Affinity Photo – first impressions review

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I have been growing more and more frustrated with my current image editor, Photoshop Elements. Not least because of it’s incessant update demands – and I have yet to notice a single benefit, despite the exclamation marks on every announcement.

I built my first web site with Serif WebPlus, and was interested when I heard they were going to try and take on the full fat Photoshop, and no nasty support rental charges.

Well, it was on offer, and I have a Christmas break coming up, (with a chance to spend time learning it), so the timing seemed good. Incidentally, apart from taking them up on the £10 off deal, open to everyone, no money changed hands for this review.

I’m also aware that other members of the International Association of Astronomical Artists are more than a bit resentul of the rental approach too…

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So, where to start learning?

The training material is impressive. There’s a very large number of videos avilable on the Vimeo channel, and they are in handy bite sized chunks, making it easy to learn one feature at a time.

This is probably a good way to check out any tasks that are important to you.
One nice touch I noticed as soon as I started saving files – it updates windows so you get a nice thumbnail view of the custom formats in your folders.
And the various functions are grouped together in what they call “personas”, so that chooing one tab gets you all the functions most likely to be useful for exporting, another gives you all the useful tools for developing an image from your camera, and so on.
So far I have largely been experimenting with adjusting colour in renders, and cleaning up photos. I have also already found it to be absolutely superb at stitching panoramas, much better than anything I have used before.
So here are a few panoramic stitches. Be aware that the links are to BIG image files, and also that I was deliberately choosing inputs that were tricky for my previous stitching software, PT Gui.
Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank
Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank

16 images input, and a few were a bit soft in focus. Worked perfectly!

Cutty Sark at Dusk
Cutty Sark at Dusk

Now this one is very nasty – but it’s almost done it – the rigging near the bow does not quite line up, but it’s done better than PT Gui. I suspect the wind may have caused a problem…

Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne, Switzerland

This one had a broad range of sky brightnmess, but it came out very well.

In summary, I’d say the strengths of the panorama processing include:

  • Works fully automatically
  • No nasty banding in sky blends
  • Fast
  • Works even better with RAW format input
  • Handles tricky stitches better than most.
  • Does an excellent job on the colour and brightness in the stitch.

Personally I find I am more likely to learn complkex software if I find one thing where it excels really fast, as it rapidly becomes a tool of choice for at least something, and I get to learn more as I use it for that.

Is there a downside?

Well, there’s a huge amount of functionality in here, so the investment in time to learn will completely swamp the investment cost.

But if you are looking for something with a very clear edge ofver the low end software, at a great price, you will very probably be happy with it.

Replacement for the full Photoshop?

I can’t really say, not being a user of the full version. But definitely powerful, and relatively easy to use. Take a look at some of the training videos, and choose for yourself.

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