Pro-level Photoshop rival launches for less than £30

Affinity Photo is available today in the Mac App store. We reveal what it's capable of.

Mermaid screenshot

Can Affinity Photo topple Photoshop from its throne?

For many years now, Adobe software has been the undisputed choice of designers and photo editors the world over.

But recently there's been an upstart yapping at its heels (for Apple users at least) in the form of Serif's Mac-only Affinity range. And now it's taken a big step towards challenging Adobe software's dominance.

Following the launch of Affinity Designer, a low-price but high-end Mac alternative to Adobe Illustrator launched in beta last June, Serif today launches the full version of its Photoshop rival, Affinity Photo, on the Mac App store at a special price of £29.99/$39.99/€39.99. (It will revert to the normal price of £39.99/$49.99/€49.99 on 23 July.)

Unlike Adobe Creative Cloud, neither Affinity Photo nor Affinity Designer require a subscription.

What is it?

Five years in the making, Affinity Photo doesn't aim to be a cut-down version of Photoshop but to be actually better than it.

Castle screenshot

Apply high quality single-plane and dual-plane perspective correction as well as fully customisable mesh warps (all in real time)

With high-end capabilities such as RAW processing, PSD import and export, 16-bits per channel editing, and ICC colour management, it's a fast, sophisticated tool that are focused on provide a more productive workflow for creative and photography professionals, says Ashley Hewson, managing director of Serif.

"We want to create game changing products," he says. "And we believe that Affinity Photo truly is a revolutionary photo editor."

New and improved

Affinity Photo was first launched as a public beta in February with more than 230,000 people downloading the software – and the company says it's since listened to the community and used it to make the full version meet their needs better.

"One of the things we take really seriously is listening to our users," says Tony Brightman, head of Affinity development.

Girl screenshot

A large collection of effects are available, including blurs, distortions, tilt-shift, shadows, glows and lighting

"The beta period has been invaluable to us and we’ve worked round the clock implementing the features and making the improvements the community has been asking for."

Speedy working

But the main story the developers want to tell is the speed of Affinity Photo, suggesting that spinning wheels and wasted time will become a thing of the past if you switch to it.

"The performance of the product is what we are most proud of," says Brightman. "We take full advantage of all the latest Apple technologies like OpenGL, Grand Central Dispatch and Core Graphics.

Landscape screenshot

Full support for unlimited layers, layer groups, adjustment layers, filter layers and masks

"What this means to the user is whether it's a 100 megapixel image or a complex composition with 1000s of layers, you can still pan and zoom at 60fps and see live views of all adjustments, brushes, blend modes and filters with no compromise.

"It's this speed and depth of features which really makes Affinity Photo a joy to use, and sets it apart from anything else out there."

Check out the teaser below to see Affinity Photo in action:

Features

That's all very well, you're probably saying – but can it do that particular thing that I need it to do? So below we've listed some of the headline features of this full release...

For creative working

  • Open, edit and save Photoshop PSD files
  • RGB, CMYK, Greyscale and LAB colour spaces
  • End-to-end CMYK workflow with ICC colour management
  • Full 16-bit per channel editing
  • Open system colour palettes, .ASE Adobe swatches, and import Adobe ABR brush files
  • Work with standard formats includinhg PNG, TIFF, JPG, GIF, SVG, EPS and PDF
  • Panning and zooming, live at 60fps, with live previews, live tools and real-time editing

Productivity features

  • Full support for unlimited layers, layer groups, adjustment layers, filter layers and masks
  • Resize layers without loss of quality. Lock, hide, duplicate and merge layers easily
  • Edit live filters, adjustments, effects, blend modes and masks non-destructively

Rotorblade screenshot

Edit live filters non-destructively
  • Undo history can be saved with the document so you can always undo your changes
  • Task-focused workspaces for developing, post-processing, liquify and export

Cat screenshot

There are task-focused workspaces for developing, post-processing, liquify and export
  • Work in windowed, full screen, or separated modes with fully customisable toolbars and drag and drop panels
  • Comprehensive vector drawing and text editing tools
  • Advanced snapping system with pixel perfect alignment when required
  • Export @1x, @2x, @3x from layers, slices or whole documents continuously as you work

Image processing

  • Open RAW and other images in a dedicated workspace
  • Adjust exposure, blackpoint, clarity, vibrance, white balance, shadows, highlights and much more
  • Recover detail thought to be lost by editing in an unbounded linear color space
  • Advanced lens corrections including chromatic aberration, defringe, vignette and best-in-class noise reduction
  • Paint areas or use fully customisable gradients to mask adjustments
  • View histograms, blown highlights, shadows and tones as well as detailed EXIF information

Retouching and correction

  • Intuitive selection brush and refinement to make fine selections simple
  • Instantly remove unwanted objects with the advanced Inpainting brush
  • Dedicated Liquify persona gives freehand control over warps, twirls, pinch, punch and turbulence

Liquified watch screenshot

The Liquify persona gives freehand control over warps, twirls, pinch, punch and turbulence
  • Apply high quality single-plane and dual-plane perspective correction as well as fully customisable mesh warps (all in real time)
  • Smooth and retouch skin with built-in frequency separation
  • Dodge, burn, clone, patch, blemish and red eye tools

Brush engine

  • Huge library of painting, drawing, textures and professional DAUB brushes included
  • Create custom brushes and nozzles with full control over advanced dynamics

Old man drawing

There's a huge library of painting, drawing, textures and professional DAUB brushes included
  • Full support for Wacom and other graphics tablets, including pressure, tilt and shortcut buttons
  • Real-time preview of your nozzle, so you can see what you are about to paint or erase before you do it

Customisable effects

  • Large collection of effects available, including blurs, distortions, tilt-shift, shadows, glows, lighting and many more
  • Customise all aspects with precise controls, seeing a real-time preview of the end result before you apply

Spacemen screenshot

Customise all aspects with precise controls, seeing a real-time preview of the end result before you apply
  • Swipeable split or mirrored screen always available for before and after views
  • Choose to apply effects non-destructively with live effect layers, enabling you to erase away or mask effects after they have been applied

Mac features

  • Exploits OS X technologies including OpenGL, Grand Central Dispatch and Core Graphics
  • Use the Force Touch trackpad to paint with pressure sensitivity
  • Optimised for 64-bit and multi-core processors
  • Supports regular, retina and multi-monitor set ups—including the latest 5k iMac
  • iCloud Drive support

How to buy it

Affinity Photo is available exclusively in the Mac App Store for the special launch price of $39.99/€39.99/£29.99 until 23rd July where it will revert to its normal price of $49.99/€49.99/£39.99. There is no subscription and you can buy it here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.