Company: Alien Skin Software
Pros: Fantastic results and hassle-free implementation.
Cons: Inconvenient default zoom, and only works with RGB images.
Exposure could well be the final, missing link between digital and film photography, and marks a radical departure for Alien Skin, best-known for its wacky, effects-heavy plug-ins for Photoshop.
Aimed squarely at professional photographers, it delivers seriously impressive results as it seeks to emulate a wide range of film effects.
After a simple installation – it works fine with Photoshop, as well as later versions of Adobe Fireworks and Corel Paint Shop Pro – Exposure gives complete control over tools that adjust the grain, sharpness, saturation, and colour of midtone, shadow, and highlights in a digital photo. A series of tabs, along with a preview of the image, appears after selecting Exposure via the Filters menu, allowing you to fine-tune the look.
Most, though, will leap straight into the canned presets. Film stock such as colour Kodachrome 25, Agfa RSX II, and B&W stock such as Kodak T-Max and Fuji Neopan can be faithfully applied. Alien Skin says it has examined each stock in detail and, instead of blasting the image with noise, accurately applies grain and tone according to detailed models built up from film analysis.
The results are stunning. Unlike many plug-ins, previewing is instantaneous, while actual processing – even of our 30MB test file – proved refreshingly quick. Unlimited undo/redos help, as does a great split-screen preview.
A few niggles don’t detract from a cracking package. The default view is zoomed into the upper-left of the image, which is rectified with the zoom tool. Some might find the film types included a little limiting, but there are enough controls to recreate most looks, and a visit to Alien Skin’s forum showed the beginnings of users sharing new settings.
You can save created styles to apply as batches via Photoshop’s Actions palette. It only works with RGB images, and it doesn’t support 32-bit images or other image modes, such as LAB. Still, this is a brilliant solution that is well worth the purchase price.