Apple iPhone - Non-Pro Models - RAW Shooting Apps

Location
Gloucester, UK
Name
Mark
Despite my delight at the quality of images from the family's iPhones, there have been occasions when I've either been disappointed by the processing of the images (too garish) or wanted to rescue an image but been unable to (there's only so much that can be done with a HEIC or JPEG file).

I've come across a few apps that claim to give more control over the iPhone's camera and produce RAW files notably Pro Camera by Moment and Halide Mark II.

Does anyone have any experience of these apps or similar, please? And are they worth the expense and time?
 
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Drdul

Rookie
Location
Vancouver, BC
Name
Richard
Despite my delight at the quality of images from the family's iPhones, there have been occasions when I've either been disappointed by the processing of the images (too garish) or wanted to rescue an image but been unable to (there's only so much that can be done with a HEIC or JPEG file).

I've come across a few apps that claim to give more control over the iPhone's camera and produce RAW files notably Pro Camera by Moment and Halide Mark II.

Does anyone have any experience of these apps or similar, please? And are they worth the expense and time?
I use both ProCamera and Halide Mark II on my iPhone XS. My Halide subscription expires next month and I won’t be renewing it. I like Halide, it‘s a well-designed app with good features such as SmartRAW and a useful widget, but IMO it’s not enough to justify the cost of the subscription (there’s a one-time purchase option, but the cost of that is also unjustifiably high).

I prefer the features that ProCamera offers, especially ISO- and shutter-priority modes (called “SI” in ProCamera) and burst shooting, and the price of the app plus optional purchases is less than the Halide subscription.

The other app I use occasionally is CameraPixels. It doesn’t offer all the features of ProCamera or Halide, but it does have one feature the other apps don’t have – presets. I have a preset for a 1/400 second shutter speed, for example, and another for ISO 25 that I can quickly activate as needed.

Having said all that, I can’t say that any of the third-party camera apps are worth the price as compared with the iOS Camera app. I bought the apps years ago when shooting RAW made a difference, but at this stage of the game Apple’s post-processing is so good that half the time I end up using the HEIC or JPG file instead of the RAW file (I have all the apps set to save both RAW and non-RAW versions). I’m looking forward to upgrading to an iPhone 12 Pro this fall (hopefully!) so I can start shooting in Apple’s ProRAW format, as that will give me the best of both worlds.
 

tilman

All-Pro
Having said all that, I can’t say that any of the third-party camera apps are worth the price as compared with the iOS Camera app.
I would agree with that. From my (admittedly limited) trials, I feel that every app might do a few things better than the iOS camera app - but then a few other things are worse.
So you're always going to have some trade-offs with either - native or third-party app.
If any of the apps' particular features work better for you, it might be worth it. But especially with Halide, I decided that it wasn't worth it for me... (and I simply stuck with the iOS app) :)
 
I have "Camera+" installed on my iphone 11 pro. It has some nice modes but I always forget how to use it so revert to the normal camera. but this app is fairly cheap and a one time payment and gets updated often.
My problem is I dont take many photos with my phone so have not spent the time to learn this app.
 
Location
Gloucester, UK
Name
Mark
HEIC raw files are actually quite good these days for a bit of external PP on the desktop too.
They are but only up to a point. Maybe I'm being too fussy about getting the best from what is, essentially, a dumb, small sensor compact camera with a phone attached.

I’m looking forward to upgrading to an iPhone 12 Pro this fall (hopefully!) so I can start shooting in Apple’s ProRAW format, as that will give me the best of both worlds.

Agreed. The trouble is I don't like big handsets. If the Mini form factor iPhones shot RAW I'd be happy phone snapper. Thanks for the detailed reply too.
 

Drdul

Rookie
Location
Vancouver, BC
Name
Richard
I’ll add a few more comments about the two iOS camera apps that I use; ProCamera (ProCamera + HDR - the next dimension in iOS mobile photography!) and CameraPixels (https://camerapixels.app).

I mentioned in an earlier post that I originally bought the apps to shoot RAW, at a time when shooting RAW was an advantage. Apple’s image processing is now so good that I use the non-Raw JPG or HEIC image more often than I use the RAW. But I still use CameraPixels and ProCamera instead of the iOS Camera app, for a few reasons…

The primary reason is that both apps allow me to shoot with shutter-priority or ISO-priority. The iOS Camera app can’t do this, and it often makes a difference here in Vancouver where we have lots of rainy, gloomy days. In lower light conditions I can force the camera to the lowest ISO setting to minimize noise, or I can increase the shutter speed to avoid blurring moving people/objects. Both apps display the shutter speed and ISO, as well as EV compensation, so I can see whether or not I need to take control and use shutter-priority or ISO-priority.

I’ve been using CameraPixels more and more because it allows me to save camera settings as presets. Accessing presets from within the app is fairly easy (it takes a couple of taps), but it’s even easier to use the CameraPixels widget which opens the app from the lock screen with the desired settings. I use the widget to open the app at least 90% of the time because it’s so fast to access.

ProCamera has a few more features that the iOS Camera app doesn’t provide. There’s a second shutter button opposite the main shutter button that takes a 4-image burst. There’s also VividHDR and LowLight Plus modes (both are in-app extra purchases) that merge multiple images to extend dynamic range and reduce noise. The relatively inexpensive subscription includes a few more features like exposure bracketing and auto perspective correction.

So even though Apple’s image processing has improved to the point that there is little advantage to shooting RAW, it’s still worth looking at third-party camera apps for features beyond the basic ones that the iOS Camera app provides. I hope to upgrade to an iPhone 12 Pro this fall to be able to shoot in ProRAW. I could do that with the iOS Camera app, but instead I’ll continue to use ProCamera and CameraPixels for the shutter-priority, ISO-priority, presets and other features.
 
Location
Gloucester, UK
Name
Mark
Thanks to everyone for commenting.

I succumbed to my software junky urges and bought CameraPixels. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to try third party camera apps.

The excellent PDF Quick Start file had me up and running within a few minutes.

Long term, the key questions for me are
- does it improve image quality?
- how does it help my picture taking?

Obviously it’s early days but I’ve already found the histogram and visual under / over exposed warnings helpful.

I’ll need to experiment and view results on a ‘big screen’ before deciding if the results are worth the time, cost and effort of continuing or even going further with third party camera apps.
 
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