Since iOS 10, the iPhone (and iPad) natively supports photos in RAW format, widely used by professional photographers. With that, they can be viewed both in the Photos app and also edited in specialized apps.
But what exactly is the RAW format? What’s different about it? Why is it considered so special? These and some other questions we will try to answer for you in this article.
What is a RAW file?
When you take a simple photo on the iPhone (or any other cell phone) using the device’s native application, a JPG file (or JPEG) that you can share, post on social media, or even print on photo paper. This file has been processed so that it is “ready to use”And allow you to do everything you usually do with a photo.
This “process” that the JPEG file goes through, in addition to automatically applying some image adjustments, also compress the file so it doesn’t take up too much space on the device. After all, if today it is already difficult to keep free space inside the iPhone, imagine what it would be like if each photo you took occupied more than 10 MB in size.
However, this compression, despite being something great for the internal space of the device, also quite limits the editing of these same adjustments applied automatically in JPEG (contrast, white balance, saturation and sharpness). While it makes it practical for anyone to make a beautiful photo just by pressing a button, it does not allow the most knowledgeable to apply their own adjustments to leave the image with its own personality.
The RAW format is, as the name says (raw in english it means crude), a pure file, simply captured by the sensor and without any manipulation in the adjustments.
Many call the RAW format “digital negative”, Referring to the old films developed from analogue films.
RAW gives the photographer much more freedom to change the nuances of the photo, such as background brightness, shadows, overexposed areas and saturation adjustments. With this, an image originally captured in RAW format can transform (when properly edited) into a much more beautiful and professional image.
How to process a RAW file
To give a enhanced in the photo and edit the fine adjustments of the raw image, you need a specific application that offers you all the necessary tools. IOS Photos even allows you to view the RAW image, but the edits it makes are the basics of any photo.
For finer and more precise adjustments, you have the following options on iOS:
How to capture RAW photos on iPhone
The current iPhone cameras are excellent and have capture technology that can replace conventional cameras in many cases.
However, the native system does not offer the possibility (at the time of writing) to capture RAW photos in the Photos app. For that, you need to use an application that captures this type of image. And in the App Store there are some very good ones.
Is the RAW format for everyone?
The obvious question is: if this format is that good, then should everyone just shoot in RAW?
The great advantage of RAW images is the freedom to make your own lighting adjustments, improving them. However, not everyone knows how to do this or even has the patience to keep adjusting each photo he takes. This usually takes work and consumes a lot of time for the photographer, who has to be sensitive and know the right techniques to make the image more pleasing to the eye, highlighting the details. So, for everyday use or just sharing an impromptu moment with someone, nothing better than having the machine make all the adjustments for you, compressing in JPEG.
In addition, RAW file sizes are much bigger, as we mentioned above. In times when any internal space on the phone (and in the cloud) is important, if you only take photos in RAW you will soon be without space on the phone.
Leave it to use RAW only in special cases, when you are witnessing a scene that you believe will look great in a photo. A sunset, an inhospitable landscape or the record of some famous place on a trip. But for simple everyday photos, the classic JPEG is the most practical option.