Expert RAW is being compared to a DSLR by some, thanks to its ability to capture more subtle color and shading than usual, similar to Apple’s ProRAW.
Samsung has an answer to Apple’s advanced ProRAW camera format that graces the iPhone 12 Pro and 13 Pro models and, while the app is still in beta and only for one Galaxy phone, it looks very promising so far. Since smartphones have become nearly synonymous with cameras, shoppers are looking for more powerful options every year and features that were once reserved for photography experts are beginning to become available to everyone, sometimes as easily as installing an app or tapping a toggle.
Apple introduced ProRAW as a more advanced option for those that wanted more control over photo processing without losing the benefits of computational photography features. ProRAW is exclusive to Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro series. Like any RAW format image file, it’s larger and eats up storage about eight times faster than a normal picture. The advantages come during editing and much more detail is revealed when overly bright areas are toned down or dark regions lightened.
Samsung hasn’t drawn the comparison between its Expert RAW Camera app and Apple’s ProRAW format, but it’s beginning to sound like strong competition. The app is currently in beta and only available for Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. The timing for a camera update is ideal since the quality of Samsung’s flagship has been called into question recently with a higher rating having been given to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, whose biggest selling point is unfolding to tablet size. Expert RAW is also making a splash on Twitter since noted Samsung leaker Ice universe shared some photos captured with the app. A few comments compared it to a DSLR camera and while it’s a bit too early to make that type of judgment, some of the pictures show a degree of subtlety of color and shading that might be lacking in standard Samsung photos. Via a Samsung forum post, it was revealed that the app can process RAW photos in HDR, perhaps delivering a result similar to Apple’s ProRAW format, as first spotted by Sammy Fans.
Expert RAW is great. The following photo is taken by S21 Ultra using Expert RAW. It adopts automatic parameters without any processing. It looks great 👍 pic.twitter.com/uu0RlmWAq1
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) November 30, 2021
What’s Known About Expert RAW So Far
Samsung’s Expert RAW app was released in beta about a week ago and little was known at that time. However, a few more details have come to light that make it all the more intriguing. The app captures 16 bits of color data instead of the usual 12 bits of most RAW formats. That potentially provides 16 times as much color data per channel. Whether the camera hardware can capture that much detail is unknown but it does mean that the format is not limiting the picture quality. While files sizes will be even larger than Apple’s ProRAW, it could be worth sacrificing some storage for more beautiful photos. The app works with all rear cameras and provides Pro controls, allowing ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to be set manually.
Despite the manual controls, the app captures multiple frames and processes them with an HDR technique to allow more dynamic range than would be possible with a standard RAW photo. That’s what might bring Samsung’s Expert RAW into the realm of Apple ProRAW territory, giving the advanced features of computational photography along with the greater control and refinement possible in a RAW format. While the beta app is only available to a few testers right now, Samsung does plan to release it to the public and is working to expand it to more Galaxy phones in the future. The Samsung forum moderator noted that it is a very demanding app and will only run on Galaxy models with powerful processors and plenty of memory. That implies Samsung’s Expert RAW app might only come to recent models.
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