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Software Reviews

Photo Ninja Review

Ernesto Santos (esantos)

Keywords: software, postprocessing, photoninja

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Photo Ninja is a totally new product featuring a full array of raw processing filters including: color correction, exposure adjustment, color enhancement, black and white conversion, noise reduction, sharpening, chromatic aberration correction, vignetting control, distortion and geometry adjustment, cropping, and demosaic of the raw file. In essence, it is a complete raw and image processor within a stand-alone program with a clean interface incorporating an image browser for file search and selection.
According to the Photo Ninja website the following camera raw files are supported:

Canon: D2000, D30, D60, D6000, 7D, 10D, 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 60D, 300D, 350D, 400D, 450D, 500D, 550D, 600D, 1000D, 1100D, 1D Mark I/II/III/IV, 1Ds Mark I/II/III, 1D X, 5D Mark I/II/III, PowerShot G1X, PowerShot G6.   [Note: sRAW mode for Canon SLRs not yet supported.]

Nikon:  D1, D1H, D100, D2H, D2X, D200, D3, D3S, D3X, D300, D3000, D3100, D3200, D4, D40, D40X, D50, D5000, D5100, D60, D70, D700, D7000, D80, D800/D800E, D90, 1 J1, 1 V1, Coolpix P7000

FujiFilm: FinePix X100, X-S1

Konica Minolta: Dynax 7D, probably other DiMAGE and Dynax models

Leica: M9, M Monochrom, D-LUX 5, S2, probably other models

Olympus: E-M5, E-500, probably other E-, C-, and SP- models.

Panasonic: DMC-FZ35, DMC-GH2, DMC-G3, DMC-GX1, DMC-GF5, probably other DMC models.

Pentax: K-01, probably other K- and *ist models.

Samsung: NX200, NX100, and probably other NX models

Sony: NEX-7, DSC-RX100, probably other DSC, DSLR, NEX, and SLT models.

Additionally, Photo Ninja can process jpegs and tiffs.  Processed raw files are output to jpeg and tiff formats. Photo Ninja can be used in conjunction with a variety of image processing tools including Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, and Aperture. A plug-in for Photoshop is due soon in version 1.1. While the integration is not totally seamless between these programs you can export processed files to Photo Ninja (as rendered tiffs) and in the case of Photo Mechanic it retains the tagging, color labeling, and ratings you have applied to the file.




Photo Ninja Editing

As I mentioned previously Photo Ninja has a clean interface with the program window defaulting to a dark neutral color and small white fonts. You can change the appearance to a light grey and font sizes can be changed as well. Within the program window there is the program menu at the top, a control to toggle between the Browser and Editor Screen, buttons to access a message log and news from the PictureCode server, and the current day and time. Below this is a second set of controls. There is a drop down which allows you to toggle between various open files sitting in the workspace. You have access to a fly out window which displays the file Metadata, and controls to zoom in and out, rotate the displayed image, show split panes, and close the active image. On the left a panel shows a histogram, the essential camera settings at the time of the capture, and a drop down for lens profiles. Below these items are the adjustment slider filters.  At the bottom of the window is a directory tree with a strip of thumbnails of the images in the active directory.

While you can access your files using the thumbnail strip you can also use a browser displayed in the main workspace. Here is a screen shot of what this view looks like.


Photo Ninja Editing - organized

The general Photo Ninja workflow is not much different from all the other raw converters out there except that it has a few methods that are a little different. For one, when working with a filter you must confirm your adjustments when making edits by clicking on the Apply button. Conversely, there is also a button to cancel your adjustments. Secondly, each adjustment such as color correction, sharpening, etc. is accessed one at a time. There is no scrolling through a long series of adjustment sliders. With Photo Ninja the sliders for each process are hidden under a nested system. This can get a little frustrating in the long run and certainly does not promote quick adjustments. While Photo Ninja is a very good raw converter/image processor it is not one built on speed. It is slow to render adjustments, and while there is the ability to copy and paste settings over one or more files there is no true automatic synchronized batch processing for those who are working on a series of shots under the same lighting conditions. Bear in mind that Photo Ninja is in version 1 and some issues concerning performance and efficiency are to be expected. Hopefully these will be addressed in later updates.


(9 Votes )
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Originally written on January 21, 2013

Last updated on August 25, 2016


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.

User 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

Nikonians Resources Writer. Recognized for his outstanding reviews on printers and printing articles. Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas, including Landscape Photography Awarded for his extraordinary accomplishments in Landscape Photography. His work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian. Winner of the Best of Nikonians Images 2018 Annual Photo Contest

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

Nikonians Resources Writer. Recognized for his outstanding reviews on printers and printing articles. Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas, including Landscape Photography Awarded for his extraordinary accomplishments in Landscape Photography. His work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian. Winner of the Best of Nikonians Images 2018 Annual Photo Contest

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..