The soundimageplus blog has been going since 2007 and to date has over 12 million page views. Written by David Taylor-Hughes, a professional stock photographer, it includes photographic articles dealing with a wide range of themes including film and digital photography.



'A walk on the wild side' - Photo Ninja raw processing software for Fuji X-E2 files

I'm posting this earlier than promised, since I have pretty much finished my evaluation and I thought I really should share the 'good news' ASAP. By the way, my thanks to Lee and Michel on Google+ for recommending this software.

Firstly you can download Photo Ninja HERE. The trial version has save disabled, but if you send them an email requesting a 2-week trial license (address on site) they will send you a code to unlock that. Mine arrived in an hour.

When people do reviews and comparisons of raw development software they include lots of samples which I've always found useless, because I never process my files in the same way. Raw processing is very personal and comparing like for like doesn't give the whole picture. By comparing the same picture processed as indentically as possible in two different software packages, you may get one seeming to be 'better' than the other, but then if you kick in another adjustment, or one app has an adjustment the other doesn't, then you may well get a different result. If you really want to see if Photo Ninja is for you, then I suggest you download it, email them for the 2-week trial license key and then compare it to what you are using already. The really good news is that this is a Mac AND PC app so unlike RPP, Iridient Developer and Aperture, which are the best I've seen so far, PC users now have access to what I believe is the best method, bar none, of processing Fuji X-Trans sensor files. The following is my personal justification for writing that.

In the light of the above, the two samples I am going to publish at the top of the page show it all for me. The top image is a 100% blowup from a file processed in Photo Ninja, with NO sharpening, nor any noise reduction, saved as a Tiff, opened up in Photoshop, upsized to 36MB and with one pass of sharpen (the minimum amount) added. The next one down is an OOC jpg. (Velvia setting with sharpening at the minimum) with again one pass of sharpen (the minimum amount) added. The bottom one is via Photoshop ACR using the basic default camera settings. I didn't add any extra sharpening in Photoshop as when I tried it the smearing just got worse, which has been, up to now, a consequence of sharpening X-Trans sensor files other than the bare minimum.

What is obvious is just how much better the Photo Ninja file is. Those people who bang on about how good Fuji jpgs. are and how you don't really need raw processing, blah, blah, blah... should really try this software, as its a revelation. Note the sharpness, the dynamic range, the lack of noise and of cause the complete absence of any problem whatsoever in the green foliage on the roof. I've been experimenting with this software for a couple of days now and I'm blown away by it. I'm getting better results from upsized Photo Ninja conversions than anything I've ever got from normal sized raw conversions in any other software, and that includes Iridient Developer. It is really good for all the other file types I've tried with it, but for the Fuji X system, bearing in mind what's gone before, it's spectacular. The images are bursting with detail and resolution, the colours are great and noise is kept to a minimum. Bear in mind also that I'm achieving this with all sharpening and noise reduction turned off in Photo Ninja.

The trick seems to be in the demosiacing. When I open up a Fuji file in Photo Ninja the software tells me that it's demosiacing the file. It does this for no other camera file I've tried, so my guess is that it's unique to Fuji files. And finally someone has got this right. I believe that this software is the only one, so far, that 'lets through' what the sensor has recorded without stamping on it with noise reduction. And I can see why, because there are a couple of consequences of Photo Ninja reproduction, or at least the way I'm using it. The first is that you can get some exaggerated luminance noise (digital grain) particularly in the shadow areas and secondly there's the occasional 'halo' effect, particularly around the top of trees against a blue sky. Though as I said, this may be a consequence of how I shoot and process.

There's a very good review of the software HERE and here's a couple of quotes.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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