Alien Skin Ex­po­sure X2 £121 (cur­rency con­ver­sion)/$ 149

Per­fect for ana­logue film ef­fect fans

NPhoto - - Gear Zone | The Big Test -

You can use Ex­po­sure X2 as a plug-in fil­ter for Pho­to­shop or Light­room, but it also works as a stand­alone app, with built-in folder brows­ing tools and the abil­ity to add key­words, rat­ings and colour la­bels, batch re­name pho­tos, and sort and fil­ter them on var­i­ous dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria.

The mul­ti­tude of ana­logue, retro, low-fi and cin­e­matic ef­fects that form the back­bone of the soft­ware can be ap­plied via sin­gle-click pre­sets ar­ranged in cat­e­gories in a ver­ti­cal panel on the left of the screen. They’re ap­plied non-de­struc­tively, so you can go back to change the set­tings at any time. You can also ex­port a new, pro­cessed im­age file along­side the orig­i­nal with a sim­ple keyboard short­cut.

The in­stant re­sults are backed up by in-depth tools for those times when a lit­tle ex­tra con­trol is needed. The ef­fects are built from ad­just­ments in­clud­ing tone and colour ad­just­ments as well as light leaks, tex­tures and film sim­u­la­tions. These tools can be com­bined in many ways, and you can brush the ad­just­ments on to lo­calised ar­eas.

The in­te­grated brows­ing/ edit­ing en­vi­ron­ment is very in­tu­itive, and is lack­ing the more com­plex cat­a­logu­ing tools of Light­room that some find too much. It doesn’t do all that Pho­to­shop does, but you can send im­ages to Pho­to­shop and save them to the same folder.

Per­for­mance

Ex­po­sure X2 has a large li­brary of at­mo­spheric ana­logue film ef­fects and im­age en­hance­ment tools. It can han­dle reg­u­lar lev­els, curves, colour and other enhancements like Pho­to­shop, but its ef­fects-first ap­proach is more ap­peal­ing if you’re look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion, unique­ness and a ‘hand-fin­ished’ look. It does this straight out of the box, and while you could per­haps achieve the same things in Pho­to­shop, you’d be fac­ing some long and com­plex pro­cesses to get there.

Specs

Plat­form: PC and Mac Re­quire­ments: Win­dows 8 64-bit or later, Mac OS X 10.10 or later Brows­ing: Yes Cat­a­logu­ing: No RA W pro­cess­ing: Yes Lens corrections: Yes Lo­calised ad­just­ments: Yes Lay­ers and masks: No Pre­set ef­fects: Yes Plug-ins: No

Ver­dict

Fea­tures Ease of use: Per­for­mance Value for money

Over­all

De­liv­ers a vast col­lec­tion of ef­fects, sim­ple brows­ing and pow­er­ful ad­just­ments.

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