You are probably not aware, but if you own the latest generation iPhone 12 Pro you have the keys to unlocking Apples new Pro-Raw format. First introduced in the iPhone 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Max, Apple Pro Raw is an all new format that gives a glimpse into the future of Apples camera technology.
At this stage Apple Pro Raw is only available on the Pro models of the iPhone 12 but it is sure to come to other models soon. The Pro models of the iPhone 12 allow you to shoot RAW files from the camera native app with IOS 14.3. Apple calls the new format ‘Pro Raw’, but in reality its just ‘Raw’.
The reality is that we have been able to shoot RAW files with iPhones for quite some time now using third-party apps such as Snapseed or Lightroom so RAW files on the iPhone are not exactly new. However, this is the first time we can shoot RAW files using the native camera app.
Virtually anyone serious about their photography is shooting RAW files with their digital camera and photographers universally recognise that RAW files offer far more latitude in post production than jpegs. Put simply, a RAW file contains more information than a jpeg, has better detail and tone and makes a far better print.
Both the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max both come equiped with Apples latest A14 processor. In fact, this processor is not found in any other iPhone to date and is the reason both the 12 Pro and 12 Pro max can actually shoot RAW. In brief, the A14 processor allows engineers to incorporate some technical wizardry that change the way photographs are captured. Importantly, this wizardry greatly increases the quality of the file captured.
At its heart Apples Pro RAW file is in fact a DNG file. If you are familiar with DNG files then you already know that this open source format was created by Adobe. Apple teamed up with Adobe to create Pro RAW. What is really cool about this is that you can import Apple Pro RAW files into Lightroom and get the full benefit of a DNG file.
Apple does not enable Pro RAW by default on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max (annoyingly). To start taking photographs in Pro RAW you need to make sure you are running iOS14.3 or later on your iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max. Then you need to go to Settings / Camera / Formats and then turn on Apple Pro RAW as shown below.
But wait! Once turned on you are not yet taking photographs in the Pro RAW format. You also need to open your camera app to take a photograph. Then in the upper right hand corner of your screen toggle on the RAW button shown below. Annoyingly this setting is not sticky, and you need to remember to toggle RAW on every time you re-open the camera app (assuming you want to shoot in RAW).
File sizes are quite a bit larger for Apple Pro RAW with an average size of around 25MB per file; or roughly eight times the size on a regular file. Depending on how many photographs you take on your iPhone and how much storage you have on your phone you may run out of space quite quickly.
Depending on how much photography you actually do on your iPhone it may or may not be worth upgrading for this feature. If you are a heavy iPhone user and like to make prints from your captures then I would say its definately a worth while upgrade. As always with these things, your mileage may vary.