Affinity Photo, Finally a True Alternative to Photoshop for Windows

Affinity Photo, Finally a True Alternative to Photoshop for Windows

Affinity Photo was released over a year ago on Mac OS X. Its success on the App Store definitely shows how great the software truly is. It is also proof that people are looking at different options than the traditional Adobe workflow. Until now, one thing refrained many: Affinity Photo was available only on the Apple platform. But today is a new day and the software is now Windows compatible.

Affinity Photo is made available in beta version for Windows and includes all the features of the Mac build up to the 1.5 release. It makes it all the more interesting because a few very useful features were left out until now and made the transition from Photoshop quite difficult for professionals needing a fast workflow. The 1.5 version includes Macros (an equivalent to Photoshop’s actions), Focus Stacking, advanced HDR merging in 32 bits, batch processing, as well as a new way to edit 360-degree images. So the app is catching up on some features it was lacking and even adds new possibilities.

Raw file development in Affinity Photo

Personal Experience

You probably wonder how good the Windows version is, how it stacks up against Photoshop and the Mac app, or just how stable it is. Well, I have been lucky enough to have access to the beta for the past few days, and I must admit, it’s more than decent! It’s even better than many apps that are not described as beta or RC builds.

The macro tool proves to be quite useful. It is something I was missing in previous Affinity Photo releases. I heavily rely on actions and scripts in Photoshop, and couldn’t live without them to keep my workflow as fast and efficient as possible. Macros are a good start, but it isn’t as powerful as Photoshop’s scripts or even actions. The tool was made very simple and accessible. No condition possible, no breakpoint, or anything like that. Hopefully, this will come down the road, but at least, now, there is a way of speeding things up. 

Creation of a macro

The batch processing tool is very close to what is found in Photoshop. You can choose the output format, the color profile, and a macro that you want to apply. It makes exporting a list of files very easy and convenient.

Batch processing feature

Regarding the other new options, I will let you be the judge as these are not features that I am used to enough to say if they work well or not. The 360-degree image editing is surely something impressing, though!

In terms of stability and speed, the build I had was very decent like I said above. The speed is very much comparable to the Mac release that I am used to. Meaning it is incredibly fast. How fast? For most things, I would say faster than Photoshop even though CC 2017 is getting better in that regard. As far as stability goes, this is still a beta version. I didn’t find many bugs and the software didn’t crash on me more than once (which might actually be my fault), so it is usable and not just for testing purposes. Keep in mind it is a beta for now, and that stability may be an issue in some circumstances, so don’t get mad if the app freezes or loses some data.

Can it Replace Photoshop?

The interface is very intuitive and is close to enough to Photoshop that you don't have to learn a new software from the start. There are a few shortcuts that are not exactly similar, but it's not always a bad thing to change our customs. The app even offers a few functionalities that will simplify the life of many – the built-in frequency separation and the real-time blending modes are two of them. I have used Affinity Photo since its launch on a regular basis for specific tasks because for some jobs it just performs better and faster. I haven't made the switch yet because the scripts I heavily rely on cannot be used in Affinity, and the new macro feature is not powerful enough for me. However, for most users, Affinity Photo will be more than sufficient, for a price lower than Photoshop. So can it replace it? If you don't need all the fancy advanced features of Photoshop that only a few really use, then surely yes it can.

I am extremely happy to write this article today. We finally have an alternative to Photoshop, one that works on both OS X and Windows and that offers almost as many features as Adobe’s software. Best of all, the pricing makes it very attractive for beginners and amateurs that simply cannot justify a monthly fee. Affinity Photo is $49.99 for Mac and will cost the same on Windows. That is just a little over five months of subscriptions for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

What do you guys think about this news, are you as excited as I am? Every time I wrote about Affinity Photo on Fstoppers, people complained that there was no Windows version. Now that there is, I am curious to know how many of you will give this a try. With a possibly faster-growing community with this new market opening, the software will most likely evolve faster as well and thus bring even more exciting features. I cannot wait to see what the next releases will bring to the table and how it will compare to Photoshop in about a year.

For more information head over to Affinity Photo's website and if you'd like to give it a try on Windows, sign up for the beta.

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Marco Introini's picture

great!! Cannot wait for trying the windows version myself!

