Affinity Photo Review
Affinity Photo is the latest photo editing software from Serif and is currently available to download as a free beta. That means you can use the full version of the program and help the developers discover any problems or bugs with it before the full version of the software becomes available to buy.
Once it arrives on the market, Affinity will set you back £39.99 (€49.99/$49.99), and unlike Photoshop CC, there’s no rolling monthly fee to pay. Serif believes that Affinity could be a real contender to the almost-monopoly that Adobe currently has on the photo editing market.
Affinity Photo is aimed at professionals, and is designed for Mac users. It features true end-to-end CMYK, 16-bits per channel editing, LAB colour, raw processing, ICC colour management and compatibility with Photoshop PSD files and 64-bit plug-in compatibility.
Downloading and installing Affinity Photo is very quick easy. Simply download the beta from the Serif website, and drag the Program icon into your applications folder on your Mac. The downloader isn’t too large so it doesn’t take too long to download, even if you don’t have the fastest internet connection. Once the software is installed you’re ready to start working with an image.
Ease of Use
If you’ve used any kind of photo editing software before, you should be pretty at ease with Affinity, as in many respects it’s pretty similar to other programs, such as Photoshop.
Several different windows are available for you to use, which are named as “Personas”. For instance, there’s a “Develop” persona for working with raw files, and a “Photo” persona where you carry out the bulk of editing work.
You can open a raw file in exactly the same way as you would a JPEG or other kind of image file. When you do, the “Develop” window will appear and you can make adjustments to key settings such as white balance, exposure, contrast, black point and so on. At the moment, not all raw files from all cameras are compatible, but we’re told that the next version of the Beta will include greater compatibility.
It’s disappointing not to see some kind of file management system included with the Affinity Photo software. Photoshop CC has Bridge, while Photoshop Elements has the Organizer. This allows you to quickly and easily see all your files and choose the one(s) you want to edit. Here we’ve just got a simple Open command window, leaving you to scroll through each of the photos to see a preview of the one you need.
On the left hand side of the window is another group of tools. For instance you can set the white balance by clicking on a white, grey or black point in your image. You can then use the sliders on the right hand side of the screen to make finer adjustments. Unlike Adobe Camera Raw though, there’s no presets available to choose from.
Also on the left hand side of the window are a couple of other options, such as Red Eye Removal, Blemish Removal and so on. You can also carry out blemish editing in the main editing window, which you’ll come to next.
Once you’re done making all the edits you want to with the raw file, you need to click the Develop button and you’ll be taken to the Photo Persona window. You can also save a preset at this point for editing your raw files, which is useful if you’re working on a batch of files with the same shooting situations.
The Photo Persona window is very similar to Photoshop, with many familiar looking icons lining the left hand panel, such as the crop tool, blur brush and so on. There are some slight differences, but if you’re coming from using Photoshop, this makes the transition much easier.
On the right hand side of the window, you’ll see the Histogram, and underneath this you can add adjustment layers, for instance Levels, White Balance and Brightness and Contrast. Using Layers allows you to make non-destructive edits as you can remove any layers you no longer want. On this side of the screen you can also apply some Effects and Styles. If you’re going to use either of these, it’s important to create a copy of your Background Layer first.
When you’re working with any Adjustment Layer, you can make a preset, again handy if you’re working with a batch of images that you want to make identical changes to.
Using Affinity Photo takes some getting used to if you’ve not used Photoshop before, but the professionals that the software is specifically targeted at should be able to pick it up pretty quickly. There is a helpful online Forum where you can post questions if you’re having any problems - this is where you report any bugs or issues during the Beta stage of the Program.
When you’re ready to save the file, and if it’s a raw file that you want a JPEG (or other type of shareable file) then you can head to the Export “persona”. Here you can choose from the options on the right, what kind of file you want to export to, and also if you want to save without any of the layers included you can.