Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo: for readability, I’ve gone for the light version of the user interface with large print, and with the tool names popping up as soon as I hover the mouse over the icon.
My original scanner, in a GIF image from 2002, so please forgive the pixelation.

I’ve been using Photoshop for twenty-two years but I might finally be moving on.

In 1996, I bought my first scanner which came with an OEM version of Adobe Photoshop 4.0 included in the box. This was quite a bargain as, at that time, if you wanted to buy the same version of Photoshop on it’s own, it would have cost you more than the scanner and Photoshop bundled together!

Photoshop v. Affinity Photo

My current version of Photoshop is CS5.1 from 2011, which is now showing its age because it hasn’t been updated to run in the latest version of the Mac operating system; for example, the current cursor for the Photoshop tool that I’m using pops up in other programs – most disconcerting!

It seems a good time to try Affinity Photo, which comes highly recommended by a professional photographer friend of mine.

For a photographer, yes, but for an illustrator preparing artwork for print and the web, it lacks some useful features.

Save for Web

Does it work as well as Photoshop? There’s very little difference the finished image in this JPEG, saved a 100 dpi in Photoshop, 96 dpi in Affinity Photo.

But Affinity Photo doesn’t have a ‘Save for Web’ dialogue with a preview to let you make an informed decision on the trade-off between reduced file size and image quality. In Photoshop, the Save for Web preview can offer you three previews at different settings, so it’s something that I use almost every day.

Erase White Paper

It’s not all bad though; there are lots of useful features which I’ve never come across in my seven-year-old version of Photoshop; for instance, Affinity Photo has a filter for instantly erasing the white of the paper from a piece of artwork, leaving it transparent background, so that the image can be superimposed on an alternative background.

You can see what a good job it’s made of it (above): not only is the lettering crisp but the light grey wash in the sky was accurately picked out against a slightly textured paper which was just a shade lighter.

Misfiring Macro

As in Photoshop, you can record macros; a sequence of adjustments that you can then use again and again. The macro that I recorded for the screenshot above was:

  1. Change resolution to 96 dpi.
  2. Reduce image to 650 pixels across, keeping the the horizontal and vertical dimensions in proportion.
  3. Sharpen the image up a little after the last adjustment.

This works perfectly when I record the macro in Photoshop but it fails in Affinity Photo because the macro doesn’t keep the proportions locked as specified (by a small locked padlock icon in the dialogue), resulting in a stretched and unusable image.

So Affinity Photo earns just three stars out of five from me but, for that matter my old Photoshop only merits three: every time that I close down Photoshop, I get an alarming message warning me that it ‘quit unexpectedly’.

I would buy the latest version of Photoshop, Photoshop CC, except that these days, you can’t buy it, you need to rent it for £9.98 a month (or £19.97 with extra Creative Cloud storage), while Affinity Photo is currently available for a one-off payment of £33.99.

Links

Affinity Photo

Adobe Photoshop

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