Photo Software Reviews

21 Comments on Photo Ninja – Contender or Pretender?

  1. 3412/5000 Instagram Privater Profil-Viewer

    Hello, this weekend is nice for me, as this time i am reading this great informative paragraph here at my house.

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  3. Howard Owen

    I’ve used PN for about six years and, while it has certain strengths, there are two serious issues: first, highlight recovery is lacking and often can result in unwanted tints in certain areas (note the pink clouds in your samples). Second, for all intents and purposes, software development has stopped. A V2 has been promised for ages (since 2014!) but I have given up hope of ever seeing it.

    • AndyBell

      Howard – good points. I often have to turn off the built in highlight recovery and then dial in exposure compensation, which looks better.

      When I last spoke to the developer, he was planning to do v2. His problem is, I think, that users will expect the update to support all the latest RAW formats and there are so many of them!

      Lightroom has only just started to support the new Canon EOS RP and DXO won’t be supporting it until June. Thankfully, the Adobe RAW to DNG converter is usually up to date so Ninja and others can work on DNG conversions from these new formats.

      I used to write RAW converters and keeping up with RAW formats was so time consuming. Adobe has teams of developers. I suspect Ninja has far fewer developers and that would account for some of the delays in updating it.

      Anyhow, I would rate Ninja as one of the top converters, apart from it’s weird highlight recovery.

      I have also found building my own camera profile for Ninja to use improves it considerably.

  4. David

    I’ve been a supporter of PN — at least off and on — for six years and bought two upgrades, neither of which provided significant new functionality. With no sign of any movement for over a year, I’ve concluded it must now be the end of the road and I can’t use the software anyway on my current camera (Nikon Z6). Competition from similarly priced but far more featured software like ON1 and Luminar means it’s becoming less and less relevant. yet it does have its own unique way of rendering which is generally pleasing for landscape and in some cases unrepeatable. It will be missed.

    • AndyBell

      They do say they’re intending to release an upgrade.

      I use Adobe’s DNG converter on my CR3 files and then PN handles them perfectly.

      I’ve built a colour profile for my current cameras using the XRite Colour Checker target for PN to use and I now find NOTHING gets near it for colour rendition. I’ve put many images through the latest DXO (native CR3 files) and Luminar (DNG files) as well as other converters and I far prefer PN.

      I only reach for Luminar if I have significant shadow detail to recover, as it is so good at that. But PN just brings out better detail than anything else I’ve tested, so it’s my go to RAW converter for my current camera equipment.

    • Claude

      I totally agree with everything that has been written on this thread, and especially with David’s remark: it does have its own unique way of rendering which is generally pleasing for landscape and in some cases unrepeatable. I know C1, LR and Luminar (AI) but I took over a PN license this year: well-balanced landscape images are uniquely and wonderfully rendered by this software and I don’t want to move away from this gem. I regret that the product is only evolving to support new bodies. I regret that the Picture Code website has not expanded with proper tutorials and that there is no community that shares its uses with Photo ninja. Only the highlight recovery and shadow processing functions don’t really satisfy me. I would like to see the next (hypothetical) improvements on these two aspects.

      • David

        interesting to get a reply three years on! I must admit that PN has now left my radar. As the planned v2 seems unlikely to ever see the light of day, a software which was already beginning to look dated a few years ago is now even more so. I’m not wiling to spend more money on it to be able to use it with my current camera but it does still have a place as the rendering is very distinctive if you like what it does. I agree that highlight recovery was still weak when I last used it.

        • AndyBell

          David – yes, if V2 is going to happen it is certainly taking its time. To use it with modern cameras I’d convert it to DNG with Adobe’s free converter or, better still, DXO Pure Raw.

          • Claude

            Hello, and thank you very much for your feedback.
            I would like to present you a very recent use case which combined wonderfully (for me) the qualities of a Sony camera (A7 II), a takumar lens (50mm f1.4 8e) and Photoninja : a village picture taken from a high position and which I cropped on a very small part for a Google Maps contribution. This crop can be seen at this GoogleMaps address: .
            I demosaiced the RAW file successively with C1, LR and PN: PN gave me the best feeling of sharpness, depth and colour realism. PN is dominant over its competitors that I know of, only on a small number of my photos, but its achievements impress me enough that I don’t want to separate myself from this software. And so much for the costs, matter of heart !
            Andy, I discovered your blog only yesterday and I appreciate it greatly. I wish you a excelent continuation
            David, Andy, I wish you a very good day.

  5. David

    trouble is, Andy, that they’ve been saying this for years and the number of people who still believe them drops all he time. Would it be true!

    PN can read the Z6 Nikon files from the external DNG converter but has no colour profile so the colours are wrong. It can read some of the DNG’s exported from LR with correct colours but others are just a sort of magenta wash. In other words, a total waste of time for this camera, I’m afraid.

