First, I have to make a clear confession. I am a proficient Adobe Lightroom user, and don’t have much experience with Exposure X2 from Alien Skin Software. BUT I just took Exposure X2 out for a “test drive” and thought it was worthy of pointing out this nifty program to you all. Yes, Exposure X2 can be used as a plugin from Lightroom, but it also can be used as a standalone program.
If you have experience with Adobe Lightroom, the first thing that you’ll notice is the incredible similarity of much of the user interface. With some portions of the program, you’ll almost feel like you are using Lightroom! In spite of it feeling sort of like Lightroom, it’s definitely not Lightroom. Exposure X2 has an impressive set of photo adjustment tools built in.
You’ll quickly notice that there are not different “modules” for managing and organizing that are separate from the developing and editing of the images. Unlike in Lightroom, it is all kept together in one interface. That has some advantages. Also, as soon as you start using Exposure X2, you might notice that you immediately have access to ALL of the images on your computer. There is no need to first “import” them. They are just there ready to be edited when you open a folder.
When you do any editing, remember that Exposure X2 still does “non-destructive editing”, meaning that it doesn’t really change the image until you export it. (Believe me, thats a good thing.) And it works handily with RAW and other image formats. As you look over the editing capabilities, you will see a range of additional tools not found in Lightroom, such as overlays of really cool borders, light effects such as flames and flare, infrared simulation, simulated bokeh adjustments, and a variety of textures.
All of these additional built-in editing tools make Exposure X2 still useful as a plugin in Lightroom even if you don’t use it as a full Lightroom replacement. But keep in mind it is indeed a fully capable standalone program. Just note that if you were to make a complete transition from Lightroom to only use Exposure X2, Exposure X2 will not automatically know about the edits that reside within the Lightroom catalog. So even though the interfaces look similar, it does not mean it’s an instant switch to quit using Lightroom and switch fully over to Exposure X2.
As I mentioned, Exposure X2 is capable of browsing any drive or folder to view and edit images without having to use any sort of ‘import’ operation. Its response is pretty snappy when you browse to a folder it hasn’t viewed before. Exposure X2 appears to be a well designed program, not just in its user interface, but “under the hood” with fast efficient processing of images, which you really need when you work with thousands of images.
OH and one last point. You can also use Exposure X2 as a plugin from Photoshop! That is really cool because if you are proficient in Photoshop, you can use layers to mask in Exposure X2 effects in portions of an image or mix and blend the effects, further enhancing the value of using Exposure X2 as a handy tool in your bag of tricks along with other plugins and tools.
Check out Alien Skin Software and see if their software or plugins might be a fit for your photography workflow!
P.S. My students get a generous 10% OFF Alien Skin Software! Thank you Alien Skin!
Happy Photo Editing!