The PMI Smoke Ninja is a phone-sized smoke machine

Nov 18, 2023

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

News Editor

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

Nov 18, 2023

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

News Editor

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

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The new tiny smoke machine, the PMI Smoke Ninja (249$), is only 142mm tall. 5mm shorter than an iPhone 15. It’s the size of a phone but a fully-fledged smoke machine. Well, a light smoke machine. Let me explain.

The PMI Smoke Ninja was funded on Kickstarter with over $640,000 of funding dollars. It is a hyped entry-level alternative to the PMI Smoke Genie. It is about 30% smaller and much simpler to use. But don’t discount it just yet. The Smoke Ninja can provide all professional needs on set, with only one real exception.

How much smoke can the PMI Smoke Ninja make?

The PMI Smoke Ninja can actually produce a decent amount of smoke. Not as much as an industry smoke machine, but enough to suffice for most photographers. In every mode, the smoke looks good out of the box, and I personally didn’t have any desire to fine-tune stuff further. (Not that you can; that much is reserved for the more enthusiast-level Smoke Genie).

Smoke ninja smoke test

Each mode has a time limit when used continuously:

  • Fog – 60s
  • Dry Ice- 30s
  • Steam- 120s

These amounts are noticeably short, but for photographers, it should suffice. Videographers, however, should probably stick to the Smoke Genie. (Unless you only ever do-really-short videos).

The remaining run time is displayed by the “HEALTH BAR” LED. You regain a second of operation every second you let the ninja rest. That is unless you reach the time limit, in which case, the machine will lock down for 3 seconds.

The tank will run out of smoke after 15 minutes of maximum power usage. The chamber will need to be replaced every 100 hours of use.

Ease of use

Once you understand how to get it running, anything you want to do is relatively quick. Each type of smoke ( fog, dry ice, and steam) gets a button. Clicking them will switch to the fitting profile. Clicking again will alternate between levels of brightness. Then it’s just a matter of clicking the “shoot smoke” button in front, and hey, you have smoke on set.

Putting on accessories is also easy enough. Smoke modifiers you push in, and mounting accessories are slide-in.

What isn’t easy is the first-time usage. Figuring out how to use the PMI Smoke Ninja took too long for a product that aspires to be simple. Why on earth would you design a power button that requires three presses to turn on the device? The manual we got wasn’t great at showing us how to set up the Smoke Ninja or use its accessories either.

Battery life of the PMI Smoke Ninja

The PMI Smoke Ninja uses flat top 18650 batteries. The same is found in the Smoke Genie, except the Genie uses two of these batteries at once. Naturally, it means the Ninja has half the charge time, taking 1.5 hours to reach 100%. A full charge can handle max output for about 20 minutes.

By the way, PMI did release a video guide for what batteries the Smoke series supports. I recommend checking it out because it’s good to know what your devices support.

Safety features

According to PMI, the Smoke Ninja is tested to be 100% SAFE by the SGS and is whitelisted by the Actor’s Equity Association for the well-being of actors. (We’ve seen other ways to generate smoke before).

The Ninja doesn’t produce a burning smell and is designed carefully not to cause any fire hazard on set. Still, it is no toy, and you probably shouldn’t handle it like one.

The Smoke Ninja and noise considerations

If you are worried about the noise, then yes, the PMI Smoke Ninja is audible. It’s not that loud, but it is distracting (and funny). It sounds like someone is about to finish their drink, and the straw is being filled with air and the last couple of drops of juice.

Smoke Ninja Accessories

The PMI Smoke Ninja is compatible with many accessories of the Smoke Genie. But there are new mounting accessories that are unique to the Ninja. A magnetic mount and a quarter-inch mount that slide on easily under the battery cover.

The haze fan, genie trident, and extension cable are still exclusive to the Genie, but like the Genie itself, they are meant for production teams, not just studio photographers.

Among the accessories, I particularly like the remote. While I find it annoying that you don’t have the option to turn on the Ninja from the remote, it was paired out of the box, and it works great otherwise. If PMI ever makes another remote, I hope they will also include the option to change modes and brightness remotely.

In conclusion

I would recommend the PMI Smoke Ninja to any photographer looking for a smoke machine. For videographers, I would recommend sticking to the PMI Smoke Genie (595$). Either way, please check if a smoke detector is nearby before using it.

The PMI Smoke Ninja Is available now for 249$. It comes with a battery, remote, mounting accessories, a 100ml refill bottle, a chamber for the liquids, smoke modifiers, a USB-C charging cable, and lastly, a nice carrying case.

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Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

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