The latest iOS update sees the introduction of being able to shoot RAW images with your iPhone. Only the most current iPhones and iPad Pros will have this functionality (iPhone 6, 6 Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus and the iPad Pro 9,7) which have the newest 12MP camera.
Traditionally smartphones would shoot JPEGs, a file that is automatically edited and adjusted by the built in software, making them ready to upload to Facebook etc. What’s great about shooting in RAW is that the file is untouched and uncompressed meaning you have a file that offers much more flexibility when it comes to editing. The only downside to shooting RAW images is that the file sizes tend to be quite large which means it could fill up your phone memory quite quickly. Another downside is the edited RAW file still needs to be saved as a JPEG before uploading to the web.
The standard camera app on the iPhone doesn’t seem to be able to support DNG shooting which is a bit confusing, so you’d need to consider third-party apps like Lightroom Mobile, which let you choose between JPEG and DNG.
DNG is a standardised RAW file that was developed by Adobe and is universally accepted, whereas files like NEF (Nikon) or CR2 (Canon) are brand specific. While a lot of brands use different methods for handling their files, DNG includes something called Fast Load Preview data that allows for quicker editing in Lightroom. Adobe also claim that the DNG file format is considered better for archival purposes because as a standard, it’s likely that a few years down the line, programs will still be able to read DNG files. An important thing to know is that the quality between an NEF, CR2 and DNG file is the same.
Using Adobe Lightroom on your phone is very similar to using the desktop app, you have all the same editing and rating panels. You can do things like rate and flag images. You can also work on your DNG file like you would a RAW file that you shot with your DSLR. You have the ability to make adjustments from white balance and cropping through to working on your highlights and adjusting the vibrance or even adding graduated filters. You could have done the same thing with a JPEG but making use of a DNG means you have much more control.
After shooting a few images using Lightroom Mobile I noticed that the images started appearing in my Lightroom catalogue on my Macbook Pro, but it does seem rather clunky, and it takes ages for the images to come across. In fact some images didn’t even come across at all, even though Lightroom Mobile said they were pending. Hopefully this little snag gets sorted out, because it would be nice to have a seamless system where you can immediately get access to your RAW files on your laptop.