Your iPhone has an amazing camera. It’s probably the best point-and-shoot camera system on the planet right now. If you’ve got the latest iPhone, you can be sure that even if you quickly snap a picture in ample lighting, the picture is going to turn out to be pretty good. That’s thanks to the smart image processing Apple is constantly doing behind the scenes.
But there’s a downside as well. Because everything happens automatically, you get little to no control over the technical aspects of how a photo is captured. As you might know already, there’s no Pro or Manual mode in the iPhone camera (a feature that’s available even on mid-range Android phones).
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take photos in Manual mode. All you need is a third party-app. After iOS 10 update, Apple lets third parties to not only take RAW photos on the iPhone, but you can use them to save and edit pictures in RAW format.
What is RAW and Why Should You Use It?
When you take a normal photo using the Camera app, it goes through a lot of processing. What the sensor captures and the output that’s saved is vastly different. But when you take a RAW picture, none of this processing takes place. The camera simply records what the sensor sees and saves it in DNG file format.
The file format saves a lot of information along with the image. Details like ISO, color saturation and more are saved with the picture, even if they might not be visible in the photo right now. This means that when you have a RAW photo, you can go in and edit every single parameter that you see. And when you’re using a RAW compatible camera app, you can set parameters like ISO, Aperture, Focus, Exposure and more before clicking the shutter button.
VSCO: Best Free Camera App to Take RAW Photos on Your iPhone
VSCO is one of the best photo editing apps on the iPhone. It’s free, easy to use and has a great set of filters. And now you can use VSCO to capture and edit photos in RAW format as well.
Open the camera view in VSCO and tap on the RAW button from the toolbar and that’s it, you’re now capturing in RAW.
Download: VSCO (Free)
Halide: Best Paid Camera App to Take RAW Photos on Your iPhone
VSCO’s abilities for capturing in RAW format are quite basic. If you’re looking for a proper Manual camera mode, you’ll have to shell out a couple of bucks. Halide is the best manual camera app for iPhone, It’s thoughtfully designed and has a beautiful UI.
The best thing about Halide though is how easy it is to use. It gives you access to professional level tools without a frustrating UI. Use the toolbar above the shutter button to easily adjust the focus, white balance, ISO and more. What’s more, you can click on the Gear button to customize the quick bar and put in features that you use frequently. Halide supports Portrait Mode as well.
Download: Halide ($4.99)
Edit RAW Photos with Snapseed
If you’re not using Snapseed on your iPhone, you are missing out. This free app by Google is one of the easiest ways to make your photos pop. You can easily tweak brightness, contrast, vibrance and more for any photo.
But when you open a RAW photo in Snapseed, it directly opens in the Develop view. Swipe up and down to change the option and left or right to change the intensity. In this one view, you’ll be able to edit exposure, highlights, saturation, contrast, structure, temperature and tint.
Download: Snapseed (Free)
Alternatives to Halide
We love the polish and design that Halide offers. But you might be looking for a more straightforward UI for capturing or editing RAW photos.
Manual was one of the first RAW camera apps on the App Store and it’s still a great option if you’re looking for a no-nonsense option. The app is not as intuitive to use as Halide but you do get access to all the levers and pulleys you need (although a lot of options are hidden behind drop-down menus).
Download: Manual ($3.99)
2. ProCam 5
This is the most popular pro camera app on the App Store and it’s one of the few camera apps that comes with an Apple Watch companion app. You’ll find every important manual camera feature in the app, including depth effect support.
Download: ProCam 5 ($5.99)
How Do You Click and Edit Photos on Your iPhone?
What does your photography workflow on your iPhone look like? For RAW, I use Halide app and I edit in Darkroom. Focos is my go-to app for capturing Portrait Mode photos (it made it to our best apps for iPhone X list as well). Share your workflow with us in the comments below.