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Exposure X5 Review. True Lightroom Alternative? Last Updated on October 9th, This article is a logical extension of my initial attempt to answer one of the most common questions I receive from the PhotoTraces community: What is the best Lightroom alternative? I created a simple quiz where, after answering a series of simple questions about your photography, you will receive a few of my recommendations. Today, I want to go deeper by reviewing one of the top Lightroom contenders:

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I will include some videos that I found very helpful as I navigated the interface and worked on some of my images. At the end of the article, I will talk a little about the next version of the software, which will be called Exposure X4. Exposure X3 First Impressions If you are a longtime Lightroom user like me, I think you will feel comfortable with many aspects of the user interface inside of Exposure X3. The software can be run in standalone mode, as a Plug-in inside of Photoshop, or as an external editor in Lightroom or a number of other applications.

I chose to run it in standalone mode by launching the application from my Applications folder , and it was up and running in just a few minutes. One of the things that took time for me to get my head around was that there is no catalog needed to use the editor, but it acts very similarly to Lightroom, which requires a catalog. I recommend just dragging and dropping a folder that has images into the main editing window, and it will appear under the Folders panel.

Because of this, I highly recommend not dragging in any files directly from your desktop. Instead, place them in a folder first, since the application will be adding the files it needs to a new folder inside the folder that is holding your RAWs, JPGs, PSDs, etc. Below is a very good 6 minute overview of how to edit using Exposure X3: I also really liked this portrait-based tutorial of Exposure X3: And for many more video training tutorials from Alien Skin Software , visit this page.

Here are just a few of them: The Layers feature allow you to try different effects on different layers and use masking to adjust parts of an image.

However, because RAW files can generally handle big exposure moves, you can place the same image on two layers, make adjustments to areas like skies or foregrounds on the top layer, and then mask out a section so that you get the best parts of each layer or you can add the layer, then create a mask, then make the edits, as I did in the example I describe below. You can also add lighting effects to a layer, including radial or linear gradients.

That makes turning the effect on or off just a simple button click. And I really like the tool tips that come up warning you, for example, that the mask needs to be inverted on a layer to see the effects of the color filter. Imagine being able to set up your workspace much like you can do in Photoshop with its windows and panels.

And with a simple click, a line will go through the name of the panel and it will be hidden from view. The main sections are Border, Light Effect and Texture. I would think that in addition to photographers, designers especially book cover artists would love using these effects for a wide range of different uses.

In Exposure X3. This 18 second slide show shows how my image started out I chose a version in which the sky was well-exposed, so the rocks and road were too dark. I then created a new layer and a layer mask the mask is shown in red. I then brightened the rock and road using the tools in the Basic panel. After that, I had fun creating the images you see above. Did I mention that there are a lot of Presets that come pre-loaded with Exposure X3? They are absolutely fantastic, and greatly increase the value of the software in my opinion.

Many Presets emulate the look of black and white and color film types, and I got lost in them for quite a while. I should also note that in addition to exposure, color, etc. This is heaven for any designer or photographer who loves the look of distressed images like those that have scratches, or the look of platinum-palladium prints that have been created by hand coating papers or other substrates. Once you find a look that you like, you can tweak it and then save it as a Preset.

Another nice touch re: That allows you to have multiple Presets on multiple layers. You can turn them on and off, and you can dial the opacity of any of them to reduce the effect. This is similar to having multiple Virtual Copies, but without having to keep track of multiple images inside of the application. I should note that you also have the option of making Virtual Copies if you like. There is another excellent way to see multiple presets applied to the same image and placed side-by-side a maximum of 6 different presets can be shown in this way.

IR stands for Infrared, and the tool emulates the glow that you often see when using infrared films. These can be very helpful and save a lot of time and disk space when you need to export your work out to a folder before uploading to one of those services since the resolution and JPEG compression is already set for you though you can edit the settings and save a new Preset.

Blow Up is an incredible application that can enlarge your images quite a bit while retaining good detail and minimal or no visible artifacts. Snap Art is an application that focuses on transforming photos or other artwork in many different ways.

For example, you can make a photo look like an oil painting, watercolor, etc. For more on Snap Art, visit this page. The company also announced that it will be sending free copies of Exposure X4 to anyone who purchased Exposure X3 or the Exposure X3 Bundle on or after July 1, Perspective and keystone correction to minimize or eliminate optical distortion.

Enhanced light effects that you can move and rotate freely anywhere in your image. Smart collections that automatically populate based on photo criteria that you choose. Faster file exporting and launch times.

Lightroom migration tool that brings your Lightroom organizational metadata over into Exposure. Monitored folders that support tethered shooting workflows. New printing presets.

Support for new cameras and lenses. Expanded workflow options for image copying and exporting. I can definitely see people using this application as a replacement for other RAW editors and organizers. Will I be giving up Lightroom? No at least not for now. I can see a lot of Lightroom users doing the same. Apart from being provided a license code for the Exposure X3 Bundle, I was not compensated in any way for writing this article.

I plan to purchase Exposure X4 when it is released, and look forward to sharing my experiences with it. If you would prefer not to use my links, just visit your favorite search engine and type in:

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