Review: Photo Ninja 1. may be the dark horse within the Raw ripper tools sweepstakes

Photo Ninja, a brand new Raw-image ripper tools and photo-processing application by PictureCode, makes an excellent first impression. Used by itself or along with other popular photo-management and photo-editing tools, it is a capable program, and heavy photographers should take serious notice.

Photo Ninja are designed for JPEGs and TIFFs, but like the majority of Raw converters, it really is made to take full advantage of your Raw files. JPEGs are (as they say) cooked and able to eat–that’s, prepared to upload to Flickr or Google in order to send to some printer. In comparison, Raw files store fresh, uncooked (unprocessed) data right out the camera’s sensor. Because turning that Raw data right into a finished photo is much more complex than cooking boeuf bourguignon, different programs convert exactly the same Raw data diversely.

Taking advantage of Raw

How good a program’s initial conversion suits your taste is the initial question to inquire about of the photo-processing application. Just how well does Photo Ninja provide for me? Surprisingly well. In contrast to renderings of the identical files in other Raw converters for example Adobe Camera Raw (Lightroom) and Aperture, Photo Ninja’s default rendering of my Raw files typically had finer detail and much more vivid color. Images which had a large exposure range (shadowy forest and sunny sky) frequently opened up in Photo Ninja with no blown highlights I’d from time to time see in Lightroom or Aperture. For instance, Aperture’s initial conversion from the photo towards the top of this short article (of the mule caravan within the Grand Gorge) left without any color or detail on the horizon within the upper right corner. I decided to simply blown heaven out. The look proven here, however, is Photo Ninja’s default conversion — without any tweaks whatsoever. Heaven is a fairly, realistic blue and you may even begin to see the jet contrails, but the exposure from the primary area of the picture shows acceptable exposure, good color and wealthy detail. This is actually the type of Raw capture that Photo Ninja does best with.

Sometimes, the Photo Ninja rendering of the shot exhibited finer detail but additionally less visible noise compared to Lightroom rendering this outcome is especially impressive, because ordinarily the treatment for noise involves blurring, that also hurts detail. In connection with this, Photo Ninja’s pedigree really shows. It’s from PictureCode, exactly the same small Austin, Texas, company that created Noise Ninja, which for a long time was the option of many pro photographers for removing digital noise from images.

After converting, evaluating, after which publish-processing lots of images alongside in Photo Ninja and Lightroom (and from time to time in other individuals, including Aperture, DxO Optics Pro, Raw Photo Processor, and Snapseed), I found two conclusions.

First, Photo Ninja’s default approaches for rendering Raw files are remarkably effective–not frequently much better than, but frequently on the componen with my all-time favorite tool for challenging conversions, Raw Photo Processor. In case your photo taking jobs are detail-oriented–for instance, should you shoot landscapes or architecture–you might even see Photo Ninja’s defaults like a thought.

Photo Ninja and Lightroom represent completely different philosophies about rendering images. Photo Ninja appears to get the look “right” around the try, departing me little to complete but open the look, crop, and export. With Lightroom, however, additional publish-conversion tweaking is de rigueur. But that is not always a poor factor: Lightroom (like Aperture) requires a more conservative method of the first rendering, leaving lots of creative decisions regarding noise reduction, sharpening, color, and contrast in my experience. Frankly, Photo Ninja’s default rendering of a number of my portrait files was too detailed. My clients seldom like all pore or wrinkle to become visible. You are able to, obviously, edit your images in Photo Ninja to ensure they are just a little softer compared to default conversion, but you may also edit your images in Lightroom or Aperture in order to increase detail and clearness.

The entire package

Photo Ninja 1.1 comes with an impressive listing of features for any new program, especially one created with a small, independent software company. Additionally towards the fundamental tools needed for conversion (exposure, white-colored balance, sharpening and noise reduction, black-and-white-colored conversion, popping), Photo Ninja does a great job fixing chromatic aberration and modifying for lens and/or perspective distortion.

Photo Ninja provides two demosaicing modes, normal that has been enhanced the second is useful when the default rendering generates moiré patterns. This program also offers a number of “training” modes where one can educate it concerning the behavior of the cameras and lenses. This method does not appear just like DxO Optics Pro’s carefully engineered camera and lens profiles, however it has the consumer more versatility.

Nonetheless, Photo Ninja continues to be at version 1, also it lacks lots of features present in its older, old competitors. Photo Ninja can’t make place corrections (removing blemishes or red-eye) or local adjustments (brightening a bride’s dress or deepening nowhere from the sky). Photo Ninja will not help you produce photo books or webpages, and contains no artsy filters. Its browser enables you to find images, nevertheless its business tools are primitive. You are able to rate images, but that is about this. Photo Ninja also lacks many of the keyboard shortcuts that let me move rapidly with the countless files I restore from shooting a marriage.

Cooperative, although not social

The good thing is that Photo Ninja may serve as an exterior editor alongside Lightroom, Illustrator, and Aperture. You might like to let Photo Ninja perform the initial conversion after which switch to Aperture or Lightroom for detail or local adjustments.

And also, since Photo Ninja’s browser is really bare-bones, I suggest using another program to handle your images. Lightroom and Aperture are generally excellent file managers, however, you have alternatives. Photo Auto technician is fast and effective, although not cheap. For that budget-conscious, an attractive little application named Lyn works superbly with Photo Ninja, giving the finest of all possible worlds.

One negative: Photo Ninja utilizes the apps I simply pointed out, but otherwise it isn’t very interpersonal. Version 1 doesn’t have support for uploading straight to Facebook, Flickr, Google , or any other favorite photo-discussing sites.


Photo Ninja has its own idiosyncracies. Most clearly, this program does not seem like an average Mac program. The interface elements (home windows, dialog boxes, buttons, sliders) are minimalist techno-generic. You may enjoy it (I actually do), but I am sure some Mac users will discover the look a little jarring.

Somewhat less clearly, some facets of this program operate in novel ways and take becoming accustomed to.

For instance, within the Exposure and Detail tool group, the only Illumination slider can perform two completely different things. In “unsynced” mode, dragging Illumination right brightens the more dark areas of the look without blowing highlights. In “synced” mode, however, moving Illumination right causes the ‘Exposure offset’ slider to maneuver within the other direction this two-for-one adjustment has got the aftereffect of compressing the image’s exposure range (to prevent losing detail either in shadows or highlights) without brightening the look. Quite simply, in a single mode, the slider brightens the look, within the other mode, exactly the same movement towards the same slider doesn’t appreciably brighten the look. The arrangement really is effective, however i thought it was difficult to grok, and I am still unsure it’s a good idea.

In Lightroom and Aperture you are able to achieve similar effects using multiple interface elements, because both versions does something distinct. Lightroom, for instance, want you to employ a dark tone curve. Photo Ninja doesn’t have curves tool.

Main point here

If you’re pleased with the JPEGs originating from the digital camera, you are best remaining with iPhoto, Picasa, or Snapseed. But when you are a Raw shooter and you are even from time to time unhappy using the results you are getting now, I urge you to definitely give Photo Ninja a (free) trial run. Photo Ninja is not prepared to replace Aperture because the go-to Raw ripper tools in my work, however i have previously added it to my very own workflow. It’s too good to not have around.

Photos by Will Porter. All legal rights reserved.

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