I have a few more articles planned and a couple of suggestions for others that I will include. If anyone wants to add to my list, please post a comment below. I’m always on the lookout for ideas, especially when they help people.
Once I’ve finished building the Nik resources, I’m probably going to start on another piece of software. I’m still undecided what, but I’m currently considering Affinity Photo. Again, let me know what you think in the comments.
It appears a lot of people are looking for a Photoshop alternative at present. One question that comes up increasingly is, can Affinity Photo replace Photoshop. Only the other day a book cover designer emailed me with this very question. Now the features needed for that work are a little different to photo editing, but you can see the answer on my You Tube Channel.
But in this post, I want to look briefly at using Affinity Photo for photo editing, comparing it to Photoshop.
STOP NOW if you’re now reaching for close button, screaming Affinity Photo is only for the Mac. Affinity Photo is now available for Windows and that’s the version I’m using today. It was discounted at the start of the New Year and I decided to buy a copy. I now have all the versions including the one for iPad.
When you first start Affinity Photo, it’s not the most user friendly of interfaces. It probably matches Photoshop very well in that respect.
When you start to look around, it looks like most of the features are buried within a menu system or one of the side panels. This is very similar to Photoshop and if you look closely, you can see a lot of parallels between the two. A few tools I use regularly in Photoshop are Layers, Blending Modes and Channels, which I’m pleased to say are all present, they just work a little differently. In fact, everything I seem to use in Photoshop appears to be present in one form or another. It may not be immediately recognisable, but it is present.
To better test the features of Affinity Photo, I decided to process recent Landscape image from my Fuji X-T2. This was captured as a RAW file and was opened from the File menu using the option “File | Open…”
Once the RAW file was open, Affinity Photo switched from the “Photo Persona” to the “Develop Persona”. I indicated the different personas in the top left of the diagram using a red box and arrow.
These “personas” change the view of the interface and the tools available. If you’re familiar with Photoshop, you can think of the “Photo Persona” as being like the default Photoshop workspace. The “Develop Persona” is more like Adobe Camera RAW, which also starts up when you select to edit a RAW file. Just like Adobe Camera RAW you will see the adjustment controls in a series of tabs on the right side of the screen (highlighted here by the red box).
As I worked my way through each of the panels, everything is here I would expect to see in Camera RAW, plus a few other things. The quality of the adjustments appears very good in general. Zooming to 100% on a 23” HD resolution monitor allows me to see and evaluate more detail than on my Mac 5K Retina display. Whilst the Retina display is beautiful, it hides problems because of its resolution. What I could see when using the Affinity sharpening and noise reduction tools impressed me. The detail and sharpness when processing the Fuji XTrans RAW files appears excellent. Noise reduction was also very good and preserved a lot of detail whilst removing noise effectively. Here you can see a section of the image magnified to 100%.
It’s also possible to make selections in Affinity Photo, like the Gradient and Adjustment Brush tools in Photoshop. These are called Overlays in Affinity and are easy to use, but don’t feel as polished as in Photoshop. They lack some of the adjustments I would like to apply selectively such as sharpening and clarity. Despite this, they’re very useful and I like the “Overlays” panel where you can easily switch between the different selection’s.
Having applied all your adjustments, click the Develop button to generate the image. The interface then switches to the Photo Persona. Once here I started to add adjustment layers and fine tune selections using masks. I didn’t find this as intuitive as Photoshop, but I suspect an element of this is my lack of familiarity.
Having completed the adjustments, you need to Export the image. The save option in the menu saves the image in the Affinity Photo format for future editing. Exporting converts the image to one of the popular (and not so popular) image formats.
Overall, I would say most if not all the photo adjustment tools you will need are present in Affinity Photo. It’s certainly one of the best options I’ve seen if you want to move away from Photoshop but still need to use the same features. Although it felt unfamiliar and a little limited in a couple of areas, I didn’t feel that I was making a significant compromise by using it.
I’m sat here playing around with this photo. Nothing new I suspect your saying to yourself. This difference though is this is on my iPad. And even better, it’s not Adobe Photoshop Express, its Affinity Photo for iPad.
When I opened my emails this morning I found one from Serif that I had been waiting for. It was the launch of the new Affinity Photo for iPad. I quickly logged in to the App Store and found the software. My immediate reaction though was disappointment. It was only scoring a couple of stars.
A closer look at the comments revealed what seemed to be a lot of people suffering compatibility issues and giving the app one star. I’m using an iPad Pro 9.7 which is only a few months old so I decided to take a chance and purchased the software for the introductory £19.99. Boy, am I pleased that I did.
Now for the downside. The interface is complex and a little difficult to get used to. But if you preserver it becomes quite easy and in some cases intuitive. That said, the reason I think it’s complicated is that this is one powerful piece of software. You would be forgiven for thinking this is a full computer application.
This software blows any other photo editing app (that I know of) out of the water completely. Period. Game over.
I’m stunned by what this software seems able to do.
I’m not going to say much more at this point but I hope to do some articles on it in the future once I get familiar with the functions and features. If you want a closer look, here is the link to the Affinity site
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.
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.
In the following screenshot, I have applied a black and white conversion filter followed by a Curves adjustment to create an Infrared effect.
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.
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.