If you are currently taking a photo on your iPhone, it will be saved as a JPEG or Raw file. Think of a JPEG file as a meal served to you in a restaurant. You’re basically stuck with how the restaurant prepared the food and you don’t have many options to change it. In a JPEG file, your phone controls the color balance, exposure, noise reduction, sharpening, and other aspects of a photo.
A raw file is more like a bag of groceries with all the ingredients you need to prepare a meal. You can adjust a photo to look the way you want. However, the camera sensor on your phone is small, especially when compared to larger sensors on a mirrorless or DSLR camera, which means it gets a lot of image noise and has a small dynamic range. However, JPEGs (or the newer HEIC format) get a boost to ‘fix’ those minor sensor flaws in the form of, and on the iPhone.
Raw photos can onlywith a third-party app, such as Halide or VSCO, and without any math help. This means you can create a JPEG file with the native iOS camera app and get the computing power from Apple or take a raw photo with a third party app without this app.
The addition of ProRaw changes all of this. It’s native to the iOS camera app on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, but it’s not on by default. Go to to enable it Settings > Camera > Formats and under a new To take a picture section there is a switch to flip Apple ProRaw on and off. You will see a new one at the top right of the camera app Raw button to quickly switch between ProRaw photos and JPEG (or HEIC) photos.
ProRaw works on all four iPhone 12 cameras and in night mode. It uses the widely supported Adobe Digital Negative or DNG file format and includes information for 12-bit color and support for 14 stops of dynamic range. Files are large, averaging about 25 megabytes.
The approach Apple took with ProRaw is similar to howon Pixel phones. ProRaw files are made up of multiple image frames and keep the data of the best parts of those photos. to create a deep photo file. The A14 Bionic performs all of these analyzes in real time without causing shutter lag.
MacOS and iOS both support and can convert ProRaw files, as well as apps such as Dark Room and Pixelmator. You can edit ProRaw images in the Photos app. The photos are given an unedited tag in the same way as HDR videos. Since the file is DNG, apps like Adobe Lightroom will work, but will work better once they support ProRaw.
“We are working closely with Apple and are excited about the opportunities ProRaw can bring to our common customers,” said an Adobe representative. “We don’t have any details to share at the moment.”
It is also worth noting that support for basic raw photos on iPhone will still be available to third parties. In fact, developers can provide support for both raw and ProRaw photos in their apps.
At this point, there’s no word on whether ProRaw will be included in the final version of 14.3, or when it will be officially available to iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max owners.
Follow the iPhone 12 Pro Max on a rugged Lost Coast photography adventure
See all the photos