David Atraktsi's picture

I am using Adobe CC's LR and PS. leaving Adobe means that I will have to find alternatives for Culling (currently LR), most editing (Currently LR as well) and heavy editing (Photoshop). Affinity will only answer last 1/3 for the other 2/3 I will probably need Photo Mechanics for Culling (I hear so many people happy with it) but there is no LR alternative for editing so I am (and think many are as well) can't really leave Adobe. I do hope however that Affinity will make them look in the back mirror and realize they have real competition. As always, I am not looking for new features, just make it faster and stable. Other option is of course to buy LR (not CC) and Affinity but then I/we loose the updates/ LR mobile etc. Thinking about it - they got by the B****s :)

Quentin Decaillet's picture

Photo Mechanic for culling is extremely fast as it loads the JPG embedded in the raw instead of a preview like most raw converters do.
Capture One is a very good alternative to LR – in my opinion it's even superior in many regards – and can be used for culling and raw conversion, just like LR.

If you cull large amounts of pictures: PM + C1 + Affinity Photo, if you have small amounts of pictures to cull, then C1 and Affinity Photo will be more then enough. I personally use Photo Mechanic only for weddings.

gabe s's picture

I tried Capture One, but it was so clunky and the learning curve too high to switch from LR. Any tips on making it a more fluid transition?

Quentin Decaillet's picture

Take the time to customize your workspace and shortcuts if needed, but if that is not enough, go to the Phase One's Youtube channel. They have tons of extremely helpful videos to get started and learn everything there is to know about it. This playlist is a good start: Then if you want to learn more, check this one out:

Also be sure to come back to Fstoppers in the next few weeks, I intend to write an article that will probably help you on that. I'm trying to build a quick start guide meant for LR users. Hopefully, it'll be online before the end of November ;)

Anonymous's picture

Another interesting option: Bridge and Camera Raw are both free software from Adobe, replacing the 1 and 2 of LR. Bridge gets a lot of flak, but it can be incredibly powerful. It's got all the keywording, collections (smart and plain) and so on. Links directly to ACR, and you could likely have it open automatically in Affinity. YMMV

Ramon Vaquero's picture

But you can't dowload ACR as a standalone app, you must buy PS as far as I know...

George Beinhorn's picture

David, I have dual monitors and use FastStone Image Viewer for culling. (It's shareware for Windows.) I can use the arrow keys to run through thumbnails on the right-side monitor while FastStone displays full-size images on the left monitor. When I want to move a photo to a Culls folder, I can press M and choose the appropriate folder; henceforth when I press M twice it moves the selected image to that folder. The usual arrow movements and Delete key also apply. There is no delay in display of the large image on the left monitor. All in all, a fantastic tool for culling. It can read Nikon and Canon RAW files, and does excellent batch resizing and conversion of TIFFs to jpeg. I've used it for years and love it.

user 65983's picture

I currently use CC's LR and PS. I really need to have Indesign, Illustrator and Premier but the price really doesn't justify it for me right now. I am really hoping that this software will make Adobe wake up and better their software and lower their prices.

Quentin Decaillet's picture

Affinity roadmap is quite interesting and will most likely force Adobe to innovate a bit more. They plan to release Affinity Published (alternative to Indesign) in beta some time next year, along with a digital asset management tool (probably like Bridge or Lightroom). Nothing has been said about video yet, but I'm quite ertain that once the other apps are all perfectly working with all features they want, we will see a video editing software… at least I hope! :)

user 65983's picture

I hope. I was making $15 an hour in a publicity agency(yes very low I know) and I had to provide all my own gear and software. $50 a month didn't justify the adobe suite.

Gregory Mason's picture

Just received the notification email, will download it and play with it over the weekend, then will see if its worth going over to it and Capture One.

Bjarne Solvik's picture

I bought Mac version an I think we all shuld to support it :) optional on Mac is to use Apples raw conversion and that looks like a good option. Looks like Apple is doing good maintaining there raw engine.

Will Gavillan's picture

I've been using Affinity Photo since it's original beta and this news makes switching to a surface product even more tempting. I can just imagine that Surface Studio running Capture One and Affinity Photo. Apple just refuses to make compelling products lately. I'm no fan of Windows, but it's getting harder and harder to be an Apple fanboy.

Jim Holmes's picture

"one thing refrained many"...?
Are you on a 'use a new word a day' program?

martin reiser's picture

Insanely great! I can't wait to break away from predatory and irresponsible Adobe.

Daris Fox's picture

Considering I don't want my files held hostage by Adobe if I kill my subscription I find this welcome news. I've already switched to CaptureOne for my RAW editing and have been stuck on CS6 for my DTP/Imaging requirements so this is another nail in Adobe's coffin for me. If I can edit as easily as I can Ps then it'll get my money. I refuse to pay a subscription for mission critical software.

