Serif Releases Affinity Photo

Ben Moss By Ben Moss  |  Jul. 09, 2015

Today, Serif launches Affinity Photo, the highly anticipated companion app to 2014’s Affinity Designer. Whilst Affinity Designer was aimed at vector artwork, Affinity Photo is a professional bitmap editor.

The whole ethos around the Affinity range is producing incredibly fast, sophisticated tools that are focused to provide a productive workflow for creative and photography professionals — Ashley Hewson, Managing director of Serif

We first reported on Affinity Photo back in February, when it was released as a public beta. Since then, 230,000 designers have downloaded the app and Serif have been working on adding feature requests from the beta period, today we’re getting our first look at the results.



Affinity Photo is an incredibly fast alternative to an app like Photoshop. The power behind it means that almost everything happens live on the artboard, not in preview panels.

Affinity Photo can both import, and export, the PSD file format.

Affinity Photo doesn’t set out to feature-match Photoshop, but it does support almost everything Adobe’s behemoth sports: there’s support for RGB, CMYK, Greyscale, and LAB; ABR brush files can be imported; export options include PNG, TIFF, JPG, GIF, SVG, EPS, and PDF; there are unlimited layers, adjustment layers (including clarity, vibrance, white balance, and more), filters, and masks; export @1x, @2x, and @3x from layers, slices, or entire documents; split (or mirrored) screens are available to display before and after views.


Most importantly for anyone working professionally, Affinity Photo can both import, and export, the PSD file format.

In addition, Affinity Photo delivers a number of features that Photoshop is crying out for: personally I was particularly impressed with the option to save the history panel for a document for access later on.



The first thing you’ll notice opening up Affinity Photo is its speed relative to Adobe Photoshop. Utilizing core Apple tech like OpenGL, Grand Central Dispatch, and Core Graphics produces an extremely enjoyable alternative to the spinning beachball of death.

Affinity Photo began life as a series of experiments, one of which was to edit memory-intensive images on iOS. Thanks to the shared architecture of iOS and MacOS, the innovative solutions devised to solve that conundrum can be scaled up to run on desktop machines:

…all the lean, mean efficiency required to meet my iOS performance goals, unleashed on OS X devices with gigabytes of RAM – Andy Somerfield, lead Affinity Photo developer

After a few hours of working with Affinity Photo, it’s clear this is the new benchmark for graphics app performance.



No subscription

One of the chief complaints levelled at Adobe in the last couple of years has been their subscription model.

Serif have rejected the subscription model: the full price of Affinity Photo is $49.99 with free updates for 2 years.

Coincidently, one month’s subscription of the complete Adobe CC 2015 suite is also $49.99. Which means if you switch from Photoshop to Affinity Photo, you’ll have $1149.77 to spend on a shiny new iMac on which to run it. Of course the Creative Cloud subscription covers more than a single app, but it’s a tempting proposition nonetheless.

To further whet your appetite, for the next two weeks Affinity Pro, and its partner Affinity Designer, will both be sold exclusively through the App Store for $39.99 (reverting to $49.99 on the 23rd July).



Future plans

Two of Serif’s trinity of apps (Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo) are now live, and Affinity Publisher — expected to rival Adobe’s InDesign — is scheduled for release in late 2015/early 2016.

Like Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo is currently Mac only. This allows Serif to integrate Mac-specific features like the force touch trackpad. Serif are still working on El Capitan integration, and Metal is expected push Affinity Photo’s performance even further.

However, once El Capitan updates roll out, and Affinity Publisher is released, Serif plan to bring the apps to new platforms, including iOS and Windows.



Photoshop killer?

Affinity Photo has been in development for five years, and although it’s often said that Photoshop has a 20 year head-start, it’s starting to feel more like 20 years of baggage.

Affinity Photo doesn’t try to feature-match Photoshop, it aims to be better; it’s precisely because Serif haven’t replicated every Photoshop function that they’ve delivered a faster, more efficient bitmap application.

It’s probably time to stop talking about Affinity Photo as a Photoshop rival, and instead start talking about Photoshop as an alternative to Affinity Photo.