ProRAW is raw image format developed by Apple. It was introduced in 2020 and first supported by the iPhone 12 Pro models. The ProRAW file format saves uncompressed image data from the camera sensor, but also uses Apple's proprietary image processing.

When taking a standard photo, an iPhone applies computational photo processing — automatically adjusting basic settings like white balance, exposure, and color saturation while also using machine learning to combine multiple exposures into a digital image. Most camera raw formats forego image processing entirely and save an uncompressed and unprocessed image directly from the camera's sensor. ProRAW combines these two techniques, saving an uncompressed image, while applying advanced processing techniques like Smart HDR and Night mode. It also captures more colors than standard image formats (12 bits vs 8 bits per channel) and allows for greater dynamic range.

iPhones that support ProRAW still capture and process photos as lossy HEIC files by default. In order to capture ProRAW images, you must first enable the feature in iPhone Settings, then select ProRAW in the Camera app.

Like other raw formats, a ProRAW image may look darker and less vibrant compared to an automatically-processed image. However, since the file contains more image data, a photographer can make precise adjustments to the color levels, saturation, and exposure without losing any detail. Since ProRAW files are uncompressed, they take up around five times as much storage space as a compressed HEIC or JPEG image. Photographers often export ProRAW images to one of these formats after editing to make them easier to share.

NOTE: ProRAW files are saved using the digital negative (.DNG) image file format developed by Adobe.

Updated January 11, 2023 by Per C.

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