Noir Photo VS Dramatic Black & White

Battle of artistic iPhone's black and white.

by Pu on October 3, 2011

More than one user requested, after the publication of our recent review of Dramatic Black & White, a comparison between JixiPix’s app and Red Giant’s Noir Photo. Dramatic Black & White and Noir Photo are essentially similar apps: both try to convey beautiful monochrome effects that are suggestive and extremely pleasing to the eye.

Note: we are only taking into account the iPhone version of Dramatic Black & White and Noir Photo.

Noir Photo VS Dramatic Black & White

Both apps are well-designed and well-rounded products. Both feature similar ellipse tools for relighting by vignette placement on images. Personally, I am more inclined to like the sleek and focused interface of Noir Photo, with the numbered dial controls instead of the sliders. Even so, Dramatic Black & White’s interface works well and it’s very easy to get the hang of.

Processing Speed
Noir Photo does much better than Dramatic Black & White with processing times. With its simple and to-the-point three-dials system, Noir Photo is capable of delivering great effects in seconds. Rendering and saving also work amazingly smoothly. Red Giant’s expertise clearly gives them a huge advantage in this case. It’s nothing new, as JixiPix’s apps are renown for their sluggish processing times. Like other JixiPix’s apps, Dramatic Black & White is much slower than average apps when it comes to saving processed photos, in spite of all the recent enhancements.

None among these two apps will make you regret your purchase and both allow the saving of custom presets for use at a later date. It must be said though that Dramatic Black & White, with its more thorough effects editor, does better than Noir Photo, as it allows more freedom in selecting different effects and has a wider selection of adjustments which counts, among other things, Infrared and HDR-like ready-to-use presets. Most importantly, JixiPix’s monochrome app comes with an RGB channel filter editor, which is a fundamental element for proper control over effective black and white conversion.

Again, Dramatic Black & White, especially thanks to a few additional tools like the RGB channel editor, has something more to offer. Still, both apps are capable of delivering fantastic black and white and monochrome effects. Thanks to the accessible controls, relighting photos with the help of the ellipse tool can be easily done in both apps. The two apps offer full resolution saving. After observation, I can say that in terms of mere quality, these two apps are equivalent.

Noir Photo VS Dramatic Black & White

Similar effects obtained with presets from Dramatic Black & White (left) and Noir Photo (right).

Noir Photo’s sharing options are basically non-existent. Dramatic Black & White is not the most sharing-friendly app out there, but it comes with at least the send to email and share to Facebook features, plus it supports AirPrint.

With a price tag of $1.99, Dramatic Black & White is a little cheaper in the App Store and, overall, it comes with more features than its opponent. Which in very simple words means that you will get more for less money. Of course, money’s value depends a lot on your priorities. If you are looking for an app to do its work fast and you do not care for the extra features, then the $2.99 for Noir Photo are definitely well spent.


While Dramatic Black & White offers more in terms of variety and customization, Noir Photo is definitely the winner when it comes to quick processing. Anyhow, Noir Photo and Dramatic Black & White are top apps in their category, delivering great quality photographic monochrome effects for a reasonable price. Both apps offer their users long-lived effects — meaning you won’t get tired of the beautiful monochrome of these apps, even after applying the same effects many times — that are enough to justify the purchase.

Dramatic Black & WhiteNoir Photo

Jay October 3, 2011 at 3:53 am

Great comparison! Thanks for doing this at a readers request. There are so many Apps now that are similar or offer the same features it would be great if you addd the “Battle of” as a regular blog post.

Daniel October 3, 2011 at 3:59 am

Thanks! Very useful and clear!

Miege October 3, 2011 at 5:45 am

Holy moly, you answered readers’ request! Loved to see if you could–some sort of–include Simply B&W into this Battle because Simply B&W somewhat has color channel editor.

Alex October 3, 2011 at 10:13 am

One big advantage of Noir Photo is that the vignette can be used to lighten or darken the selected area in the photo which is great for correcting exposure locally, while Dramatic can only do dark vignettes.

Girish Nayyar October 3, 2011 at 2:04 pm

What about Noir Photo versus Monochromia? What is the comparison like on these two?

Pu October 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I considered your other suggestions and I have not included Monochromia and Simply B&W because a) it would have been too dispersive and less focused too add too much material for a simple comparison b) I felt that Noir and Dramatic Black & White shared many similarities, while other apps feel quite different, especially in what they try to achieve.

But yeah, we might do this again and explore other possibilities.

ILAR October 3, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Brilliant! The comparative shot clinched it, totally. Given this master post, we’d now want to see it done more often. Perhaps, we could use a standard table of all the features we’d want to be compared across the apps—UI, FX, Filters, Quality, Size, Price, USP if any—and use it as a template for these A vs. B posts?

Pu October 4, 2011 at 2:40 am

We are always open to suggestions, so everybody is free to let us know what they think =)

Miege October 4, 2011 at 5:29 am

When it comes to comparison, the apps must have strong similarities such as Noir vs Dramatic. Love to see comparison of panorama apps and photo editing apps etc. Perhaps you could ask users–once a month or so–which app (for example, panorama app) do they like and then you will do a comparison review between the selected apps.

Pu October 4, 2011 at 6:10 am

Yes, I like the themed comparison idea. Also, as I said above, focusing on maybe just a few apps within each post would definitely work better.

moerdo October 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm

as for ipad version, i would choose dramatic bw rather than noir. this is due to multiple spotlight supported by dramatic bw app. Noir apps still uses single spotlight… 🙂

Vicky June 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Can I just also use this on my desk computer, and if so.. how?

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