The Future of Lightroom May Be Uncertain, But The Future of Exposure Is Clear

Exposure X3 Raw editor

Photo © Scott Stulberg

With the uncertainty surrounding Lightroom, now is a good time to reiterate the core elements of Exposure that make it a smarter solution for editing and organizing your photos.

No Subscription Needed

Exposure has never been subscription-based, and we have no plans to make it so. Once you purchase Exposure, you own it forever.

This avoids the risks of losing access to the program, and of spending more money than you expected due to monthly subscription costs increasing. Nor will you need to rely on tiered storage plans that can further increase costs.

The Flexibility to Work The Way You Want

Flexibility is one of Exposure’s core design principles. It works with any type of cloud storage, so you aren’t forced into using any one provider.

It also works well with ‘private cloud’ solutions like Drobo and Synology. Access your photos everywhere without paying a subscription fee.

Exposure supports external editors like Photoshop. You can easily send your edited images to and from other applications for additional edits.

Flexible options like side-by-side view and preset audition enable you to work with presets much faster than in Lightroom and other photo editors.

Exposure’s customizable UI enables you to specify which tools are visible, allowing you to focus on your editing without distractions. You can make Exposure’s interface as minimal as you like. Even if you’re viewing all of the tools, you’ll still benefit from having everything you need onscreen in a single interface.

A Clear Path Forward

There are no confusing multiple variants of Exposure to try to figure out. You can purchase it on its own or as the central app in the Exposure Bundle, alongside Snap Art and Blow Up. Either way, it’s the same RAW photo editor.

We are constantly updating Exposure, and we use your feedback to help guide its evolution. Many of the most substantial new features in Exposure X3 are those that our customers asked us to include.

Software That’s Easy to Use

Unlike Lightroom and other RAW photo editors, there are no user modules that force you to switch modes in order to perform different tasks. Every command is available all the time.

Exposure’s catalog-free approach lets you avoid the hassles of slow imports and complicated catalogs. You can start working immediately after beginning to copy your images.

There’s no single point of failure with your edits, and no unnecessary hard drive space is used to store large catalogs.

Exposure makes it easy for you to back up, transfer, and sync your images and edits. You can edit from multiple computers and even collaborate on edits with others using cloud storage.

Exposure’s learning curve is considerably easier than those of catalog-based RAW photo editors — the folder structure in Exposure is exactly like the folder structure on your computer.

Unmatched Creativity, Speed, and Stability

Exposure provides the kind of speed that traditional RAW photo editors cannot match. Large images load quickly, and all of the tools behave responsively.

Exposure’s hundreds of creative presets include tasteful, accurate film emulations that provide gorgeous looks in a single click.

We’ve been developing Exposure for 12 years now, and have grown it into a complete RAW photo editor and organizer, built on industry-leading creative tools and a powerful processing engine. Additionally, we’ve been creating award-winning creative imaging software for 25 years, and are a veteran team that knows how to ship stable software that lives up to our marketing claims. So you avoid the pain points that photographers have encountered with other software releases that have been released with missing or unstable features.

Organize Your Collection and Finish Your Images in a Single App

Exposure X3 handles your entire photography workflow, so there’s no need to cobble together multiple apps to finish your photos.

You have all the retouching tools, creative edits, and special effects that you need. These include tools like layering, spot healing, brushing, gradients, and gorgeous special effects (grain, vignette, and bokeh).

Exposure’s 500+ presets include accurate, tasteful film simulations. You’ve got the history of film at your fingertips. You can layer, blend, and customize each preset to your heart’s content, and then save the finished look as your own new custom preset.