Roger Paige's picture

Seems quite interesting. Does it allow for deleting with content aware?

Will Gavillan's picture

their content aware brush is called the inpainting tool and it's fabulous!

Tom Lim's picture

I've been using Pixelmator for a few years as my PS alternate, but after seeing this and the price, I may switch to Affinity.

Oz Photo's picture

Isn't Paint Shop an alternative as well? and On1 is releasing their Photo Raw this month so there is lots of alternatives to PS and LR for sure and just as good or better. LR needs a complete overall it is too slow and still somewhat buggy. Capture One is pricey but it is the best.

Brad Barton's picture

I have used Corel Paint Shop Pro from day one... Never used Photoshop except to learn the interface well enough to tell PS users what I was doing in PSP.

It's biggest issues are that it doesn't have a Mac version and it is always a couple versions behind Photoshop on the really cool new tools.

But at under $100 new and upgrades around $50... I'll keep it.

user 65983's picture

I like PS CC but LR CC is driving me nuts. It's super slow.

Spy Black's picture

"There are a few shortcuts that are not exactly similar, but it's not always a bad thing to change our customs."

Unless you have a lot of work to do. ;-) Hopefully you can reassign keyboard commands significantly.

Although it's apparently having a good run on the Mac, you need the PC version to really put the heat on Adobe. I hope this app and those similar finally start to break the stranglehold Adobe has on the industry.

Quentin Decaillet's picture

You can assign keyboard shortcturs in the Preferences ;)

Anonymous's picture

This is what i was waiting for ..... and it will be the best used 50$ ever.
By by archaic and gigantic Photoshop.

olivier borgognon's picture

Nice one Quentin. Been on Affinity for a try run for a while. Same feeling on the macros/actions. PC or Mac for me wasn't an issue. Parallels allowing PC's on a Mac, both platforms were accessible. Agree that mass public will help out making things change.

When will adobe feel threatened and buy them out seems like the further question.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I've been using GIMP, but, I think I gonna check these guys out! Thanks!

Quentin Decaillet's picture

Gimp is fine, but in my opinion the user interface is far from great. Affinity is extremely close to Photoshop in terms of user experience, but once you get used to it I would almost dare say the interface is more intuitive and especially more reactive.

Spy Black's picture

People underestimate GIMP. While it may not have the fancy bells and whistles of Photoshop, it has all the fundamental bread and butter tools, and then some, to do professional retouching and compositing work. Unfortunately it's not mainstream of course. I freelance and of course everywhere I go I'm expected to know Photoshop because that's what's loaded on their machines, but if you're an independent, apps like GIMP and Darktable can be perfectly usable resources.

Gary Turner's picture

Need to check out how it works. I'm also waiting release for Windows. I've tried it on MacOS and remained in delight. If you have to improve a bit picture quality, then Photoshop is not necessary to use, PhotoLemur cope with a bang.

Larry Johnson's picture

Interesting and encouraging review. I've used Adobe PS CS5 some over the past year and am at the point where I'll either do a CC subscription, getting far more than I need, or I'll figure out which is the better choice between Affinity and PS Elements. Any ideas on how those two compare? I'm a serious photographer ( landscapes, architecture ) but I do more with Lightroom. Comments welcomed.

Armando Morales's picture

I tried it, I could not extract the expectedd dynamic range from the D800 raw files, uninstalled it

John Dapper's picture

I've used PS since version 2 along with older main frame systems. Retired no and use for home use only. Was going to update older CS3 and found Adobes' lease system. Now I have Affinity Photo and Designer. Crossover from Adobe was easy. Illustrator was my favorite program for many years. But no more. And I would have paid $1000 for CS latest version.

Victor Zubakin's picture

Does Affinity help organise your images in catalogues or folders like Lightroom or is it just an editing program like PS?

Earl J Moniz's picture

* * *
Aloha Quentin,
I have just converted to WIN 10 Affinity Photo (images), Designer (vector graphics), and Publisher (books, brochures, and bound documents) as soon as it gets out of beta.
I love everything they've done to make things easier for editing and creating great graphic and printed projects.
* * *
I was an Adobe fan for years (2001 ~ 2015) and used it daily in my professional projects and personal endeavors until late last year when I discovered it through my purchase of an iPhone. The WIN version works well enough to finally ditch the monthly payments to Adobe and bring all my work to Affinity earlier this year.
* * *
I love the simplicity and don't miss any of the convoluted and complicated 'professional' Adobe techniques I previously learned, forgot, and learned again...
Affinity just works... it works well... and it works easily.
* * *
Until that time. . .