Gnarbox Unsupported RAW Files
Photo Gear,  Software

iPad and iPhone Workaround for Unsupported RAW files in Gnarbox 2.0

Gnarbox is way behind in supporting RAW files for new cameras.  My Olympus OM-D E-M1X was released in February 2019 and its RAW format still is not supported.

It also looks like these RAW file formats for new camera won’t be supported any time soon.  The original founders and employees are no longer with the company which has been in the hands of the investors since November 2021.

Hearing this news, I started to research and experiment with how to view and edit my RAW files on my iPad Pro that are backed up to the Gnarbox without being dependent on the Gnarbox software.

If you have an iPad running iOS 14 or later, you can attach an external hard drive or card reader to your iPad and view the files stored on the device in the Files app. The Gnarbox can be used as an external SSD hard drive so you can view, edit, and delete your RAW files on the iPad. This will allow me to continue to use the Gnarbox hardware even if the Gnarbox Software no longer continues to work with new versions of iOS.

Gnarbox Mass Storage Settings
Gnarbox Mass Storage Settings

Steps to View your RAW Files on the iPad that are stored on the Gnarbox 2.0

1. Upload your photos to the Gnarbox using the SD card reader on the device. 

2. Once the upload is complete, press the down button, Go to Settings, Dual Role USB and select Mass Storage.

3. The Gnarbox will display “Switching to Mass Storage Mode”.  It will take a minute or so to reboot to Mass Storage Mode.

4. Insert the USB-C cable in the USB port closest to the Gnarbox screen.

5. Insert the other end of the USB-C cable into your iPad. 

Note: If you have an older iPad with the lightning port, you will need a USB-C to Lightning cable.  This should also work with an iPhone with the USB-C to Lightning cable.  However, I have not tested this with an iPhone and the USB-C to Lightning cable.

Gnarbox Drive in the iOS Files App
Gnarbox Drive in the iOS Files App

6. Launch the File App on your iPad.

7. You will see the Gnarbox in the list of locations on the left hand side of the screen.  Click on the Gnarbox icon in the Locations and tap the folders on the screen to get to the folder with your RAW photos.  I was able to view the RAW files from my OM-D E-M1X and OM-D E-M1 Mark III in the Files App.

Save Image in the Files App
Save Image in the Files App

Editing Your RAW Files on the iPad

I found that some applications had difficulty reading the RAW files directly thru the Files app using the Share Icon.  Photoshop was missing the left toolbar, Lightroom imported some images as black and white, and Snapseed couldn’t open the RAW files at all.

I found the best approach was to save the image to the Photos App using “Save Image” under the Share Icon.  I could then edit the image in Photos, Snapseed and Lightroom.  Photoshop still had trouble with the RAW file from Photos, but it worked correctly once I saved the file to jpeg format using Snapseed.

Deleting Files on the Gnarbox using the iOS Files App

I was also able delete the photos and folders off of the Gnarbox using the iOS Files App, so I do not need to use the Gnarbox App to clear out the old files prior to my next photography trip.

To delete files and folder using the iOS Files App, press and hold the file or folder that you want to delete.  A menu will appear with Delete in red at the bottom of the menu.  Just press Delete and the file / folder will be removed.

With this workaround, I feel better about continuing to use my Gnarbox without being dependent on any software upgrades from the former company.  Hopefully, the legal matters with Gnarbox and their investors get sorted out, but for now I can use the Gnarbox to backup, view, and edit my files while traveling.

Blog Update

Shortly after publishing this blog, my Gnarbox hardware died. I found a cheaper solution to backup my files on the road and still be able to view and edit the RAW files with my iPad (blog link below).

How to Back Up, View, and Edit your Camera’s RAW files using the iPad while Traveling

Written by Martin Belan

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