Yesterday, Developer Beta for iOS 14.3 (including the upcoming ProRAW photo feature) was available. Although the exact date of the consumer Beta or the final version of the software has not been announced, we now know some facts about how ProRAW works.
In an interview with Apple last week, we have collected a lot of information about the advantages of the upcoming file types. The company created a new imaging pipeline that combines computational photography technology with the capabilities of RAW files, giving photographers access to both functions for the first time. You can read the story here.
At the time, it was not known how the process of capturing ProRAW would work, what kind of RAW we would generate and what options the photographer had for the file.
Now, we know that ProRAW files will be 12-bit RAW DNG with 14 levels of dynamic range. This file will give you access to standard options such as white balance, tone mapping, exposure, and black point, but Apple will also provide more information within the RAW file, including tone mapping and pigmentation maps for skin and sky.
The file will be written in DNG or digital negative file format. The local Photos application and certain third-party applications (such as Darkroom) will be able to immediately gain full access to large amounts of digital image data. Programs such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and Capture One will also be able to read the file, but once these companies update their profiles to include iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, these initial renderings will be improved.
You can enable ProRAW by toggling a switch in the “Settings” application, after which the “Camera” application will have a clickable button to turn the feature on and off. If you take a ProRAW photo and view it in the “Photos” app, you will see the “RAW” badge on it, just like you would do with HDR images or live photos.
However, you will see the rendered photo, not the original photo itself. This means that the phone essentially automatically captures in JPEG and RAW. If you choose to edit the image, the RAW image will be displayed and can be saved without loss.
You can also choose to export DNG to an editing application on your phone or to a computer for editing in any program compatible with DNG.
Only iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max can access ProRAW, which will retain the standard iPhone 12 and 12 Mini. In other words, any one of these models can capture images in ProRAW, including the front camera.
Regarding real photography, how much can you expect from the 14 stops in the dynamic range? PetaPixel intends to conduct a comprehensive review of the new RAW format when it is released.