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The Best Affinity Photo Plugins and How to Install Plugins?

Affinity Photo is an image editor designed for photography, easy to use, and effective. It’s probably the only photo editor you need. However, when it comes to specific tasks, other programs may be better.

For example, enlarging photos for print, removing noise, or applying effects that mimic black and white film may require dedicated programs. And here is where plugins take over.

Plugins are programs developed by third parties that integrate with Affinity Photo and add new functionalities to your editor. In this tutorial, we will show you how to add plugins to Affinity Photo and list a few of the best plugins to use.

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Plugins are a great way to access multiple programs using the same interface. Instead of getting an image through different programs, you can take advantage of all their features in a single place.

Yet plugins have their share of drawbacks. For example, not all your Photoshop plugins are Affinity Photo compatible plugins. Furthermore, they come with their own technical requirements and usually aren’t free.

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__CONFIG_colors_palette__{“active_palette”:0,”config”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“name”:”Main Accent”,”parent”:-1}},”gradients”:[]},”palettes”:[{“name”:”Default Palette”,”value”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“val”:”var(–tcb-color-4)”,”hsl”:{“h”:46,”s”:0.8692,”l”:0.01}}},”gradients”:[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
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How to Install Plugins in Affinity Photo

First of all, make sure the plugin is compatible with Affinity Photo. Lately, Affinity has increased in popularity so more and more providers offer compatible plugins but it’s still better to check before buying. Also, make sure the provider offers support and maintenance.

For example, the free version of the Nik Collection plugins doesn’t come with support and may have compatibility issues that the paid version doesn’t have. The way to install the free Nik version is also a bit different because it is an old version.

Step 1: Install the plugin

The straightforward way to add plugins in Affinity Photo is to download the program and install it on your computer. During the installation make a note of the applications folder where the program files are installed. You might need to add this location to the plugin search folder later if Affinity Photo doesn’t recognize the plugin straight away.

Step 2: Open Affinity Photo Preferences Dialog

Then, go to Affinity Photo Preferences ->Photoshop Plugins. At this moment you should see the plugins installed in Affinity Photo listed under Detected plugins.

Step 3: Allow unknown plugins

Check the box Allow “Unknown” plugins to be used, press Close, and restart Affinity Photo.

Installing Photoshop plugins in Affinity Photo
Affinity Photo settings for using installed plugins

Troubleshooting Plugin Support Folders

If you cannot see a plugin on the list click on the Open Default Folder button, and make sure you actually placed the software in this folder or in the added plugins search folders.

You can also add a custom Affinity Photo plugins folder. Click on the Add button to point to a custom plugins folder on your computer.

After making any changes to the plugin search folders, you need to restart Affinity Photo.

Find Active Plugins in the Filters Menu

You’ll find ready-to-use apps under the Filters menu (Filters -> Plugins). They become active after you open a photo. If your project has multiple layers, make sure you select an image layer before trying to access a plugin.

Plugin menu in Affinity Photo
Ready-to-use installed plugins

While this method should work for any plugin, it actually doesn’t. To install the Topaz plugins, for example, you first have to add the path for Topaz Labs folders to Affinity’s Plugin Search Folders.

Other plugins may require different settings. So check the provider’s website for more information. Most plugin providers offer support for installing their products in Affinity Photo or other editors.

Best Plugins for Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo accepts Adobe Photoshop-compatible 64-bit plugins and you can find a wide range of those. But to maintain a neat workflow, we focus on programs that add value to Affinity Photo and provide features and creative extensions the editor doesn’t have.

Don’t overload your editor with tones of apps you rarely use. We have selected a few of the best plugins which come in both a Windows version and a Mac version.

ON1 Professional Plugin Series

ON1 provides five plugins to use with Affinity Photo: ON1 NoNoise AI 2021, ON1 Effects 2021, ON1 Resize 2021, ON1 Portrait AI 2021, and ON1 HDR 2021. You can buy them individually for 70.63 EUR or as a pack for 151.36 EUR. The ON1 Professional pack runs on Mac and Windows. You can also use them as standalone apps.

ON1 Effects 2021 and ON1 HDR 2021

ON1 HDR 2021 is dedicated to HDR photography, an area where Affinity does a good job by itself. So it’s up to you if you need this plugin. If HDR photo editing is something you do every day, it may be worth having the latest technology in the field.

ON1 Effects 2021 provides a large set of styles and looks, which you can modify and apply to multiple photos. But most of its features overlap with Affinity Photo (e.g. color and contrast adjustments, healing brush, burning, and dodging). Although it’s fast and fun to use, ON1 Effects 2021 isn’t a necessity when you have Affinity Photo.

On1 Effects plugin
ON1 Effects 2021 plugin for Affinity Photo

AI-based ON1 plugins

Removing noise from a photo while preserving the quality of the details is a challenging task and requires a dedicated program. ON1 NoNoise AI 2021 uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to discern between noise and details. It is fast, supports RAW file formats, gives you full control over the process, and provides a live preview of the adjustments. It is worth the investment if you often struggle with low-quality photos that need sharpening and noise removal.

Like ON1 NoNoise AI 2021, ON1 Portrait AI 2021 uses AI-based algorithms to recognize faces and retouch them automatically. Moreover, the plugin allows you to choose between types of portraits (e.g. business, wedding, fashion, etc.) and personalize the adjustments accordingly. If you’re a portrait photographer, this plugin is a good addition because Affinity doesn’t have specialized adjustments and presets for this type of photography.

