In this article, we will dig into which advanced photo editor you should choose: Photoshop vs Affinity Photo in 2021. We will look at these image editing software apps head to head. Can Affinity Photo replace Photoshop as the industry leader?
Quick Comparison: Affinity Photo vs. Photoshop
There are a bit more features and tools in Photoshop, but only marginally. You will find that both apps include all basic image editing tools, as well as what else you can dream of from any photo editing software, as a photographer. Both apps offer limitless layers, can import most raw image formats, pen tools, and whatever your need. Most users won’t notice this in their day-to-day workflow, but still, Photoshop leads when it comes to features.
Affinity Photo is a low one-time payment of $49.99. Photoshop on the other hand is a subscription and comes bundled with Lightroom in the Adobe Photography plan for $9.99 per month. If you don’t mind paying for a Photoshop subscription, then this isn’t an issue for you, but many hate the subscription fees.
Winner: Affinity Photo
3. User Interface:
Both apps are similar when it comes to the user interface. Photoshop has a more sleek dark gray design, making buttons seem a bit similar, while Affinity Photo for some features requires a few extra clicks. But these are small issues, and both are identical in their approach to photo editing.
They are similar in workflow; however, Photoshop has more options for automating the workflow. While Affinity Photo’s personas keep the workflow divided into what you need when you need it, Photoshop is more customizable overall.
Winner: Photoshop (by a margin)
You will find that most plugins are designed for Photoshop (but may work in Affinity Photo). However, when it comes to deep integration, then 3rd party plugins like Nik Collection have only developed this for Photoshop, so far. If we look at compatibility the other way, more apps support reading Photoshop files, while only a few apps support Affinity Photo’s native format (.afphoto).
6. Learning Curve
If you have never used similar programs you will have an equally steep learning curve, no matter which program you choose. Luckily, you can find video tutorials and courses for both apps on Photography-RAW.
Photoshop is overall the best photo editor if you don’t mind the subscription-based pricing. You can do more with Photoshop, and it is a more professional tool for specific tasks.
However, Affinity Photo is a close competitor and at only a fraction of the price. Most users can do perfectly well with Affinity Photo.
Which app is the for you depends on your needs? Read on to dig deeper into the differences between the two apps.
What are the Difference Between Affinity Photo vs. Photoshop CC:
Let us begin by looking at the price difference and whether they can justify the difference in price
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How much does Affinity Photo Cost?
You can get Affinity Photo desktop version from the Mac App Store / Microsoft Store in Windows 10, or you can download it directly from Serif’s website for a one-time price of $49.99.
If you also want the iPad version of Affinity Photo it costs you $20.
How much does Photoshop CC Cost?
Photoshop is subscription-based and comes with Lightroom at a monthly subscription fee of $9.99, which is the cheapest option. The subscription also includes Lightroom. In the 2021 version of Photoshop, the iPad version is included in the monthly subscription.
Photo Editing: The Adobe Photoshop vs Affinity Photo Battle
Affinity Photo is probably the photo editing software that comes closest to being able to battle Photoshop in terms of functionality.
To be honest, Affinity Photo lacks a few features, but most of these features are not even used by the majority of Photoshop users.
So what it all comes down to is whether you can build a solid photo editing workflow in Affinity Photo, that gives reliable results.
Differences in Workflow: Photoshop vs Affinity Photo
The logic behind Affinity Photo is just the same as Photoshop, however, you might have to look for a few things in other places, even though 95% of the features and menu items will be in the same spot in the top menu. In my experience, if you are already familiar with Photoshop, then you won’t have a steep learning curve.
The adjustment panel in Affinity Photo takes up a bit more of the user interface on the right side, but many of the adjustment layers you can add are the same as in Photoshop and with similar options for each adjustment layer.
Affinity Photo’s User Interface Is Divided Into Workspaces
One of the differences you will notice is that Affinity Photo is divided into personas or workspaces, that are accessible through buttons at the top bar.
The personas are:
- Photo persona for most photo editing, like in Photoshop with similar retouching tools
- Liquify persona for image manipulation
- Develop persona for RAW editing like Adobe Camera RAW and fixing distorted photos
- Tone Mapping persona for HDR-processing
- Export persona to export images in slices.
This makes the interface slightly less cluttered and a little more user-friendly than Photoshop.
Photoshop also has workspaces, but from a normal user’s point of view, you don’t often switch between them as part of your standard workflow in Photoshop.
When first opening RAW photos, Affinity Photo will open up in the Develop persona.
Just like working in Adobe Camera Raw, keep your edits in the Develop Persona to basic exposure corrections and for preparing your Raw file for further enhancements.
When you press the Develop button you are taken to the Photo persona, which is where you will do most of the enhancements like adding adjustment layers, working with advanced selections, and applying filters.
Integrating Affinity Photo With Other Apps
Integration with image library applications like Lightroom, Luminar, Capture One Pro, or ON1 Photo RAW is quite easy. For instance, in Lightroom just select the image you want to edit, right-click and select Edit In…, and select Affinity Photo.
There are a few issues to be aware of for Lightroom users:
You cannot open multiple images as layers in Affinity Photo. While most image library apps can read tiff and other file formats, not many of them can read the .afphoto file format.
