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Last updated on November 13th, 2022
Exposure X7 Summary
Exposure X7 is a robust photography software that offers an array of features — like camera-profile noise reduction and advanced color grading — at a competitive price. Beginners can quickly start editing photographs without spending time importing images or setting up the software. Professional photographers will be happy to move away from subscription-based software. Continue reading the Exposure X7 review to learn more.
We can all agree that photographers — amateur and professional — need image management software that can also provide photo-editing options. Exposure helps streamline this process with its latest flagship software released in 2020, which succeeds Exposure X5 and X6. I’m going to summarize its features and mention what’s essential in this Exposure X7 review.
Of course, if you don’t mind always sorting your photos with Windows Explorer or Mac Finder, then you may not need this software. But if you’re like the majority of photographers, then keep reading.
Exposure X7 Review
I’ve been using Lightroom for 9+ years, and I like to believe I have a decent idea of how to use Lightroom and make authentic comparisons to other photography software.
And I definitely understand the Lightroom-pricing issue photographers have and the requirement to have an Adobe Creative Cloud Membership.
- all-in-one digital asset manager and image editor
- 500+ presets included
- advanced color grading tools
- DNG file conversion
- competitively priced
- no subscription required
- perpetual license
- no soft proofing for printing
What is Exposure X7?
As mentioned earlier, Exposure X7 is an image management software, also known as a digital asset manager (DAM), with the ability to edit RAW photos. It’s developed by Exposure Software, formerly known as Alien Skin Software (not to be confused with Alienware).
However, Exposure X7 specializes in creative photography. That’s because it comes packaged with more than 500 presets (looks) that can be customized. Many of these presets are within the black-and-white and film photography styles — giving the images a vintage look.
But don’t be misled by the presets, Exposure X7 is still a professional-grade photography software that will allow you to complete most image-edit jobs. I’ll mention some of its features later in this review.
How it Works
Similar to most image management software like Lightroom and Capture One, you’ll first need to locate your image files/folders with Exposure X7. Then you’ll edit your images and export any photos you want to share or print.
But unlike Lightroom and Capture One, Exposure X7 doesn’t use a catalog to import images. What is a catalog, you may wonder? A catalog is a database, library, or file pointer of your image files.
Exposure X7 saves your image-edit information in a metadata folder within the folder of your images. This catalog-free, metadata method makes it easier for beginners to use the software and start adjusting photos right away.
Exposure X7 is a comprehensive digital asset manager and photo editor. I’m not going to list all its tools because many of them are common and expected. I will point out some of the important features, including the new ones.
The ability to customize the interface is a big deal. Check photography forums and you’ll see a few people not happy with Lightroom’s locked-in interface — you can’t customize Lightroom’s interface.
Fortunately, Exposure X7 allows users to customize the interface. This allows beginners and professional photographers to set up an optimized interface for a faster workflow.
Pro Tip: If you decide to test or purchase Exposure X7, make sure to enable solo mode. This makes sure only one panel or dropdown list is open at a time to provide a clutter-free workflow. Do it for the editing panel by right-clicking it with your mouse and choosing solo mode. You’re welcome.
Nondestructive Editing and Layers
There’s no need to worry about altering your original image files. Exposure X7 is nondestructive, preserving the original file that was captured by your camera.
In addition, the photography software utilizes the power of layers. It’s what gives Photoshop an edge in image editing and is also available in Exposure X7. I use layers to make precise adjustments with masking. And if I don’t like the edit, then I can delete or hide the layer.
3D Color Masking
Don’t worry, you won’t need a high-end graphics card to take advantage of Exposure X7’s 3D color masking. This neat feature allows photographers to create a mask and use the HSL (hue, saturation, and luminance) to define the mask range. It’s similar to Photoshop’s color range.
You can add a shallow depth of field, otherwise known as a bokeh effect, around your subject.
It adds a blur and helps the viewer’s eyes to hone in on a subject. It’s perfect for portraits or wildlife photography.
You can also think of this tool as a radial blur.
Focus allows further creative sharpening or blurring of your image.
However, it impacts the entire image and should not be pushed to extremes.
This tool would be best used with a mask if you have a defined subject.
As the name suggests, the IR panel captures or affects a different color spectrum — infrared. Use this tool to give your image a dream-like glow or fog effect.
Photoshop and Lightroom Plugins
Exposure was previously only used as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom. Now it’s a standalone software but can still be used as a plugin with PS and LR when needed.
Furthermore, if you’re using Exposure X7 as standalone software and need to make advanced edits in Photoshop, then you can also complete this task. The most common scenario I can think of using Photoshop through Exposure X7 is when advanced retouching is required.
What’s New in Exposure X7
If you already have Exposure X7 and you’re thinking of upgrading, then this list of the major new features in Exposure X7 may be helpful.
The most noticeable difference in Exposure X7 vs X6 is the new interface. It’s been refreshed and has a darker color.
You can now automatically convert your RAW files to DNG while copying your SD card images to your hard drive.
