Editing RAW Images In iPadOS 13 Beta 2

Today I tested iPadOS 13 beta 2 ability to import RAW images from an SD card straight from my Nikon D750 so I can do my editing process on the iPad. I attempted editing one of the RAW image with Apple’s Photos.app, Pixelmator Photo and Darkroom. I’ll skip the importation process as this will be discussed in a future blog post. For now, I’ll focus my attention on using other apps once the images are imported. As you will see, it is early beta stage and third-party apps are still not taking advantage of iPadOS 13

Unedited RAW image exported in JPEG at full resolution

My first attempt was to use the built-in Photos application. As of this writing, iPadOS 13 beta 2 doesn’t help me locate RAW images. They are not tagged in any way. And you won’t find them in a media types album either. I suspect Apple didn’t really change the way RAW images editing works on iPadOS. Too bad. Can’t believe I still need to rely on a third party app for such a basic thing. Oh well. 

Using Darkroom

Darkroom relies on Photos Library in order to be able to import images for processing. That is less than optimal as I don’t like to rely on the Photos library for this workflow. Still, I gave it a try. 

Once imported into the Photos Library, I could then import the RAW image into Darkroom for edit. At this point, I didn’t notice any difference compared to iOS 12. My review of Darkroom, in that case, is still relevant. The resulting image is shown here. 

Edited With Darkroom
Edited With Darkroom: More contrast, vignette applied, increased exposure, increased sharpness

Using Pixelmator Photo

Pixelmator Photo initial interface is actually the iOS document browser. In that case, importing a photo into the application is simple as I can use the RAW image from the “Recent” tab or browsing directly from the SD card if it is still plugged into the iPad. Very simple. 

Once imported, editing the RAW image with Pixelmator Photo is a breeze. As I wrote previously, I feel at home with this application. I applied the same edits to the image which looks like this. 

Edited With Pixelmator Photo
Edited With Pixelmator Photo: A bit more exposure increase, better sharpness, better highlights. I prefer this one.

Still a work in progress

As you can probably deduce yourself, iPadOS 13 beta 2 is probably not complete in regards to editing RAW images. Third party apps are still unaware of the latest iPadOS new APIs and features. That being said, the importation process is a bit easier and Pixelmator Photo is the one who more easily gets the job done for now. 

Which image do you prefer? Why? Feel free to respond in the comment section.

8 thoughts on “Editing RAW Images In iPadOS 13 Beta 2

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  1. Hello everyone, so happy to see people are discussing this issue. I am a iOS 13.1.3 user and importing images works as excepted with SD card reader from my Canon EOS R and Fujifilm X-H1 – it just takes much longer until the iPhone 8 Plus or iPad Air 3 recognize the SD Card reader – sometime it helps to open Files and dig deeper into the card file system and return to Photo.app, in case the SD card reader Import tab doesnt show images directly.
    Now my Issue: It seems like VSCO, Photo.APP etc mainly all applications don’t handle anymore the RAW images – i even not sure if the RAW+JPG files are imported at all. Can anyone explain to me why is that happening? Is Apple aware of it? It was working beautifully on iOS 12 – but iOS 13 is a total mess in handling RAW files – so sad 🙁

  2. I have updated my iPad to iPadOS too, however, I can’t really import photos directly to the Photos.app now straight from the SD card reader. It used to have the ‘Import’ tab popped up in the Photos.app. And now I can’t really find where to import the photos.

    Do you mind briefly explaining to me how to import photos now in iPadOS? Thanks.

    1. To my knowledge, Photos.app supports importing photos from the camera kit that Apple still sells. No other way than this for Photos.app. But, with a USB-C hub with a card reader, you’ll be able to import from Files.app just like regular files. Hope this help. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  3. I have got to upgrade from iPad Air 2 so I can try Pixelmator Photo! Direct import of RAW files to it? So nice! Thanks for sharing some of the details to this workflow. I just don’t wanna go back to a slow old Windows PC running Lightroom Classic. Keep it simple.

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