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​iPhone owners can recoup their costs with 500px camera app

The site 500px, which has expanded from photo sharing to photo sales, taps into the higher quality that's available through raw photo formats.

A top-end iPhone 7 Plus, with its fancy new dual-camera setup, costs nearly $1,000. Now photo-sharing site 500px wants to help you make some of that money back with its new camera app.

500px on Thursday launched its first camera app, called Raw. It lets you take photos, upload them to 500px, and if you want, sell them too. And as photo buffs would expect, the app lets them shoot in the high-quality raw photo format Apple enabled this week with the release of iOS 10, its software for powering iPhones and iPads.

Enthusiasts have helped build 500px into a challenger to big services like Flickr and Instagram. Starting in 2014, the company started letting members sell their photos too, challenging stock-photo companies like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock and iStockphoto.

The 500px Raw camera app lets you adjust photo colors with sliders.

500px

These so-called microstock services have helped transform the business of photography since iStock launched in 2000. Specialists once concentrated on taking shots of luscious strawberries, active seniors and charismatic businesspeople that customers would buy for ads and corporate presentations. Now anybody with some skill and an SLR camera can make some money on the side.

And now it's not just for SLR owners. In recent years, stock companies have been courting photographers who use a phone to shoot. The image quality doesn't match photos from an SLR, especially in dim conditions, but the shots can look more genuine than the studio-lit artificiality that's so common in stock photos. In the real world, strawberries aren't so red.

But 500px has a big challenge getting you on board. Most folks are happy with a phone's ordinary camera app. For those who want more, there's photo editing giant Adobe Systems, which beat 500px by two days with raw photo support for Lightroom on iOS.

500px isn't just about sharing photos. The Raw app includes a new incentive: the ability to see photo assignments that clients including Google and Lonely Planet pay for. If you're a photo enthusiast, that can help turn your hobby into a business.

The 500px app can edit as well as capture photos. You can make standard changes like boosting saturation and shifting hues. You can also create filters for future use in modifying photos, and share filters with other 500px members.

The app is for iPhone users only for now, but an Android version will arrive later, 500px said. Android has had raw photo support for nearly two years, though it's not available in all phones.