The popular iPhone camera app Halide has just received a major update that brings a huge range of new tools for smartphone snappers.

Halide has long been a great choice for photographers who want to take raw photos on their iPhones, and Halide Mark II takes that up a notch.

Interestingly, the app is one of the first to declare itself “ProRaw ready,” meaning it will let you shoot in the upcoming Apple ProRaw format. This format will arrive on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max “later this year”, so there is no practical benefit at this point.

One of the best new features in Halide Mark II, however, works the same as ProRaw. As Halide explained in his announcement, the current problem with raw iPhone shooting is that they often require a bit of editing know-how to achieve a level as balanced as a JPEG. In part, that’s because the raw files don’t include Apple’s computational intelligence, either.

This seems to be the reason why Apple developed ProRaw, which promises to offer a happy medium between the flexibility of raw files and the power of Deep Fusion processing. In the meantime, Halide Mark II has something similar called Instant RAW.

While this doesn’t directly leverage Apple’s processing, it does promise to instantly and intelligently expand your file to give you a neutral, but more advanced, starting point for your editing. Or, as the creators of Halide call it, “a middle point between a totally unedited RAW and a fully processed JPEG”.

Halide Mark II

(Image credit: Lux)

Double down

Even though Apple has slightly stolen the thunder from Halide on this front, there are plenty of other new features in the Mark II version of the app to make it worthy of investigation. Previously, it was not possible to simultaneously take a Raw photo and a digital photo in the same burst (only a standard Raw + JPEG).

But Halide claims to be the first camera app that captures both a raw and classic computer snapshot (including Deep Fusion and Smart HDR 3, on the latest iPhones) in a single burst. Since this process uses bracketing, there is a slight delay between shooting the raw and processed image, but it is potentially handy for those times when you need an instantly shareable image and a raw version for later editing.

Elsewhere, true raw fans also get “Pro Tools XDR,” which gives you a preview of the full 14-bit raw data, rather than the usual 8-bit visualization. This means that Halide’s new tools like waveforms and colored zebras (as well as existing ones like the histogram) are all based on actual sensor data. This should make it much easier to avoid mistakes when exposing your photos manually.

Speaking of which, you now have handy tools like an enlarged focus preview when you slide the focus wheel, while the gallery of all your shots now includes plenty of metadata for each picture.

There’s definitely a lot going on, which means Halide Mark II isn’t the cheapest camera app out there. If you’re a new user, it costs $ 36 / £ 34.99 (around AU $ 65) to buy directly, or you can subscribe for $ 11.99 / £ 9.99 (around AU $ 18) per year , which also gives you access to future upgrades.

Already have the first version of Halide? You get it for free with a year of member updates. Confused about where to start with all the new features? You can also sign up for a free ten-day email course from the app to practice.