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Software Reviews

Photo Ninja Review

Ernesto Santos (esantos) on January 21, 2013

Keywords: software

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PictureCode takes RAW converting to the next level!


Since the advent of the raw file for digital photography we have been faced with the task of optimizing the demosaic process.

It may sound like a strange new term for many photographers; however, in the most common-denominator definition it is merely a sophisticated set of mathematical number-crunching functions used to turn the digital raw data from your camera into a perfect full-color image.

When we demosaic a raw file we convert the rudimentary numerical sensor data from our camera’s sensor into an image file. Seems like a relatively straight forward and simple process, right? Yet with the ability to manipulate this information to an infinite degree it all begins to get quite complicated. Even at the very basic level there is white balance, contrast, tone, color correction that must all be addressed.

Over hours and hours manipulating the slider adjustments of our favorite raw converter we have come to learn the power that resides in the raw file.  It has in many ways revolutionized photography. Most of us who take our photography seriously know this and shoot in raw regularly. And, as is to be expected, software developers have noticed this trend. The result is that today we have a lot of options available to us to address the raw conversion process (one of which is the subject of this review).

PictureCode is a software development company based out of Austin, Texas better known for their Noise Ninja noise reduction software. In September 2012 PictureCode announced the release of their newest product, Photo Ninja. Photo Ninja is a complete raw file conversion solution. For those who use Noise Ninja fear not, it is incorporated into Photo Ninja and past registered users of Noise Ninja are eligible for special upgrade pricing until December 31, 2012.


(9 Votes)
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Ernesto Santos Ernesto Santos (esantos)

McAllen, USA
Moderator, 11691 posts


Brian Bullock (Toby01) on February 10, 2013

Thanks for the review, Ernesto. I've been using CNX2 for several years and have recently been exploring other possibilities. I may have to trial both Photo Ninja and DXO Optics Pro, since they both seem to address my difficulties with noise vs detail. Do you know whether Photo Ninja can handle a photo that has been edited with CNX2? I realize that any CNX2 edits would be lost, but I'm wondering whether CNX2 make changes to the NEF that render it unusable to other RAW processors.

Agnes Valko (avalko) on January 30, 2013

Love Photo Ninja, recently started using it, and it really makes everything in my images super realistic, amazing. The noise reduction is by far the best that I've used thus far, overall couldn't be happier. Thanks for a great review!

Ernesto Santos (esantos) on January 23, 2013

Richard, Please see my comments to Keith regarding the performance of Photo Ninja compared to Capture NX2. As far as a learning curve I would say it is not steep at all. I was up and running with this program within minutes. It is very user friendly although like I mention in my review I think a few interface tweaks are in order.

Ernesto Santos (esantos) on January 23, 2013

Keith, That is hard for me to answer since I have not used Capture NX2 in a long time and I don't know much about the latest update. I can tell you that I found Photo Ninja to be really good at expanding the exposure range of a typical image where one may either have heavy shadows where you need to extract some detail or when trying to balance a lot of highlights with deeper shadows. I'm not sure how well the latest from Nikon can handle these problems. As far as noise reduction the one thing that impressed me is that you can have Noise Ninja work hand in hand with the Sharpening filter to give you really good results. So many times noise reduction can really lay down softness and loss of fine detail. I did not see this as a problem with PN.

RICHARD MESSNER (5683RAM) on January 23, 2013

I use Capture NX 2 & HDR Effex Pro2 for all of my editing - no other editing sotware - and get "good" results. As a "stand alone" processor,would I be happier with this editor? I have five years past experience with digital editing and am 68 years old. I may be missing a lot of good stuff but a steap learning curve keeps me in my "rut". Thanks, Dick

keith thompson (seramon) on January 23, 2013

Thanks for the information. Are there advantages over ViewNX2 and Capture NX2? For noise reduction DXO optics..

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