The Smoke NINJA is a budget-friendly, portable smoke machine

Aug 30, 2023

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

The Smoke NINJA is a budget-friendly, portable smoke machine

Aug 30, 2023

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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Smoke machines are a great way to add a cinematic atmosphere to your set. On the other hand, smoke machines are typically big and cumbersome and require on-set handling. And this is precisely the issue that the Smoke NINJA (on Kickstarter soon) from PMI is trying to solve.

If you’ve been around, you are probably familiar with the Smoke Genie (also from PMI). This is a phone-sized portable smoke machine packed with features, and it costs accordingly – $595. Now, PMI is creating an entry-level model with a similar set of features, with a price to match.

Multiple fog types

The original Smoke Genie has a menu with the ability to fine-tune the control of the machine. While you could get quite a bit of granularity with this setup, you’d probably default to one of three smoke types. The Smoke Ninja has those three smoke types. You’d typically use each with a customized nozzle. Unline the deep menu of the SmokeGENIE, each mode has a dedicated, easy to operate button:

Fog

SmokeNINJA portable smoke machine -  fog sample

In FOG mode, the SmokeNINJA creates a dense, slow-moving fog with lots of details. It’s the type of smoke that stays really long in the air. In FOG mode, the SmokeNINJA makes the same volume of smoke as SmokeGENIE on MAX POWER settings. It can go for 60 seconds at a time, with a full tank lasting for 15 minutes.

Dry Ice effect

SmokeNINJA portable smoke machine -  dry ice sample

The liquid smoke effect creates fog that flows like water and “sticks” to surfaces just like dry ice. It is the type of smoke you’d use to create a smoking cauldron or magic potion effect.

Steam

SmokeNINJA portable smoke machine -  steam sample

Steam is the type of smoke that looks like boiling steam rising from a hot plate or a teapot.

The SmokeNINJA has a Simple interface

Aside from the preset buttons on the device, there is a new “health bar” that shows how long smoke you have left for a certain operation. The bar slowly drop when you create smoke and grows when you let the machine rest.

The health bar also shows the status of the SmokeNINJA: Mode preset, chamber condition, and battery charging.

SmokeNINJA portable smoke machine -  interface

A truly portable handheld smoke machine

The original SmokeGENIE was, by all means, very small. But the SmokeNINJA is even smaller. At 14cm / 5.5 inches tall, it surprisingly fits in your pocket.

Aside from being portable, though, it is also remote-operated; It comes with a small remote control. (Think car alarm remote). This really makes the size a factor, because, at such a small size, you have much more control over placement. You can easily hide the Ninja, either behind or inside objects, and use the remote to create the smoke effect at the right time.

In terms of mounting, you have a universal ¼ inch mount for light stands or standard magic arms. But there is also a magnetic mount that you can use with metallic surfaces. And, of course, you can always just let the machine stand on any flat surface.

For storage and travel, if you put it in its soft case (which you should when you are not using the device), it is still a very minimal case that will not take up lots of space in your bag.

SmokeNINJA: Photo vs. Video

If the original SmokeGENIE was primarily targeting filmmakers, I would say that the SmokeNINJA is more of a photographer’s tool. It’s not that can not be used for video, especially in small spaces, but there are some features that differ between the two units, aside from the price (clearly a win for the NINJA here).

The first, and more obvious one is the single-run operation time. If you need a lot of fog, or something at the level of an atmospheric haze, you’d probably want to let the machine run for a long time. It is my guess that the smaller form factor takes away from the cooling ability of the ninja so that it can only run for shorter periods. The other difference is the lack of fogger fan. This makes sense, as you would not use this machine for larger spaces.

For photographers, though, this is a hazy dream come true (see what I did there?). If you are engaged in any tabletop photography, food photography, or even portraits, the SmokeNINJA packs enough ooomph to have an impact on the scene. It comes with a few nozzles and attachments, that not only allow you to create different types of fog, but also to “position” the smoke exactly where you want it.

SmokeNINJA and safety

According to PMI, the SmokeNINJA uses the same coil and coil protection system that the SmokeGENIE uses to make sure that the smoke generation process is clean, and the coil will not experience any burning. In laymen’s terms, it means no burning smell or disturbing odors.

Also, according to PMI, their smoke is tested to be 100% SAFE by SGS, and the smoke generation system (machine and liquid) is approved by the Actor’s Equity Association USA for the well-being of actors. (We’ve seen other ways to generate smoke before).

Price and availability

The SmokeNINJA is going on Kickstarter tomorrow, starting at $199 if you register for the pre-lunch. (As an FYI, PMI’s Smoke Genie Kickstarter raised over $100,000)

Disclaimer: We only share crowdfunded projects we believe are legitimate. However, most of those projects are not in a delivery state. Make sure you look into the project and make an informed purchasing decision. While some projects may offer amazing rewards, others unfortunately may not deliver on their promises.

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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