back to article Photoshop for 40 quid: Affinity Photo pushes pixels further than most

When El Reg tested the leading alternatives to Photoshop we told you to keep an eye out for Affinity Photo, a Mac-only rival from Serif that looked like being the best yet. It’s now out of beta and available for £40, which would buy you a Photoshop subscription for less than five months. Serif Affinity Photo This is an app …

Anonymous Coward

Very useful review

I'm not a pro but I've found the Affinity apps to be very usable. The Adobe situation is reminiscent of when Quark got too entrenched and complacent.

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Let me know when it works on computers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Till then, stick with the MS Word clip art

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Till then, stick with the MS Word clip art

I'll not downvote you for the snark, but it is a bit misguided. Tannin's comment was, for a lot of us, spot on.

I know that the Mac has some sort of unholy attraction for graphics people (e.g. my nephew) and I've pointed people in the direction of a Mac as their platform of choice in specific circumstances (yeah, yeah, I'll burn in Gehenna for that), alas, due to constraints beyond our immediate control, some of us have no choice but to do graphics related work with the beast that is MS windows, and (especially now) a £40 supported photoshopesque package would be a good thing (e.g. we could throw this to the PHB who is currently balking at paying the Adobe tax for newer versions of Photoshop - and I don't blame him).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

A very reasonable position, very reasonably put. Unlike Tannin, you're not trolling to try and start the inevitable and oh so very tedious Mac/PC flamewar.

The problem with going cross platform is that many of the modern graphics apps leverage the very capable graphics frameworks now built into Mac OS and Windows. That gives a certain amount of agility but can result in quite divergent codebases. Adobe on the other hand has tended not to do this but that's given them a massive legacy overhead.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

I don't know why you got downvoted because you're right. I can't run OS X on my perfectly adequate i7 thing with its graphics card and 27 inch monitor, so this £40 Photoshop alternative would be to me a £1500 or thereabouts Photoshop alternative. I guess Affinity have done their market research in their target markets, but I can't help wondering if that consisted of the East Coast and the West Coast, and they are missing a huge potential market out there.

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LDS
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'£40 supported photoshopesque package'

That is what Paint Shop Pro was before Corel bought Jasc and aimed the product at the 'I want a product to fix my cats photos with a single click, while it scans my disk continuously to find new ones' . I don't know why Jasc was sold, but the too many people I've seen with warez copies of a very affordable product may be a reason. Maybe the Mac space this is a smaller issue.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

free http://www.hasselblad.com/software/phocus

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There's Paint.NET (freeware) - it's more basic but works for me.

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Anonymous Coward

There's Paint.NET (freeware) - it's more basic but works for me.

I'd call "more basic" a bit of an understatement, it was my tool of choice on Windows too but migrating to OSX puts you on a whole different plane when it comes to graphics and presentation (yes, I've used the GIMP, but I didn't get on with it on either Linux, Windows or OSX, and I suspect that is because i'm not a pro to start with). I personally use Pixelmator, but I have been looking at Affinity Photo with interest and may very well buy it (the beta came at the wrong time so I've had no time to play with it).

I'm by no stretch of the imagination a graphics artist, but occasionally I have to put something together that looks presentable, and for such tasks software like Pixelmator and Affinity Photo is perfect because it is easy to assemble something that looks decent. I can imagine a pro would be able to do even more with it, probably with less effort as well :).

The generic observation about OSX is that almost all software comes at a far more reasonable price than on Windows (not MS Office, but since we switched to LibreOffice that isn't an issue anyway). It depends of course of what your business it, but OSX makes making things that look good easy.

Even the most basic software package is generally very easy to use, and makes it simple to create something that looks good. As a matter of fact, it makes it so easy that you don't have to spend much time faffing around with entirely irrelevant features - you can just get on with things, yet end up with something that just looks more elegant right from the start.

This is why I find the "Macs are expensive" debate a bit false. When you start adding everything up (and, of course, buy software instead of pirating it) there is financially not that much of a difference between platforms - you try something equivalent to Affinity Photo for Windows for just that price. Not going to happen.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Ok, I know that I'll get downvoted but at least get your facts rights when slagging off Apple kit.

It won't cost you £1500 to get a Mac.

