Migrating from Lightroom to Exposure X3 from Alien Skin

I’ve been using Lightroom since the version 1.4 became available. That’s probably about 10 years ago. I’ve been a subscriber to Adobe Creative Cloud service for photographers, which has Lightroom and Photoshop for about $15 a month. I am still going to use Photoshop for my retouching, nothing can beat that, but I am migrating from Lightroom to Exposure X3 from Alien Skin.

Why am I migrating from Lightroom to Exposure X3?

The cost

I am not a fan of the subscription model offered now by Adobe. First of all it started at $9.95 when I subscribed in 2015. It’s now closer to $15 a month. It was kind of inevitable that the subscription will slowly rise; that is the point of the subscription model, but it is still a bit disappointing. $15 a month is not a huge amount, but for the last 6 months I’ve been trying to live within a much smaller budget that I had before.

Exposure X3 will not replace Photoshop for me, but it can easily replace Lightroom. The current cost of stand-alone license of Lightroom is almost $200, but of course, I would not buy that license, I would still just use the subscription, at about $170 a year. However with the editing and retouching functionality in Exposure X3, I think it would be more than possible to do most editing without having to go to Photoshop.

Alien Skin Exposure X3 is $79, to upgrade. I have an old license from a long time ago, when I used Exposure as a plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop because they had/have amazing film presets. It is a one-off purchase. No subscription. I don’t have to buy Photoshop because I still have a license for Photoshop CS6, and I am sure I can still use it for a few years.

The functionality

I own Adobe Photoshop Version 6. I think this was the last non CC version of Photoshop. I bought that outright and I enjoyed using it. The Creative Cloud option of always having the latest available version of Photoshop was quite appealing at first. The truth is, however, that I do not use the latest and greatest functionality of Photoshop to do my retouching. To be honest, I think I could easily use version 4 or 5 and would still not miss any features. I’m kind of old school. Once I learn something in Photoshop, I don’t switch to a new method, just because it became available in the latest version. Unless of course the change was a ground-breaking.

There were no breakthroughs in the latest version of Photoshop that I had to use. I am mostly using the stamp tool, brush, liquify here and there and that’s about it. Nothing too sophisticated and all these were available since 2006 or earlier.

Exposure X3 has pretty much what Lightroom has, so I will not be missing anything there. It can read Raw files from Canon and Fujifilm. It can process images with editing tools that are very similar to Lightroom. It has an added functionality that Lightroom does not possess, like layers. It has great Film presets which I always liked; the reason I bought Exposure X a few years ago. It also has really good retouching tools, if I didn’t want to edit images in Photoshop.

I don’t think I will be missing any functionality. I’ve been testing Exposure X3 in my daily work and so far I had not encountered any issues. Organizing images in folders is better than Lightroom, there is no catalogues to worry about. The speed of culling and refreshing is much faster than Lightroom. Actually I don’t cull in Lightroom. It’s incredibly painful to do that in Lightroom, takes for ever to open and render a full size image. I use Fast Raw Viewer for that, which is lightning fast in comparison. Exposure X3, is not as fast as FRV, but it’s fast enough to work with and not worry about additional software.

Editing and exporting to Photoshop is just as easy as Lightroom, so no problem there. I only did 1 professional shoot completely in Exposure X3 and I did it much faster than using Lightroom.

It feels like an end of an era, but I know I can easily go back to Adobe and restart subscription if Adobe finds a way to sharpen blurry images in new Photoshop. Until then I am pretty sure I can do most of my work in Alien Skin Exposure X3 and Adobe Photoshop SC6

If you’re interested in learning how to use Exposure X3, or get a private photography lesson, email me.

2 replies
    • Jay
      Jay says:

      In fact, I took advantage of the Black Friday discounts to upgrade to X4. Main reason – the new Transform functionality that was missing in X3. I do not miss Lightroom at all. Of course, I still use Photoshop for my portrait and boudoir retouching, that will not change, but for everyday photo management and simple editing I switched to Exposure X4 and deleted Lightroom.
      For me, X4 is not a compromise. All the functionality that I had before in Lightroom is still there.
      The only thing you may miss are the LR presets, if you built some or bought, and the shortcuts, which are, of course, different. But I got used to them quickly and never looked back.


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