ProRAW option for iPhone 12: How to Enable and Use ProRAW

Apple’s latest iOS 14.3 update just added the ability to shoot ProRAW format on iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. This new format is promised to give more control to users over their images. Read on to know more about Apple’s ProRAW option for iPhone 12 and how to enable Apple ProRAW on iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

A Few Things about RAW and JPEG


You’re probably familiar with JPEG, a common image file format on many phones and cameras. It’s quite useful due to the ability to compress and reduce a picture’s file size without dramatically affecting its quality.
On the other hand, when an image is recorded as RAW data, it contains all data from the camera’s sensor. So, basically, these files have more tonal and color data than the compressed JPEGs.

Besides, when it comes to editing photos on apps, the amount of tweaking you can do with JPEG is also limited. That’s because JPEG or HEIC don’t have that much image data to work with. This is due to data loss during the compressing process.

How ProRAW Option for iPhone 12 Works

When JPEGs/HEICs are processed images ready to be shared, RAW photos are unprocessed images ready to be edited. And, ProRAW is in the middle.
It not only offers image processing but also has all the editing options for contrast, exposure, and other parameters. All of that means you have more control when it comes to photo editing now.

What makes this new feature special is that you don’t need to use another camera app to capture RAW images. More importantly, it utilizes all of Apple’s advanced photography features on the iPhone. So, you’re getting the benefits of things like noise reduction, Deep Fusion, and Smart HDR. In addition, you still can shoot in RAW via third-party apps like Halide if needed.

Unfortunately, the tradeoff here is the file size! A RAW image is several times bigger than the size of a JPEG or HEIC.

When to Use ProRAW?

It’s important to know that ProRAW isn’t necessarily all the time. Although ProRAW opens up a new potential to phoneography, it might not make that much of a difference in certain lighting situations.

Here is an example of when to use ProRAW:

Here, the middle one is the unedited image without using ProRAW. As you can see, it’s too dark in several areas and has a lot of image noise.

Moving on to the photo on the right, which was edited from the same file. Well, it looks even worse now! Brightening made the streetlights become too bright while the rest of the photo looks unnatural.

Now, turn your attention to the ProRAW image (the left photo), which was edited in the Photos app. This image looks like it came from a completely different camera. The colors look so natural now! And, it’s not packed with noise or masked in darkness.

Using ProRAW option for iPhone 12

Overall, the advantages of ProRAW is in low-light and high-contrast scenarios. Just give it a try and experiment. The differences are easy to notice when you start editing photos. Plus, it’s easy to switch back and forth between JPEG and ProRAW.

How to Use ProRAW on iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max

This new feature is available only on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. And, there is still no word on ProRAW support coming to other iPhone models yet.

Start by updating your iOS. Because ProRAW is available in iOS 14.3, so make sure your iPhone is on the latest iOS version. As usual, remember to back up your iPhone before updating. To install iOS 14.3, open Settings > General > Software Update.

When everything is completed, follow these steps to enable ProRAW:

  1. Go to Settings > Camera > Formats.
  2. Here, toggle on Apple ProRAW.
  3. Now, open the camera. You’ll see a RAW icon at the top right with a strike through it. That means it’s turned off, and your camera is set to capture JPEG /HEIC images.
  4. Tap the icon to start shooting RAW photos, and tap it again to go back to JPEG/HEIC.
iphone 12 ProRAW

In addition, if you want the camera to leave ProRAW turned on all the time, here is how to do it:

Open Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings. Here, toggle on Apple ProRAW to use it all the time.

Note: ProRAW photos use the DNG file format, which is compatible with most photo-editing apps, like Adobe Lightroom. But, popular social media platforms like Instagram won’t support the DNG file upload. So, you will have to edit your image almost every time before sharing.


The Bottom line

If you want to shot the best image quality on your iPhone, you should absolutely turn on ProRAW and keep it on all the time. However, while a photo in JPEG/HEIC mode is around 2.5 MB, that same shot is up to 27 MB in ProRAW mode. So, shooting RAW too often will chew through your iPhone storage faster than you think.

Let us know about how your experience with ProRAW has been so far on your iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max in the comments!

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