A new Mac mini costs from £399

http://www.apple.com/uk/shop/buy-mac/mac-mini

Ok, this is a bit of a puny CPU but the top spec one comes in at £799.

Plus you can even use your 'real computer' monitor with it.

Then there is FleaBay for some even cheaper devices

Say something like this for .£850.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Apple-MacBook-Pro-15-4-Quad-Corei7-2-4ghrz-8GB-128GB-SSD-Retina-Display-2013-/131442911036?hash=item1e9a9ba73c

Frankly, it is nice to have the boot on the other foot and have a half decent app available on OSX and not Windows.

I may well be buying this app because I won't pay the Adobe monthly tithe on Photoshop.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

I've recently abandoned Photoshop in favour of Bloom - also doesn't seem to have a clipping path; but a lot of the rest of my image-wrangling needs are catered for. Has Windows, OSX and Linux versions:

http://thebloomapp.com/

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers. @Arnaut the less

Serif, like the team behind Pixelmator, is based in the UK. I feel like I used to pass an office somewhere in Hampshire; the website says Nottingham now though. So if market research was of the US only then that'll have been as a result of other research.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers. @Arnaut the less

UK office is in Nottingham, with US offices in Hudson, NH. (They might also have had offices in Nashua, NH, but I could be wrong)

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Thumb Up

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

It was a little snarky.

But pretty much a Windows one would save a lot of people from spending XXX or piracy (or having to attempt to learn gimp). £40 is reasonable for the non-commercial user, a bargain (and then some) for the business user.

As a Linux user, I've pretty much no vested interest in this whatsoever, I use gimp for the things I can't do with RMagick (as a programmer I find it easier to code a solution than deal with a ui).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

"It won't cost you £1500 to get a Mac."

You are focussing on the £1500 and not the fact that I will need new hardware.

To replace my Windows laptop with a 15 inch Macbook Pro (15 inch being the smallest size I can work with for photography) will cost £1599. Yes I could buy a second hand one, etc. etc. Given your example of a second hand one from eBay -assuming I'm going to take the risk of spending that much on an unknown quantity - the software is still going to cost around £900 rather than £40 for me to use it.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Lucky me. I have a MacBook Pro (and the Affinity programs). Being portable, it's a welcome relief from the crappy Windows PC at work.

Where do you get the bill of £900 for the software that you'd need?

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On the art sites I browse, some artists have switched to Paint Tool SAI.

It's not a complete Photoshop alternative, but quite a few artists like it.

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Anonymous Coward

"Let me know when it works on computers".

...and let us know when you've evolved enough to use one.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Aside from that, if Apple continue along their current hardware design trajectory, there will be no usable machines available for sale capable of running this software.

There will be nowhere to plug in your stuff!

Gigabit Ethernet is long gone - need a dongle, burning a port that could have been a monitor or a USB storage device.

Their latest has effectively no ports at all - as you need an adapter for USB and have to unplug the PSU.

Apple hardware is no longer professional, it's poseur - looks before use.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

With a Core i7, 16GB RAM and 2Gb HDD the Mac Mini is around £1,224.00, so he wasn't too far off. Also, there aren't exactly many user upgradable parts in there, are there? And Intel HD/Iris graphics are adequate but that's all you can say for it,

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Gold badge

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

I've recently abandoned Photoshop in favour of Bloom

Thanks for that. It looks interesting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Also, there aren't exactly many user upgradable parts in there, are there?

I think there are two separate answers to that, as there is commercial as well as domestic use. If your hobby is taking computers apart and exchanging bits of it, yes, Macs will probably not rank high on the systems you should buy. OTOH, if you write a machine off over 2 or 3 years and replace it, the replacement of parts is only relevant if it breaks and warranty cannot sort it out - I have not seen a need to upgrade specs in the span of 3 years so that is not a decision factor for me.

As for costs, if you ONLY look at the hardware there is no denying that a decent spec Macbook is expensive. If you start looking at the cost of the software packages for it, the time it saves not having to fight an UI and the simple absence of endless updates and patches the number suddenly becomes much more acceptable, also because you don't have to manage software licenses in case one of your employees decides to have fun and call in a FAST raid. From a Total Cost of Ownership perspective, Macs and PCs differ so little that moving to OSX ended up being a no brainer.

Spend the same, yet have less hassle getting work done? Easy choice IMHO.

