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Affinity Photo Review - Performance

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Affinity Photo Handling & Performance

 

Affinity Photo offers non-destructive editing, RAW processing and tools that work in real time which, when combined, make it a piece of software that, on the surface, is a tool all photographers will find useful. 

Those who have used Affinity Photo previously will have no trouble getting to work on images and likewise, those who have never used it will soon be navigating the user interface (UI) with ease. You can't customise the UI quite like you can with Photoshop but actually, you have all of the tools you need right in front of you and it stops you cluttering your workspace up, too. Plus, when you use Personas, something we talk about further down, the UI intuitively gives you the tools you need for a specific task anyway. 

For those new to the software, you can download and view sample photos which demonstrate what can be achieved with the software, plus there are video tutorials available on the Affinity website that talk through various aspects of the photo editing software. There's also a really useful search function under the help menu that directs you to the area of the interface you're looking for.

When you first open up Affinity Photo you're welcomed by a screen that showcases the sample images mentioned above, as well as useful video tutorials and a way to open a new document. 

Not much has changed with the overall UI and those who have used Photoshop or Paintshop Pro will be very familiar with the layout. Down the left, you'll find a vertical list of tools all of which will probably be recognisable and on the right is a system of palettes that can be moved, closed, expanded/collapsed. The options across the top change depending on which tool you have selected as here's where you make adjustments for controlling the tool with. 

Those of you who are eagle-eyed will have spotted the 4 icons in the top left of the interface (personas) which switch the editing mode Affinity Photo is working in. Each provides tools specific to the function of the persona, of which are listed below, and they help simplify the interface so you're not distracted by tools you don't need. They are similar to the interface options found in Corel PaintShop Pro but Affinity Photo's versions are even more tool-specific.

  • Photo Persona - Main image editing and manipulation tools.
  • Liquify Persona - Modify the image mesh with tools specifically designed with liquify edits in mind.
  • Develop Persona - This is opened by default when RAW image files are opened and can be switched to from raster layers. It includes tools that allow the user to tweak the tone and overall look of the image. 
  • Export Persona - This area gives users finer control on the output of their images. 

 

 

Importing images couldn't be simpler and thanks to the non-destructive layer system, edits/changes can be made without altering the original image file. Layers can be complicated when you first start using them but with practice, you soon learn how useful they really are and having them available in a less-expensive piece of software like this is a big plus point as alternatives such as DxO PhotoLab don't have the layer system built in even though edits are still non-destructive. There's also a history panel built-in, something that some other pieces of software found at around this price point tend to neglect. 

Adjustments such as level, brightness, curves etc. are available in abundance and there are also auto options to select from which can be applied with the simple click of a button. Before you do click an 'auto' button, each effect is presented with a preview so you can see how it'll change your image before you apply the effect. It's a great feature but it would be nice if the previews were a little larger to make them easier to see. Perhaps something along the lines of a 'hover' feature would work so you pop your mouse over the effect and a preview on a slightly larger scale pops up? 

If you do want to manually tweak an option, you just need to pull the tool's slider instead. You can make very precise edits with Affinity Photo and it also leaves all of the control with the user, something those who are savvier with photo editing will particularly like (we mention this as DxO PhotoLab, a piece of software we consider to be a competitor, applies automatic adjustments when you go to edit an image, something those who are new to photo editing may like but it could annoy those who want more control over their edits).

 

 

Selection tools are very responsive and accurate. Plus, they can be further edited in the 'Refine Selection' area which applies a mask so you can clearly see the selection you're editing. Here you can tweak the selection's border width as well as feather and smooth the selection - something that's particularly useful when working with fiddly selections. Overall, when it comes to selection/masks the overall accuracy offered in Affinity Photo is excellent, you can even focus on and select small strands of hair, but where to find the tools and how to apply them could get some getting used to if you're new to photo editing and haven't used the likes of Photoshop before. We're not saying it's impossible, you just need to learn the basics of using selection tools and away you go.

It's not quite as straightforward as using PhotoLab's local adjustment and U-Point technology which does make it slightly easier for those with less photo editing knowledge to make precise changes. However, that's not to say it's not something that can not be done with Affinity Photo as it can, it just might take a little longer to learn.

