for editing. 

Enhanced Apple ProRAW in iPhone 14

One of the major highlights of the iPhone 14 Pro series is its upgraded camera setup with a larger 48MP sensor. Also, Apple has added new computational photography technology called Photonic Engine on iPhone that will further enhance shots. As per hands-on experience, the 48MP ProRAW images of the main camera will be around a resolution of 8,064 by 6,048 and 75MB in size – that’s 3x bigger than before. 

The new quad-pixel sensor can merge four pixels into one to deliver sharper and brighter shots with less noise for unprecedented detail. So, it can now capture ProRAW photos in sharp and crisp detail and comes with a “new machine learning model.” The main 48MP camera has a seven-element lens with an aperture of f/1.78, second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS), and 100% focus pixels.

How to use Apple ProRAW on iPhone

While the internet is going gaga over the format and how to make the most out of it, it is a very simple format to capture images in. I hope you have your devices handy, for I will walk you through the steps to use Apple ProRAW on iPhone in real time. I cannot wait to show the endless possibilities with the format and unleash the hidden photographer in you.

To turn on ProRAW, you need to check if your device is compatible with the feature or not. Your iPhone should be updated to iOS 14.3 or later; if not, update your device first and then follow the steps mentioned below.

Turn on ProRAW mode

  1. Head over to Settings.
  2. Scroll down to Camera.
  3. Tap Formats.
  4. Enable Apple ProRAW. You will find it under the PHOTO CAPTURE menu.
Turn on ProRAW on iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Once this is done, you can choose to capture the image in RAW format from the camera itself. You must still switch it on while shooting with the built-in Camera app even when you have it set. This is due to the size of ProRAW files; using them for every image you take will quickly drain your device’s storage capacity.

Shoot photos in ProRAW with iPhone camera

  1. Open the Camera on your iPhone.
  2. You will find the RAW Mode disabled. (Top right with a strike on it: RAW ). Tap it to enable RAW Mode.
Shoot photos in ProRAW on iPhone 12 Pro Max

If you want to capture every photo with the ProRAW Mode ON all the time, preserve your settings by heading over to Settings → Camera → Preserve Settings → Toggle Apple ProRAW. I do not recommend this because you might end up using all your storage as ProRAW files are 10 to 12 times larger than HEIF or JPEG, and you don’t need every photo in its RAW format.

Difference between ProRAW and Normal Photo Shoot

That’s it. Head over to your favorite location and capture the moment in ProRAW format. Here is my favorite snap from the few pictures I captured.

Edit and share Apple ProRAW photos

ProRAW images are stored in standard DNG format. Ensure the image is saved with the .dng extension to edit them later. They can be edited using iPhone Photos app and any third-party RAW photo editing apps supporting .dng. I prefer Lightroom since I get many professional features to tweak the image according to my convenience.

Here are some of the preferred apps to edit ProRAW pictures:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Lightroom
  • Snapseed
  • Apple Photos

ProRAW images can also be shared using the .jpg extension. However, it might look different than expected because it is partly compressed to a .jpeg format. To export these images in the Apple Ecosystem, AirDrop them or use iCloud to access them.

Does ProRAW really make any difference?

ProRAW is a worthy feature if you don’t have a DSLR, want to use your iPhone as your main camera, and intend to edit the images afterward. ProRAW photographs have a more subdued and smoother look than a processed JPEG/HEIC image. But at first sight, you may prefer the JPEG/HEIC image because it has already undergone processing to make it seem beautiful. 

RAW and ProRAW images need further processing to make them appear as good. The ProRAW format uses computational photography comparable to Deep Fusion and Smart HDR. Thus, it’s better to use a picture editing tool to observe the changes.

However, you have much more control over specific features like exposure and tone when you start editing a ProRAW picture. Therefore, ProRAW is not intended to be “better” than the default iPhone picture formats, but there are instances when you may want to have access to more subtle details and refined editing. In light of this, the ability to shoot ProRAW images on an iPhone makes it a worthwhile investment.

FAQs

Q. When should I use ProRAW on my iPhone?

If you need to edit the photo, either the composition or change the image’s lighting, click them with ProRAW format. Using the iPhone to shoot RAW generates an image between a JPEG and a RAW one. So, capture the ProRAW image to have the image with the groundwork done right.

Q. What is the difference between the RAW, HEIC, a JPG photo format?

RAW files are stored in the .dng extension; they carry all the unprocessed data of the image.

HEIC is Apple’s method of storing photos. It is not a format per se but a container to store images. This means the images stored are of better quality and use lesser storage. They are stored with .heic extension.

JPEG is the most common format to store a photo and has been in use for a quarter. It’s best suited to export images because it is a universal format and can be accessed by almost every device that can open images.

Q. Why do RAW Photos look blurry in the Photos App?

RAW Photos take a lot of your memory. They might look blurry at times due to the memory hog and may not look as sharp as expected. However, you will not face this issue if you update your iOS to 14.3 or later and macOS to Big Sur 11.1 or later, as they support the format.

Q. Are RAW photos flagged in the Photos App to identify them?

Yes, raw photos are flagged with a RAW tag at the top-right corner.

Q. How to shoot RAW photos on other iPhones?

You need to install third-party apps to shoot RAW photos on other iPhones. HalideManual, and ProCam 8 are some apps you can use.

Conclusion

How is the ProRAW format working for you? I thoroughly enjoyed capturing beautiful moments with the format and satisfied my creativity with some editing. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Go through more new features of the iPhone 14 below:

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