If you’ve got an iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max and consider yourself a photographer, the latest iOS update will help you use your phone’s cameras. This is because of the new Prora feature that Apple first announced at the October event. For the first time, Pro combines RAW’s editing flexibility with Apple’s computational photo tricks such as Smart HDR and Deep Fusion. You no longer have to choose between the flexibility of a standard RAW file and a JPEG or HEIC file, which contains all of Apple’s computational spells, but ProRAW gives you both because it has limited capability for post-processing.
Shooting Raw photos on iPhone is nothing new; For some time now, apps like Halight and Adobe Lightroom have been allowing the iPhone’s sensor to capture all the data it can collect. All of RAW’s regular benefits are here with ProRAW – the much improved control over white balance has always been a big factor for me – but it does give you more access by adjusting exposure, sharpness, dynamic range and more. You can make great changes to the facial tone in a portrait or control the expression in the landscape shot.
But standard Raw images are much nicer than the iPhone, which are still small smartphone camera sensors that are without any computational photography upgrades. Now, you should notice the same detail as before, but with less noise. Prora Images does multiframe image processing just like normal iPhone displays. Even with that, you get 14 stops in the dynamic range to work on editing the software. This video of Josh Stunel on YouTube Does a good job of explaining the differences between RAW and ProRAW:
The Pro 12 can be used on all rear cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max – it’s not going to suddenly turn UltraWide into a magic lens, but nothing helps – and it works in night mode as well. If your editing application allows you to control it, you can access the in-depth mapping information captured by the sensor to make real-time portrait-style changes.
How to use ProRAW
To use ProRAW, you must first enable it under Camera Options in the Settings menu. After that, you will see a “Raw” button appear on the top right of the camera viewfinder, which is where you can quickly and disable the Prora.
Although this is easy to change, I must emphasize that you will definitely never want to use ProRAW. Files average 25MB in size, which is dramatically larger than your everyday iPhone pictures. This is a great feature for photos that are taken very deliberately with people you like or places of importance. Prora images on the camera roll look normal, but if you try to share them on apps like Instagram you will get error message. So you will want to export them as a small JPEG or HEIC file before sending them to social media first.
Another good thing about Pro is that there are already plenty of applications that can open and edit files without any update, as Adobe uses the widely supported DNG file format. But apps that use Apple’s own RAW converter will provide even more control as they can access the tone and distance map. Halit has already released an update to use Prora, and I expect it to follow Pixelmater, Darkroom and Affinity Photo.
Apps with native RAW converter such as Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One can edit DNG files today, but may not have the same capabilities as Apple’s RAW converter. This makes it possible for Adobe and others to upgrade their alternative tools to better implement with Pro in the future. You can also edit images within the Apple Photos app.
If you want to share a Prora image, there are different ways to talk about it depending on what you are trying to do:
- If you want to transfer an Apple Pro to a computer: make sure the photo is not edited, then insert the Air Drop or device into the USB and use the Image Capture or Windows Photos app.
- If you want to share the edited Prora photo: Edit the photo in the Photos app and then send via air drop, email or messages. A JPG with edits will be shared.
- If you want to email a Prora TNG to someone: First open the Photos app and use the Share button to share via mail.
- If you want to edit a Pro and get both the original DNG file and the edited JPG: Use Image Capture or Windows Photos app.
- Even if a ProRAW is modified, if you want to change a DNG: copy the photo and modify the edits (this will become an unedited file). A DNG can then be air-dropped.
- If you are using a third-party application that can capture RAW + JPG, you may want both: Use Image Capture to capture each file individually
I have been trying Prora on my iPhone 12 Pro Max for the past few days and I already appreciate the difference it can make. Getting the most out of a photo is very easy – restoring highlights, enhancing shadows, adjusting white balance – if you are willing to engage in editing work after reality.