Exposure gives you the organizing tools you need to master your workflow. These include the following:

  • Collections and quick collections to quickly group your images, no matter where they appear on your computer
  • Keywords and keyword sets to apply helpful descriptive tags that make it easy for you and for your clients to locate your photos
  • Stars, flags, and color labels that give you all the filtering tools you need to cull your images
  • Side-by-side views for flexible viewing options to speed up your image culling and preset selections
  • Watermarks that enable you to mix text and images, and use copyright metadata
  • Flexible exporting and copying options that include keywords, metadata, and quick exports of multiple image recipes
  • Extensive shortcut keys and workflow presets to further speed up your work

Exposure has the features that you’d expect from a non-destructive RAW photo editor, including:

  • An entirely non-destructive workflow — your original file is never touched
  • RAW, JPEG, TIFF, DNG, and PSD support
  • Adjustable histogram
  • Extensive color adjustments
  • Support for a wide variety of DSLR and mirrorless cameras
  • Automatic lens correction for many popular lenses

For a complete list of Exposure’s features, visit the Exposure page.

Industry-Leading Customer Support

We provide our customers with personalized, prompt support from a real human being. This level of service is appreciated by our customers. A number of them describe our support as being the best they’ve ever received from a software company.

We’re always adding helpful tutorial videos and blog articles to our site. Each week we send our subscribers a newsletter with helpful articles.

Our Facebook and Instagram pages provide you with a helpful, constructive community where you can share your work, ask questions, and join our monthly photo contest to win prizes.

Exposure X4

Try Exposure X4 free for 30 days, and discover a new world of creativity with gorgeous customizable looks and a complete set of editing and organizing tools.

About the Author:

Finley Lee is the CEO of Alien Skin Software. He's a hobbyist photographer, electric bass player, video gamer, bread baker, and experienced napper.


  1. Paul Roberts October 24, 2017 at 7:44 am - Reply


    I’ve been trialling ASE X3 as possible LR alternative (among others) and in terms of UI, speed, stability and image quality, I’ve found it to be just plain excellent. The non-destructive, layer based approach is elegant, intuitive and flexible, and the sidecars consume minimal disk space. The support is also superb.. BUT there are a few very important things that it is missing, and I’d love to know if/when they could be added:

    1) Top of the list is chromatic aberration correction, preferably under direct manual control rather than some automatic correction. I was shocked that ASE X3 didn’t have this; not having it means that ASE cannot be a one-stop-shop processing solution for me.

    2) Geometry correction. This comes some way behind CA correction, but it is still a serious ommision in my eyes.

    3) Color hue and luminosity adjustment. Some of the film presets and the overlay feature get me close to where I want to be, but direct control would be much more efficient.

    Bottom line: I’m probably going to buy ASE X3 anyway, but I would really like to know that the above – especially the CA correction – are in the pipeline. Do this, and LR is history for me.

    • Finley Lee October 24, 2017 at 9:29 am - Reply

      Hi Paul, thanks for the comments. All of these items are definitely on our roadmap. Keep an eye on our newsletter for updates about them.

  2. Sue Vee October 25, 2017 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    I agree with Paul on #2 and #3. One thing I would like to add is that I find myself using the lighting and texture feature a lot and I love that I can import my own, but I would like that panel to be floating, so that I can move it somewhere on the screen away from my image. That way I can view the total effect on my image and not have part of it obscured by the panel itself. I’m glad I discovered X3. Thanks for a great product.

    • Jimmy Beech October 25, 2017 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the suggestions, Sue. I’ll make sure to pass the floating or movable overlays panel idea over to the design team.

  3. Jason Lee Boyd October 25, 2017 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    Bummer! I just downloaded a trial but couldn’t find CAC. Now I know why. Hue and luminosity adjustments are also something I need in my editor. Really not happy with what is going on with Lightroom (or the lack of speed) and looking elsewhere. I guess the search continues…

    • Jimmy Beech October 25, 2017 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks for commenting and for giving the trial version a spin, Jason. Chromatic aberration correction and Hue and luminosity controls on our roadmap for a future releases of Exposure. Keep an eye on our newsletter for updates.

