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Photographer Austin Mann explains why Apple ProRAW on iPhone 12 Pro is so amazing

iPhone cameras
iPhone cameras (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

What you need to know

  • Apple's iOS 14.3 updated added ProRAW support for iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
  • The feature combines the best of Apple's image processing and the editability of RAW.
  • Photographer Austin Mann has been testing ProRAW out with some amazing results.

Apple's iOS 14.3 release added support for ProRAW to iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, offering us all the chance to take our photos and edit them to within an inch of their lives. But what is ProRAW capable of, exactly? Photographer Austin Mann found out and published a whole post to explain.

In its most basic form, ProRAW takes Apple's image processing and combines it with the ability to edit RAW images in ways HEIC and JPG simply don't make possible. It's something that's been available on 'real' cameras forever, and iPhones depending on which app you use. But now it's built into the Camera app and makes use of Apple's image magic as well.

Pro photographers traditionally choose to shoot in RAW because it offers more control. Where there is more data (more color, more range, more everything), there is more latitude to push an image to achieve a vision, and now with ProRAW we have this luxury built right into the native iPhone camera app.

It's the ability to use Apple's processing as well as gain the ability to push RAW edits further that HEIC that makes Apple's implementation so important, as Mann notes.

Honestly, I never thought we'd see a RAW format from Apple on iPhone, because I understood how important the computational aspects of iPhone photography are and I didn't imagine a world where we could utilize that computational power AND still get the control we've wanted and needed.

Now, on to the testing. Mann took an iPhone 12 Pro Max and shot stills using ProRAW. The subject was the Germinid meteor shower and the images captured are breathtaking.

Mann Iphone Proraw Sky Test

Mann Iphone Proraw Sky Test (Image credit: Austin Mann)

Comparing the HEIC version of the image with an edited RAW shot is an excellent way to see just what RAW offers – the differences between the two images are obvious, even to an untrained eye like mine.

Mann Iphone Proraw Sky Comparison

Mann Iphone Proraw Sky Comparison (Image credit: Austin Mann)

There are more examples in Mann's post and it's absolutely well worth your time to check out. ProRAW is going to change the game for people who use their iPhones as their main camera and want to get the best possible shot out of them, that's for sure.

Those who prefer their explanations in video form, be sure to check out Mann's conversation with Rene Ritchie about the benefits of ProRAW, too.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

2 Comments
  • Or, Apple could just - FINALLY - upgrade the actual cameras. The pictures taken by my new 12 Pro Max are no better than my 8 Plus. It is STILL a 12 MP camera. My 12 Pro Max pics still blur very quickly when you zoom in. Just like my 8 Plus. No amount of "computational power" will ever equal more pixels. Frankly, the cameras on the 12 Pro Max are great for 2015. They are embarrassing for 2021.
  • So we should take your word for it despite all the pros praising the latest iterations of the iPhone cameras since the 8 came out? Must be a conspiracy, right?!