Are you considering trying Affinity Photo? And is it the right photo editing software for you in 2021? Then read this full Affinity Photo review. Learn about the pros and cons of this very capable image editing app.
What is Affinity Photo
Affinity Photo is a photo editor. Just like Photoshop, it is capable of performing very advanced image editing tasks, but at a fraction of the price of Photoshop. Affinity Photo is well suited for advanced editing for most photographers. Affinity Photo is part of the Affinity Suite which also includes Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher (separate licenses).
Affinity Photo Review Overall Rating: 4/5
Layer-based editing. Panorama, HDR merge, focus stacking, macro support. Raw image support but also works with raster and vector images.
You cannot create custom workspaces, and it is a bit slow with very large files. Just like Photoshop, it is not an easy program to learn for beginners. It doesn’t support creating smart objects. You cannot save custom workspaces, but any change you make to the single user interface you have is saved.
Quick Verdict: Affinity Photo
Affinity Photo is comparable to Photoshop in many ways. We think that most users would be very satisfied with the features included at a low price.
We like that the Affinity interface is simplified into task-focused workspaces (personas), making each workspace less cluttered.
For $49.95, It’s a bargain compared to its main competitor, Photoshop, which only comes with a subscription model ($9.95 per month bundled with Lightroom).
From a photographer’s viewpoint, Affinity Photo is feature-rich and flexible. Some image adjustment algorithms could be improved.
Compared with an equivalent workflow in Photoshop, you would more or less perform the same steps in the same order.
|Integration & Plugin Support|
You can open your photos from all image library apps like Lightroom or Capture One, Luminar, ON1 Photo RAW, and so on. Affinity Photo supports using your Photoshop plugins, but it is not certain that a Photoshop plugin supports Affinity Photo. Nik Collection above v. 2.5 supports Affinity Photo.
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With Affinity Photo, the British software firm Serif has made an incredible application for photographers who wants control over the images editing process. It is feature-packed, powerful, and affordable.
- RAW editing – supports most raw files.
- HDR merge
- Panorama stitching
- Focus Stacking
- Batch Processing
- Lens corrections
- PSD-Files Editing support – Import Photoshop documents including smart objects
- Layer-based editing for a non-destructive workflow
- 360-degree image editing
- Single price and no subscription
- Blend modes
- Real-time viewing of filter modifications (Live filters)
- Task-focused workspaces (personas), which simplifies the user interface.
- Supports various file types on import and export
- Save your commonly used settings as presets
- Lighting filters
- Unlimited history and snapshot
- Delivers professional image quality
- Thumbnail previews
- Vector editing
- Hide/Show interface elements
What Does Affinity Photo Cost?
Affinity Photo costs a one-time price of $49.95 for the desktop version of Affinity Photo. It is available in both the Microsoft Store and the App Store on Mac. You can also buy and download both the Windows version and Mac version directly from Serif.
What is Included in the License?
As a private individual, you are allowed to download and install the app on all computers that you own. However, if you buy Affinity Photo for Windows and you also own a Mac, you need to also purchase the Mac version of the software.
If you want Affinity Photo for iPad, you need a separate license for that too.
Downloading and Setting Up Affinity Photo
The download size in App Store (Mac) is 349MB. After installing, Affinity Photo takes up around 1GB of disk space. By comparison, Photoshop takes up 2GB.
The User Interface
Serif has divided the user interface into separate task-oriented workspaces called personas. This means that you will only see icons related to what you are working with.
The personas are:
- Photo: used for most of the photo enhancement process.
- Liquify: is used pixel manipulated, like giving a person a smaller face or more visible check bones, or creating creative and artistic effects.
- Develop is for editing RAW images for pre-processing steps before you take your image into the Photo persona.
- Tone Mapping is for creating HDR images, using local contrast, tone-mapping, and so on.
- Export Persona is for exporting your images to multiple formats, sizes, and slices at once.
You can’t save the custom workspace as you can in Photoshop. However, Affinity Photo remembers your latest settings and activated panels.
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Customization, Keyboard Shortcuts, and Clicks
The keyboard shortcuts can be customized under Affinity Photo > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts (on a Mac).
You can also configure autosave at a given interval and set up the undo and redo limits under Preferences. Furthermore, you can control how many resources you will allow it to use.
Photo Editing Workflow in Affinity Photo
Affinity Photo is not a complete photo editing workflow solution like Lightroom or Capture One Pro, Luminar, or so on. It should be compared to Photoshop or Corel PaintShop Pro, which are likewise intended for photo retouching, focus stacking, and image blending.
Is Affinity Photo Non-Destructive?
Along the same line with Photoshop, Affinity Photo is only non-destructive in the sense that you save the images in another format than the original.