  4. Anatoly October 26, 2017 at 4:39 am - Reply

    It’s look like the best alternative to “dying” Lightroom !
    I do agree with Paul on #1, #2, #3 and Jason is saying the right things too.
    As for me – I’ld like to see an AUTO button in BASIC panel, because sometimes it’s just enough to use it.
    And one more that I’ld like to suggest – is it possible to collect all files that Exposure X3 creates in folders with images – in ONE place ? Because as I suppose – over time this files will become kind of garbage that wastes disk space…
    If this things’ll be realised – then “farewell’ to Lightroom.. And “hello’ Exposure ! 🙂

    P.S. It is not enough lens supported, alas..

    • Jimmy Beech October 26, 2017 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Thanks for commenting. The features you mentioned are all on our roadmap for future versions of the software.

      The sidecar files are where Exposure stores all your edits and other info like keywords, ratings, or metadata. Moving the sidecar files to a central location would essentially be creating a catalog, which isn’t possible in Exposure. Exposure’s workflow is catalog free.

    • Finley Lee October 26, 2017 at 10:55 am - Reply

      I’ll add that our sidecar files are very small and contain only essential edits and organizing information about photo.

      I shoot with a Fujifilm XT-1, whose raw files are about 33MB in size. My Exposure sidecar files range from about 5K to 30K, depending on how many edits I make. So in my situation, the Exposure data increases disk usage less than 0.1%. We designed it to be very respectful of your disk space.

  5. Jason Lee Boyd October 26, 2017 at 11:41 am - Reply

    This probably not the place to ask, but I will. LOL! I think I’m going to make the transition over to Exposure but have a question. Can I just import/edit from a specific folder on my drive rather than copy from my SD card?

    • Jimmy Beech October 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Jason. Thanks for commenting. Yes, you can do that easily. One of the benefits to Exposure’s catalog-free workflow is that you can open directly in Exposure from any folder on your computer. Take a look at our Managing Image Files video to learn about how to browse files, add bookmarks, and perform file management in Exposure.

  6. Anatoly October 26, 2017 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    Because I’m a newbie – so can’t you answer me the next (maybe silly questions..) :
    – is it possible to move/export keywords lists from Lightroom to Exposure ?
    – is it possible to transfer somehow Collections structure from LR to Exposure ? (here I mean that LR collection is a set of different folders)

    • Jimmy Beech October 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Anatoly.

      No. Exposure X3 can extract standard XMP keywords from image file metadata. And Exposure can import and export keyword sets, but it can only do this using its own format. Additional support of importing/exporting keyword sets with other apps, like Lightroom, is something we have on our list of features to add.

      And no, it’s not possible to transfer collections from Lightroom to Exposure. Exposure does not have a feature to import data from Lightroom’s collections at this time.

  7. Brian Bullock October 29, 2017 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    In a couple of answers, you mentioned your ‘roadmap’. Have you published this anywhere. X3 is currently missing some of my must-haves and I’d like an idea of when these items are likely to be resolved. Thanks.

    • Finley Lee October 30, 2017 at 11:53 am - Reply

      There’s no published roadmap at the moment. What features are most-haves for you?

      • Brian Bullock November 2, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

        Hi, Finley.

        I have only been trialing X3 for a few days, but here are the things I haven’t found or have a problem with thus far:

        1) HDR merge

        2) Focus stack

        3) Panorama stitch

        4) Perspective distortion correction tool like LR’s Transform

        5) Printing – I currently print directly from LR and need whatever software I use to have this ability.

        6) On an image with a large dynamic range, the X3 sliders for highlight and shadow don’t go far enough. On a photo that LR corrects easily, X3 reaches its limit long before I have the values where I want them. I tried holding down the shift key while moving the sliders, but I don’t see any difference in their max values. Maybe I’m doing something wrong.

        7) X3 doesn’t appear to use lens distortion info in the RAW file to correct the image. I use Olympus and Panasonic lenses on a m4/3 system, and the cameras store correction info in the RAW files.

        • Finley Lee November 3, 2017 at 11:52 am - Reply

          Thanks for the comments, Brian. We’ve logged your feedback and will consider it as we plan new versions.

          We’ve had a lot of requests for printing, improvements to highlights/shadows, and perspective distortion correction, so those are pretty high on our list.

