Apple ProRaw can transform your iPhone photography. Here’s how

Apple ProRaw can transform your iPhone 12 photography. Here's how


Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max has already proved that it is possible to get it on a phone. Version of Superior However, it takes it further, and this phone makes the camera a big rival for professional DSLRs. I’m a professional photographer, and I spent some time with Prouv in beta form on 12 Pro Max before it was officially launched iOS 14.3. I shoot raw in my professional work all the time, and Apple productionEven in its beta form, it has allowed me to work with images from my iPhone, as I would with images from my Pro DSLR. I am very impressed.

ProRaw is the raw files version of Apple commonly used on DSLRs. They are called raw because unlike JPEG images they do not save information about the color, sharpen or other effects applied by the camera. They usually result in a more natural base image for postprocessing in software such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. ProRaw works the same way, but unlike DNG raw files you can take in third-party apps, ProRaw uses Apple’s computational photography for deep fusion HDR. The result is a better-looking base image that still gives a lot more flexibility for editing, similar to what you’d find with JPEG images.

On paper, this is the correct compromise, and in practice it proves to be so for many of my images. Let’s look at some.


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Let’s start with the evening’s scenario shot in standard JPEG. This is fine, but the shadow has been lifted to such an extent that too much contrast and mood is gone and there is too much volume. As a picture, this is fine, but it is not a good starting point for more artistic editing.


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Here is a single shot, taken a few seconds later in Prove and then edited in Lightroom. I have been able to keep those shadows darker, while maintaining the mood of the evening, while adding very little sharpness to correct the white balance and avoid messing up fine details on the image. I’ve edited it with a mood style that I really like – it may not be to everyone’s taste, but it shows that these edits are possible on iPhone shots.


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And what happens here if I copy the exact editing settings that I made from the ProRaw image on that JPEG. Obviously, this has not worked.


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A short time later the sky burst into an incredible sunset. I captured it here in JPEG and while the image is looking quite good, the vibrant sky looks a bit “burnt” and is getting very sharp again in the image which overall doesn’t give me a proper base image edit.


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The ProRaw version gave me a lot of scope to control the vibrancy of the sky, as well as the overall white balance and color tones. I’m really pleased with how this image has changed, and I can only take it at this point by shooting in raw on JPEG. But the editing of the shot was still about 15 minutes in Lightroom, so this is not the fastest way to work.

The straight-out camera ProRaw file does not always look great and will likely look much worse than the JPEG version. ProRaw files, like raw files from a DSLR, will require work and processing before they look their best.


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For example, take this unprocessed ProRaw file, which I imported into Lightroom and then exported as a JPEG without any editing. This path seems very deep.


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But after spending some time in Lightroom, I was able to bring all that detail back, while still maintaining a bright sky. It gave me a great base image that you can adjust the color tone to complete the shot seen here and this is a shot I’m really pleased with. This is definitely a major change from the untouched raw version.

It is worth remembering, however, that I am using Prove in beta form, and Adobe has yet to update Lightroom to properly support the files. I’ve noticed that good-looking ProRaw files in the photo gallery suddenly look extremely dark – or sometimes overly shiny – when opened in Lightroom, as well as in some other editing apps such as Snaps. It’s hard to say exactly why this is, but it means that I have to work a little harder to get the image back to a “good” place before I start editing more creatively. The information is captured, which is how I have been able to pick up the shadow so well in this instance.

Some of you may not like the idea of ​​spending so much time editing a single image by reading it, but spending that time in professional photography is normal enough to ensure an image. I often spend half an hour or more on a single landscape image, and my product and car photos can work for many hours. This is a slow process, but the resulting quality is very high.


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Here is another before and after example. On the left is the unprocessed ProRaw file. On the right is how I edited it in Lightroom. There is a lot of scope in the file to let me raise the shadow while controlling that very bright sky. I have used the location adjustment brush to “paint” some of the leaves to help them stand out more in the scene, and I have accomplished the color balance. This is exactly how I would process an image using a raw file from a Canon 5DMkIV DSLR, and I have been very impressed by seeing this final image.

When you have been able to shoot in regular DNG raw via a third-party application for some time, they do not use Apple’s HDR blending, so it was difficult to balance highlights and shadows in this way. Working with ProRaw has become much easier.


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It is not always about huge, transformational editing. The shot included deepening the scene and enhancing that gorgeous rainbow to capture the moody sky more.


Andrew Hoyle / CNET

While this shot simply required some shadowing and color toning and some darkening of the sky, it does not look completely different from the original.


Andrew Hoyle / CNET

ProRaw also works with night mode – another advantage over regular raw in a third-party app, which cannot use night mode. Here, I have taken advantage of the bright shots Night Mode can take in the dark, but I still have complete control over white balance and color tone, while also having more precise control over highlights and shadows. The original ProRave is on the left, with my edited version on the right.


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I have been able to bring more shadow detail to this nighttime image.


Andrew Hoyle / CNET

While being able to lift and control bright light from Christmas lights in this scene.

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Should you use Apple ProRaw?

Whether you use it yourself depends a lot on your style of photography. If you’re more about flabbergasting and quickly sharing those moments with family and friends, you should probably stick to JPEG. ProRaw shots demand editing work to bring out their best like any other raw file. Also keep in mind that ProRaw files are many times larger than JPEG (around 3.5MB for JPEG, around 18MB for ProRaw), so if you only shoot in raw you quickly fill up your storage Will take

But if you adopt a more artistic approach to your photography and want to ensure that applications like Lightroom have complete control over your image for accurate post production, then you should try it out completely.

When taking landscape shots I use polarizers and neutral density filters on my DSLR, I set my tripod correctly to the location for my landscape, and prefer to spend hours in lightroom tweaking shots as long as I’m happy. So I’m used to the long process in taking an image. For me, it’s about crafting that exact shot from beginning to end, and Prour lets me do exactly that with shots from my iPhone, resulting in better-looking images than their JPEG or standard raw counterparts Can get it.

However, it’s early days, and while I’ve seen some beta issues of how pictures look in Lightroom, I’m excited about how this will improve and how ProRaw will help me shoot better pictures from my phone.

Read more: iPhone 12 Pro cameras get some new tricks that serious photographers will like

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