How to take raw photos on iPhone (and why)

Apple ProRAW format in camera app
(Image credit: Apple)

There are many generations of Apple iPhone for photography on the market, and while they're all decent camera phones in their own right, they also all offer different features and levels of advanced photo tools.

When the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max launched in 2022, Apple ProRes video – a high-quality lossy video compression format – was a major selling point for the two devices. But many might not have been aware that Apple ProRAW, the RAW image format, was already available on the iPhone 12 Pro and 13 Pro.

ProRes vs ProRes RAW: what's the difference?

Here, we'll look at what Apple's ProRAW feature actually is, what iPhones have the feature, and how to turn it on and use it to capture better image quality.

What is Apple ProRaw?

Apple ProRAW is a feature that photographers should be particularly interested in, as it captures images in the same way as the RAW format on a standard digital camera, giving you greater creative control when editing photos – especially when it comes to the exposure, color and white balance.

Although ProRAW isn't available for Live Photos or in Portrait mode, compatible iPhones can capture images in ProRAW format using any of its cameras, and when in modes like Smart HDR, Deep Fusion or Night mode features.

Which iPhones can shoot ProRAW photos?

ProRAW isn't a feature available on all iPhones, even if you've got the latest iOS installed. Currently, you use the Camera app to take photos in the Apple ProRAW format on these iPhones, with iOS 14.3 or later:

• iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro Max
iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro Max
iPhone 14 Pro
iPhone 14 Pro Max

Check out our guide to all the iPhone generations if you're not sure which model is right for you.

Apple ProRAW

(Image credit: Apple)

How to take Raw photos on your iPhone

It's incredibly simple to shoot Apple ProRAW images on a compatible iPhone. To take ProRAW photos on your iPhone, you'll first need to turn on ProRAW.

Turn on ProRAW
Go to Settings > Camera > Formats, then turn on Apple ProRAW under Photo Capture. To take a raw image, you can then tap RAW in the Camera app, then take the shot.

Choose the resolution
On the iPhone 14 Pro, you can capture Apple ProRAW images at either 12MP or 48MP. To change the resolution go to Settings > Camera > Formats and turn on Apple ProRAW to reveal the resolution options.

The best resolution to choose depends on how much storage space you have, and what you want to do with your image. For example, the file size of a 12MP ProRAW image is around 25 MB, and the file size at 48MP is around 75 MB. You can only capture 48MP photos with the main camera at 1x zoom.

Turn off ProRAW
If you turn off RAW in the Camera app, the format of the photo will default to the format you've set under Camera Capture in Settings > Camera > Formats: either High Efficiency (HEIF format) or Most Compatible (JPEG).

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Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 

An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine

In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.