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Photo Ninja adds preliminary support for X-Trans Raw images

By dpreview staff on Oct 2, 2013 at 20:09 GMT

Another contender has entered the relatively small ring of Raw converters that can work with Fujifilm's X-Trans sensors: Photo Ninja. Version 1.2.0 of this already-capable image editor now has 'preliminary' support for X-Trans Raws.

Prior to the release of Photo Ninja 1.2, there were very few Raw converters out there for X-Trans. This $129 software, available for Mac and Windows, gives photographers one more option. The software can be downloaded for free and a two-week license code is available on-request from PictureCode.

Back in February, we did a comparison between ACR, Capture One and the camera's JPEG engine on a pair of Raw images from an X-Pro1. We used those same photos to see how Photo Ninja compares to the latest version of ACR.

Photo Ninja 1.2 vs ACR 8.2: Real-world Sample

Photo Ninja 1.2: Default settings Adobe Camera Raw 8.2: Default settings
100% crop 100% crop
100% crop 100% crop

Photo Ninja 1.2 vs ACR 8.2: Studio scene

Photo Ninja 1.2: Default settings Adobe Camera Raw 8.2: Default settings
100% crop 100% crop
100% crop 100% crop

The Photo Ninja output shows slight hints of the 'paintbrush' style artefacts we've become used to seeing from X-Trans conversions but it also does a pretty good job of conveying fine detail. In our old studio scene you can see the cost of this - pronounced moiré in the fine repeating patterns of the printed samples. However, this is something of a 'torture test' - it's unlikely you'll often encounter these high-frequency repeating patterns in the real world. So, while it's not a stand-out winner in this preliminary guise, it looks like a credible extra option for X-Trans shooters.

Source: PictureCode

Comments

Total comments: 58
coody
By coody (5 months ago)

Apparently, the Photo Ninja is better.

0 upvotes
le_alain
By le_alain (6 months ago)

Thanks to Bill Smith for the active support of this program !

0 upvotes
Robgo2
By Robgo2 (6 months ago)

Anyone who cannot see the superor output from Photo Ninja is either in denial or needs an eye exam. And this superiority holds for other cameras and sensors as well.

0 upvotes
Scorpius1
By Scorpius1 (6 months ago)

Really??I have PN,it's quite good but I prefer C1P7 for most of my files,DXP is also very good and I prefer the UI,there ids no RC that is absolute best for every sensor,DXO will be best for some files,C1P for others,I prefer the colour from C1P to PN...

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (6 months ago)

I did extensive testing with Photo Ninja and it became part of my standard toolkit, but it's not top dog, just very good at default conversions which are heavily enhanced. This may suit some but not others.

For example, highlight recovery enhances the colour by guessing. When it guesses right, it does a great job as can be seen in the photos above on the blue skies. But sometimes it guesses wrong and gives false colours so has to be turned off and then it's not so good.

When I put it up against Aperture, it produced nicer initial conversions, but that's because Aperture defaults to a very neutral image and leaves it to you to add the sauce. Once I tune the images to my preferences, I still find Aperture the better tool.

But I see no reason to limit myself to a single tool, after all I use multiple cameras and lenses. So I use Aperture as my main processor but revert to Photo Ninja, DXO or Lightroom for those images which benefit from the strong features of those other tools.

1 upvote
Robgo2
By Robgo2 (6 months ago)

I have extensive experience with Capture One, and while I prefer it to ACR/LR, it is no match for Photo Ninja. I say this having run numerous head to head comparisons. I also take issue with those who dismiss PN as superior only at default settings. There are no adjustments in any other raw convertor that I have tested that can match what I can get from PN, and I do not rely exclusively on its defaults. PN's defaults are superb, but they should serve as a starting point for the editing process. If you routinely accept the defaults as final, then you are missing much of the power of the program.

1 upvote
Lan
By Lan (6 months ago)

One of the few advantages that X-Trans is supposed to bring is less moiré; yet it's not doing very well with that currency, is it?

To date this looks like one of the best attempts I've seen at rendering X-Trans files though, so my hat's off to PictureCode!