ON1 Resize 2021

Probably the most interesting of ON1’s plugins is ON1 Resize 2021. It uses industry-leading Genuine Fractals® technology and aims to provide the highest quality for photo enlargements and prints. ON1 Resize 2021 helps you prepare photos for print, an area where quality matters and each mistake becomes highly visible. It also provides tools for batch processing and image organizing (which Affinity Photo lacks), RAW processing, and printing options.

On1 Resize plugin for Affinity Photo
ON1 Resize 2021 image organizing tool

Pros

ON1 plugins are fully compatible with Affinity Photo and easy to install and use. AI-based features are very good and ON1 Resize 2021 is something any professional photographer needs at some point.

Cons

The price for the ON1 pack is higher than the price of Affinity Photo. Even if you only aim for one or two individual plugins is still pricy.

Nik Collection 4 by DxO

Nik Collection is a pack of 8 plugins designed for photographers that cover everything from sharpening and noise reduction to changing perspective and editing different types of photos. The plugins are Viveza, Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, DFine, HDR Efex, Perspective Efex, Sharpener, and Silver Efex. Since Nik Collection 2.5 these plugins have worked with Affinity Photo.

Nik Collection includes local adjustments, selection tools, RAW support, and non-destructive editing. Together they summarize 250 presets and you can modify them and create your own. You can buy Nik Collection for 99.99 EUR. It works for Windows and Mac.

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__CONFIG_colors_palette__{“active_palette”:0,”config”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“name”:”Main Accent”,”parent”:-1}},”gradients”:[]},”palettes”:[{“name”:”Default Palette”,”value”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“val”:”var(–tcb-color-4) “,”hsl”:{“h”:46,”s”:0.87,”l”:0.58}}},”gradients”:[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
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Photo retouches

Nik Dfine is designed for noise reduction, while Nik Sharpener enhances details. Like the apps for color photography, they work very well together.

Perspective Efex on the other hand is an amazing tool for correcting optical distortions and volume deformations. It works very well for straightening lines in landscape photos and fix volume distortions in photos of large groups of people. You can also use it to change your composition and create a shallow depth of field to make the subject stand out.

Nik collection plugins for Affinity Photo
Nik Sharpener plugin

Pros

Nik Collection provides exquisite filters and effects that transform your photos in seconds. Furthermore, you can apply them locally and fine-tune each area of the photo. The results are natural-looking and artistic.

Cons

Nik Collection plugins cost a lot and you can only buy them as a pack. So even if you only want a black and white converter, you still have to buy plugins for color and HDR photography.

Related Affinity Photo Articles:

Concluding words

The world of plugins for Affinity Photo is growing fast. We’ve made our selection based on photographic purposes only but you can find plenty of other plugins for creative effects (e.g. AKVIS plugins), masking, video enhancing, and so on.

There are also amazing programs that aren’t fully compatible with Affinity Photo yet (e.g. Topaz Labs plugins, which include an exquisite image enlargement plugin and AI-based software for automatic retouches). It’s up to you to decide which one works for you and helps you enhance your images. Even though you don’t use Adobe Photoshop, you can still download and enjoy many of the plugins made for Photoshop in Affinity Photo.

Let us know in the comment section which Affinity Photo plugins have you tried and which one is on your list.   

5 thoughts on “The Best Affinity Photo Plugins and How to Install Plugins?”

  1. nice story, thank you.
    The Nik collection does not work with Affinity Photo on Apple iMac 24″ (2021) with Apple M1 chip.
    I tried several times.
    Uninstalling again also caused a lot of problems.
    I hope in the future there wil be a solution, for it seems to be an interesting collection.

    Reply
    • I have Affinity Photo, which I purchased from the Mac App Store. Plugins do not work with it, they only work if Affinity Photo is purchased from Serif. I could install plugins and see them installed, but I could not use them. The following is what Serif has told me:

      The version on the Mac App Store does not include any less features than the version on our website. The problem with the App Store version is that in order for it to adhere to Apple regulations it needs to be sandboxed which prevents it from “talking” to other applications. This is why plugins don’t work, Apple enforce this rule to ensure nothing they distribute via their app store can potentially hack you or steal data etc. We don’t advertise this as its the case for anything bought from this store not just our apps.

      I have found that if I download a trial version of Affinity Photo from Serif, and then download the app from the App Store, the App Store Affinity Photo will be able to use plugins.

      Reply
  2. Always buy during black friday.. All your software. Affinity photo I think was $34 On1 raw and individual plugins were #104 for upgrades. DXO was 30 or 40 percent off. There were some Humble bundle pay what you want. As of 10/12/21 there is a humble bundle where they donate money to charity. You can pay $30 for 17 different products which include Luminar 4, Luminar Ai, and Aurora HDR with sky packs and preset in the Photo Editing Max Humble bundle.

    Reply
  3. I have Nik and Topaz plugins installed but I can only use then with Jpegs not RAW (ORF) files
    I can see the plugin but they are ghosted out.
    Any Advice how to access them when using RAW
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Affinity only processes raw in the develop persona and you cannot use plugins there. You have to develop the raw which brings it into the photo persona (as a tiff file I suspect) and then you can use the plugins. Always create a new pixel layer(duplicate or merge visible) or the Nik tools will destructively affect your original image. If you don’t merge visible and do any affinity edits (including crops) before using the plug-in then the Nik tool will operate on the base image, ignoring your existing edits. Merge visible gets round that.

      Reply

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