Of course, if you mainly run pirated software you will probably be cheaper off running Windows, but that would not really be a honest comparison.

Last but not least, that non-changeable parts thing can also work to your advantage. Set up a modern Macbook with a boot password, enable Filevault and use a decent login password and it becomes a waste of time to steal it as it cannot be reformatted for a new user. You cannot wipe the SSD as the boot password stops you getting to the recovery tools, and as it's soldered in you cannot replace the drive for a blank one so it will always show the user details (at least, mine does on logon). All of that is built in, by the way - no need to buy extra software...

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Re:

Oh dear, someone's IT dept is forcing him to use Windows. I didn't know they still did that.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Well just keep paying your £8 to Adobe, then. It's not the worst thing that one can imagine.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

It is possible that they've done their research and know how people use their machines?

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Thanks for that. It looks interesting.

Welcome. It's not a complete photoshop replacement...photoshop is a big program and there are a million different ways of using it; so how useful it is to you depends upon what you use it for. I use it for slicing and dicing images for websites/themes and also buffing up and optimising images and so far things are going OK. The big selling point for me was the linux version as this'll help my eventual transition to linux with as little pain as possible.

There's bits I miss; and the lack of clipping paths is the biggest annoyance so far. On the plus side, having a drop-shadow and bevels as built-in layer effects is really handy.

I can live without a few toys if it keeps Adobe from twatting around with my machine at their convenience. I did the cloud subscription thing for a year and hated every minute of it. With that and The Gimp I think everything's covered.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

"Well just keep paying your £8 to Adobe, then. It's not the worst thing that one can imagine."

Hmm, let me think, beer or Adobe, beer of Adobe, beer or Adobe ... Well, yes it is the worst thing I can imagine.

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Silver badge

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

If they have, then they've also decided not to support professional computing on Mac anymore.

Mac used to be huge in certain "artistic" industries.

They've now got to the point where many formerly "Mac-only" software products have gone "PC-first" because there's no Mac hardware suitable to run them on.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Did you include the Apple Care fee in the £1599 in case one of the many now non-replaceable parts like battery, ram and SSD fail?

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Boffin

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Darktable or Gimp/Linux ? There are plenty more ... and they're free software.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

"Say something like this for .£850.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Apple-MacBook-Pro-15-4-Quad-Corei7-2-4ghrz-8GB-128GB-SSD-Retina-Display-2013-/131442911036?hash=item1e9a9ba73c

"

You can get a NEW Dell QHD+ Infinity Screen XPS13 with better specs, 3 years warranty, and touch screen for that sort of money:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/261982153755?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

>> With a Core i7, 16GB RAM and 2Gb HDD the Mac Mini is around £1,224.00, so he wasn't too far off. Also, there aren't exactly many user upgradable parts in there, are there? And Intel HD/Iris graphics are adequate but that's all you can say for it,

Best bet is to get a 2012 Mac Mini with quad-core i7 and upgrade the RAM and storage yourself.

It will be faster than any current Mac Mini because Ivy Bridge isn't that much slower than current Intel processors (only a few percent) and it will have twice as many cores.

It also has RAM that isn't soldered on. In fact, upgrading the RAM is easier than on almost any PC since all you have to do is twist off the bottom to access the RAM slots.

The hard drive is somewhat tricker to swap but you should be able to do it in under 20 minutes (under 10 if you've done it before). It uses normal 2.5" drives. AFAIK the drive setup in current Mac Minis is the same so you'd have to be an idiot to buy a drive upgrade from Apple.

Of course the graphics "card" is not upgradeable but if we're talking about photo work then that hardly matters.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

At least Apple Macs have functioning colour management with correctly applied device profiles.

Unlike the buggy mess that Windows is.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Get a proper monitor instead, and calibrate it. Hook it up to your laptop or a Mac Mini.

No need to drag around a 15 inch laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Did you include the Apple Care fee in the £1599 in case one of the many now non-replaceable parts like battery, ram and SSD fail?

If you buy your kit in the UK, there are two laws that work for you:

1 - EU law makes two years warranty MANDATORY. Apple has already been in trouble with their attempts to sell extended warranty to two years when that is now an EU default. In my experience, electronic problems in computers show in the first half year of use. After that's problems are far more likely to be mechanical wear & tear than electronic.

