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Exposure X6 Tightens the Bolts Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

29 October 2020

October has seen every major image editing software application updated with significant new features. Among the first of them was Exposure X6 from Exposure Software. We reported the news but have only recently had a chance to give it a test drive.



Exposure X6. This is the kind of creative leap you can make with Exposure in just a few clicks. We knew what we wanted to show. And our capture was a long way from it. But X6 got us there in less time than it took you to read this.

Exposure X has always occupied a particular space in the image editing ecosphere. It's designed for the photographer who is not afraid to go beyond what the camera can capture. It calls this creative photography.

And it has always done it with admirably robust code, unlike so many other ambitious applications. And on top of that, it has done it with an extremely efficient interface it would be insulting to call merely friendly.

That's what distinguishes Exposure X6 from its competitors. But it's also a bit misleading to cast it in that role because it plays nice as a plug-in with them, too.

It doesn't pretend to have everything but it doesn't make you suffer for that either.

It's really one of the most intelligently designed products we've ever had the pleasure to use.


As our news report detailed, the new version brings a few new features. Let's look at them one at a time.

Advanced Color Editor

This new tool builds on Exposure's 3D masking to enable greater control over color modifications. You can make pretty sophisticated color replacements in just a few clicks.

Advanced Color Editor. Find (l) the Red and replace it with Green using color wheels. See below.

And the first click just might be the Color Picker to set the "find" color wheel. We selected the existing red heart using the color wheel on the left (above) and changed it to green using the color wheel on the right.

We had a pretty flat color field but the color wheel controls let you modify not just the color but the falloff. There are also sliders for Saturation and Luminance.

For a more subtle example, we changed the local evergreens into a blighted forest, extending the range of the find and replace colors:

Advanced Color Editor. A wider range selected and replaced. See below.

There's a Show Overlay checkbox to show you exactly what's being masked by your settings, which we found very helpful. There are specific modes for Hue, Saturation and Luminance adjustments.

Overlay. You can see what's being masked with the overlay option.

We made very quick work of this color edit. And it was fun, too.

GPU Optimization

X6 can detect and harness your computer's graphics processing unit toy speed up image processing. Offloading tasks to the GPU is a simpler way to achieve parallel processing than managing multi-core CPUs.

GPU. Tucked away in the Preferences.

We have two GPUs in our MacBook Pro but they both speak OpenGL not Metal, so we couldn't test this. Metal is Apple's 3D graphics application programming interface.

GPUs have been around a long time but this year we're seeing new versions of image editing software tap into the power of Metal.

One-Click Automatic Adjustments

You can now select optimized values for White Balance, Exposure, Haze Level, Contrast and Tone.

Auto Adjustments. Click Auto's hamburger menu to enable/disable and adjust the Auto Settings.

DNG Converter Integration

Select an image or three in the filmstrip and right click to see the menu in which Convert to DNG appears about midway.

If there isn't already a DNG file of that name and the original is not already a DNG file, X6 will convert the file to DNG using Adobe's free DNG Converter, which you'll have to download and install if you haven't already.

To set any of DNG Converter's default settings in Exposure X6, you can visit X6's Preferences for DNG.

DNG Preferences. Options for embedding the original data, lossy compression, fast loading and preview size.

Conversion can also take place automatically when copying from a camera card.

New User Manual

Exposure Software has always provided excellent video tutorials but X6 now includes an HTML manual on Google Docs as well.

HTML Manual. On Google Docs (but just the first page of the five-page Table of Contents). A total of 125 pages.


Among the other enhancements in this version are:

  • Enhanced Shadows and Highlight Processing is now more reliable, consistent and accurate.
  • New Profile-Guided Noise Reduction eliminates noise based on camera sensor characteristics.
  • An Updated User Interface provides a refined, modern aesthetic.
  • New Haze Level Slider counteracts contrast decreases caused by atmospheric haze
  • New Mask Visualization options


We were a little chagrined returning to Exposure to work on an image that really needed one adjustment we've become surprisingly dependent on. That would be perspective control.

That's beyond this version of the application but its saving grace is that it can be used as a plug-in to an application that does provide it. So we were able to use Adobe Camera Raw's geometry panel before sending the image to X6 for the kind of edits only X6 can do.

Best of both worlds, in short.


The new version happily does not require new hardware. Exposure Software's modest hardware requirements include:

For macOS or Windows:

  • Intel Core 2 processor or newer
  • Monitor with 1280x768 resolution or greater
  • 8-GB RAM minimum, 16-GB recommended

For macOS:

  • OS X 10.11 El Capitan or newer
  • For GPU support, a recent (2015 or later) Metal compatible GPU with 2-GB RAM is recommended


  • Windows 10 64-bit or newer
  • For GPU support, a recent (2015 or later) OpenCL compatible GPU with 2-GB RAM is recommended


Exposure X6 is available now from Exposure Software for $119. Upgrade pricing is available to owners of previous versions of Exposure for $89. Additionally, if you purchased Exposure X5 on or after July 15, you will automatically receive a free upgrade to Exposure X6.


Exposure X6 is unique. It can indeed optimize a capture but it doesn't stop there. It lets you take your image beyond what your camera can imagine to what your mind sees.

That's pretty powerful stuff. And it's not for everyone.

But if you want to distinguish your images from everyone else's, the place to start is with your vision. And Exposure X6 not only won't get in your way, it will light up the path with some options you may have thought out of reach.

It's your choice whether to employ them or not. But we're giving X6 four stars for giving us the option without getting in the way.

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