I just wish the trade-off with X-Trans wasn't an almost complete lack of chroma detail... I like colour detail.

I guess I'm the person Fujifilm made the XA-1 for ;)

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (6 months ago)

"Another contender has entered the relatively small ring of Raw converters that can work with Fujifilm's X-Trans"

Doesn't the "small" ring include absolutely every converter but DxO? ;)

0 upvotes
the-dude-75
By the-dude-75 (6 months ago)

the problem I habe with PN is the color. with capture one the colors does look much better

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

Keep trying.

Colour just wasn't a problem when I tried an earlier trialware of PhotoNinja.

0 upvotes
particleman78
By particleman78 (6 months ago)

I noticed this too. Sometimes it guesses wrong when it does highlight/shadow color recovery and you end up with some weird color casts. I wouldn't use Photo Ninja as my primary RAW converter, the product isn't as polished as the other big players, and the workflow isn't fast or streamlined. Plus as you mentioned you have to watch out for false colors if you batch converted a large number of photos. It does deliver noticeably better results in certain conditions though, so it is best used on only photos you really want to get the most out of.

4 upvotes
dko22
By dko22 (6 months ago)

you can in general easily remove the false colour casts by reducing the level on the colour recovery slider. IMO, it's better to have a guess at recovery colours with the ability to override than just changing everything to grey as other developers tend to do. It can get things spectacularly right as well as wrong!

3 upvotes
AndyCS
By AndyCS (6 months ago)

PN is certainly a great tool but $129 seems somewhat too expensive today. Other major players have all reduced prices PN needs to follow

7 upvotes
aftab
By aftab (6 months ago)

PhotoNinja is like no other. Once you have given it a serious try it becomes your main RAW converter. It easily does things, such as highlight recovery, detail rendering, difficult color noise reduction etc., my other converters (LR, ACR, Capture One Pro, DPP) can't do.
I posted some examples in Canon forum and some thought I didn't know how to use LR, ACR etc. So, I posted RAW files for them to try. Of course they failed to match PN. Honestly, you will rediscover your old lenses.
I still use CS6 for some photos after converting them in PN, because ACR lets you adjust locally for fine tuning, but PN doesn't offer (yet) local adjustment.

I will encourage everyone to download the free trial version and give it a serious try.

0 upvotes
le_alain
By le_alain (6 months ago)

Yes, i wanted to try it but ..
- doesn't support X20 Xtrans ..
- doesn't support RD1 .ERF
so ...
try a NEF,
The result is very good, but the work flow is very very slow,
and I use the D700 on big jobs and have good results with other faster converters...

X20 RAW and ERF would be more interesting, than not very well supported with other converters, but not supported at all with PN !

so :(

Result are very good, with more cameras supported, and a better workflow (I don't speak of catalogs .. I'd give a new try

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
le_alain
By le_alain (6 months ago)

- doesn't support dng !

Accept the X20 file today (and not yesterday ! ),
so i'll give a second look.

Results are good and very natural, few artefacs.

Lacks:
- more cameras supported, or DNG to convert !
- export to external editor ?
- local edit

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Lars A G
By Lars A G (6 months ago)

Supports Pentax K30 DNGs

0 upvotes
mick232
By mick232 (6 months ago)

I fully agree with the OP. I have tried them all - Photo Ninja is the best quality-wise. The set of features is minimal, but it is all I need. The program is NOT slow - editing is very fast. What is slow is exporting, but since this is a batch job, I don't care.

0 upvotes
le_alain
By le_alain (6 months ago)

Yes, the program is not slow, (not the fastest, but not the slowest!)
it's workflow is slow

for DNG, depends which version and compressed or not

D1X NEF also not supported

so a pitty for my cameras.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

mick-232:

As you say exporting is slow, much slower than ACR with the same files and bit depth.

My i7 quadcore CPU works furiously when exporting/processing with PhotoNinja. No RAM doesn't fill up.

Haven't tried the latest version the one that does Xtrans files.