 


 

RAW editing couldn't be much more straightforward with the software auto 'developing' RAW files (thousands of camera/lens profiles are built in) as well as giving the option to apply manual edits and you don't need to export to an external piece of software when constructing HDR images as Affinity Photo has an HDR tool built in. Also built-in is a 'Focus Merge' mode which you can use to merge multiple images taken at different focal distances for greater depth of field. When using this tool, Affinity Photo takes care of the process which saves you a hell of a lot of time. Another time-saving tool is batch processing, along with panorama automation and recordable macros which you can use to apply a specific set of actions to multiple images without having to press each function one at a time. It's something Photoshop has had for a while so it's great to see it built into Affinity Photo. 

Not everyone captures 360-degree photos but with the popularity of action cameras and VR growing, it could be something you use more of in the future so having a specific editing space you can pan/zoom in when editing 360-degree photos and use all of the editing tools on offer is great. 


 

The Soft Proof option presents a list of proof profiles that when clicked on, actually alter your image to show you how the photo will be printed/displayed with a particular profile. Again, this is live and applied almost instantly which saves time switching in and out of menus. The Export Persona also makes exporting images a simple process with various file format options on offer plus, you can also just select part of an image you want to export rather than the whole thing with the slice tool.

Other useful functions include the ability to work on a split screen so you can see the before and after results side-by-side. You can even pull the line splitter to see more or less of each shot. Photoshop PSD files can also be imported and exported in Affinity Photo which is useful to know if you have a wide collection of PSD files you want to put Affinity Photo to the test with. 

Another stand-out feature of Affinity Photo is the speed at which it responds and performs at. The software is incredibly fast, intuitive and easy to learn and as a result, it's well worth spending a bit of time getting to really know how it works so you can use it to its full potential. Plus, the abundance of familiar tools and filters combined with newer features make it a really useful piece of software that does have the ability to rival Photoshop in many ways. 

Something that's still not built in is a file management system which would make the whole 'edit to export' process even more seamless but it doesn't take away from the usefulness of the software. Also, Serif has confirmed that Affinity Photo file management will be a separate app arriving at some point in the future (similar to the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom).

We have to, of course, comment on the fact that Affinity Photo isn't subscription based so you get updates, as well as bug fixes, without the need to pay a monthly fee. 

 


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Comments


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saltireblue Plus
9 9.7k 36 Norway
11 Jun 2018 2:50PM
Hi Nikita!
Can you tell me if the Nik collection works as a plug-in with Affinity Photo?
11 Jun 2018 2:57PM



Quote:Can you tell me if the Nik collection works as a plug-in with Affinity Photo?


Hi Malc,

I don't know myself but these people seem to:

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/60120-dxo-has-updated-the-nik-plugins-will-serif-be-commited-to-keep-affinity-photo-compatible/&tab=comments#comment-310152

Smile
11 Jun 2018 3:56PM

Quote:Hi Nikita!
Can you tell me if the Nik collection works as a plug-in with Affinity Photo?



Sorry to butt in. I use Affinity Photo and yes the NIK collection works just fine with it. I've also got the new trial version to see if that works with it. It seems to but there doesn't seem to be much difference between the trial and the former free version.

Alan
saltireblue Plus
9 9.7k 36 Norway
11 Jun 2018 5:02PM

Quote:
Quote:Hi Nikita!
Can you tell me if the Nik collection works as a plug-in with Affinity Photo?



Sorry to butt in. I use Affinity Photo and yes the NIK collection works just fine with it. I've also got the new trial version to see if that works with it. It seems to but there doesn't seem to be much difference between the trial and the former free version.

Alan


Alan, are you running the 'google' version of Nik or the latest updated DxO version?
11 Jun 2018 5:48PM
Hi Malc,
I'm currently using the DxO updated trial version, although I haven't yet found any difference. I should also mention that I hardly ever use Viveza or the Sharpeners.
After seeing your original post I did try both Viveza and the RAW sharpener and found that the Sharpener seems to work OK and Viveza sort of works. By that I mean that the colours in the NIK window aren't the same as the image but the sliders work and when you apply the plug-in you basically get what you were trying to get in the correct colours. I'm sure it's just a bug that'll be sorted pretty quickly.
I installed the DxO version in a different directory to the Google version so if I decide not to buy the DxO I should, hopefully, be able to revert to the free version by just altering the preferences in Affinity (fingers crossed).
Are you already using Affinity and if so are you finding it? I've been using it for nearly a year and I have to agree 100% with Nikita's conclusions, the only CON is the lack of file management and a keywording/tagging facility. I use Bridge which can still be obtained free.

