Apple ProRAW: Is it Worth Using on iPhone

Apple ProRAW

Apple ProRAW is a camera setting on the iPhone that captures images in raw format. The raw format preserves all of the data from the sensor, so it’s great for post-processing.

The RAW picture format is not new to the photography world, and it has been used by professional photographers for years. In the past, professional photographers have been known to use RAW format to help them get the best out of their images by adjusting contrast, color, and saturation.

However, some photographers argue that RAW is too heavy on their phones’ processors and renders a longer shutter speed than they’d like.

However, ProRAW has only recently been made available to iPhone 12 pro series, 13 pro, 13 pro max, and new iPhone 14 pro, and 14 pro max users as a camera setting option.

The introduction of Apple ProRAW to iPhone cameras has introduced an interesting debate about whether or not this is something worth using on your phone.

Note: The ProRAW format can’t be used with Portrait Mode, Live Photos or shooting videos, instead it does have Smart HDR/Deep Fusion/Night Mode features to capture pictures.

What is Apple ProRaw?

ProRAW is a RAW format that lets you play around with editing. You can choose your own lighting and enhance the photo in whichever style you want. In simpler terms, capturing images in a nighttime environment and wanting to edit them like they were taken during the day should be done with ProRAW mode.

If you want to do advanced editing and highlighting the sharp details of your shots, ProRAW is the feature you must try on your Apple iPhone 14 Pro or ProMax. Shooting in this format is very easy.

But what sets Apple ProRAW apart from the iPhone’s normal HEIC or JPEG files?

Let’s look at it…

RAW Vs ProRAW: What’s the Difference?

RAW mode is a popular format for photos as it offers photographers unprocessed data with the capture. It gives them a chance to play around with composition and get creative without worrying about the quality of the image.

RAW images are typically flat and lack the extensibility of other formats that are friendlier for editing, but this freedom allows you more adequate room to work on and experiment with your photography. RAW format is can be considered as the beginning for the computational photography.

On the other hand, Apple’s ProRAW mode is a slightly processed RAW image, resulting in a better format than just using the original RAW image.

When you take a picture on your iPhone using either HEIC or JPEG formats, a deep fusion technology will automatically optimize the quality of your photo. So there’s no need to edit it further. ProRAW is a RAW format that may be an alternative to JPEG or HEIC. You get a 12-bit, 14-stop RAW DNG file when you shoot in ProRAW.

The heavier weight of ProRAW files (roughly around 25MB a file) is really due to their amount of data. Compared to JPEGs, which are usually 3-5 MB, or HEICs (High Efficiency Image Codec), which average around 1-3 MB in file size.

Improved Apple ProRAW in iPhone 14 Pro Series

One of the new features on the iPhone 14 Pro series is its bigger and better camera. It has a 48MP sensor, which will provide much more detail in your photos. Integration of computational photography technology called Photonic Engines makes shots even more detailed, sharper, and better then before.

Preliminary findings show that the images from the ProRAW camera on the 48MP will be around 8,064 by 6,048 and around 75MB in size. That’s much bigger than with previous version.

The new quad-pixel sensor is here to save the day! It features a new machine learning model that can merge four pixels into one, so now with ProRAW you can get razor-sharp and super bright shots without any frustrating noise.

How to Enable Apple ProRAW on iPhone?

To be able to use ProRAW on your iPhone you will need to see if your phone is compatible or not. Your iPhone needs to be on iOS 14.3 or later, if not, please update the operating system and follow the steps given below –

Steps to Turn on ProRAW Mode

  1. Go to iPhone Settings.
  2. Scroll down and select Camera App.
  3. Tap on Formats.
  4. You will find Apple ProRAW option under the Photo Capture menu, turn it on.

Once you do this, you can capture a RAW image from the Camera app. You still need to turn it on manually with the built-in Camera App even if you have it set to auto.

One thing that you need to take into consideration is that, images captured with ProRAW format will quickly drain your phone’s storage due to of its large file size.

How to Shoot Photos in ProRAW Mode using iPhone Camera?

Once you enable the ProRAW mode on your iPhone, follow the below steps to shoot photos with this new advanced feature –

  1. First, open the camera app to click photos.
  2. You will find RAW mode disabled by default on the top right side of the screen.
  3. Tap on it to enable RAW mode.

Done, now whatever shots you will take will be saved in the ProRAW format.

To click all the images in ProRAW format all the time, you need to go to Settings→ Camera→ Preserve Settings and Toogle the Apple ProRAW mode to turn it on. However, it is not recommended as it will eat up your phone’s storage very quickly.

What are the Recommended Apps to Edit ProRAW Images?

ProRAW images are saved in an editable .DNG format which can be edited by iPhone photo editing apps and other third party editing apps that support RAW format.

Personally, I use Photoshop and Lightroom to edit photos in ProRAW format as these tools gives more room and features to play around.

Below are some of the recommended apps to use for ProRAW image editing –

  1. Adobe Photoshop
  2. Adobe Lightroom
  3. Apple Photos
  4. Snapseed
  5. Darktable
  6. Photivo

If a ProRAW image is saved as .jpg file, it may look different because it is partially compressed. To upload this type of file to the Apple Ecosystem, you can use AirDrop or iCloud.

Is Apple ProRAW Worth It?

If you don’t have a DSLR, and want to use your iPhone as your main camera and intend to edit the images afterwards, ProRAW is a worthy feature.

ProRAW provides a more natural, less processed look than JPEG/HEIC. Whilst initially you may feel like the JPEG/HEIC image is better because it has already been tweaked to be pleasing, ProRAW will still have a rawer look and feel.

RAW files and ProRAW images need processing to be seen as great. Computational photography is used in the ProRAW format, making it comparable to Deep Fusion and Smart HDR. It’s therefore better if you use an editing tool to see the changes.

When you edit a RAW picture you have much more control over specific features like exposure and tone. Hence, ProRAW may look less better than default iPhone picture formats. However, if you are a pro photographer and using your iPhone to click photos with more details or want to edit them later on, then ProRAW images on an iPhone make it a worthy feature.

FAQs on ProRAW

When Should I Use ProRAW Feature on My iPhone?

If you need to edit a picture, either for composition or for changing the image’s lighting, click it with PRO RAW format.

What Makes RAW, HEIC, a JPG Photo Format Different from Each Other?

Raw files are saved and stored in the .DNG extension and retain all of the unprocessed data of an image.

HEIC is Apple’s way for storing photos. It is not a format in itself, but a container for storing images. This means the images are of better quality and use less storage space. They are stored with a .heic extension.

JPEG is the most common format to store photos. It’s been in use for over a quarter of a century, it’s best featured for exporting photos as it has universal compatibility, and can be accessed by just about any device that can open images.

Why do RAW Photos Look Blurry in Photo App?

RAW Photos are bigger in size and need more space. Due to Memory Hog issue, users may see blurry photos, and sharpness may not be what you expected. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to fix this: update your OS software to 14.3 iOS or later and 11.1 macOS.

Are RAW Photos Flagged in the Photos App?

Yes, photos clicked in the RAW format will be flagged with the RAW tag at the top right corner of the app. It helps user to identify the format of the photo easily.

Can I Shoot in RAW Photos in other iPhones?

Yes, you can click photos in RAW format using third party apps even if your iPhone doesn’t have RAW feature. Manual, Halide, and ProCam 8 are popular apps you can try.

Wrapping it Up

This was all about ProRAW format you should know. If you are a photographer using iPhone to click photos, then turning on ProRAW feature will help reatly on post-editing.

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