Recently reading how great Apple ProRAW DNG files are.
Combining all the informations from stacked photos, wide dynamic range, noise reduction etc...

My experiences from Android RAW photo's are far behind that. Lot of work to even recive same picture as phone would create itself...

My question than is, are these Apple ProRes really that good? Let's say, comparing with Pixel 6 Pro raw files.


1 Answer 1


ProRAW is not ProRes. ProRes is a movie format. ProRAW is a stills format encapsulated in DNG - https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT211965 - I can't find a full published spec from Apple, just consumer guidance.

If you start with any RAW file & an app that cannot read the camera-specific parameters used to generate the embedded JPG, then it's always going to be a lot more work to get back to the jpg look, no matter the source.

I found an article detailing one of the aspects ProRAW can carry - Semantic Segmentation Masks [this, amongst other things will be part of what enables it to do variable blur portraits].

Outdoor Photographer - What Is Apple ProRAW?

enter image description here

One of the computational features I mentioned was called Semantic Segmentation Masks. Envision an image with a few people. Behind them is a lovely landscape and a sky filled with clouds. The iPhone instantaneously differentiates each element in your frame, or “masks” them off, to help balance tones throughout the frame during processing. Such masking data is now stored with the RAW file thanks to DNG 1.6. Figure 2 helps visualize how a segmentation mask would be applied to a landscape.

Segmentation masks and how we edit them are destined to evolve, and part of this evolution now involves how third-party software companies, like Adobe, decide whether or not to incorporate such computational features into their products, which could drastically change how we develop our images. I already have fantasies of a future version of Lightroom Classic offering me the ability to access segmentation masks so I can develop very specific sections of an image without using the standard localized correction tools such as the Gradient Tool, the Radial Filter or the Adjustment Brush. So, ProRAW is an exciting new format, but it’s groundbreaking for what I know is coming in the future.

This makes it look like the best place to edit these at the moment is still Apple software - the phone itself or Apple Photos on the Mac. For such as Portrait mode, this lets you adjust things like the subject lighting & background blur amount in post.

Some terrible selfies, half-awake, unshaven, 'big nose, little ears' as a bad example…
This is all done in software [& can be changed at any time after the fact] - here directly on the phone & screenshot - as an example of how this layer separation can be manipulated. First on the lighting of the subject, second with the blur in the background.

Natural Light
enter image description here

Studio Light
enter image description here

No blur [f/16]
enter image description here

Maximum blur [f/1.4]
enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for complex answer. So, they are, better?! ...I'm processing raw photos from cameras for year's, but Canon/Panasonic raw photo's has been far easier to process than any android generated raw photo. Maybe because 8 vs 10bit difference, maybe because of low dynamic range of smartphone raw vs smartphone jpg hdr photos, don't know. Apple ProRaw seems to be different according their advertisements. That's why I come to ask here \$\endgroup\$
    – JZK
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 10:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's always easier to process in an app that fully understands the input. I shoot Nikon. I always pre-process in Nikon's own ViewNX-i because nothing else understands the input parameters, so starting in Photoshop or Lightroom always means three times the work just to get back to what I could see on the back of the camera… which of course was what I was aiming for as my start point in the first place. 'Better' is subjective if only one app can correctly process each. A quick google on Android RAW says it doesn't have anything like the 'semantic segmentation'. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 10:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good example with Nikon... android raw is (obviously) raw (.dng) file coming from (any) Android phone \$\endgroup\$
    – JZK
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 11:49
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Neither 'raw' nor 'dng' is a fixed format. They are, in effect 'containers'. Within that container may be many different types of information. So, even Android phones might have different RAW types, because there's no ruling body to determine what it contains. Apple, on the other hand, will present a unified approach, because they're in control of the entire product, hardware & software line. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 16:51

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