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This chapter is from the book

Edit Raw Files Directly

For most of this book, I’ve referred to this section as an interesting asterisk. In general, the iPad ignores raw files: You can import them, but editing and sharing occurs on their JPEG previews or on the JPEGs that were recorded if you shot Raw+JPEG originals. iOS accepts raw files, but it doesn’t support the myriad translators that are required to work with them directly. (I’m sure that’s a deliberate design decision on Apple’s part. Keeping up with camera manufacturers’ proprietary raw formats happens slowly on the Mac because the decoders operate at the system level.)

However, working with raw files is really just a computational hurdle. If Apple won’t provide the foundation for manipulating raw files, other developers are happy to step in. Two apps that do are piRAWnha and PhotoRaw.

These apps can act as preprocessors for a photo—similar to the way the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in works in Photoshop. If you’re working with a dark image, for example, running it through piRAWnha first may tease out detail that another editor might overlook. Then, after exporting the file (as a JPEG), use Snapseed or Photogene to perform additional edits. Or, if your images need only minor tonal or color saturation adjustments, they may benefit just from a pass through a raw editor without any further processing.

To be up front, editing raw files on the iPad isn’t yet ideal. Expect editing to take a while, even just to make what would be a trivial adjustment on a computer—although the iPad’s processor has lots of oomph, the amount of working memory (256 MB on the original iPad, 512 MB on the iPad 2) limits how much data can be processed at a time. I anticipate this capability will improve as software and hardware advances.

I prefer the interface of piRAWnha, so that’s what I’ll use as the example:

  1. When you open the app, tap an album from your Photo Library.
  2. Tap the image you want to edit.
  3. Use the sliders at right for each control to edit the photo’s attributes.

    As you drag, a preview appears at the lower-right corner (4.13).

    04_raw_pirawnha_editing.jpg

    4.13 piRAWnha’s editing interface

    Some adjustments are tailored to the raw format the software is editing. For example, tapping the White Balance button offers a Camera-Specific option that reveals the settings on my Nikon D90 (written as the specification dictates, such as “Incandescent” and “SodiumVaporFluorescent”).

  4. Once you’ve specified all of your adjustments, they aren’t immediately applied. Instead, tap the Add to Queue button.
  5. Tap the Load Photo button to work on another photo. Or, tap the Export Queue button to process the images waiting in the queue. When finished, the edited JPEG files appear in your Camera Roll.
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