Alan
saltireblue Plus
9 9.7k 36 Norway
11 Jun 2018 6:57PM

Quote:Are you already using Affinity

Downloaded the trial version today to see if it is a viable alternative to PS CC and haven't yet had a good enough look at it. Will do that tomorrow. I too use Bridge, and want to continue doing so.
IanYorke 6 22 United Kingdom
12 Jun 2018 10:52AM
Where do they get Adobe LR/PS for 8/month. All I can find is 9.98?
emmaK22 Plus
8 149 United Kingdom
12 Jun 2018 11:15AM
Thanks for pointing that out Ian - we've updated the pricing.
12 Jun 2018 11:36AM

Quote:
Quote:Are you already using Affinity

Downloaded the trial version today to see if it is a viable alternative to PS CC ..........................



Let us all know what you think Malc. I've found it to be just as good as, if not better than, LR/PS for what I need for photo processing and as Nikita said it's fast and relatively cheap.GrinGrinGrin

Alan
saltireblue Plus
9 9.7k 36 Norway
12 Jun 2018 1:55PM

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:Are you already using Affinity

Downloaded the trial version today to see if it is a viable alternative to PS CC ..........................



Let us all know what you think Malc. Alan



Will do, I've got the 10 day trial so will give it a good going over.

russellsnr 14 227 England
13 Jun 2018 9:53AM
Hi, Sorry but although a good software and cheap it lacks what many photographers need IMO a DAM option, when I asked along with many others quite some time ago we received the standard reply 'We are Working on it' when I asked the same question on Sunday 10th June 17 I received a reply 'As for DAM, it's being worked on It's still a long way of being ready, but is being worked on'. I also asked about the use of the Colorchecker from X-Rite (again some time ago) this was also given away with the Affinity software a few months ago and again from asking again on Sunday the reply '-XRite Colour support, was never on our Roadmap but is something they the Dev team will look at adding, sorry but a software that offers another companies product but does not support it to me anyway is not looking after the people who buy there product/s.
13 Jun 2018 12:36PM
Russell,
It's photo processing software, good photo processing software, and while I agree, as does the EPZ review, that file management would be a good addition, it's actually no different in this respect, than photoshop which also doesn't have a built-in file manager.
As for Colourchecker, I understand that it comes with it's own software (DNG Profile Manager) and looking on their website there are only two 3rd party apps that support it, one being a video workflow app and the other being an Hasselblad app. Again no different from LR/PS or any of the other well known photo processing programmes.
As far as I am aware Serif are marketing Affinity photo as a photo processing programme and, to coin a well known slogan, you get what it says on the tin.

Alan
14 Jun 2018 9:02AM
In the original info it says for MAC. It also stands up on WINDOWS as well. However, the latest version has a bug which prevent the DPI from holding at the input settings. i. e. I change the DPI from 72 to 300 and it reverts back to 72 when saved. It can't be changed in DEVELOP (raw converter), it has to be changed in PHOTO. No suggestions please as Affinity are working on the problem and I've sort of found a work around, but it's not ideal and it doesn't always work.






Roy.
I've been using Photoshop since version 1.5 and the last version I purchased was CS5. Affinity is an amazing product for the price. I would slightly disagree with the review. I think in many ways, because I am so use to working quickly in Photoshop I find Affinity very slow to use. A simple example, the way you resize a file in Photoshop is so precise and easy. I've not found that in Affinity. Collapsing layers, within multiple layers is just so simple and to me, obvious in Photoshop, not so in Affinity. I know everything I am saying will have Affinity fans jumping up and down saying watch the videos. There is an old saying, 'You get what you pay for'. Would I recommend Affinity Photo? Absolutely, but don't get carried away by the promo videos, workflow is not just about new features, it's about producing the image you want as quickly as possible. Photoshop wins hands down for me! Affinity Photo must be the best photo editing software available for under 50.

Paul
12 Mar 2019 2:42PM
Does Affinity Photo open up Canon's new CR3 files?

Mike
12 Mar 2019 2:48PM

Quote:Does Affinity Photo open up Canon's new CR3 files?

Mike



Mike the quickest way for you to find out would be to ask on the Affinity. they're usually pretty quick answering queries.

Alan
12 Mar 2019 2:49PM
Cheers Alan

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