Can Affinity Photo Replace Photoshop?

In the past few years, serious alternatives to Photoshop have started to crop up, with Affinity Photo being one of the most comprehensive options. If you are looking for a subscription-free alternative to Photoshop, check out this great look at using Affinity Photo to edit a beauty image.

Coming to you from Kayleigh June, this excellent video takes a look at using Affinity Photo for more involved edits — in this case, a beauty image. Up until the last few years, there were few alternatives to Photoshop for really complicated editing work, but Affinity has been one of the new options and has led the pack a bit. If you are looking to avoid repetitive subscription fees, it is a great alternative (and it is on sale right now for 50% off). I use Affinity Photo on my iPad, and I really enjoy it. It is quite intuitive to use and impressively capable and powerful. I have never had an issue with any sort of complex edits, and it offers a very complete solution — great if you are still waiting for the full version of Photoshop to be released for the iPad. Check out the video above for June's full thoughts. 

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40 Comments

Gary Pardy's picture

I'm going to say that for 90% of hobbyists, Affinity Photo absolutely is an adequate - even preferable - alternative to Photoshop. This is even more true if you do a lot of editing on mobile. It's actually mind boggling that such a complete piece of editing software with a professional feel is available for a one-time purchase with no annual upgrade fees. I get that professionals and some hardcore hobbyists benefit from a seamless Creative Cloud solution with multiple apps for different types of content, but IN ISOLATION it's a hard sell to say that Photoshop is better value on its own than Affinity Photo.

Affinity Photo fills The requirements for 90% of the professionals as well, not just amateurs requirements.

And Serif has now three main products in their Affinity series, the photo, the designer and the publisher.

In last update they received support to Adobe Smart Objects in Adobe format, and it works very well.

But Affinity has something that Adobe doesn't have, and that is seamless editing between applications. And no, Adobe doesn't have that. With Adobe you are saving and loading file, going through "Edit in..." etc. While with affinity you simply click the proper icon on toolbar and it loads that application interface directly for you to edit the content as nothing happened.

This is huge difference when one is editing photographs, producing content for print, requiring to create illustrations etc.
The live previews of everything makes things easy and quick in/out between phases is time savier.
And as files are compatible with each others, you don't need to care where in what application you save file.

The up coming DAM (Digital Assets Management) should replace Lightroom and Adobe Bridge. At the moment for photographers best is the digiKam by it's absolutely best search and management tools (lacks good adjustment/editing) but that is where Affinity (or Adobe) products comes to play.

One of the key points to use Affinity Photo is it's amazing selection and inpainting tools. The easy ways to do example frequency separation and the use selection tools and inpainting with it makes it very powerful.

If Affinity Photo is paired with example Luminar, one gets fairly OK DAM combined with great image manipulation software.

But, we need to wait Affinity own DAM to get good raw batch processing. What example is great in Capture One.

So if one doesn't need to process dozens or more photos fast, Affinity Photo is great.
While Affinity photo is excellent example export various files from one file by using it's export functions, it has limitations when it comes to export multiple files at once.

So it really shines when few files at the time gets processed.

Gary Pardy's picture

Agreed. And depending on the organization, Affinity might be a good complement to Photoshop given the Smart Objects support.

iran ramirez's picture

I agree and that’s why I purchased the entire suite including the iPad version, i probably spent $100

Gary Pardy's picture

Nice! Do you edit the same files/projects across platforms? If so, how to you go about transferring from one to the other?

Mark B's picture

Affinity Photo can replace Photoshop for a lot of people. Designer and Publisher can also replace the comparable Adobe tools for a lot of people. I grabbed the entire suite for $75 while they are on sale.

Capture One is currently on sale at B&H for $180 and includes a $25 B&H gift card. B&H is honoring the 50% off sale for Affinity Photo. You could buy Capture One and use the gift card to get Affinity Photo. This combination could easily eliminate the Adobe subscription a lot of users.

Mark B's picture

duplicate comment

Gary Pardy's picture

Killer combo, even with the free version of C1 for Sony, Fuji, and now Nikon users.

Greg Wilson's picture

For many people - may be. But if you already know Photoshop while earning at least $10 / month - there is no point. Photoshop is an industry standard de-facto and the most versatile and powerful post-processing software.

Stuart Carver's picture

True statement Greg, it’s great to have options though, as someone said above it’s mind boggling you can get it for 50 quid.

There is lots of point. Affinity still offers better selection and modification tools. As well better seamless use between the three main apps.

