iPhone 12 Pro Camera: RAW Photo Shooting Guide

Learn the what, why, and how of ProRAW photography.

iPhone 12 cameras are known for being one of the best smartphone cameras to date. One of the most prominent features that sets the iPhone 12 Pro apart from the iPhone 11 Pro is ProRAW. ProRAW photos are uncompressed images that can be better edited. Learn how to take full advantage of this iPhone 12 camera feature.

Related: The iPhone Camera App: The Ultimate Guide to Taking Photos & Videos

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What are ProRAW Photos

ProRAW photos are uncompressed images that don't go through any automatic iPhone filters. This puts all the creative control in the hands of the photographer. However, taking RAW photos doesn't automatically make the photograph look better. It merely gives you more control over editing them. To learn more about taking photos with an iPhone, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

When to Use ProRAW

The ProRAW feature is primarily used when the photographer plans on spending time editing. Since the iPhone 12 Pro Camera automatically enhances photos, a RAW photo may even look worse at first glance. You should only use ProRAW if you are capturing something special worth the extra space on your phone and the time it takes to edit.

You cannot use ProRAW simultaneously with Live Photos or Portrait mode. So unless you are skilled at editing photos in external editing apps, you may prefer to use Portrait mode and let your iPhone do its magic. 

Sometimes you may notice that your regular iPhone photos are coming out overexposed or losing the intricacies you want to capture. In this case, it is a good idea to switch to ProRAW and see if that fixes the issue. 

Pro tip: Get in the habit of deleting bad RAW photos immediately to avoid wasting space. A RAW image can be well over 25MB in size.

How to Enable ProRAW on iPhone 12 Pro

Before you enable ProRAW images, keep in mind that they are significantly larger than regular iPhone 12 pictures. It can be a good idea to get some extra iCloud storage. A single ProRAW image can be up to 12 times larger than the average HEIF or JPEG.

  1. Open Settings.

    Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Go to Camera.

    Open Camera to see your camera settings.
  3. Tap Formats.  

    Tap on formats to edit your camera settings.
  4. Toggle on Apple ProRAW.

    Toggle on Apple ProRAW to enable or disable RAW photos.

Even if you enable ProRAW, it will default to off after a few minutes of locking your phone.

How to Take a ProRAW Photo

After ProRAW is enabled, you will see the RAW icon in your Camera app. You can tap it to enable and disable it as needed.

  1. Open Camera app.

    Open Camera app on iPhone.
  2. Make sure that RAW is enabled and doesn’t have a slash through it.

    Tap to enable ProRAW photos on your iPhone Camera
  3. Take photos as usual.

    Take photos on your iPhone

The ProRAW shots you take will have the RAW icon located at the top left of your screen in the Photos app.

How to Edit ProRAW Photos

You can edit ProRAW photos the same way you edit regular photos on your iPhone. However, the raw photo format allows for greater creative control, including more color, range, and more. The editing settings for ProRAW photos will be the same as usual; however, there will be more data to work with.

  1. Open Photos app.

    Open Photos app on your iPhone.
  2. Open the photo you want to edit.

    Open the photo you want to edit.
  3. Tap Edit.

    Tap edit to edit the ProRAW photo.

Most professional photographers recommend using more professional editing apps. You can download Lightroom for free and use it to edit your RAW images. Join iPhone Life's Insider program for exclusive access to our iPhone Pro Camera Guide

ProRAW photos make the iPhone 12 Pro Camera extra impressive. iPhone photography has gained popularity over the years, and the RAW function takes it to a professional level. The ability to shoot RAW photos combined with the other exceptional iPhone 12 Pro camera parameters is an exciting innovation by Apple. 

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life who lives in Hawaii. With a BA in International Relations from Anglo American University, Olena traveled the world. She has lived in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China, and the USA. Olena won an excellence award for a controversial article, got a grant to blog from a war-zone, and published a short fictional story. She hopes to publish a full-length novel and continue writing up a storm on her blog The Travel Bug Bite! When she’s not typing or flying, she is loving on animals, crafting bizarre creations, and devouring all-you-can-eat sushi.