How to Take Raw Photos on an iPhone if You Don’t Have an iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max

Besides the Ceramic Shield and 5G technology, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max also have a new ProRaw image format. Even though this feature allows you to take better quality pictures, it is only available on the latest iPhones. However, there is still a way for you to do this on older models. Here is how to take Raw photos on your iPhone that isn’t an iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max.

What is Raw and Why Should You Use It?

Raw is a format used mostly by photographers to enable more flexibility and creative control when editing their photos. Normally, when you take a photo on your iPhone, it will be saved as a JPEG file. However, this file is compressed in order to preserve the majority of valuable detail, while removing some of the embedded info and data in the photos. Actually, JPEG files are quite useful for everyday use as smaller photos are easier to share and take up less space. 

On the other hand, these compressed images are less useful for editing because most of the details have been removed during the compression process.

With a Raw file, you can capture all of the data that gets pulled straight off of your iPhone camera sensor. The result is a much larger file that is perfect for editing. For instance, things like the tones, white balance, and exposure can be edited freely without compromising your photo quality.

So, if you’re a photographer or one of those who are really into photo editing, then take your skills to the next level by using raw photos. But, we recommend you do not change your camera setting while taking raw images, as raw files are usually around 25MB (triple the size of JPEG), so you might end up running out of your phone’s storage in no time.

Taking Raw Photos Without Using the iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max

Currently, there are several apps that help you take raw photos on iPhones. But, here are our two favorites:


Take raw photos on an iPhone with Halide

Halide is here to bring your iPhone photography to the next level. This app offers excellent photo quality and editing tools for the pro, while also being familiar and accessible enough to newcomers. The standard RAW feature of Halide gives you full exposure control with shutter speed, ISO, white balance controls, and on-the-fly histogram support. 

After its latest update, the Halide is now Halide Mark 2 with tons of new and innovative features. These include an intelligently activated focus loupe and color-coded zebra stripes to monitor clipping. Not to mention the Instant RAW feature which works as a midpoint between a processed JPEG and a completely unedited RAW.

Follow these steps to use Halide to take raw photos on your iPhone:

  1. Download Halide from the App Store and open the app.
  2. After completing the setup, swipe up from the bottom controls.
  3. Then, tap the button that says “Raw+”.
  4. Now, it should turn yellow now and you will be able to shoot in raw.

Note: Raw photos will be saved as DNG files with Halide. By default, Raw+ also captures a processed HEIC file alongside a raw photo. But, you can change this in the app’s Capture settings if needed.

Additionally, Halide is totally free to download. But, in order to unlock all of its features, we recommend a one-time payment of $36, which is currently discounted to $30 for a limited time. Or, you can join a one-year membership program for just $11.99. Plus, this app also includes a one-week free trial, giving you a glimpse of its full premium features before committing to paying for it.

Pro Camera by Momen‪t‬

Take raw photos on an iPhone with Moment

The Pro Camera by Moment offers a functional yet simplified experience for taking raw photos. From full focus to exposure controls and other necessary bells and whistles, all the features you need are here.

Besides having a user-friendly interface, this app also has a simple and delightful design that keeps the focus on your subject. Each control can be toggled to adjust or tucked away out of sight easily. 

Moreover, the information on your adjustment is still visible on the history bar above the shutter button. So, you will always know exactly what changes to make in order to take your desired photos. Even though Moment still misses out on some of the cutting-edge features and functions that can be found in Halide, it makes that up with a delightful UI.

Here is how to take raw photos using Pro Camera by Moment:

  1. Download Pro Camera by Moment and open the app after completing your first setup.
  2. On the top control bar, you should see a “JPG” button.
  3. Tap this button and it will open a selection of photo format options.
  4. Choose raw and you’re good to go now.

Note: Moment is now available at $6.99 in the App Store.

The Bottom Line

Overall, both apps are highly functional and can push your iPhone camera to its limit. Personally, I still prefer the Moment because its simple UI and lens support are simply perfect for my daily use. Meanwhile, you should go for Halide, if you want to experience its fantastic raw processing and other unique features.

Also, you might wonder if there is any difference between taking ProRaw photos on iPhone 12 Pro and regular raw photos using these apps?

Well, the main advantage of the ProRaw over raw photos from third parties is that Apple’s ProRaw allows users to take advantage of its computational photography. This means you can enjoy a bunch of exciting photo features like Smart HDR 3, Deep Fusion, Night Mode, and other advancements that are all built into the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max.

Which app do you prefer for taking raw images on your iPhone? Let us know about it in the comments!

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