If you have an iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max and consider yourself a photographer, you should install the iOS 14.3 update as soon as possible. The new update makes for a better iPhone 12 Pro camera and allows you to use your cameras phones to use optimally. This is because it includes the new ProRAW feature, which Apple first announced at its October event.
Apple ProRAW in iOS 14.3
For the first time, ProRAW combines the editing flexibility of RAW with Apple's tricks of computer photography such as Smart HDR and Deep Fusion. You no longer have to choose between the flexibility of a standard RAW file and a JPEG or HEIC file, which offers all the computing magic of Apple, but only a limited potential for post-processing, as ProRAW combines both.
Taking RAW photos on iPhone is nothing new. With apps like Halide and Adobe Lightroom, you have been able to capture all the data that the iPhone's sensor can photograph for some time. ProRAW also offers all the usual advantages of RAW. So much better control over white balance, more flexibility in adjusting exposure, sharpness, dynamic range and more. You can better adjust the facial tone in a portrait or pin the exposure in a landscape shot.
However, standard RAW images can look very grainy on the iPhone, as they are still just small smartphone camera sensors and do not require optimization of computer photography. With ProRAW, on the other hand, you should notice all the details as before, but with less noise. This is because ProRAW images do the same multi-frame image processing as normal iPhone recordings. That said, you still get about 14 levels of dynamic range to work with in editing software.
ProRAW can be used with all rear cameras of the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. Of course, ProRaw won't suddenly turn the ultrawide lens into a magic lens, but anything helps - and it even works in night mode. Believe me when I say you get really better iPhone photos with Apple ProRaw.
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How to use ProRAW
To be able to use ProRAW, you must first activate it under the camera options in the settings menu. A RAW button is then displayed in the top right of the camera viewfinder, with which you can quickly switch ProRAW on and off.
I want to stress that while this is easy to turn on, you definitely shouldn't be using ProRAW all the time. The files are on average around 25MB, which is considerably larger than your everyday files iPhone Pictures. This is a feature best reserved for very special photos that are really important to you. ProRAW images are displayed as usual in the camera roll. However, when you try to share them in apps like Instagram, you get an error message. So, you'll want to export them as a smaller JPEG or HEIC file first before sending them to social media.
Another nice thing about ProRAW is that it uses Adobe's widely used DNG file format. There are already a multitude of apps that can be used to open and edit the files without updating. However, apps that use Apple's own RAW converter offer even more control. Halide has already released an update to get the most out of ProRAW and I would expect more photo apps like Pixelmator, Darkroom, and Affinity Photo to follow.
Apps with their own RAW converter, namely Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One, can edit the DNG files but do not have the same functionality as those using Apple's RAW converter. It is possible that Adobe and others will update their conversion tools in the future so that they can work better with ProRAW. Of course, you can also simply edit the images in the Apple Photos app. what are you waiting for?