          There have been fewer people asking about HDR merge and panorama stitching, and yours is the first request I’ve heard for focus stacking.

          We correct some MFT lenses but not all, which suggests we aren’t using the embedded correction data. I’ll check with my team and see if that’s something we should be doing.

          • Brian Bullock November 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm

            Hi, Finley.

            From what I have read elsewhere, your lens corrections are based off another vendor’s lens database. That’s not my preferred way to go, and it limits which lenses you can correct. If you were to use the embedded RAW data, you would be able to cover all of the lenses for vendors that include this data in RAW.

          • Finley Lee November 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm

            I wrote up using the embedded RAW data as a feature request. We will definitely look into it – I can see that it would have some benefits.

            Thanks for the comment!

  8. Georges October 31, 2017 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Hi all,
    I have tried Exposure as an alternative to LR also ;o)
    Very good software. UI is exactlly like i always wanted it in LR.
    There are a lot of advantages in Exposure vs LR and Capture One.
    What i’m missing is :
    – Panoramas (i do a lot of multi image pictures),
    – The Shadow slider gives “not so good” results,
    – The end result (export) is slightly less good as Capture one and LR (maybe my lack of knowledge).
    I continue my experimentations.

    • Jimmy Beech November 1, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Georges. I’ll relay your comments about the Shadow slider over to the design team. I’ll also mention to adding photo stitching capabilities.

      Exposure has robust exporting features for diverse workflows. There are a few different video tutorials on our website that demonstrate how to get the most out of exporting in Exposure. Our Exporting video is the best place to start, it includes detailed descriptions of all file handling options such as metadata, image size, and more. The Export Watermarks video will show you how to create watermarks and how to apply them to your images. And watch our Exporting for Social Media tutorial to learn how you can speed up your exporting productivity with Exposure’s quick export presets.

  9. Stefano November 2, 2017 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Hi, in Exposure X3, is it possible copy and paste keywords from one photo and another?

    • Jimmy Beech November 3, 2017 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Hi Stefano – No, you can’t copy and paste keywords from image to image in Exposure. Instead, you can create a set from the keywords applied to one of your photos, and then click each of them in your keyword library to apply it to selected image(s). That will handle it pretty quick.

      Check out our Organizing with Keywords tutorial to learn more.

  10. GregD November 19, 2017 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    I have been using LR since version 1 and with the poor performance issues of late and ever changes product models, I am finally looking for an alternative. I have looked at four other LR alternatives and put X3 at the top of may list. While not perfect, and none are, it comes the closest to my workflow backup needs. I understand that AS is working on making enhancements to some short falls. Thru my eval, here are few things I would like to see addressed.

    – On the edit tool sliders, once selected allow change in value with mouse wheel
    – Provide a feather adjustment slider for the Radial Shape
    – Show thumbnails of photos to be imported so to be able to make a selection
    – Ability to update development presets with changes (Save Preset with changes)
    – Would be nice to have development presets as a dropdown on import
    – On export dialog, add the dropdown for Export Profiles to populate the export dialog
    – All metadata fields should text wrap
    – Export dialog is not a flexable as LR, LR is clean and very easy to use.
    – Hue and Luminance color is missing (all other apps have these features)
    – Import/Export keywords
    – printing support

    X3 is relatively close as a LR clone for my work flow. I hope to see improvements to address shortcomings but all in all I am quite impress with X3 as a LR alternative. After all my product evals, I must say the LR is very elegant in its design and usability, all the vendors should take a lesson.

    • Jimmy Beech November 20, 2017 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Greg – thanks for commenting.

      Many of the features you mention are already on our roadmap for future versions of Exposure. There were a couple of requests that were new, so I submitted them to the design team.

      Mouse wheel edit sliders — In Exposure, you can hover your cursor over slider controls, then use the arrow keys to make fast adjustments.

      Feather adjustments to radial shape — The radial shape controls enable you to set the feather amount of the region by adjusting the placement of the dotted line. The solid line is where the effect is displayed at full strength, 100% opacity, and the dotted line is where the effect is off, at 0% opacity. Our Local Adjustments video shows you how to use those controls in detail.

