Now, with the presentation of the new iPhone 14, there is a lot of talk about the ProRAW format again. A format that, among others, allows us to take photos in 48 MP resolution. A format, however, that goes far beyond this. Let’s clarify some concepts and see how to use ProRAW on our iPhone.
What is the RAW format?
Without going into more technical details, we will say that taking a photo is exposing the camera sensor to light coming from the environment through a lens. As in old photographs on photosensitive paper, this allows the image to be captured. The truth is, however, that the light information received by the sensor must make several changesamong many others, rotate it so that the upper part is on top.
Knowing the hardware we use to capture the light in our shot, the camera software—all cameras, not Apple’s—apply lens corrections, white balance corrections, focus corrections, and finally, present the photo in a format such as PNG or JPEG, for instance. These transformations to the captured light create a specific result, and it may not be exactly what we are looking for.
Do we want to make changes? We go to any photo retouching app (I personally use Affinity Photo) and adjust what we want. What happens with this approach, however, is that we are working on a finished product, so our modification of any parameter, let’s say lighting, for example, is limited and not optimal.
That is exactly why the RAW or raw format appears. A format in which the information captured by the sensor is saved as is. The result, if we visualize the image, is usually dull and very uninteresting, but the possibilities it offers us when making our own adjustments are enormous. By having much more information —a RAW image weighs about 4 or 5 times more than a normal one— all the corrections and changes are more flexible and offer us the highest quality.
What does RAW have to do with ProRAW?
ProRAW is Apple’s RAW format. The cameras of an iPhone can not even remotely compete with the most processional. We just have to compare their size. Hardware limitations are counteracted with software processing. For that simple reason Apple cannot deliver a RAW file, the result would be too poor. For this reason, it applies minimal processing and tells us about a ProRAW.
A format in which we have all the information from the sensor, but which has already undergone a slight touch-up. Retouch such as combining the information from the different lenses, the LiDAR information and other variables to get a product to work with.
So what do I do with a ProRAW photo?
Edit it. Always. Just as we do not serve a raw dish, we cannot deliver a RAW photo, since it is an unfinished product. The idea of shooting in ProRAW is always thinking about a later post production session. Whether it’s for an important photo shoot or because we’re trying to capture something and we’re not getting the desired effect, ProRAW will give us more flexibility in getting the shot we’re looking for.
How to activate and use the ProRAW format
Activate ProRAW on our iPhone it is the simplest. We just have to enter the app Settingslet’s touch on Cameralet’s touch on Formats and let’s activate Apple ProRAW. Once this is done we enter the Camera app, touch the button raw from the top and capture the image.
After this we can edit the image directly in the Photos app on our iPhone or also that of the iPad or Mac if we want to work on a larger screen. Alternatively, we can use applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, Lightroom, Pixelmator or others to do what we call digital development.
After all, the ProRAW format is a tool. A tool that allows us to capture the greatest amount of data from a shot in order to achieve the effect we are looking for and have, with our photography, exactly what we want to convey.