ProRaw: I tested Apple’s new iOS 14.3 trick and my iPhone 12 photos look amazing

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The release of iOS 14.3 brings ProRaw photo support on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. Once you’ve enabled ProRaw, you’ll see a new RAW button in the top right corner of the native camera app.

Patrick Holland / CNET

With the Release of iOS 14.3, the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 per max Get Apple New Raw photo format called ProRaw. The new file will allow you to customize a raw file that was created on the iPhone’s computer smart. I’ve been testing the new feature for the past few weeks and I’m impressed with how ProRaw has changed my cell phone photography. ProRaw is just as important a camera extension as the faster-aperture lens Apple added to the main iPhone 12 family cameras and the new sensor-based stabilization of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Continue reading: iOS 14.3: These are 16 iPhone features you will use every day

ProRaw works with all four iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max cameras. It uses the widely used Adobe Digital Negative (DNG) file format and includes information about 12-bit color and support for 14 levels of dynamic range. Apple’s approach to ProRaw is similar to Google’s save Raw files from HDR Plus on pixel phones. ProRaw files are created from multiple picture frames and contain the data of the best parts of those photos. Deep Fusion analyzes these images pixel by pixel to create a Deep Photo file. The A14 Bionic performs all of these analyzes in real time, without delaying the closure.

There are several notable differences between taking a raw photo on an iPhone and a ProRaw photo. The first is that you can only take raw photos with a third party app like Halide or Moment. ProRaw photos can be taken with the standard camera app. Next up, ProRaw files are big. For example, I took a photo of the same subject using each file format on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The HEIC file was 5.2 megabytes, the JPEG format 6.8 MB, the raw photo (taken with the Moment app) 16.5 MB and the ProRaw photo a whopping 34.7 MB.

The larger ProRaw file contains much more image data compared to a standard raw file. A ProRaw file is based on computer photography from Smart HDR, Deep Fusion and Night Mode. This can result in an image with significantly less noise, better dynamic range, and sharper details and textures.

Below are two JPEG files, one from a ProRaw photo and one from a raw file captured with the Moment app. For both, I only adjusted the white balance, lights and shadows. If you look at the photo from the raw version, you can see a lot of color image noise on the bricks of the building and most noticeably in the dark night sky. The photo from the ProRaw version has hardly any image noise due to the night mode processing that the iPhone 12 Pro Max did when the photo was taken.

Below is another comparison of JPEG files. Again, one comes from a ProRaw file and the other from a raw file created with the Moment app. I adjusted the exposure, white balance, highlights and shadows on both. The biggest difference between the two is the dynamic range and the image noise. Look at the sky in the ProRaw version. There was enough information in the file to bring the highlights back from white to a blue sky. There is much less image noise in the shadows than in the raw version and there is increased sharpness in details like the stones in the upper left and the stones in the lower left.

Not every ProRaw photo I took was very different from the regular raw version. But overall it was nice to have access to all this computer data. And this is just the beginning of ProRaw. In future updates to ProRaw, third-party apps will be able to use even more data from Smart HDR. For example, Adobe Lightroom can access the layer map data through Smart HDR so that you can isolate different aspects of your photo (such as faces, people, or sky) as you edit.

I also like how Apple implemented ProRaw into the native camera app. ProRaw is deactivated by default. And that’s smart, because not everyone with a 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max will want to use it. But if you want to enable it, go in the settings > camera > Formats and under a new one Photo taking Section there is a switch to rotate Apple ProRaw on and off. Then open the default camera app and a new one will appear in the top right corner Raw Button to quickly switch between ProRaw photos and JPEG (or HEIC) photos.


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Most of the photos I take with the iPhone 12 Pro Max are still JPEGs. But for photos that are more conscious or where I need every drop of image information to manipulate, ProRaw is just a simple tap Raw Button off.

During my testing, I used the native Photos app to edit ProRaw photos as well as third-party apps like Halide, Moment, VSCO, and Lightroom for iOS. In principle, any app that can edit a DNG raw file can edit a ProRaw DNG file. I’m excited to see third-party apps support ProRaw more fully in the future.

“We are working closely with Apple and we are excited about the opportunities ProRaw can offer our mutual customers,” said an Adobe representative. “We currently have no details to share.”

ProRaw is not for everyone, so it is not suitable for the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini. However, it is the first time that Apple has given its camera software for its Pro iPhone models a feature that is really aimed at professionals. And I would argue that ProRaw is definitely worth a try, even if you’re not a pro but someone who likes to edit your photos before posting them on Instagram or Snapchat.

Below are more photos I edited from ProRaw files taken on iPhone 12 Pro Max.

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This was taken with the main camera as a ProRaw photo. Notice the lights on the tree compared to the green of the street lights and the blues and pinks in the sky.

Patrick Holland / CNET

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This was recorded with the main camera. Notice the color and details in the leaves and how they stand out against the blue of the sky.

Patrick Holland / CNET

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I took this photo with the iPhone 12 Pro Max telephoto camera using 2.5x optical zoom. Notice that the highlights in the lamp and in the background sky are mostly intact.

Patrick Holland / CNET

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Here’s a ProRaw selfie. I was able to balance the highlights in my skin and the highlights of the Christmas tree lights.

Patrick Holland / CNET

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Here is a ProRaw photo taken of a church tower with a 4x digital zoom. Note the details of the bricks and tiles.

Patrick Holland / CNET

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Here is a ProRaw photo taken with the ultra wide angle camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Patrick Holland / CNET

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