Shooting RAW on iPhone 7
People always say, the best camera is the camera that you have with you all the time. Undeniably for most of us, we are glued to our smartphones day and night as if it is the only portal we are connected to the world.
As an iPhone user myself, I do shoot with it a lot even though most of the time I have my cameras in my messenger bag. The convenience of swiping the screen and start shooting, makes it the most used camera for me. However, the iPhone could only shoot JPG before the iOS 10 update. JPG is a heavily compressed image format, photos I shot looked great on an iPhone or on Instagram, but as soon as I transferred them to my desktop, they were no longer looking fantastic on a big monitor screen.
As you may be aware, with iOS 10 update, some of the newer iPhones are now capable of shooting RAW photos. With my recent upgrade to iPhone 7, I have been eager to find out the best way to shoot RAW my iPhone 7. Therefore, I have been testing several apps in order to find the most ideal way to shoot and edit RAW photos on my iPhone.
Naturally, I first went to try Lightroom Mobile since that's what I am using to edit images on my desktop. Shooting on Lightroom Mobile is quite straight forward, other than a few basic settings like flash, white balance, exposure compensation, grid guide, and timer, you just need to press the button. If you are a Lightroom user, the editing options are pretty similar to the desktop version. It also syncs with your collection through Creative Cloud so that you can continue to edit when you are at your desk. However, the app doesn't let you export the RAW image to your camera roll, so if you want to edit the DNG file on other apps like Snapseed, you are out of luck.
ProCam, ProCamera, ProShot, Manual, Raw by 500px
Next, I tried ProCam, an app that has tons of shooting options, almost feel too much from my experience using it. Most of the time shooting with my iPhone, I like to be quick and to get a good result. It is rare that I would use manual shooting options unless I was on a specific project, but then I would just use my camera if I wanted to fiddle with custom settings. In the app's setting, you will find an option to embed full resolution JPG for shooting RAW. What it does is, it embeds a JPG with your RAW file. I found it confusing because when that setting is on, the RAW image I shot sometimes wasn't read as a DNG file on some editing apps.
In the similar realm of ProCam, I have also tried ProCamera, ProShot, Manual and RAW by 500px. I think they are pretty similar in terms of the image that you can get out of it. For ProCamera, when you choose to shoot RAW, it will also saves a JPG image and I don't seem to be able to disable it. Personally when I shoot RAW, I don't need a JPG. Manual and RAW by 500px has a more modern and simplified interface that I like. The experience of using Manual and RAW by 500px is definitely more similar to using the native camera app.
Shooting in good conditions, you do get a sharper and less compressed looking image by shooting RAW. However from my observation, some of these shooting apps may not be using the iPhone camera stabilizer, thus when shooting indoor, be aware of the shutter speed the app uses. With slower shutter speed, your image may appear to be less sharp or blurry, which defeats the purpose of shooting RAW.
Up till the moment I am writing this, I am having a hard time recommending you an app to shoot RAW on your iPhone. They all seem to have pros and cons that is preventing me to make a final recommendation.
For now, I am shooting RAW with Manual, and then edit it with Lightroom Mobile. After editing in Lightroom, I export it to VSCO to apply preset and fine tune it before posting on Instagram. By not shooting in Lightroom, I can keep a copy of the DNG files in my Camera Roll instead of letting Lightroom hold them hostage. The benefit of editing in Lightroom is that it has great editing options and I can sync my images to desktop for blogging if I want to.
I hope you find this helpful and let me know if you need help in editing your images.