Alien Skin Exposure X was released late last year, and according to the company, it is an easy and faster way of organizing, editing and enhancing your images. While it does all of the above, I found it to be a better RAW image processor that gave me fast access to my files without having to upload them like I do in Adobe Lightroom. The Exposure X software can act as a stand-alone image-editing suite, or as a plug-in for both Photoshop and Lightroom. Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to use it, and here’s what I found.
Organizing With Exposure X
One of the strengths of Exposure X is that you don’t have to create a catalog of images and upload them into the program to be able to make your edits. Instead, it enables you to automatically open them right into the viewer and start editing them. To render your edits in Exposure X, simply right click on your mouse and hit ‘Export’ on the top of the menu, which then allows you to decide the compression, the quality, metadata, color space and file container. You can also catalog your images by color and star rating, much like Lightroom, minus the upload of files and organizing catalogs beforehand. This is one of Exposure X’s greatest strengths because of its ability to allow the user to go directly to a folder containing their images (RAW or JPEG) and edit them instantaneously.
Exposure X Layers, Brushes, Color
Exposure X allows you to add separate layers to your images much like Photoshop, and also has brushes to enhance specific areas of your images. To access them in the program, simply click on the brush icon located on the right side. You can change the size, feather, flow and opacity with sliders that make the brushes bigger, smaller, etc. If you’d like to create a new layer, (like a separate brush to dodge one area and burn another, for example), click on the ‘New’ button on the top left of the user interface.
The basic editing suite leaves something to be desired, mostly because the color correction is not as powerful as other programs, and because there is no histogram. You can add bokeh, grain and mess with the color sliders, and even overlays for backgrounds and lighting effects. However, I found that the color slider fell quite short in that I wasn’t able to get the same color correction I use with ACR or Lightroom. The lack of histogram also offers the user less control over the image so that you don’t really know where the highlights and bright areas distribution are really.
Exposure X does excel in one area: the filter presets. It carries on the tradition of its predecessor (Exposure 7) by offering up tons of preset filter options, from Kodachrome to artificial bokeh, and many other options that put the filter arsenal of other programs to shame.
Exposure X Final Verdict
Exposure X is an advanced image processor that is essentially Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom combined. The program is pretty fast, and the rendering seems a bit quicker than using Lightroom. But the downside of Exposure X is that the rendered images don’t match the quality of Photoshop or Lightroom.
I have been using Exposure X for quick image edits to bypass the lengthy amount of time it would take me to upload and edit those same images into Lightroom. I use Adobe Camera Raw mostly to process my RAW files and Photoshop for advanced layers and editing, but I feel like Exposure X is a perfect compliment to both Photoshop and Lightroom. It also works great as a by itself when you want a fast image-editing program that handles RAW file processing, gives you advanced editing tools and a damn fast way to work on your edits.
- Fast image-editing suite with a nicely designed User Interface
- Beautiful presets
- Ability to create multiple layers even with filters stacked on
- Instantly make adjustments instead of having to upload files
- Color rendering isn’t as good as other software editing programs
- No histogram
- Brushes not as powerful as Adobe image-editing programs