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PictureCode developing RAW converter capable of 'unprecedented' image quality  
Friday, February 17, 2012 | by Rob Galbraith
In a recent post in the Digital Photography Review forums, PictureCode founder Jim Christian, developer of Noise Ninja, has revealed that his company is "developing a powerful, differentiated raw converter" whose "image quality is indeed unprecedented" and provides noise reduction that is "a significant improvement over Noise Ninja."

I've been using early iterations of the software for months, and recently have switched to using only it for RAW conversion duties, so crisp and natural are the pictures it produces. Christian has not yet given the green light to begin talking about it fully, so for now we'll say that the software will be a fast, powerful and quality-focused way to convert RAW files from many cameras, one that offers smooth integration with programs such as Camera Bits Photo Mechanic, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop as well.

Here is the full text of Christian's post:

I am the founder of PictureCode. For some time now, we have been quietly developing a powerful, differentiated raw converter that emphasizes image quality. We have been beta testing it for several months, and early users have told us that the image quality is indeed unprecedented. Not only is the noise reduction a significant improvement over Noise Ninja, but there are a half-dozen other algorithms that are arguably best in class, and everything is seamlessly integrated into a streamlined, coherent workflow. It will interoperate with other platforms like Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, and Photoshop. (And yes, it is 64-bit/multi-core.)

We are trying to lock down the feature set in the next couple of weeks and then start the process of final testing and preparation for release. Assuming things go smoothly (and they don't always, but I am cautiously optimistic based on how things have been going lately) I am hoping to give the go-ahead for a major reviewer to start publishing details within the next 30 days or so, with release to follow shortly afterward.

It took much longer to develop than I expected. Not only were there significant technical hurdles to overcome to achieve the level of quality and performance that we wanted, but there were some nontrivial random events and distractions that slowed down the development effort. And, frankly, it's just a hugely complex and difficult task -- easily an order of magnitude more involved than a product like Noise Ninja.

As for being slow to release a 64-bit Mac product, we were faced with a difficult choice. Apple killed support for most of the Carbon API on 64-bit platforms, and this obsoleted the third-party toolkit that we used to build the Noise Ninja user interface and application framework. A 64-bit Mac version of the toolkit eventually became available, but it was an entirely new, incompatible version that required a total rewrite of the Noise Ninja application. By then, we had already committed to the new product, and I decided to invest our resources in that instead of rebuilding Noise Ninja as a stop-gap measure. Even with hindsight I'm not sure if this was the right or wrong decision, but it's all water under the bridge now. At the same time, I was reluctant to go public with our plans because of the the uncertainty in the development process, difficulty in managing expectations, and other concerns.

Pricing, etc. has not been finalized. We will offer what we believe to be a fair upgrade price to existing Noise Ninja customers. (We are also intending to offer a more significant discount to those who purchase Noise Ninja within 60 days or so prior to release of the new product.)

This is all I am willing to say about the matter for now, in public or in private. Please be patient. Details will be forthcoming soon enough. (Also, please don't be offended if I go silent after this -- I don't normally hang out in these forums and, well, I have a product to finish...)

Jim Christian

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