RAW Converter – The Develop Persona
If you open a RAW file in Affinity Photo, you will be taken to the Develop Persona, which is equivalent to Adobe Camera Raw. The Develop Persona is only meant for raw processing, like lens corrections and correct basic exposure issues. Everything you do here is destructive editing, meaning that it is burnt into the pixel layer. After doing the basic exposure adjustments to your raw files you do the rest of the work in the Photo Persona.
Some reviews state that noise reduction is only available in the Develop Persona, but this is not true. You can always apply noise reduction as a normal filter or a live filter in the Photo Persona.
Adjusting Images – The Photo Persona
The main image adjustment is made in the right-side studio panel. This is where you find all the adjustment layer panels for enhancing tones and colors, like exposure, contrast, levels, highlight, and shadow adjustments, plus vibrance and HSL adjustments, and many more. This is also where you find the layers panel and create layer masks.
The selection tools work well in general. The Selection Brush Tool is straightforward to use and a clear favorite when you want to create a quick selection. Affinity Photo also supports snap to edges, and you can adjust for feathering, smoothing, and anti-aliasing.
You can refine all selections to create a more precise selection of even strands of hair using the Refine selection tool.
The healing tool is not quite up to Photoshop standard though, even though it does a decent job. The inpaint tool is excellent, though, and lets you easily remove most unwanted objects from your image.
Photo Merge Tools
Even though Affinity Photo lacks some merging options, the image editor generally does a great job with most panorama stitching jobs. In many cases better than Photoshop.
HDR merge allows you to select an unlimited number of source images. It will align them automatically before merging them into a final result.
Be warned though, it is a very resource-demanding task. It will likely take a couple of minutes to perform unless your computer is extremely powerful.
However, the result is impressive. As with any other automatic HDR merge software, a skilled photographer can tell that it is not manually blended. If you instead prefer to blend multiple exposures manually, you can do so using the blend range tool or even create luminosity masks like in Photoshop.
Focus merge can blend focus stacked images into a single image with a greater depth of field. It is not flawless, but neither is Photoshop’s focus stacking tool. It all depends on the images you load into the focus.
Affinity Photo does support automating tasks by using macros. Macros in Affinity Photo is the same as Actions in Photoshop.
Not all tasks or steps are supported for macro recording yet, however. This limits the types of macros that you can record. However, the feature is still very useful in a lot of cases.
Outputting Your Images
The photo editor support export in file formats like PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PSD, PDF, SVG, WMF, or EPS.
The photo editor also supports soft proofing (through adjustment layers) and color management (including ICC profile importing).
Tutorials and Support
There is a growing number of tutorials for Affinity Photo, including those here on Photography-RAW. However, this few compared to other photo editing software, like Photoshop, which has been on the market for ages.
On this website, you can also find a complete video course if you want to learn the essential features necessary to build an entire photo editing workflow in Affinity Photo.
This Affinity Photo review was done by testing it on an iMac (2.9 GHz Intel Core i5 ) with 24GB RAM, with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M 512 M graphic card. The program was responsive most of the time and very stable. A few operations like Tone Mapping, Panorama stitching, and HDR merge were slow. However, it finished the job, even though it took a few minutes.
Affinity Photo for Desktop or iPad Version
If you like editing photos on your iPad, there is a version of Affinity Photo dedicated to the iPad as well. However, it requires a separate license that costs $19.99 and is available in the app store.
Affinity Photo for iPad works on iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 & 3, iPad Mini 5, and iPad (early 2017 onwards).
Affinity Photo Review – The Bottom Line
You can’t beat the fact that you get a whole lot of the photo editing tools that Photoshop offers at the fraction of a price.
I know that many photographers have heated dreams of Adobe Photoshop being free. But it is not going to happen. And the completely free software alternatives to Photoshop, like GIMP or the premium Pixelmator PRO, are simply not professional enough for the needs of serious photographers.
In some areas, Affinity Photo is quite a bit behind Photoshop and does lack a bit of the finish found in Adobe’s software. However, Photoshop has also been around a couple of decades more than Affinity Photo, and I doubt if most photographers will actually miss the most advanced features.
It is a great photo editing app with advanced tools and beats other editing software in many aspects, even though it might not beat Photoshop. If you want to get rid of an Adobe subscription but really need something like Photoshop, then Affinity Photo is a great Photoshop alternative.
You also need to find an equivalent to Adobe Lightroom if you previously used Adobe Photoshop. The Affinity line of apps doesn’t include tools for managing your image files. You also need to think about whether you will miss other Adobe products
One of the best ways of finding out if Affinity Photo can work for you is by downloading a free trial for Mac or Windows and taking it for a test spin.
More Affinity Photo Tutorials on Photography-RAW
What is your experience of Affinity Photo? Share your thoughts below.
Hey I’m Peter. I’m the owner and editor of Photography-RAW. I make sure that you get the best articles about photography. Personally, I prefer to shoot landscape, nature and macro photography.
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