    • AndyBell

      True. But build your own profile and then PN works like a dream. I always carry a Datacolour passport chart with me in case I encounter odd lighting. It took half an hour to build the profile and PN now uses it all the time.

      The results with the profile and without it are profound.

      The only problem is that the profile costs some $$$ but I had one anyway…

  6. David

    Fair enough, but that sounds like hard work and I don’t feel too limited any more with LR, C1 and even Nikon’s own Capture software. With my previous Fuji system, I was struggling rather more and was pretty well forced into acquiring C1 for the kinds of shots where PN didn’t work so well. Not likely to update C1, though, as it is kind of pricey. But I’ll check for any PN updates every now and again.

    • AndyBell

      I’d say the only downside is buying the Colourchecker Passport (£90). Then it’s just a case of taking a bunch of shots at various ISO settings – some overexposed and some underexposed and feeding them into Ninja. Ninja guides you through the process – it took me half an hour to an hour.

      After that, Ninja uses the profile automatically.

      Interestingly, other Converters can make use of profiles. DXO, Lightroom and Luminar all can. The Colour Checker target comes with free software for building genetic profiles for use with these programs.

      I’ve often wondered if there is value in regularly profiling cameras even if the software has built in support…

      Equipment changes over time and there may be variations between the camera I have and the one profiled by Adobe, etc…

      Who knows?

      I may do a post later to show the difference that the profile makes…

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  8. Bob Hendricks

    I am very interested in learning how Any built a color profile. Is there a reference or tutorial? Or, could he give some detail here?

    • AndyBell

      Hi Bob

      The Photo Ninja help goes into all the details. Basically, you need a Colour Profile Chart. I use X-Rite’s Colour Checker Passport. You place it in daylight and take a bunch of photos at it at different ISOs and exposure settings. (Use a tripod for this as it makes the next step easier). Then you load these into Ninja and tell it you want to Profile you Camera Sensor. Then on all the images you tell it where in the scene the Colour Chart is. You have to line up a grid over the chart. Once all the images are processed, Ninja will have a new, automatically applied, colour profile for your camera. I’ve found it makes a big difference.

      Note however, that Ninja’s profile can’t be used by other applications. You can download a profile creator from X-Rite that can process a DNG image into a profile that can go into other software. It is, however based only on one image and so is less sophisticated.

      Hope this helps


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  10. Jodi Lubman

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  11. chris

    I’ve been using PhotoNinja for the last three years due to the fact that neither the Adobe database or the LensFun equivalent features any kind of LCP for any of the cameras I use. All of them are fitted to quadcopters which are used to photographically survey heritage buildings and other historic assets, so the need for lens aberration correction – especially accurate distortion correction is pressing, to say the least. I’ve had to ‘train’ the lens correction widget in PhotoNinja numerous times and, to be fair, it is a simple and straightforward process compared to the fiddly, time consuming and geeky (but awesome) Hugin alternative.

    My workflow is a three-part process. Each shot gets put through PhotoNinja, converted to 32bit floating point TIFF and is then put through a fine tune using Darktable where it is subsequently output to JPG. The last step is the application of a custom Trademark/proofing watermark using GIMP.

    The only ‘Fee-Ware’ I use is PhotoNinja: all the rest is open-source FreeWare. For the results it returns, I would honestly and unequivocally recommend its purchase and say that it is worth every red cent. So far I have funnelled all of my RAW’s through it – high thousands now so it has definitely paid back the initial investment. In addition, I can also say that every time I watch the noise get eaten out of a shot, leaving all of the detail behind, I am just as awestruck as I was when I watched it happen with the very first photograph.

    To anyone who might read this: I would definitely recommend a careful read through of all the tutorials as they are excellent and comprehensive. This is also the only software I have used where the developer will genuinely engage with anyone who has a problem or query not covered in the FAQ’s. Jim Christian is thoroughly knowledgeable and is a true gentleman.

    • AndyBell

      Chris – thanks for sharing your experience with this excellent software. And you are right – Jim (it’s author) is a lovely guy, always happy to discuss his software.

      It’s not easy issuing a software product in an area saturated by big players such as Adobe. I know it only too well. In the early 2000s I published one of the first Raw Converters to support multiple RAW formats. Those who bought it loved it. But I couldn’t compete with Adobe.

      Last year I published Digital Photo Guardian – a photo manager for Windows that truly *managed* your image collection. It warned you if photos went ‘missing’ (accidentally deleted) or weren’t backed up and it integrated with just about all the 3rd party photo editors (Affinity, DXO, Luminar, Photo Ninja, etc) but it got nowhere and I took it off the market.

      So I have huge respect for Jim and Photo Ninja. If he can get V2 out with local adjustments I’d buy it instantly…

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