Exposure X6 is an important upgrade. It not only optimizes processing by using all available GPU power but also comes with new functionality such as built-in support for Adobe DNG conversion.
In contrast to the previous versions, Exposure X6 now uses available GPU hardware to speed up processing. That’s very welcome if you process a lot of large files; it’s even noticeable with smaller files, especially on lower-end machines like my iMac 5K (3.4GHz i5).
When I started Exposure X6, I was greeted with a lot of new automatic adjustments, a bit like what DxO does with Photolab. In Exposure X6, you select optimised values for the most frequently used controls with a single click and you can apply these in batch operations. These controls include Auto White Balance, Exposure, Haze level and Dynamic Contrast. All of these can be tuned so that they match your editing style, a feature that is unique to Exposure X6 and is testament of the app’s regard for personal taste.
Exposure X6 also has a new profile-guided noise reduction feature that reduces noise based on a combination of camera sensor characteristics, ISO and estimated electronic noise. It’s better than it used to be, but there’s something odd going on with it. In some photos, I managed to get beautiful results, in others not so much. It is not related to the format as I used RAW files for my tests all over, but it appears to be related to the subject. If there’s a lot of colour noise, the performance wasn’t that good. Monochrome noise, however, disappeared completely.
What doesn’t need any improvement at all and, indeed, is an example for other developers of how to turn a complex process into a simple UI, is the Advanced Color Editor. It builds further on Exposure X5’s 3D colour masking tool to enable greater control of colour modifications. It truly allows you to isolate colours quickly and effectively with an interface that is both easy to grasp and a joy to work with. You can now also select multiple colour replacement mappings and save them as a preset, saving much time in the process.
The redesigned shadows and highlights controls in Exposure X6 offer more reliable, consistent and accurate results, due to a tonal zone approach.
The DNG Converter integration is a bit of a mixed bag, at least for me it was. It does enable conversion of RAW photos to the DNG format but, very much in line with other editors, it does not mean you can load a RAW file that is based on DNG — I’m thinking of GoPro HERO 9’s RAW images here — without first having to convert it with the Adobe DNG Converter app. Conversion of supported files can be performed automatically when copying photos from a camera card or manually invoked.
Other improvements include a Haze level slider to counteract the decrease in contrast caused by atmospheric haze and mask visualisation options — luminance, saturation, black background and opacity.