Apple ProRAW is file format by Apple that contains minimally processed data from the sensor of the camera. Current supported camera is the iPhone 12. There were some third party apps that do capture RAW data from the iPhone camera. The difference is ProRAW include computational info like depth field, tone map and such.
ProRAW contains more information like 12-bit depth for dynamic range instead of 10-bit for HEIF and 8-bit for normal jpeg. Because of additional information that it capture, the files will be large.
Just like shooting RAW on DSLR, the image itself is not better when shot using RAW. However, because of the added information, you have more flexibility in editing to make the picture more better. This helps in high dynamic range situation (shooting in front of sunset) where you can have better balance between the bright sun and your shadowy face.
So if you want the best possible picture to be used for later editing, don’t mind the extra space it will take shooting RAW and regularly use iPhone shots for your business, then ProRAW is an absolute godsend by Apple.
In the sample above, the left is taken straight from the phone. the center is edited using iphone photo editor to bump up the shadows. The right is edited using capture one, a professional photo editor. In high dynamic situation like this (bright background, very dark foreground), you can recover the image in the shadow because it capture more information from the shadow.
So yes, if capturing photos on your phone is very important to you then yes, ProRAW is absolutely worth it. It would not automatically make your photos better, but you can correct the image better with ProRAW.
Enabling ProRAW on your iPhone
ProRAW is currenly supported on the iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro Max. You also need your iOS to be 14.3 and above. To enable it, you need to go to Settings -> Camera -> Format -> Apple ProRAW. You will have a new button in the Camera app to take the shot in ProRAW.
To permanently enable ProRAW format with every shot you take, you need to go to Settings -> Camera -> Preserve Settings -> Apple ProRAW. Please note that ProRAW files is around 10 to 20 times larger than HEIF files, so your phone storage might gobble up very fast with ProRAW permanently on.
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