Shooting in RAW format on the iPhone: you need to know this

With the standard camera app of the iPhone you can take great photos, but if you want more creative control over your images, you can go much further by shooting in RAW format.

What is RAW?

RAW is not an abbreviation, but refers to the ‘raw’ data that is stored. This creates a direct representation of what the camera sensor has captured. You could compare a photo in this format with a negative from an ‘old-fashioned’ photo camera. This negative can be used to make a final photo print. It is the source where all information is stored.

By taking photos with the normal camera app of the iPhone, a picture is always saved as a jpeg file. That’s fine for most people and it often produces good photos. But a jpeg file is reduced and automatically adjusted. Due to the compression a lot of detail is lost unnoticed.

A RAW file is a lot bigger and looks less good at first sight than a jpeg image. But if you start editing afterwards, you can go in many more directions with it.

Also read: 7 useful tips to take better photos with your iPhone

iphone raw

How you can still get a nice result with a fairly bad photo in the fog in RAW format (above) (below). Shot with iPhone X.

The best apps for RAW photography

To take pictures in RAW format, you will have to download another camera app. Apple’s app saves photos as jpeg by default and you won’t find the option to save images in RAW anywhere in the settings. Those files take up a lot more space than a simple jpeg.

However, there are very good alternatives to be found in the App Store with which it is possible. Below you will find our three favorites.


Halide is a great photo app for amateurs and professional photographers alike. The app has an option to enable (and disable) RAW. In addition, Halide offers many settings for the camera, such as adjusting ISO values ​​and white balance.

Download Halide from the App Store (5.49 euros)


A darling of iPhone photographers for years: VSCO. The app has changed a lot recently and since quite recently it is possible to use the camera for RAW files. You can also edit these photos directly with VSCO. A plus, because a separate app is usually required for this. Another plus: VSCO is free.

Download VSCO from the App Store (free)

ProCam 5

ProCam is another app that is highly appreciated. In 2014 and 2015, ProCam was chosen as one of the best apps in the App Store. And the camera app is still excellent. Not only can you shoot RAW with it, there are also many other settings to use. The support and updates for the app have been fine for years.

Download ProCam 5 from the App Store (5.49 euros)

iphone raw

Edit after shooting

Funnily enough, a photo saved in RAW format looks blurry and grainy in the Photos app. You must therefore open these types of files in apps that can handle them. Think of apps such as Adobe Lightroom, VSCO, Snapseed or Darkroom.

With these apps you can then make adjustments to the photos. You will find that you can adjust much more than with a jpeg format, without compromising on details. You will notice this in our photos above, for example. On the left is the normal photo, on the right is the result after editing. The color differences in the clouds and the improvement of the brightness of the trees can still be seen in great detail after processing.

Also read: Practical tips for taking snow photos with your iPhone

Is RAW always better?

The results with RAW are often better than a simple photo with the normal camera. But a photo doesn’t suddenly become a masterpiece just because you took it in RAW. Things like composition remain more important for this. You can also take very nice photos with normal settings. That’s fine for the quick snapshots. If you really want to show off beautiful vistas or city photos, you can shoot in RAW for the best result.

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