Alien Skin Exposure 5 review

There have been some great film stock emulation and retro effect apps, but there’s only one that combines the two into one all-encompassing plug-in and that’s Alien Skin’s Exposure. Here’s version 5 and the quirky interface has seen a complete overhaul to a more modern and recognisable, dark-grey format. The presets are still listed on the left as before, though now there are filter options to pick from colour, black and white, recent, those tagged as favourites, or your own creations. Selecting a category produces a list of effects as thumbnail previews, rather than as a list that when click on, updates the one preview window. It gives an immediate indication of the effect. There’s one new category here as well, that of the Polaroid 55 in B&W films. These are very grungy with a ripped-socket border as well. The only problem with the new style is that if a preset has a long title, it gets truncated. You can adjust the window which makes the previews bigger and consequently gives more room to the text, or switch to a two-image preview format which does enable the descriptions to fit in.

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The grunge and distressed effects now have their own separate entries and there’s a new category of lighting effects.

Another difference is that while the rest of the presets appear to be the same, how some of them work has been changed to introduce more colour, more grunge or the new lighting effects. Kodak 200 Gold in the Lo-Fi category is one example. The other biggest change comes into play when a preset is selected. The individual settings for colour, tone curve, focus, grain and infrared are still there, and changing settings means you can create your own effects, but Vignette and Borders & Textures now have their own, separate categories. It’s the latter where this makes the most difference because in Exposure 4 you could only select one element out of all the borders, brushed paper, light leaks, dust and scratches, paper texture and wet plate effects. To use more than one you had to reuse the filter with the other settings on neutral, over and over again. In Exposure 5 this has been changed so that there are separate entries for Border, Light Effects and Dust and Scratches. In Borders there are sub-categories which include brushed paper, damaged, grunge, plain, Polaroid 55, Print and Vintage. There are samples of each and all the effects can be flipped, zoom and randomised to give completely fresh results each time.

In the Light Leaks category there are options for various styles of light leaks and also there’s a new entry for sun flares which has 10 different types of flare and light. These can be manipulated like the others and the opacity lowered so far more variations are possible. Finally, the Dust and Scratches, has sections for dust, paper and scratches to really add some grime.

OUR VERDICT

While this isn’t a radical update in terms of the numbers of effects you are getting, the interface change so that far more grunge and grime effects can be applied at once is very welcome. Still easily the best film and retro effect plug-in money can buy.

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