iPhone’s ProRAW photos: How to utilize it properly?


ProRAW is like giving your iPhone camera a superpower, combining the best parts of RAW photos and Apple’s smart photo adjustments. It’s only available on the iPhone’s Pro and Pro Max models.

Key Takeaways

  1. High-Quality RAW Format: Apple ProRAW combines RAW’s detailed image data with Apple’s computational photography, delivering 12-bit DNG files with enhanced dynamic range and color depth.
  2. Activation and Use: Enable ProRAW in iPhone Pro and Pro Max settings to capture uncompressed, detailed photos suitable for extensive editing and high-quality printing.
  3. Usage Advice: Reserve ProRAW for special photos needing detailed editing or large prints; regular photo modes suffice for everyday snapshots to save storage and simplify sharing.

What is Apple ProRAW?

person holding phone

ProRAW is Apple’s special version of a RAW photo format. A RAW file is like a super detailed version of a photo that keeps every bit of information the camera sensor captures. When you take a picture with ProRAW, you get something called a 12-bit RAW DNG file.

Now, normally, when you take a picture with your iPhone, it saves it as a HEIC or JPG file. These are like regular, everyday photos—easy to share and good quality, but they don’t keep all the raw details that the camera sensor sees.

A regular photo is like a cake that’s already baked and decorated. A RAW photo is like having all the ingredients laid out in front of you – you can make the cake however you want. ProRAW is like having those ingredients but with extra special ones from Apple.

You might be interested in this feature of Apple.

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Now, let’s talk about that 12-bit thing. A 12-bit photo has way more colors to play with compared to regular photos. This means your pictures have more details and can even show very subtle differences in shades and lighting.

Then there’s the 14 stops of dynamic range. Imagine dynamic range as how well your photo can show the darkest darks and the brightest brights at the same time. With 14 stops, it’s like having super eyesight that can see details in both shadows and really bright areas without losing any quality.

Here’s the cool part: when you use ProRAW, you’re not just taking a regular photo. You’re using the iPhone’s smart brain (computational photography) to make your picture look great right from the start. And because it’s a RAW file, you still have all the control to edit it later.

iPhone photo

Apple has a few tricks up its sleeve to make this happen: Smart HDR, Deep Fusion, and Night Mode.

  • Smart HDR: This feature takes several shots at different exposures (some light, some dark) and mixes them together to create one perfect picture. So, even if the lighting is weird, your photo still looks great.
  • Deep Fusion: This one analyzes all the tiny details in your photo to make sure it’s super sharp and clear, especially in medium to low light. It’s like putting your picture under a microscope and enhancing all the good stuff.
  • Night Mode: Imagine trying to take a photo in a dark room. Usually, it would come out all grainy and unclear. But with Night Mode, your phone brightens things up, making nighttime photos look clear and better.

More about 12-bit colors here

How to Enable Apple ProRAW on an iPhone

Before you can use ProRAW, you have to enable the feature. Here are the steps to do so:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and tap the Camera option.
  3. Tap Formats.
  4. Toggle on Apple ProRAW.

Please note that capturing ProRAW images on your iPhone will take up more storage space than taking standard photos. If you don’t plan on editing your images, you might be better off not using the DNG format, especially if your smartphone is running out of storage.

With Apple ProRAW enabled and turned on, it’s time to take a picture. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Camera app on your iPhone.
  2. Ensure that you’re in Photo mode.
  3. Tap the crossed-out RAW icon found in the top-right corner.
  4. Make sure there isn’t a slash through it, then take your picture as usual.

Benefits of Using ProRAW

iPhone picture

When you take a picture with ProRAW, you’re reducing the visible compression in the image. But what does that mean? Let’s imagine you’re painting a beautiful sky with different shades of blue. If you don’t have enough paint, the sky might look streaky, with obvious lines between the shades. That’s what happens when an image is too compressed – you get these ugly lines called banding.

Now, if you use ProRAW, it’s like having all the blue paint you need. You get more shades of blue, and the sky in your photo looks smooth and natural.

But that’s not all. ProRAW also helps you capture more details in the shadows and highlights of your photos. With regular photos, you might lose some details in those really bright or really dark areas.

With ProRAW, you get all those tiny details that might be lost in a regular photo. So, when you go back to edit your photo, you can adjust the brightness and darkness without losing those important details.

person holding iPhone

ProRAW is meant for those times when you plan to spend more than just a few seconds making your picture look amazing. If you’re in a hurry and just want a quick snap, regular photos are fine. But if you’re ready to dive in and really work on your photo, ProRAW is your friend.

Here’s why: When you take a photo with ProRAW, you get a high-definition, super-detailed image. Regular photos are compressed, which means they lose some details and can have little imperfections called artifacts.

ProRAW shines when you zoom in to pixel-peep or when you print your photo as a huge poster. The details stay sharp and clear, without those pesky artifacts you get from compressed files.

And let’s say you want to crop your photo – maybe you took a wide shot and now want to focus on something specific. Cropping with a regular photo might make things look a bit blurry or lose some detail. But with ProRAW, even after cropping, your picture looks sharp and detailed.

Common Mistakes When Using ProRAW

ProRAW can make your photos look incredible, but that doesn’t mean you should use it all the time. There are two ways people might think about ProRAW and both are wrong:

  1. ProRAW is the Best for Everything: Some folks might think that because ProRAW captures so much detail, it’s the best choice for every photo. But that’s not necessarily true. ProRAW files are much larger because they keep all that extra information.
  2. ProRAW Doesn’t Make a Difference: On the flip side, some people might think that ProRAW doesn’t make any difference at all. If you never zoom in, crop, or print your photos large, you might not notice the extra detail that ProRAW provides.

The key is understanding how you plan to use your photos. If you’re going to do a lot of editing, print them big, or need to capture every tiny detail, ProRAW is fantastic. But for everyday snaps, sticking with regular photo modes can save space on your phone and make things simpler.

So, when you’re out and about snapping casual photos to share, you don’t need to worry about turning on ProRAW.


Apple’s ProRAW format is a real game-changer for taking photos on your iPhone. It combines the flexibility of RAW editing with the power of Apple’s computational photography, giving you the best of both worlds.

Remember, ProRAW is great for special photos where you want to spend time making them perfect. For everyday snapshots to share quickly, your iPhone’s regular photo mode is usually just fine.

Note: Any verdict given by us on any of the companies, or specs of a device is subjective. Our preferences can be different from yours, so be sure to conduct your own research to make a decision that is good for you.

Check out how the shift to smartphone phtotgraphy happened.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does Apple ProRAW affect the speed of taking photos on my iPhone?
Apple ProRAW does require a bit more processing power and storage compared to standard photo modes. While it may slightly increase the time it takes to process and save each photo, the trade-off is higher-quality images with greater editing flexibility. For most users, the slight delay is negligible compared to the benefits of capturing detailed ProRAW images.
Can I use Apple ProRAW with third-party camera apps on my iPhone?
Currently, Apple ProRAW is exclusively supported within the native Camera app on iPhone Pro and Pro Max models. Third-party camera apps do not have access to this format due to Apple’s proprietary technology and integration of computational photography features like Smart HDR and Deep Fusion. Using ProRAW requires using Apple’s Camera app.
How does Apple ProRAW impact the battery life of my iPhone?
Capturing photos in Apple ProRAW mode can marginally impact battery life, primarily because of increased processing demands while capturing and saving RAW files. However, Apple has optimized the iPhone Pro and Pro Max models to handle these demands efficiently. To conserve battery, consider enabling ProRAW only when necessary for specific shots.

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