PhotoNinja makes one register to activate trialware, and since I already tried an earlier version I wonder if their system will balk--I guess I could use a different clone and obviously a different email for activating the trialware.

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (6 months ago)

I hope PhotoNinja also takes a stab at Foveon sensor. You get great highlight recovery and noise handling for starters; also, PN handles the black point much better than other RAW converters I've tried.

2 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (6 months ago)

Only extreme pixel peeping sets them apart and even then impossible to say which one is better.

0 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (6 months ago)

Have you consulted your local optician ?

3 upvotes
michaelbs
By michaelbs (6 months ago)

M Jesper - thanks for giving me a good giggle. :-)

0 upvotes
Red5TX
By Red5TX (6 months ago)

forpetessake is a long-time X-Trans critic. He has called it a "dead end" on numerous occasions. Not surprised to hear him make this claim.

0 upvotes
samhain
By samhain (6 months ago)

I find it sort of ironic that little ol' photo ninja can best powerhouse Adobie's converter...

Step it up Adobe!

5 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (6 months ago)

i don´t care much about trans-x but PN has a great engine.

im a LR user since v2 and never really touched another raw engine for a longer period then needed for testing. i never saw much difference that made it worth using another raw converter.

but PN is used for some jobs because the quality is better then LR on some images. the demosaicing can pull details that are not visible in LR on some images.

so when doing big prints i usally use PN to get the optimum details for my landscape images.

PN is slow... but some images are worth it.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
9 upvotes
tommy leong
By tommy leong (6 months ago)

thanks Henry.
good to hear from users perspective.

0 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (6 months ago)

I'd give DxO 8.3 a trial. I've been comparing to LR 5, which is my main RAW converter and for many types of images it does an excellent job, better than LR. It has a ton of options though and can take some getting used to.

I think even though the deafult settings for PN seem to be doing a better job, you'd be made to use the default settings for LR sharpening. You can do much better by tuning it. Now of course you can probably tune PN too for better results but I haven't tried it.

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (6 months ago)

DXO does not support X-trans (yet).

0 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (6 months ago)

True, but it was more a general observation. Also there is the non X-trans X-A1 coming.

0 upvotes
57even
By 57even (6 months ago)

Better than C1 (IMO) but a lot of moire. I would say evens with LR - artifacts vs detail. The same old trade off.

In the end of this none of this matters all that much unless you are very very sad.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
1 upvote
robertophoto
By robertophoto (6 months ago)

Apple Raw Compatibility Update v4.05 adds Fujifilm X-Trans support
Apr 18, 2013

If Aperture also converts these raw files, why did you omit Aperture from your comparison?

3 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (6 months ago)

Because the 4 people using Apple already know.

6 upvotes
sgoldswo
By sgoldswo (6 months ago)

Good question - I still think Aperture gives the best results

2 upvotes
Mark Alan Thomas
By Mark Alan Thomas (6 months ago)

The Lr sheep don’t want to hear about Aperture.

1 upvote
headofdestiny
By headofdestiny (6 months ago)

I switched from LR to Aperture for my X100s, and, while the detail was much better, there were issues with artifacts. There is no free lunch with this sensor.

0 upvotes
D200_4me
By D200_4me (6 months ago)

Still, very, very minor difference that probably no one would ever be able to notice when viewing photos not zoomed in at 100%. Sure, it's great to have the best conversion possible, but I still believe the job Adobe does is much more than adequate and I would never sacrifice my quick AND easy workflow with Lightroom. Import and convert to DNG at the same time and I'm all done. No TIFFs to deal with, etc, etc. I would be shocked if anyone could truly see a difference even in large prints unless you were making extremely large prints, which I imagine very few people ever do.

0 upvotes
CarVac
By CarVac (6 months ago)

It looks very, very, very similar to the most recent dcraw's handling of x-trans raws.

Given that dcraw's source is public domain (no copyleft), it makes sense for Photo Ninja to use this new algorithm, since it performs fairly well.

