Photographers rejoice! iOS 10 lets you snap RAW images

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The iPhone's camera is getting a big update.
The iPhone's camera is getting a big update.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Pictures snapped from an iPhone are about to take a huge step closer to pro status this year and you won’t even need to buy the iPhone 7 Plus’ rumored dual lens to get them.

For the first time ever, Apple is finally bringing RAW image files to the Camera app in iOS 10 thanks to a new AVCaptureOutput that will also allow third-party apps to snap Live Photos along with RAW.

Apple didn’t showcase the addition of RAW image capture during its WWDC keynote; however, it was listed on one of the iOS 10 slides of the many features that didn’t get stage time. The company also listed it among the many changes in the official iOS 10 release notes.

“The new AVCapturePhotoOutput class provides a unified pipeline for all photography workflows, enabling more sophisticated control and monitoring of the entire capture process and including support for new features such as Live Photos and RAW format capture.”

During a WWDC session this morning, Apple revealed that RAW image shooting will be supported on the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, and the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Most DSLRs offer RAW image capture which allows for greater manipulation of a photo’s properties when editing because no information is compressed, unlike JPEG files which record 256 levels of brightness compared to the 4,096 to 16,384 levels of brightness in RAW image files. That gives you a lot more headroom for editing and creative freedom.

iOS 10’s RAW image capture is only available via the rear camera and you can’t use image stabilization when shooting RAW, but Apple did add the ability to shoot RAW + JPEG on a single snap and bracketed shooting.

Previously, the only way to get RAW images on iPhone was to transfer pics shot on a DSLR and then edit them with one of the few apps that support RAW. Now, Apple is giving iPhone users the highest image quality possible straight out of the default Camera app.

The only big drawback about shooting in RAW is the files are big. Weighing in around 30MB per file, shooting in RAW will eat through a 16GB iPhone’s storage after a day of shooting, so there will be an option to toggle it on and off like LivePhotos and 4K video.

  • endinyal

    That’s not true. Many small point-and-shoot cameras output in RAW too. They are not limited only to dSLR cameras.

    • mahadragon

      The author never said that RAW output is limited to only DSLR cameras. You might want to read the article again.

  • my galaxy s7 edge 3 months old does it already

    • igorsky

      Awesome. GTFOH.

      • Reb

        fan boy reply. pointing out something that has been around for years just coming to IOS is worthy of the F word.

  • GaryK

    The RAW support is good news on its face, but unless the image has 16 bit data I am not sure it means very much. Either way, a little tiny sensor with little tiny lens is still quite limiting, no?

  • RAW format in phones is like rocket engine in bicycles. Useless.