iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro: How to Shoot RAW and ProRAW Photos

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 20 Dec 2020

iPhone 12 Pro Shoot ProRAW

With the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro series, Apple focused on using a wider aperture and higher-quality lens to improve the image quality on its devices instead of going with a bigger sensor. Throw in the image processing improvements and the iPhone 12 series can actually capture some great photos irrespective of the situation. However, if you want even more control over the final photos, you should shoot photos in RAW. Here’s how you can take photos in RAW or ProRAW on your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro series.

By shooting RAW photos, you will have greater control over the final image output as you will have a greater degree of control to tweak the ISO, exposure, and colors. The resulting photo might not necessarily have more details but you can manipulate it as you like. If you have an interest in photography or like to post-process photos that you shoot, you will love the flexibility that RAW photos offer in post-processing.

ProRAW vs RAW on iPhone – Which One is Better?

Depending on which iPhone 12 variant you have, you can shoot photos in either RAW or ProRAW. Both formats are meant to achieve the same thing — offer greater flexibility while editing. ProRAW is Apple’s take on the RAW/DNG image format — it is essentially a 12-bit DNG file that offers up to 14 stops of dynamic range. It is better than the regular RAW/DNG photos since ProRAW photos will still take advantage of Apple’s Smart HDR and Deep Fusion processing to capture more details. You will miss out on this computational photography magic when shooting photos in regular RAW/DNG format.

Since RAW/DNG and ProRAW photos contain more details, they are also notably heavier in size compared to HEIF photos. ProRAW photos can weigh as much as 25MB, with RAW/DNG photos taken from the iPhone 12 also coming in at around the same size.

The biggest bummer with ProRAW is that it is only available on the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini do not offer ProRAW capture support. Thus, it is possible to capture RAW/DNG photos on all four iPhone 12 models but ProRAW capture is only possible on the ‘pro’ models.

Do note that if you edit photos on your PC then the app should also support ProRAW. Most professional photo editing apps currently only support RAW/DNG image format.

iPhone 12 Pro Max cameras

How to Shoot RAW Photos on iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

Since the default iOS 14 camera app does not support capturing photos in RAW/DNG, we will be using a third-party camera app for this. I am using the excellent Halide camera app but you can use any other third-party camera app from the App Store to shoot RAW/DNG photos on your iPhone 12.

Step 1: Open the Halide camera app on your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro. If you are opening the app for the first time, go through its tutorial and then give it all the necessary permissions.

Step 2: Swipe up on the arrow you see on the action bar above the camera shutter button. This should expose a row of useful options where you will see a RAW icon. Tap on it after which any photo you click on your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro will be saved in RAW/DNG format.

iPhone 12 Shoot RAW/DNG photos

To make things easier for sharing purposes, Halide saves a processed image along with the RAW version of every photo you take. This will allow you to easily share the photo right after capturing it while also offering greater flexibility for editing later on.

How to Shoot ProRAW Photos on iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

As mentioned above, the biggest advantage of ProRAW is that it offers all of Apple’s computational magic like Smart HDR and Deep Fusion but still offers great flexibility while editing. The only downside to ProRAW is that it is only available on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Unlike RAW/DNG, one can shoot ProRAW photos using the stock camera app on the iPhone. Here’s how.

Step 1: First, you must enable the option to save photos in ProRAW on your iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max. For this, open the Settings app and go to Camera.

Step 2: Inside the Format menu, enable the Apple ProRAW toggle to save photos in ProRAW format.

Step 3: Now, when you open the camera app next on your iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max, it will show a RAW icon in the viewfinder on the top-right. Tap on it and the device will save photos in ProRAW format.

iPhone 12 ProRAW Camera

The camera app on your iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max will only save ProRAW photos the first time you open it after enabling the option. Closing and re-opening the app will lead to the phone again saving the photos in only HEIF format. If you want to always save ProRAW copies of all photos that you shoot, enable the Apple ProRAW option from under Preserve Camera Settings.

Any photo that you take will now be saved in ProRAW format. The good thing is that the ultra-wide and telephoto lens also supports saving images in ProRAW so you will have a greater degree of control while editing them as well. All ProRAW photos in your iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max will show a ‘RAW’ icon when viewed using the Photos app.

How to Edit RAW and ProRAW Photos on iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro

Capturing a RAW photo is just one part of the equation. The next is editing it which is why you shot an image in RAW/DNG format in the first place. The good thing is that you don’t need to transfer the RAW or ProRAW photo to your PC to edit it as you can edit it directly on your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro as well.

Plenty of photo-editing apps support RAW/DNG images including Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Snapseed, VSCO, and more. As for ProRAW, Apple’s own Photos app supports ProRAW. Adobe has also added ProRAW support to Lightroom. Plenty of other third-party apps will get updated in due course to allow for ProRAW editing. Apart from using Apple’s Photos app for editing ProRAW or RAW photos, I will also recommend you to try Google’s excellent Snapseed app [Download].

Have you taken photos in ProRAW on your iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max? If so, did you find them easier to edit compared to regular HEIF or JPEG photos? Drop a comment and let us know!