A RAW photo offers better image quality than a JPEG, but capturing RAW images was once a feature reserved for only DSLRs and other high-end cameras. But thanks to increasingly capable smartphone cameras and clever developers, it’s now possible to shoot RAW photos on your smartphone. In fact, both iOS and Android support RAW photo capture out of the box.
But to take your mobile photography even further, you’ll need an app that can really put those files to use. We’ve rounded up the best RAW-compatible mobile apps for both Android and iOS, each of which takes a unique approach to shooting, editing, and managing RAW photos on your phone.
Darkroom is a full-featured photo editor for iOS designed for both iPhones and iPads that even includes keyboard support with shortcut commands on the iPad. In addition to offering full RAW editing, it also lets you separately edit the foreground and background of a portrait mode photo and adjust the amount of blur. The app offers a number of professional-level tools, including curves, selective color, and batch editing. It also offers some video editing and color grading capabilities. Thanks to a no-import process, it’s incredibly easy to set up and use — all of the photos on your phone show up automatically. Darkroom is free to download and use, but offers in-app purchases.
Adobe Lightroom CC shouldn’t need much of an introduction. Like its desktop counterpart, Adobe Lightroom CC is both a digital asset manager (DAM) and a post-production studio, where you can edit almost any image you throw its way, including proprietary RAW formats. Better yet, you can even capture RAW photos directly inside the app using the built-in camera.
Whether it’s a photo straight from your smartphone or one imported from a DSLR, there is no shortage of editing tools available. From basic exposure settings to layered gradient adjustments, Lightroom has it all. The best part is, if you have one of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription plans — including the $10 per month Photography plans — all of your photos will sync across all of your mobile and desktop devices, so you can start an edit on your phone and finish it from your computer when you get home.
VSCO started out as a simple app to add film-like presets to photos and has now grown both in features and users. There are more than 50 filters to choose from — with more to purchase — and a whole collection of tools for editing your images. VSCO not only works with RAW images, but also captures them using the integrated camera, making it a great all-in-one solution to shooting and editing RAW photos on the fly. VSCO is free to download and comes with a small collection of sample presets. More presets can be purchased via in-app purchases, while a VSCO Membership subscription — which gives you access to more than 200 presets, tools, and beta features — is offered for $20 per year.
Now owned by Google, Snapseed is a free photo editing app that is capable of non-destructive RAW edits. Along with the usual slew of tools like exposure and color adjustments, Snapseed also includes a bokeh tool to add background blur, a face enhance to quickly retouch portraits, and tools for double exposures. Most of the app’s updates focus on bug fixes and device compatibility and the last major update was years ago, but the app remains a good free option for handling photos, including RAW files.
If you want all of the latest iOS photo features boiled down into a simple, minimal app, Halide is what you’re looking for. Described by its developers as “perfect photography, within reach,” Halide is designed so that you can completely control it using only one hand. Despite its simple interface, it includes professional-grade features, including Portrait Mode for both people and pets, depth map tools for dual camera devices, focus peaking, and — of course — RAW photo capture. The designers created Halide’s lens switcher to work especially well with the iPhone 11 Pro. The app is also praised by users for the gesture controls, including ones to switch lenses on the latest iPhones. Halide is $6 on the iOS App Store.
ProCam 7 (iOS)
Stills, video, RAW images — ProCam 7 has it all. With more than half a dozen shooting modes, including night mode, burst mode, portrait mode, and even 3D photos, ProCam 7 manages to pack a lot of firepower into a single app. The interface is a bit daunting for those who aren’t familiar with heavy-duty camera apps, but once you find your way around, ProCam 7 has a lot to offer. The RAW editor is non-destructive, which means you can go back and undo or tweak any adjustments. Everything you need as a photographer is available through ProCam 7 — you’ll get access to all the essential manual controls in addition to the specialty features.
RAW Power (iOS)
Unlike the other apps on this list, RAW power isn’t a photo-taking app. Instead, it’s a digital asset manager (DAM) for photos on your iOS device, including RAW files, regardless of whether they’re from your phone’s camera or an outside source.
In effect, this app is a lot like Lightroom – certainly more than any other app on this list. With it, you can make edits (including exposure changes and curve adjustments) as well as sort and organize images. You can even edit the Depth Effect images that iOS devices with dual cameras can capture.
You can download RAW Power for free from the iOS App Store. If you need more advanced editing tools for your photos, they’re available via in-app purchasing. Before you make any purchases, though, keep in mind that while RAW Power is compatible with most devices that use iOS 12 and later, it won’t work with the iPod Touch, iPad Air 1, iPad Mini 2 or 3, or iPhone 5S, 6, and 6 Plus.
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