Smartphone Raw Capture


Today’s Question: In Friday’s answer you said you would recommend using raw capture for photography with a smartphone. But how can you capture raw with a smartphone? I thought they only captured in JPEG.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can capture in a raw format with a variety of smartphone apps. Perhaps most notably, the Adobe Lightroom app for iOS and Android smartphones enables you to capture in the Adobe DNG raw capture format.

More Detail: Most smartphones and compact cameras will capture in the JPEG format by default. This is largely a matter of convenience, since JPEG images provide relatively small file sizes and are compatible with a large variety of software and devices.

More recently, HEIC (High Efficiency Image Coding) is available as an alternative capture format for updated iPhone models and some Android devices. The HEIC format employs improved compression compared to JPEG images, providing smaller file sizes with higher image quality. HEIC files are not supported as widely as JPEG images, but most of the latest operating systems and imaging software do support HEIC.

While HEIC is an improvement over JPEG, it is still possible to achieve even better image quality through the use of raw capture with a smartphone or compact camera. In the case of a smartphone, raw capture generally requires a third-party camera app.

The Adobe Lightroom app for mobile devices (iOS and Android) enables you to capture photos directly through the app, and you can choose to capture in the Adobe DNG format if you prefer. This enables you to capture more image data for your photos, and to avoid the potential for compression artifacts that can result from the compression used for JPEG and HEIC images.