      Export Profiles — Exposure’s quick export functionality enables you to make and access export recipes, just like what you described. Check out our exporting video to learn how to set them up.

      You can always save changes to any of the presets you have made and saved in Exposure. You can’t make changes to the factory presets, but you can save any changes you make to the preset as your own custom version.

  11. Mike Babic November 21, 2017 at 11:42 am - Reply

    There’s a pretty good chance that my problems are directly linked to me being an idiot. But, what I find the most frustrating in X3 is NOT being able to ‘select photos’ while importing.
    After several hours of trying to determine whether it’s just me or a characteristic of X3, I have yet to find a clear answer.
    This, in and of itself, will determine whether I purchase X3 or not (currently on a free trial after what I hoped would represent my last experience with LR).
    Am I missing something, or, am I doomed? The alternative is a return to the quirkiness and desperately slow speed of LR. Help! Please! As an example, every time I drop in an SD card or back-up drive, it wants to load every single image. I can select ‘don’t load duplicates’ which helps, but on a card with 700 frames on it, it loads all of them and I then have to physically ‘cull’ the ones I don’t want, rather than simply ticking a ‘select’ box on the ones I do. In terms of speed and convenience, I’m finding this process brutally time consuming. After losing a computer this week, I’m re-downloading thousands of pics from back-ups and I certainly don’t want to do a ‘cull’ process on 6-10,000 images. I’m hoping it’s just something I’m missing because I love the program and speed.

    • Jimmy Beech November 21, 2017 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Mike, thanks for commenting. Instead of using the copy from card dialog, likely you just need to point Exposure to the drive your images are in. If you’ve done culling with Lightroom, the flags or star ratings should carry over. You can add a folder or drive by selecting the Add (+) button and choosing “Add a bookmark.” You can then select any drive or folder your computer sees. This article has more information about moving from Lightroom and the information that is carried by Exposure.

      Using Exposures filters, you can select the images you want to edit from the folder, and you can copy/paste them into a new location on your computer. Exposure has a catalog-free workflow, so there isn’t an importing process. With Exposure, you access and view images on your computer just like you’re using Windows Explorer or Mac Finder. Check out our Managing Image Files tutorial to learn more about that.

      We have heard requests for creating a view and select images option to the copy from card interface, so it’s on our list of features to consider adding in future versions of the software.

  12. Patrick January 14, 2018 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Finley and Team

    Does X3 read Fuji Compressed RAW files?
    When can we expect to have the pano-stitch function integrated?
    I’m so looking for an alternative to Lightroom –


    • Jimmy Beech January 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Pat – thanks for commenting. Yes, Exposure can read Fuji’s RAW format files, even the compressed versions.

      Panorama stitching is a feature that we have on our roadmap for a future version of Exposure. How often would you use a feature like that? i’m interested.

      • Patrick January 17, 2018 at 4:15 am - Reply

        Hi Jimmy

        Thanks for your clarification on compressed raw files- that was mandatory for me.

        I use the pano quite often, e.g. nature and some sport photography. As I‘m not happy with the build in pano-function in fujis x-t2, I do that on the PC.

        Regards from Switzerland,

        • Jimmy Beech January 17, 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

          Thanks for letting me know, Patrick. We have panorama-stitching on our list of features for future versions of Exposure.

  13. David Ross March 29, 2018 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Like other posters here I am looking for an alternative to Lightroom. I downloaded the trial version of Exposure 3 and I felt at home immediately. It is easily the most intuitive software I have tried. I really enjoyed using it. However, there are several features that I really, really miss – chromatic aberration and perspective control. If those were added I would purchase Exposure 3 immediately!

    • Jimmy Beech March 29, 2018 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks for commenting, David. Chromatic aberration and perspective correction controls are definitely on our radar to consider adding in a future version of Exposure. I’ll add notes about your interest in both of those features in our request log.

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