The cameras on the iPhone 12 range are Apple's best by far.
The cameras on the iPhone 12 range are Apple's best by far.

RAW deal: Apple's new image format gets users cooking

Dubai - ProRAW files give users — at any photography level — more flexibility and editing creativity

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By Alvin R. Cabral

Published: Wed 16 Dec 2020, 3:53 AM

Last updated: Wed 16 Dec 2020, 6:43 AM

Apple's not done with 2020, not just in terms of hardware — it's also continuing to beef up its software, particularly in its noted camera innovations.

The iPhone-maker continued its slew of offerings this year with its brand-new ProRAW image file format, which gives users — photographers at any level — greater control and creativity over their shots.

A RAW file format, in simplest terms, is an image format in its most unedited state — its most natural, if we may put it. This allows greater flexibility and editing prowess.

ProRAW — on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max and using the latest iOS 14.3 — gives users more flexibility when editing exposure, colour and white balance in an image; as defined by Apple, it combines the information of a standard RAW format along with iPhone image processing.

The new format fuses the capabilities of Apple's camera tech on its iPhones, including Smart HDR, Deep Fusion and night mode. Images taken in ProRAW formats can be edited photos in the native Photos app and other third-party ones that support such.

In the simplest terms, Apple's ProRAW allows a photographer to have more freedom in editing and processing.

Apple is no stranger to adopting unique file formats to help its users: It has used the HEIC format — High Efficiency Image File — to reduce size while maintaining the crisp quality on photos.

ProRAW sounds like another flowery offering from Apple. But it actually helps, especially for high-end users — and even those starting to learn photography can pick up a thing or two from this.

"RAW images are the full detailed, unprocessed, image file that is captured from the camera. To us pro photographers, it means more control over the image and more details to work with," Abdullah Shaiji, a content creator and photographer from Kuwait, told Khaleej Times.

"By having the RAW file we have more data in the image file, which means we can see more 'stops of light', this allows for a wider dynamic range and richer colours to work with."

Geeky stuff

Shaiji also took the liberty of sharing examples of what ProRAW can do for users; images on the right to see how a RAW file can really "pull the details in the highlights and shadows", according to Al Shaiji.

Apple's camera tech on the latest iPhones is professional-grade, but Shaiji has some friendly reminders.

"I would encourage them to try it but I would not recommend fully relying on it if your not exposed to RAW files before. The reason is that RAW images are "raw" or unprocessed so most likely they dont look great out of the camera," he points out.

"They need to be processed first. The other reason I would not recommend it to the average user is the file size that reaches 20MB per image."

According to the iPhone's settings, each ProRAW file is approximately 25MB.

RAW images have been a wish for users — photographers in particular — on iPhones. The introduction of ProRAW fulfills this, and Shaiji says "this is the control and freedom we always wanted on our iPhones".

As always, while new rollouts seem and sound complicated, Apple has done its best to make ProRAW very understandable for its users — whatever level they may be.

"The RAW image is treated to be understood from all kinds of users; if you're not familiar with the RAW file format, the image will show up like a regular photo in the studio. Even if shared with an app that doesn't support RAW images, it will show up as a regular processed image," he adds.

Apple also chose the DNG — digital negative — file format for its RAW images, the universal and most recognized RAW image format that is supported by most of the industry — and that even makes it more flexible.

New level

Ahmad Blaibleh, another photographer based in Dubai, says Apple's ProRAW gives hime the ability to take my photography to a "different level", especially with the massive image information in the format.

"Getting the image straight out of the sensor directly without post-processing gives me and all photographers a privilege to get a particular mood or room to edit based on my visualisation," he told Khaleej Times.

Keeping in mind that not all users may understand the RAW file format — Apple's ProRAW in this sense — he cautions that the editing basics must be fully understood, which is very easy and smooth for Apple users.

This, in turn, may negate the need of bringing around heavy and full-fledged DSLRs.

"Without any doubt... now instead of carrying DSLRs and plenty of accessories, we can be creative anytime at any place by pulling up iPhone and start shooting with the highest image RAW quality," Blaibleh added.


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