Experience with PiRAWnah on 3rd generation iPad

Started Mar 29, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Dave Lasker
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Experience with PiRAWnah on 3rd generation iPad
Mar 29, 2012

I am an advanced amateur who shoots RAW. I have a 3rd generation iPad. I am using it with Photosmith to review, select, tag, and rate images when away from home. When back home, I import the images to Lightroom on my Mac.

I occasionally edit images directly on the iPad, for emailing or posting. After reading the descriptions of iPad editors such as Snapseed and Photogene, I thought I would be able to use those editors to directly access the RAW data of my images. I found out the hard way that most iPad photo editors only read embedded JPEG previews, not the actual RAW data.

Editing JPEG previews on the iPad is sufficient for my purposes. But just for fun, I purchased PiRAWnah, to see what a real RAW workflow would be like on my iPad. I chose PiRAWnah over PhotoRAW because it seemed to have much greater functionality, including a histogram, and more favorable reviews.

I was able to find many reviews of the older versions of PiRAWnah, but none for the current version. So I thought it might be helpful to share my experience with it. I tested PiRAWnah by downloading some of my more problematic RAW images to my iPad.

PiRAWnah is still a very rough app, even at the current version 3.2.1, but I was able to get amazingly good results from it. So if I ever need to improve a poor RAW image when away from home, I feel comfortable that I will be able to do it with PiRAWnah.

Here are some more detailed comments:

1) PiRAWnah is not blazingly fast, but the performance is acceptable for occasional use. It took 18 seconds to import a 12 megapixel Canon CR2 image and 35 seconds to save the edited result. A 15 megapixel image took 20 seconds to import and 42 seconds to save. It is possible to import and edit a number of images, and queue them for saving. Then, you can kick off the saves of all of the edited images, and go to the bar for a drink while the save is running So the longer save times aren't as critical as the import times.

2) The 3rd generation iPad is possibly the only iPad model that has sufficient RAM to use this program effectively. It has double the RAM of the iPad 2. Almost every review of PiRAWnah I found complained about low memory warnings, and the need to kill other apps. I had just about every app on my iPad 3 running in background, yet I never got a low memory warning.

3) The default settings computed for each image work amazingly well, and were a better starting point for my test images than Lightroom's Auto Tone.

4) The Highlight settings are limited to a fixed set of 4, but they are good starting points.

5) The live preview window is very small, and covers up the histogram. It's too small to see anything besides the grossest impact of changes. And you can't see the effect on the histogram until committing the change.

6) Many of the older reviews complain about the lack of a white balance eyedropper, but this has been added in the latest version, and works well.

Here are some issues I ran into:

1) PiRAWnah slightly increases the size of my images. My 12 megapixel images are 4272 x 2848, but the JPEGs saved by PiRAWnah are 4290 x 2856. I've not yet figured out where the extra pixels are placed, or what their values are.

2) Some of the original RAW image's EXIF data is missing from the JPEG, for example flash, exposure program, metering mode, serial number, lens.

3) Double tapping an adjustment slider is supposed to reset it, and single tapping is supposed to bring up a wheel to allow you to enter a specific value. This isn't working for me consistently. I managed to bring up a wheel just once. Either my fingers are too wide or too narrow, or maybe this is an issue with the new iPad. No other review I found complained about this.

4) Older versions had sliders to manually adjust black point and white point. They are no longer present in the newest version. I can use the Exposure slider to vary the white point, but since the Contrast controls are designed to prevent white or black clipping, it's not obvious how to set a specific black point.

5) Images are displayed in the preview window in random order, making it a real pain to select a specific image. Fortunately the file names are also displayed, so finding the image you want to import is not completely impossible.

6) The output format select seems to be broken. I selected TIFF output, but I still got JPEG.

7) I was able to hang the user interface a couple of times. When this happened, I needed to kill and restart PiRAWnah to continue. This happened when I was struggling trying to tap or double-tap an adjustment slider to make reset and the adjustment wheel work, but did not happen with "normal" use.

I sent feedback to the developer, using the contact form on their website and Twitter, and have not get a response after several days. The lack of response is disappointing. if I get a response later, I'll update the thread.

Hope you find this useful…

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