Table of Contents

Working with RAW photos

RAW is one of the file formats used for capturing digital images, although, a RAW file is not an actual photo itself. It contains unprocessed information about the photo, collected straight from the camera’s sensor. When imported into digital image editors, this data is demosaiced into a meaningful photo you can edit, and can be exported to regular image formats such as JPEG or PNG, once processed.

Shooting JPEG vs RAW

  • When shooting JPEG, the white balance, saturation, lightness, or shadows are processed by the camera and applied to a photo automatically. JPEG is also a lossy file format that uses compression to make photos more lightweight which saves space on the memory card, but at the same time, leaves out certain information from the photo.

  • RAW files, hence the name, provide some raw and unprocessed information about the properties of a photo. You can adjust these properties manually to make sure the photos look their best. As an example, editing RAW images shot in low light can help bring out some of the image detail that would be impossible to recover from a JPEG. Because of these characteristics, RAW file format is a staple in professional photography. It allows for much more flexibility and produces higher quality images.

Supported RAW formats
Pixelmator Photo can open and work with RAW files from camera models supported by the iOS. Note that with some cameras, only the uncompressed RAWs are supported.

Since RAW is a lossless file format and keeps all the image data, shooting in RAW tends to produce quite large files. In case a RAW photo is too large to be opened, you'll see an alert. The maximum image size Pixelmator Photo can work with varies based on iPad model.

Editing RAW in Photos

In Photos, you'll find the RAW photos marked with a special badge. Many digital cameras also have a setting for shooting JPEG+RAW image pairs. This creates a RAW file plus a JPEG version of the photo processed in-camera

RAW files don't have to be imported if you're editing from Photos. Upon opening, Pixelmator Photo creates a .photo-edits file where it saves all the changes you make and makes it possible for these changes to be restored the next time you open a photo in Pixelmator Photo.

If you're shooting JPEG+RAW, you can choose which image version to edit by touching and holding Edit in the photo preview screen.

Important: Pixelmator Photo always opens the last saved version of a photo, so if you modify the same picture in Photos or using other image editors, these changes will reflect in Pixelmator Photo, merging all the nondestructive changes you may have applied previously.

Editing RAW in Files

RAW files stored in locations other than the Photos browser are not marked with badges but can be easily recognized based on the file size which is typically larger than the regular JPEG or PNG. If you touch and hold a file, you can also check its type under Info.

Importing RAW files

To start editing a RAW photo, you need to import it to Pixelmator Photo first. You can do that by simply tapping a desired photo in the Files browser. This creates a new .photo file where Pixelmator Photo stores the RAW photo along with all the adjustments and edits from your editing sessions. So, to continue editing a RAW photo you've already started working on, make sure you're opening a file marked with the .photo extension. Opening the original RAW will create a separate .photo file for the new edits.

Tip: Using batch editing workflows, you can import multiple RAW photos to Pixelmator Photo at a time.

Editing RAW files

Pixelmator Photo is a fully nondestructive image editor, so crop, repair, and any other edits can be applied to the RAW files as to regular images despite the RAW files being data-based, rather than pixel-based.

Note: Keep in mind that the Destructive editing workflow doesn't apply to RAW images since they cannot be edited destructively by nature.

Exporting RAW files

The .photo files can only be worked on in Pixelmator Photo. To open them using other apps, share with friends or publish on the web, you may want to export them to regular image formats, such as JPEG or PNG. With the help of the batch editing workflows, you can export the files without having to go through each individually.