Affinity Photo is a professional image editor developed specifically to meet the needs of serious photographers, graphic artists and digital illustrators. Serif’s app aims to be an affordable alternative to Photoshop without incurring costly subscription costs; and boasts some impressive tools comparable to its more costly competitors.
As a desktop app for Windows, Mac, iPad and iPhone (with its own version available on both), Photo Editor offers plenty of power to power through any editing task you throw its way. There’s a comprehensive range of functions, spanning standard layers and adjustments through focus stacking, HDR merge, tone mapping and tone mapping; in addition there are special effects such as noise reduction and depth of field tilt-shift effects that can be applied non-destructively and later changed without losing quality in images. Plus there’s the incredible live filters allowing effects like noise reduction and depth of field tilt-shift all nondestructively altering images in real-time without degraded quality – great!
Affinity Photo’s layout is familiar: its toolbar runs along the left edge, and various panels for layers, adjustments, filters and more can be moved around freely on screen or docked off to one side as desired. Affinity’s interface is clear and aesthetically pleasing: its toolbar features icons that are easy to recognize even when small on-screen; each icon comes complete with its own ‘tip text’ which when moused over will reveal more details regarding name and function of each item in turn.
Though Affinity Photo may initially seem intimidating for beginners and novice users alike, its operation is very similar to any other layer-based photo editor like Photoshop or Lightroom in that you have unlimited undo and rewind capabilities and each adjustment appears as its own layer, enabling drag-and-rearrange and also applying blend modes, opacity settings, masks etc.
These features come on top of an already comprehensive selection of brushes, cloning tools and standard editing functionality, including an impressive frequency separation tool for portrait retouching, an excellent ‘inpainting’ tool to paint over objects or pixels to remove them from photos, as well as adding dark frames or bias frames to an image. In addition, an innovative feature exists specifically designed to automatically correct for star trails and light pollution to create highly detailed night sky images.
Adobe Lightroom and Bridge both feature organizational tools, while there are no intelligent ‘Sensei’ features like those found in Photoshop. If you can get past its confusing jargon and explore what Affinity Photo offers, however, it can be an amazing powerful and responsive image editing application – much cheaper than Photoshop, too; Affinity Photo Universal License costs PS29.99 per license for both desktop and iPad versions of Affinity Photo.