Alien Skin Exposure X3 Software Bundle REVIEW

Details & User Experience

Alien Skin’s package of products includes Exposure X3, SNAPart 4, and Blow UP 3. While the RAW editor was the primary reason I looked into Alien Skin’s software, SNAPart 4 — an app that transforms photos into pieces of art — and Blow UP 3 — a plug-in for Photoshop that enlarges and enhances photos — are both worth having for the graphic designer.

Exposure X3

When you first open the application, you will be greeted by a dialog box with news about the app. After you close it, you will notice that the app has loaded all the RAW files that you have on your computer into the browser for easy access and editing. Exposure X3 is a feature-rich app and provides the user with the following options for editing and organizing your images.

  • Non-destructive Workflow — Exposure X3 has what is referred to as a catalog-free workflow. You don’t have to import images to work on them and backups are easy. The system will sync through the cloud so that you can easily work from many computers. Exposure allows for exporting of many file types including JPEG, TIFF, and PSD.
  • Presets — Exposure X3 comes with over 500 presets installed in the application. The app also allows for selective presets that will only affect certain settings.
  • Photo Editing — The app’s photo editor is quite advanced. It has a lot of the same types of tools as Photoshop or Affinity Photo, but they are optimized to work with RAW files so they work better and faster for that type of editing. Some of the tools include white balance adjustment, color editing, noise reduction, and histogram. There are also a lot of advanced effects for users including overlays, creative focus tools, and grain tools.
  • Customizable User Interface — Even though Exposure X3 has a preset when you first open it, you have the option to reposition panels, work with one panel at a time, and use shortcut keys.

SNAPart 4

SNAPart 4 is a standalone application and plug-in that allows you to experiment with artistic styles and how they apply to your photographs. There is no extensive training required in order to use it. You can select from Snap Art’s presets — oil painting, pencil sketch, crayon and watercolor — and the app will automatically transform your photograph into a finished piece of art. The nice thing about these presets is that they are a place to start if you aren’t experienced with graphics editing. You have the ability in the app modify the presets to suit your needs.

Blow UP 3

Blow UP is a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop that will enlarge photos without degrading them. Some of the new features of the plug-in include a new faster speed and the ability to resize images up to 300,000 pixels per side (the maximum that Photoshop can handle). Blow UP can also handle CMYK images and 16-bit images. Presets are available for different paper sizes (photo, standard US, etc.) and Blow UP will even handle output sharpening. I really love Blow UP because it enhances what you are doing with the rest of the Exposure bundle and it’s very easy to use.

Conclusions

The Exposure X3 bundle has changed the way that I work with my RAW files and completely organized my workflow. Instead of having a headache from working with a single file at a time, I can now view all my editable files and work through the entire library. The entire bundle retails for $199 and in my opinion, that’s a steal considering that Photoshop requires a monthly subscription in order to use it. It does look like Alien Skin does not offer free upgrades, but does discount the cost quite a bit. Even though I had a bit of a learning curve when I started working with Exposure X3, I am really glad I gave it a try because it really does make my photo editing a lot easier.

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