0 upvotes
PictureCode
By PictureCode (6 months ago)

The Photo Ninja X-Trans algorithm was adapted from previous work that I've done for Bayer sensors. Also, demosaicing is accomplished in one pass, while dcraw appears to be employing multiple passes.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
CarVac
By CarVac (6 months ago)

Interesting that a very different algorithm yields very similar results, then.

0 upvotes
JohnLL
By JohnLL (6 months ago)

To me, at these standard settings, the only material difference I can see, besides the moiré issue, is that PN seems to have more saturated colours and slightly higher contrast than ACR. I think these issues, if you regard them as such, could be fixed in ACR without much difficulty.

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (6 months ago)

My first impressions, based only on these samples, is that there's more detail in the foliage of the first 100% crop - something that you can't replicate with ACR (or, at least, not something I've managed to match, even with fine radius sharpening.

Richard - dpreview.com

8 upvotes
instamatic
By instamatic (6 months ago)

I use Photo Ninja to process most of my RAW photos. For me there is no going back elsewhere unless there is a really compelling reason to do so. The main benefit of Photo Ninja is it's outstanding ability to recover highlights, where other converters just cannot pull them, making the software suitable to process some of the most challenging RAW files quickly and effectively. I don't think the examples in the article below make this clear enough. On the flip side, you'll need a recent and powerful computer to run Photo Ninja fast - however my 4 year old Mac Book Pro with 8GB of ram and pure SSD based workflow does just fine for me.

5 upvotes
ljclark
By ljclark (6 months ago)

It has been suggested that increasing the Photo Ninja chroma noise reduction might help with the Moire.

0 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (6 months ago)

The test should include the jpeg, because some folks say that the Fujifilm jpegs are so good it really isn't necessary to shoot raw. Perhaps compared to what was available up to now. THIS one looks excellent!

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (6 months ago)

You mean like the ones in the link marked:

"comparison between ACR, Capture One and the camera's JPEG engine"

Richard - dpreview.com

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (6 months ago)

Good point tho, even if you didn't see the link. I shoot Raw + JPEG and usually end up deleting the Raw unless some extreme shadow or highlight recovery is necessary.

I don't know, though, I prefer the Adobe rendering in about 50% of the examples above. Certainly not enough difference to switch from the excellent Lightroom workflow - and it pains me to say that after Adobe's recent CC games.

1 upvote
M Jesper
By M Jesper (6 months ago)

"usually end up deleting the Raw"

Oh no no no ! Did you also end up burning your negatives back in the day ? Those poor precious RAWs. :-(

0 upvotes
uniball
By uniball (6 months ago)

I have not used PN. However, when I used LR I went with the jpeg's more than half the time. Since going back to Aperture, I don't even bother looking at the jpeg's and should probably start shooting raw only.

I think much of the fanfare over Fuji's jpeg's was the result of LR's raw renders. They simply took too much work to get the same results as the jpeg. With Aperture, I get a render as good or better than the jpeg and perhaps a small adjustment here or there and I'm done.

0 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (6 months ago)

@Jesper Only with the Fuji X-series. The JPEGs are just so ... nice!

I live and die by Raw when shooting my DSLR.

0 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (6 months ago)

Looks good.

0 upvotes
Red5TX
By Red5TX (6 months ago)

Photo Ninja does a good job here. I wonder why Adobe can't seem to crack the X-Trans code as effectively.

1 upvote
SHood
By SHood (6 months ago)

Though Photo Ninja does allow more Moire to show through.

0 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (6 months ago)

Of course, it's always Sharpness vs. Anti-Moire

1 upvote
M Jesper
By M Jesper (6 months ago)

Adobe "can't crack the code" because they're too busy scheming their next ripoff strategy. 99% Business, 1% dedication. How about fixing some bugs, speed and stability huh. (coming from a LR user)

2 upvotes
Mark Alan Thomas
By Mark Alan Thomas (6 months ago)

If Adobe can lock you to a subscription, they won’t have to fix bugs, speed, and stability.

0 upvotes
M Jesper
By M Jesper (6 months ago)

They can't. :)

0 upvotes
Total comments: 58