Shooting in Raw on iPhone

Rachel Johanna

Product Photographer & Marketing Maven

If you are looking to take your iPhone photos to the pro level, I highly recommend learning to shoot raw.

iPhones with iOS 10 and newer have the capability to shoot raw – you just need to know how. Camera+ 2 is the perfect tool for learning to shoot and edit raw. All the tools you need to get great images are in the same place. Stay tuned for a walkthrough! 

*Mini Tip: Did you know that raw is often written as RAW? But it’s not an acronym so that is actually inaccurate! 

But first, Why shoot raw?

The biggest reason to shoot raw is because it gives you a lot more control. A JPEG automatically makes some choices for you when processed. A raw file is full of information. All that info gives you a lot of room to make changes during the editing process. 

Say you shoot an image and when you start editing the highlights are blown out. If you are editing a JPEG it will be harder, if not impossible, to fix those areas. But with a raw file you have a good chance you can save the highlights and restore them! 

Shooting raw will also give you more opportunities to control the grain, sharpness, exposure, and more. 

There is a downside to shooting raw though – because these files contain so much data, they tend to be pretty big files. This can take up a lot of space on your phone.

It is important to note that raw files are not actually photos yet. The file format is just data. You have to tell that data how to perform when you edit. This means that the first preview you see when you open a raw file might not look like you expect. In Camera+ 2, when you edit, the image you see in the lightbox is actually the default developed version. All filters – except for the ones in the raw editor – are applied to the developed version, not the raw.

You’ll see in info that, when you shoot raw, 2 files are saved. This could be HEIF+RAW or JPEG+RAW depending on your settings

If you use the raw editor, then you’ll create a new developed version. From that moment on all raw filters will be applied to that newly developed version.

So, don’t let that first preview scare you if it looks a little off. Remember that this is a good thing. Being in charge of how your photo is interpreted gives you the opportunity to create better images! 

Are you still with me?

So when should you shoot raw? 

Well, there are no set rules of course. It all depends on your preferences. I’d recommend shooting JPEG for anything you are trying to shoot quickly – anything that you don’t intend to spend time editing.

Then, you will find that there are times when you won’t be able to choose raw. If you use other presets in Camera+ 2, like macro, you won’t be able to shoot raw since it is it’s own mode. When you shoot raw what you get is the unprocessed image data as captured by the sensor. This makes any type of post-processing incompatible with raw. This includes Macro, slow shutter, and even the 16:9 or square crops.

For anything you want total control over, I recommend shooting raw! It takes more work but can be worth it. iOS’s JPEG engine does a great job most times, so if that isn’t the edit for you, be prepared to spend time to develop your photos to achieve the look you want.

And when you edit in Camera+ 2 that work doesn’t have to take very long! Our raw editor is straightforward and great for beginners and pros.

There are a lot of amazing tools in our raw editor but here are a couple of my favorites. I use them on every edit.

Curves is my all time favorite tool! It is the first tool I use when I shoot raw. And the reason I use it first is that sometimes it is all I need. You can brighten or darken, change highlights & shadows, create fade & more – all in curves!

Another tool I always use is white balance. You’ll find this feature right up front which is good because it’s an important one. You always want to make sure that the colors look right. White balance is especially awesome when you have an eyedropper! Select the eyedropper tool and click on your image – find a white or grey spot for best results – the app will then determine the correct white balance for you.

We created a video to go along with this post and give you an even more comprehensive walkthrough. Find that here.

Happy raw shooting and editing. Show us your work – #cameraplus2

Published by Rachel Johanna

Product Photographer & Marketing Maven