But if you work with video and you need to exchange files between other people who use Adobe, then Adobe it is.

Hartmut Nörenberg's picture

15 Years of PS - Affinity is the way to go. Faster, Lighter + has OCIO and works in 32 bit.

No Channels, no Actions. What are you talking about.

May aswell just use Capture One

they have channels and Macros!? what are you talking about?

Where are they? And can I apply a channel to a curve or other adjustment layers? What are Macros?

Macros are the same as Actions... how to use Channels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-W2pU6oymM

Fantastic..This is really good to see ... worth a try next time adobe pisses me off

Christian Lainesse's picture

While it feels clunky for some functions, its panorama stitching is one of the best out there, if not the best.

That, and its selection tools, inpainting etc.
Like try this kind things with Adobe, even today with an AI.

https://youtu.be/jr8Lu785-rI

When ever needed to eliminate objects, select objects and so on manipulate anything by using those tools, Affinity is real time saver.

Stuart Carver's picture

I don’t know any better as I’m fairly new to the scene but I love it.. I use it alongside capture one and both do pretty much everything I need.

I can however see why people would be using the LR/PS combo, I have no issue with either

Lee Christiansen's picture

I've been using PS as a pro for 15 years and up until recently there were a few basic elements to an efficient workflow that Affinity was still missing.

But last time I checked, these were now implemented. Currently I'm still with PS for convenience but that may well change in the near future.

I was with the Final Cut family for a long time, but with DaVinci Resolve
I stuck out with LR for many years but now am firmly with Capture One
I used to be PC based, but am Mac throughout.
I used to one entirely Bowens but Profoto got my business (when Bowens was still healthy).
I always used Canon Speedlights throughout, but now combine with Godox

Change is inconvenient, but things change and we soon forget the old days.
Adobe no longer has the monopoly. There's a new kid in town, and he has a big hat...!

Ivan Lantsov's picture

adob is rent to rent. good for compny bad for custmer. I laff!

It's getting there little buggy in some instances but it's definitely a great alternative to PS. Now let's hope they can get LR alternative pushed out there soon.

Affinity Photo + Capture One has replaced PS + LR for me. I know of 3 other photographers in my area who replaced Photoshop with Affinity Photo and never looked back. I will say for people to give affinity photo a try, it's definitely worth having in tool bag even if you stay with PS / LR.

Stuart Carver's picture

Your post sounds like a backhanded way of putting down people who don’t use Adobe products as somehow inferior to people who do.

Stuart Carver's picture

I think with Capture One and Affinity you can have a setup easily as good as LR/PS with the only downside being the round trip function isn’t quite as smooth (not that I ever have an issue with it), otherwise it’s pretty much identical in capabilities.

Use the free FastStone Image Viewer and set "Edit in External Program" to Affinity Photo. There's your catalogue and thumbnail viewer. Costs nothing.

Stuart Carver's picture

No you can actually do it directly in C1, you just download the affinity the plugin then right click on the image and select ‘edit with’.. with the only downside being that it creates a separate file (TIFF in my case) and doesn’t preserve layers. You can use the Adobe file format that supports layers but I’ve not managed to get it working yet, although I didn’t exactly invest much time into it.

Mark B's picture

"It's just that Adobe products are kind of a benchmark and I think they can't be replaced completely."

Adobe thanks you for that.

Lightroom can easily be replaced with other options. I still used it for some things but have also added Capture One into my workflow over the past year.

Photoshop does so much that I couldn't even pretend to know every feature, but for my use that mostly involves layering, masking, blend modes, cloning, & healing to create composite images, I have yet to come across a feature that is missing in Affinity Photo. There are even a handful of features that are better in Affinity. I'm still working in Photoshop because I've been using it for so long, but the two products are similar enough that any established Photoshop user could open Affinity Photo and stumble their way through it just like the person in the video did. How long does it take to go from stumbling to fluent? I don't know. I'm not there yet.

As for Affinity's alternatives to InDesign and Illustrator, these are things I've needed so infrequently that I never paid for the Adobe versions, but I couldn't resist them at $25 each from Affinity. Having never used the Adobe versions, I wouldn't know what I might be missing. I've already used Affinity Publisher to produce some promotional materials.

"even though for some people Photoshop may seem too complicated"

The layout, toolbars, keyboard shortcuts, and overall functions are anywhere from very similar to nearly identical between the Adobe and Affinity products. This is done intentionally for familiarity and an easy transition. If the Adobe product is too complicated for someone, then so is the Affinity product.

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