As you may already know, DNG is Adobe’s lossless RAW file format and reduces file size. Converting your camera’s native RAW files to DNG can save you a significant amount of digital memory in the long run.
A lot of photography software have been moving towards automatic adjustments. Isn’t it great to make one click and you get an aesthetic photo instantly? Exposure X7’s new auto-edit tool does just that.
Of course, these auto tools are sometimes a hit-and-miss. And many photographers may prefer adding their own creative touch to their photos.
Keep in mind, the Exposure X7 auto feature doesn’t use artificial intelligence (AI) to make image adjustments. But this isn’t a deal-breaker.
If you do want AI photography software, then I suggest reading the Luminar AI review.
Exposure X6’s noise reduction tool has been given an overhaul in X7.
The noise reduction now uses camera profiles to target a specific image sensor’s noise behavior.
You’ll be able to reduce luminance and color (chrominance) noise.
If the image loses too much detail with the noise reduction, then you can use the smoothing slider to add back detail to the edges.
Lightroom has had its dehaze tool for a few years, and now Exposure X7 has its own.
Haze can sometimes be a problem and make an image look soft or pale. It’s often pollution, dust, or moisture that collects in the air and causes this problem.
The haze level tool helps reduce the ugly haze in the atmosphere. Moreover, many photographers sometimes use it to add a different creative clarity or contrast style to an image.
Advanced Color Editor
A significant improvement in Exposure X7 is the new advanced color editor, which builds on the 3D color masking.
For photographers that don’t like the auto feature mentioned above and enjoy toying with color grading, this tool is something to be excited about.
The Exposure X7 advanced color editor doesn’t require a mask, but you can use one if you want.
With the tool, you can easily target different shades of the sky to adjust the hue. You can also use it to do split toning or quad toning.
The GPU usage has been improved by assigning rendering tasks between the CPU and GPU. I’m not a big enough nerd to test this, so I’ll take their word. While writing this Exposure X7 review, I haven’t had any performance issues on my iMac.
The standalone version of Exposure X7 costs $129 and includes the Photoshop and Lightroom plugins.
It’s competitively priced and no subscription is required. You receive a perpetual license that you’ll own forever. A 30-day, money-back guarantee is also provided with the license.
You can also purchase the Exposure X7 bundle for $149 which includes:
Blow Up 3 for enlarging images while retaining detail.
Snap Art 4 to turn your images into a painting, sketch, or fine art.
- Windows 10 64-bit or newer
- Intel Core 2 processor or newer
- Monitor with 1280 x 768 resolution or greater
- 8GB RAM minimum, 16GB recommended
- For GPU support, a recent (2015 or later) OpenCL compatible GPU with 2GB RAM is recommended
- macOS 10.13 High Sierra or newer
- Intel Core 2 processor or newer
- Monitor with 1280 x 768 resolution or greater
- 8GB RAM minimum, 16GB recommended
- For GPU support, a recent (2015 or later) Metal compatible GPU with 2GB RAM is recommended
Exposure X7 Alternatives
After getting the chance to review Exposure X7, I feel this software can complete most photography jobs.
What I like most about Exposure X7 is the catalog-free concept. It speeds up time without the need to organizing or saving a catalog somewhere on your hard drive. This can be useful when moving your files to a different computer or operating system. I know, I’ve done it with Lightroom, and it’s a bit worrisome. With Exposure X7 not needing an extensive catalog library, I imagine this slightly speeds up its performance.
The color grading on Exposure X7 is a bonus. There are options to target the skin tones as well and rivals Capture One’s color grading tool. You can read a review of Capture One for more information.
One thing to consider is I couldn’t find an option in Exposure X7 to soft proof photos. I searched in the manual and I didn’t have any luck. Soft proofing is crucial for professional photographers that print client-ready photos. You don’t want the printed colors to be the wrong shade. But I notice many printing companies prefer image files to be edited and supplied in the sRGB color space, so sometimes you can get away without the need for a soft-proofing tool.
Furthermore, Exposure X7 doesn’t have panorama stitching or HDR merging. These aren’t deal-breakers because I rarely use the panorama tools and I usually do my HDR photography workflow in Aurora HDR or Photomatix. Plus, many photographers don’t use these features. But they are nice to have, especially for landscape photography.
If you shoot in high ISO, low light, or do astrophotography, Exposure X7 can effectively reduce noise in most photos. But when there is too much noise, most image editors, including Exposure X7 and Photoshop, won’t reduce the noise to an acceptable level. For this, you’ll need a dedicated noise reduction software like Denoise AI.
With me being a travel photographer — or at least that’s my excuse to test photography software and use a DSLR — I like the price point of Exposure X7 considering it has many features. And for budget travelers and photographers that don’t need all the high-end Nikon or Canon lenses, they’ll be happy with Exposure X7.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Exposure X7 free?
No, it’s not free. However, you can try Exposure X7 free for 30 days.
Is Exposure X7 a free upgrade?
No, it’s not a free upgrade. It costs $89 to upgrade from a previous version of Exposure.
How much does Exposure X7 cost?
Exposure X7 costs $129 for a perpetual license.