In this article, we will learn how to enable ProRAW in iPhone 12? When Apple first announced the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max in October 2020, it was stated that one of the features that set the Pro line apart from the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini is ProRAW. This is Apple’s own approach to the RAW image format used in professional photography. RAW formats let you get the most out of your images for editing and post-processing.
Shooting in ProRAW eventually became available on iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max devices with iOS 14.3, which was released back in December 2020. But what exactly is ProRAW, and what makes it different from the regular JPEG or HEIC formats? Should you use this format all the time? How to enable ProRAW in iPhone 12? Let’s try to figure it out.
What is ProRAW?
ProRaw is only available on iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
When you shoot in HEIC or JPEG format on your iPhone, you are essentially giving the command to Apple’s computational photography algorithm first “process” the image yourself to make it look good enough without further editing. ProRAW is more like a hybrid of RAW and JPEG / HEIC. When you shoot with ProRAW, you get a 12-bit RAW DNG file with 14 stops of dynamic range. The ProRAW format allows Apple to leverage its proprietary computational photography capabilities while providing the user with as much data as possible to use when self-editing.
So while ProRAW is a great new feature that gives you even more editing options, keep in mind that photos in this format are much larger. You can easily take up the rest of your iPhone’s memory by filming with ProRAW only, so make sure you use it. Only on the photos you are going to edit later in the same Photoshop or another application.
How do I enable ProRAW in iPhone 12?
It’s important to note that the only devices that can use the Apple ProRAW format right now are the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. If you have a regular iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, or an older iPhone, then, unfortunately, you won’t be able to shoot in ProRAW. However, you can always use third-party apps to take regular RAW photos. At the same time, keep in mind that the third-party application will not have the same processing power that Apple uses for ProRAW. Follow these steps to enable ProRAW in iPhone 12-
- Launch Settings.
- Scroll down and select the Camera menu.
- Click on Formats.
- Make sure the Apple ProRAW switch is on.
You can turn on ProRaw in a few seconds.
Boom! You have successfully enabled ProRAW in iPhone 12 and now ready to shoot in ProRAW! If you want to take a ProRAW photo, tap the RAW icon in the Camera app.
Limitations of ProRAW Format
Because ProRAW uses shooting software, it has some limitations. While the format works great with night mode but the portrait mode will not work. Why? The fact is that portrait mode itself is heavily dependent on computational photography for overlaying layers and artificial blur, so such a photo cannot be “stacked” with ProRaw software algorithms.
Should you use ProRAW?
If you don’t have a DSLR and want to use an iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max as your primary camera, then ProRAW is a feature worth using if you’re going to edit photos later and don’t plan to keep them on your device for a long time.
The very juice of ProRaw is its advanced editing capabilities. This is the Darkroom app.
This may not always be noticeable. After processing, ProRAW photos definitely look sharper and richer than processed images in JPEG or HEIC. At first glance, you might think that a JPEG / HEIC photo looks better, but that’s because the photo has already been processed. And RAW and ProRAW shots require extra work before they look good.
Photo in JPEG edited in Darkroom on the left, ProRAW with the same edits on the right. Here you can see source codes.
It’s also better to use a photo editing app to see the differences between formats since I honestly don’t see much difference between ProRaw and JPEG in the iPhone’s Photos app, probably because the ProRAW format uses computational photography like Deep Fusion and Smart HDR.
Photo in JPEG on the left, in ProRaw on the right. Here you can see source codes.
For example, the two photos above show a gazebo in the park in the evening, at sunset. A regular JPEG photo (left) has a bright blue sky, making it look like it was captured during the day (but it wasn’t). The light is also somewhat blurred. The texture also appears to be too harsh, and the color is much more yellow than it should be. The ProRAW version (right) has smoother textures, more lifelike colors with fewer highlights, and subdued skies.
If you zoom in, the standard JPEG will also have more noise, while the ProRAW version will not be noisy.
Third-party camera apps with Raw support on iPhone
Moment Pro Camera App
Several apps let you take and edit RAW photos right on your iPhone and iPad. I personally like to use Halide mark ii, Pro Camera by Moment, and Darkroom on my iPhone. If ProRAW is enabled on your device, you can easily switch to this format (rather than the regular RAW format) in these applications as well. For example, in Moment, you can click on the file format above the viewfinder and make sure it’s set to ProRAW. Here are some more images.