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Using Affinity Photo With Your Photoshop Plugins
There’s a big chance that you can continue to use most of the Photoshop plugins you own as Affinity Photo supports this. Older plugins like Nik Collection Plugins can only be installed by using a workaround, but it is doable. The 2.5 version of Nik Collection from DXO supports Affinity Photo.
Can you open Photoshop files (.PSD format) in Affinity Photo?
You can both open .psd files in Affinity Photo. You can also choose to save your work in .psd. This is quite useful if you need to send your files to a colleague or a friend who doesn’t have Affinity Photo.
Photoshop Actions vs Affinity Photo Macros
I often get the question: “Can I create Affinity Photo actions?” If you are used to using Photoshop actions in your workflow you will be happy to know that Affinity Photo also supports saving a series of steps into a workflow.
In Affinity Photo, this is called macros instead of actions. However, you cannot import your existing photoshop actions into Affinity Photo.
Affinity Photo Focus Stacking and Panorama Stitching Could Be Improved
From a macro photographer’s viewpoint, focus stacking could be improved, as it is not quite up to speed.
For instance, Affinity Photo doesn’t show the layer masks and which part from each layer was used to create the focus stack. You can edit the stack and remove ghosting from the focus stack using the stamp tool in combination with the source panel, but only to a certain point.
The panorama feature suffers from the same failure to show a layer mask of which part of each image layer was used to create the panorama, so you can add finishing touches to the panorama stitching yourself. You have to do this in the stitching process and cannot edit it after you applied the Panorama stitch to a pixel layer.
Serif Vs Adobe
The choice between using Affinity Photo is often linked to which other apps from Adobe you might be using. Adobe has become the industry standard in many workplaces. Adobes Creative Cloud Suite opens up a whole range of other Adobe programs related to graphic design and photography. If you do video editing and want integration with your photo editing, then the Serif Suite is currently not able to match this.
All Creative Cloud solutions within the Adobe subscription model come with cloud storage, which might allow you to cut down on other cloud storage expenses. Plus using Adobe Photoshop offers access to a huge library of assets like Photoshop brushes, font sets, that you have to pay for as add-ons to Affinity.
If you are a fan of creating digital art, then you might discover that you might to need to pay extra to get the add-ons. However, if raw image editing tools are all you need, then the add-ons are irrelevant to you.
The Affinity Suite currently these three different app types and has true seamless integration between Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Publisher. So the complete trio might enable you to switch to Affinity from Adobe software, like Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign, and save even more money.
Why Not Compare Affinity Photo vs Photoshop Elements 2021?
Photoshop Elements is a much-simplified version of Photoshop, and to a degree that I don’t believe it should be compared to Affinity Photo. Photoshop Elements is more in the ballpark of Pixelmator for instance if you are looking for an alternative for Photoshop Elements.
Why you might want to go for Photoshop
- You can do more with Photoshop actions than you can with Affinity Photo macros.
- While Affinity Photo is quite capable and fast, there are times where it lags in terms of speed.
- There are a lot more tutorials and video courses available for Photoshop than there are tutorials for Affinity Photo. A few of the few video courses available for Affinity Photo are available here on Photography-RAW. Serif also offers a workbook for Affinity Photo, however, our tutorials and video courses on Affinity Photo already cover most of the content in the book.
- There are more Photoshop plugins available and custom panels that you can use to extend PS. Scripting is also not available in Affinity Photo yet.
- If you use smart objects a lot in your workflow, you might find it more difficult to adapt to a little different workflow. While Affinity can import a PSD files with a smart object, it doesn’t support smart objects as such.
Reasons why you would want to go for Affinity Photo
- One of the primary reasons for choosing Affinity Photo vs. Photoshop is that you get almost the same for a lot less.
- Most photo editing tools only work in raster formats. However, you can also create vector shapes in Affinity Photo by using the pen/node tools or the shape tool.
- It has a live brush preview. This allows you to see the effect of brush strokes before you apply them. This is very useful for photographers. Especially when creating masks or dodge and burning using the brush tool.
- Affinity Photo saves your undo history even after you close the image. It saves the undo history with the image. You can revert to any undo stages no matter where in the editing process you are.
Affinity vs Photoshop: Is it worth the switch?
Both Affinity Photo and Photoshop are designed to be pure photo editors and don’t include photo management tools.
Affinity Photo is more than capable of taking over the editing needs of the majority of Photoshop users. Even some professional photographers have switched. Other photographers are perfectly fine with a subscription that gives you the top-notch and highly professional Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom bundle.
Serif hasn’t created an Affinity program that fits as an alternative to Lightroom yet. So Affinity users need to find other software to cover their need for photo management tools (basic importing of raw files from SD-cards, and quick raw image enhancements, keywording, culling, and so on).
Since Photoshop and Lightroom are bundled together into a single subscription, it doesn’t make sense for them to switch from Photoshop to something else.
I hope this Affinity Photo and Adobe Photoshop comparison help you make up your mind about which to choose.
What’s your experience of using Affinity Photo vs Photoshop – pros, and cons? What do you think: Is Affinity as good as Photoshop?
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.
I hope you enjoy the site 🙂