How does one begin to give a first glance on the supposed Photoshop Killer that is Affinity Photo? I’m a windows guy, and wanted to test it ever since it was announced. Finally, there is a windows beta out there that I could download for free and take it for a spin. I’ve decided to keep this as focused as possible in order to be both useful and friendly to your time.
If you don’t wish to read any further I’ll sort you right here: If you’re not a high end retoucher. Affinity will likely do what you need it to at a fraction of the price of Photoshop. Also, this is a beta, so I guess lots of the stuff will get fixed till this becomes a full availability paid version. But for now, it is what it is.
OK here’s the big list of likes and dislikes:
1. It failed to open it’s own file I spend an hour working on..
2. There’s this zoom snapping function that “locks” the smooth zooming to certain predetermined helpful levels (such as 100%).
3. What this means is when you’re zooming into an image you lose the sense of smoothness and getting “lost” in your work. It feels like it’s lagging or stuttering.
4. It’s not, it’s trying to be helpful by snapping you to 100% zoom etc, but moving from PS, this just plain irritates me. I really struggled to find a setting to fix this anywhere, perhaps it’s possible to turn off?
5. The next HUGE one! I can’t change size of my brush with the mouse at default, nor could I find a way to do it in menus.
6. Holding, alt, shift, ctrl etc all did nothing while right clicking, scrolling etc. I just had to use the keyboard shortcuts which again, in some instances was very counter intuitive.
7. Speaking of keyboard shortcuts, I like the fact you can alter each brush separately, however when the only option you have in there is to change brush size. Why on earth don’t you just have one global keyboard shortcut for increase and decrease brush size?
8. WHY do I have to go into 7 different brushes and map the keyboard shortcut to each of them?
9. Another lacking feature that really in itself makes me want to stop using Affinity is the complete lack of right click functions for handy features.
For example I cannot right click on the background and change the background colour to black, grey, white etc to see how my photo will look on different platforms.
Instead I have to go to preferences, UI and then move a grey slider. Ball ache. This also extends to the zoom function. Why can’t I right click and select a few popular zooms? 25%, 50%, 100%, fit to screen etc?
10. RAW imports: The exposure slider only moves 2 stops in each direction (opposed to Photoshop’s 4) why? Another thing this extends to is the saturation and contrast.
They only move by 50% of what Photoshop does but they are WAY stronger, so it really makes fine tuning difficult on things like black point, contrast etc.
11. When in the develop panel you have these layers on the right hand side called exposure, enhance etc. When you click them they slide open and closed moving the click point to turn them on and off for layers below.
This means if you wanted to quickly turn off 3 of the develop sections to compare you have to “chase” the panels to turn them on and off. Wasting my time is a serious downfall.
12. The inpainting tool is limited to current and below but not all layers cutting the functionality of the tool down heavily. This tool is the “auto” heal. Think of the spot heal on PS.
13. I also think it does a pretty bad job in things that should be a simple context area.
14. Operating system wise, when you snap Affinity with the Windows key + arrow to force it to half of the monitor etc the image doesn’t centre in the program. This means you have to recenter it yourself. Ballache. PS auto re-centers.
15. I also noticed a serious issue with colours being overly saturated on the output when saving a JPEG on some RAWS. It wasn’t common, happened once. Not sure if this is a colour profile glitch (even though they are the same in text, they aren’t actually saving and converting correctly).
Or if it’s something else. I’m betting on colour profile clashing.
So I counted 15, pretty brutal cut down up front right? But I know that these things are the first problems a lot of people higher up the chain are going to notice.
Is that the market Affinity want to get? Or are they aiming at amateurs / beginners who may not have the experience to know better?
With that said, time to move on to the positives and show you where Affinity REALLY impressed me!
1. The splash screen
2. It handles RAWS (meaning if you choose to part with Lightroom / CaptureOne or don’t own them. You have an all in one tool right here.
3. I like the fact you can pan the image by holding the middle mouse button! The zoom is also SUPER smooth (except for the annoying snapping!).
4. I like the fact that Affinity know this is going to be used by a lot of people with previous PS experience and as such have pretty much the entire default keyboard mapping from PS ported over as default, making the transition for a lot of default keyboard users happy!
5. It’s also got this really nifty feature of showing you the RAW info at the top detailing not only the file-type but also the camera and lens used!
6. The sharpening in Affinity really ROCKS! It’s super easy to use and kicks ass!
7. A HUUUUUGE one in favour of Affinity right now is that it doesn’t suffer from the edge smudge you get using the healing brush in PS. To avoid this in PS you have to sample from a dark edge and then paint outwards.
First image here is Affinity the second is PS.
If you don’t, anything you heal from a light to dark edge will have an odd “smudge” or blotch there. You retouchers know what I mean!
Affinity doesn’t have this problem! And it rocks!
8. Selections are decent enough (from a high end retouching point of view). For a photographer’s viewpoint, they are more than enough, (I just don’t think you can beat PS and channels for selections).
You can see what’s left behind based on the selection brush (quick select).
9. The last wonderful feature I really liked in Affinity was that it shows you the layer-style and what it does instantly. Meaning that instead of having to click through overlay, exclusion, soft-light etc to see what they look like in PS, you can literally hover your mouse over them in Affinity and it updates the image immediately!
RIGHT. So down to the nitty gritty
Should you buy Affinity? Is it a Photoshop killer? Does it do anything better than Photoshop?
If you’re a high end retoucher, you’re going to skip this because it just feels like a slower, clunkier version of PS. Couple that with your ingrained muscle memory, it’s simply not worth investing the time into the program for similar results.
If you’re a photographer, the healing and sharpening tools in Affinity ROCK! If you’re on a budget it just may be worth your while investing that one off £40 for a program that does everything a Photographer would need only for a fraction of the price!
Another point is the workflow, if you are using the entire Adobe CC suite, Photoshop integrates quite nicely into it. Affinity Photo, for obvious reasons, is not a complete solution (yet?).
Is it a Photoshop killer?
No (or at least not yet). But it may well dominate the lower end of the market!
Does it do anything better?
Small scale healing (blemishes etc) and the Sharpening are really nice!