If you’re a photographer, you know that capturing RAW photos allow you to edit them after the fact without sacrificing quality. With Apple ProRAW available on iPhone, you can replicate that experience while continuing to use the company’s other photography smart features.
What is Apple ProRAW?
Smartphones like the iPhone use computational photography to improve the look of the photos they take. Apple’s built-in Smart HDR, Deep Fusion, and Night Mode features use machine learning to take higher resolution and crisper shots even in poor lighting situations.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to capture a true RAW photo and still use Apple’s smart technology. You can take RAWs with an iPhone, but it won’t use any machine learning to improve the image before it’s captured. But with ProRAW, you get something between a standard iPhone HEIC or JPG and a RAW file that holds a record of what the sensor captured.
ProRAW is Apple’s custom, in-house RAW format. When capturing photos, the end result is a 12-bit RAW DNG file with 14 stops of dynamic range. This means that you can take full advantage of the iPhone’s computational photography processing and still properly edit the photo after the fact.
At the time of writing, the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max are the only two phones that support ProRAW. It’s also only available in iOS 14.3 and higher. Apple will expand ProRAW support to newer handsets in the future.
How to Turn on Apple ProRAW on an iPhone
Before you can use ProRAW, you have to enable the feature. Although your first instinct might be to jump into the “Camera” app, instead, open the “Settings” app.
Using Apple’s built-in Spotlight search if you cannot find the Settings app on your iPhone’s home screen.
Next, scroll down and tap the “Camera” option.
You are now in your iPhone camera’s settings menu. Here, you can adjust video framerates, add grids to your preview, and more.
Select the “Formats” option found at the top of the list.
Finally, toggle on “Apple ProRAW.”
As a reminder, capturing ProRAW images on your iPhone will take up more storage space than taking standard photos. If you don’t plan on editing your images, you might be better off not using the DNG format, especially if your smartphone is running out of room.
How to Shoot RAW Photos in the Camera App
With Apple ProRAW enabled and turned on, it’s time to take a picture. Open the “Camera” app on your iPhone.
Again, if you can’t find the application on your device’s home screen, use Spotlight search to locate it.
Next, while ensuring that you’re in “Photo” mode, tap the crossed-out “RAW” icon found in the top-right corner.
When the “RAW” icon is visible, images will be captured in Apple ProRAW. Go ahead and tap the shutter button to snap a photo.
When you scroll through your images in Apple’s “Photos” app, you’ll find a “RAW” label stamped on the top of the ProRAW photo.
In third-party gallery apps like Google Photos, the image will not appear as a RAW. Instead, you’ll have to dig into its properties and look for the DNG file extension.