Named for the famed Mamiya medium-format, this iPhone app brings major manual controls — and the closest thing to iPhone RAW you can probably get.
When we first started hearing about 645 PRO earlier this month, we were intrigued because it claimed to be able to shoot RAW on the iPhone — something no other application has done. The question that this prompted was if it was truly RAW, and app developers Jag.gr first explained why they were using this terminology, and then changed it to "developed RAW." While they've dropped the traditional RAW nomenclature, in doing so the developers freely opened up about something we've never seen information on for iPhone photography before: what happens between the sensor and the final image.
It seems that iOS compresses images into JPEGs before most applications get their hands on them, meaning that often they suffer compression algorithms twice, but 645 Pro cuts this off at the pass:
But 645 PRO takes a different approach. It gets its image data at an earlier phase of Apple’s “development process”, before any JPEG compression has been applied. This means its final JPEG files have only been compressed once (and, if you select the Lossless JPEG option, not even that), and also that we can save a second copy of the image data, before any processing has been applied, as a TIFF. We’re calling this a “developed RAW”—dRAW—TIFF because it contains the image data in a state equivalent to that of a “developed” Camera RAW file and because, this being so unusual in the context of iPhone, that it hasn’t been through any JPEG compression (no one would assume that it had in the context of a DSLR; everyone who knew anything about iPhone camera application development would assume that it had in the context of iPhone).
Beyond this, 645 PRO does a lot of other things right that people who enjoy photography will appreciate. Things like spot metering, histograms, multiple focusing screens, white balancing, and simulated bodies, backs and films. They even produced a full manual for the app, if you really want to get your hands dirty.
We're interested to see exactly what the images look like in dRAW format because that's the true test.
645 PRO is available for the iPhone as a $2.99 download.