Alternatives to The Creative Cloud 4

Today, I’m going to continue my series looking at alternatives to Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription. I do this because not everyone is happy to rent their software on subscription. Personally, I quite like the renting arrangement as it gives me access to the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop.

Despite being a big fan of Photoshop, I’m going to share an alternative that is equally as impressive and flexible, yet costs less than Adobe Elements. The software is Affinity Photo from Serif.

Affinity Photo used to be Mac only, but recently launched version 1.5 which is also available on Windows. I believe the regular price for the software is just under £50. When I purchased my copy, there was a 20% discount available which made this an absolute bargain.

Some people refer to Affinity Photo as being a Photoshop Clone. Personally, I don’t think that it’s a clone, it just offers similar tools. If you know how to use these tools in Photoshop you should have no trouble at all using Affinity Photo.

Here are a few of the features that have impressed me:

There is an excellent RAW converter which includes brush and gradient tools for selective adjustments.

Affinity Photo screenshot 1
Screenshot of the RAW Converter

Once you have developed your RAW file you are then able to apply manipulations with the many tools in Affinity. As with Photoshop, Affinity supports the use of adjustment layers and masks. The following screenshot shows just some of the adjustments available.

Affinity Photo screenshot 2
Some of the adjustment tools in Affinity Photo

In the following screenshot, I have applied a black and white conversion filter followed by a Curves adjustment to create an Infrared effect.

Affinity Photo screenshot 3
Example Black & White Conversion

In addition, a great selection of adjustment layers, there is a great range of filters provided. At this point, some of you might be saying but what about special features such as Panoramic blending that are found in Photoshop. If you are, then your also in luck. Look at the following section taken from the File menu in Affinity Photo.

Affinity Photo screenshot 4
Section of the Affinity File manu showing some further tools. Reminds you of Photoshop doesn’t it?

I could go on and on but if you’re interested in a very competent replacement for Photoshop, I would suggest visiting the Serif website and reading up on Affinity Photo. It really is an excellent piece of software.

I’m very much looking forward to the iPad version being released.

5 thoughts on “Alternatives to The Creative Cloud 4

  1. Robin – I quite agree with what you have to say about Affinity Photo. I was an early Beta user of it & find it much more intuitive than working with Photoshop. Plus it was originally designed to take advantage of some of the newer Mac computer designs & maximized the power & speed of their CPU’s to really accelerate the processes of editing in almost all aspects. So now I usually turn to it when there is something I either can’t do in Lightroom or have forgotten how to do it in Photoshop. I know they are also working on a digital asset management program, either built into Affinity Photo or as a stand alongside of it. If this turns out to be anything like what I can now do with LR for file management, then I will probably think seriously about using Affinity Photo for everything & cut the cord from Adobe entirely.

    I have resisted paying their monthly rental fees for both the LR & PS package, relying instead on my purchased versions of PS5 & LR6. But then as you point out, you don’t get all of the features & improvements to their software. So if Affinity doesn’t create an equally useable DAM program to use with Photo, then I suppose at some point I will have to consider paying the monthly charge, but continue using Photo for some things as well. I also do work using the NIK software & doing this with either LR/PS or Photo is quite easy, but at some point this might no longer be supported by Google or become incompatible with the last Mac OS; then hopefully either Affinity or Adobe will have more to offer especially in terms of B&W editing. But thanks for letting other folks know about this Creative Cloud alternative, as it is really a very excellent one. Cheers,


    1. Thanks Jed, I was aware of the new asset management package being worked on by Serif and I am looking forward to it. I also have Affinity Designer and it’s another excellent piece of software. I hope the asset manager will be to the same standard. In any event, I do have an alternative asset manager on the list to review and its one that I first started using around 15 years ago. At the time it was a market leader and for very good reason.

      It’s a shame about Nik. I had to download a new copy of the plug-ins the otehr day and noticed a new message on the website saying there won’t be any more releases – RIP Nik – but lets hope we can continue to use the tools for a long time yet.

  2. I currently use LR and PS6 and have no intention of moving to the subscription model. CC is fine for businesses as it becomes a business expense and can be set against tax etc, but I do question what it delivers for the average photographer.

    Yes one often sees the reason of “new features and improvements”, but in the past I never saw anyone saying they wouldn’t buy Adobe because it lacked anything that has been added since CC was introduced. It also highlights a real paradox – one sees so many articles saying SOOC / get it right in camera.

    What also concerns me is the actual total cost of ownership of CC, especially when run on MS Windows.

    As features are added to either / both, they will demand more grunt from hardware which will in turn demand new hardware running Win10 as MS are no longer serving software fixes to PCs and other systems that run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on such as Intel’s fresh new Kaby Lake or AMD’s hot-off-the-fab Ryzen chips. One should also remember that CC just went up by around 20%.

    I’m looking to give Infinity a real workout once I return from a 3 week trip as that will give me a wide range of material I can process in both PS and any other potential solution.

    And as soon as there is a viable solution – and this series is helpful – I’ll keep my LR and move on.

    1. Hi Steve, I agree with your comments about cost of ownership, and yes as a business I can recover some of the expense against my profits. I don’t know if you read the first blog in this series but what sparked my writing is an announcement from Adobe that they were withdrawing the standard license model for Lightroom and Photoshop and that these products would only be available on subscription in the future.

      Anyway, please do give Affinity a try. It’s an excellent package and possibly the most capable alternative to Photoshop that I have seen yet.

  3. Having researched it”s capabilities, I was looking forward to switching to Affinity Photo despite 20+ years of Photoshop. Just about ready to hit the Buy button when I discover there is no nondestructive raw editing. No sidecar files – everything is embedded into a massive PSD style file. Serif are planning to fix this issue so I will wait it out. Also, no trial is available. Hopefully, they’ll fix that too.

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