We have been trying out the Affinity Photo Beta over the last few days and we are impressed. It looks and feels like Photoshop, but it's built with new fast code and will be an outright purchase when launched.
There have been possible Photoshop replacements before, the $30 Pixelmator app being one of them. We've tried that and it's pretty good, a clean layout with robust backward compatibility with PSD files. It hasn't convinced us yet to blow away the Cloud subscription, but if we were forced to use Pixelmator alone for images, it wouldn't be a problem. Just a case of being very familiar with a piece of software and using it as it's the path of least resistance.
So we weren't first out of the blocks to download the Affinity Photo Beta when it was announced. We should have been as we now rather like this direct Photoshop competitor.
Affinity are a company based in Nottingham, England. You may have already heard about them as they were runner up in Apple's Best of 2014 Apps with Affinity Designer. Designer is a $50 vector graphic application that has had rave reviews and has already had many converts from Adobe's Illustrator.
Back to Affinity Photo Beta and as the name suggests, the application is in a free beta test period at the moment. Not everything works, we have had a few oddities with opening PSD files, but it is a very slick application and the team behind it are pretty bullish.
“We’re delighted to be shaking things up with this exciting new app that doesn’t compromise on power and could make creative pros fall in love with photo editing and raster art all over again. Affinity Photo is silky-smooth, accurate at a professional level, and fully-featured — and the beta can be downloaded for free.” says Ashley Hewson, Serif’s Managing Director.
He continues “Affinity Photo also joins the award-winning Affinity Designer as part of a brilliant creative suite with seamless switching between apps, one file format, and a common Undo history. Even as a beta and with the suite still growing, there’s nothing else quite like it.”
Tony Brightman, Head of Affinity development adds “We directly targeted professionals when we dreamt up the Affinity range, making performance, reliability, pro-level tools and a slick workflow our top priorities. It’s early days for the Affinity Photo beta, but with the welcome help of our professional users during the test phase we’ll be able to fully deliver on these aims for launch and with free updates afterwards. I’m also very happy to say to all photographers and creatives, when Affinity Photo launches it’ll be a one-time purchase — we don’t do subscriptions.”
On to Affinity Photo and Final Cut Pro X. The native file format isn't recognised by FCPX, but the PSD export should be. Importing the PSD export works, but there is no access to the layers at the moment even when we followed these Apple best practices.
We asked Affinity about this and they sent this reply:
Regarding PSD import/export, yes the intention is to maintain layers, our aim is to have the best PSD support out there. The devs are actively engaging with creative pros over at our Forum and are releasing regular beta updates to improve things further (regular updates so far for Affinity Designer beta builds anyway, they will become regular for Affinity Photo).
There are some differences between the apps; Photoshop can't do everything Affinity apps will do so there will be some translation, and Affinity apps don't do things the same way as Photoshop in all cases but the transport is pretty good already. And it's fast, we've seen customers tweeting that Affinity Designer opens a PSD 10x quicker than Photoshop itself.
So we are all rather excited about Affinity Photo and if Designer is a benchmark to go by, it will probably end up on the App Store for a one-off payment of $50. In the meantime we suggest you download the beta and put it through its paces. We think you'll like it.