2 - Goods sold in the UK must be of merchantable quality. This means that by normal use, a device must have a normal lifespan, and I would be very easy able to argue in court that 3 years is reasonable for a laptop that is properly treated (like my kit is, and it shows).

Of course, Apple can play games by taking a long time for repair, but that is rather fraught with danger because UK's consumer protection watchdogs are quite eager to flex their power.

Now, I mention the UK, but I have seen similar laws in place throughout Europe, I'm just not that familiar with those and as experienced in how to use them.

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Bronze badge

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

- and how is colour calibration going on Linux at the moment? Open question, but last I checked it appeared very much beta.

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

Last time I checked it was a bit better than Windows.

However, neither Linux or Windows are anywhere near where OS X is in this regard.

MS simply don't bother fixing things that are a thorn in people's side, unless they can see billions at the end of it. This lack of enthusiasm for quality and coherence will be their downfall in the end -as we can already start to see.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

"Lucky me. I have a MacBook Pro"

Hmm. I wouldn't call you lucky to be stuck in Apple's walled garden, particularly since you overpaid for the privilege of adding to the fruity one's cash mountain!

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Re: Let me know when it works on computers.

"... and they're free software."

They're also shit.

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Thumb Up

Potential rival indeed

Affinity Photo and Affinity Design are hand in glove with each other and they both provide a commercial alternative to their Adobe counterparts - Photoshop and Illustrator. In fact for me, Affinity products get rid of some of the feature clutter that makes Adobe applications a bit tardy in the workflow area for some projects.

I do tend to use Photoshop more for concept work and if I'm wanting to integrate 3D in art - Photoshop does handle nicely. Affinity Photo is fast and since I'm a huge fan of Affinity Designer - even over Adobe Illustrator I will try to use Affinity Photo for some concept work and see how it goes.

Serif has been for many years the lesser known name behind some great shareware and some nice home craft products, but also Serif Draw was a solid solution in its time. Serif products were often seen featured on the Cover CDs of Computer Shopper and PCPro Magazines in the 90s. I should know ... I helped put them there. :-)

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£40 too expensive...

... when compared with GIMP.

Ok, GIMP's interface is a little clunky but it really is a very powerful bit of software.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £40 too expensive...

Ok, GIMP's interface is a little clunky

Now there is an understatement.. The challenge with the GIMP is that the complexity of its UI gets in the way of usability and so renders the program nigh unusable for people who just need the occasional work done. It's like having a Ferrari with the top 3 gears removed - massive potential, screwed up delivery.

I agree it has lots of powerful features, but they're too hard to use. The £40 spend on Affinity Photo you earn back in a day on the amount of time you save producing something decent.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

GIMP's not that tricky, just learn the interface and don't expect it to 'be' photoshop. It's not, it's GIMP, and has some different metaphors. If you want plugins, one of my favourites is one that separates an image into wavelet frequency layers - so you can touch up some low or mid frequency stuff (eg the shadows associated with facial lines) whilst keeping pore-sharp detail. Looks extremely natural, extremely powerful technique.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £40 too expensive...

The challenge with the GIMP is that the complexity of its UI gets in the way of usability and so renders the program nigh unusable for people who just need the occasional work done

And photoshop isn't ?

Give PS to a newbie and they'll be just as flummoxed by that as GIMP. Besides since GIMP got rid of those stupid floating windows in favour of a unified interface it's much better.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

"£40 too expensive... "

Darktable for Mac & Linux if you need RAW photo processing and manipulation - free & excellent.

http://www.darktable.org

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Re: £40 too expensive...

Also available for Solaris and FreeBSD

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Alert

Re: £40 too expensive...

Ah, the floting windows that threw bits of the interface all over your multiple screen real estate has finally gone?

Is it worth dumping Paint.net yet?

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LDS
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Re: £40 too expensive...

Really? I can't really understand people who believe that any software above the price of zero is "too expensive". Maybe are you too mean instead? It would be a far worse world if any software business would not exist, and all software would come as a secondary product of other interests, or from volunteers with little or no interests in customers needs but their own.

GIMP is for you? The better. Others may find better to spend £40, £400 or even £4000 for products that suit their needs better. Often, real costs are not in the product price alone.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

I am finding that the changes to GIMP are confusing me but are in the direction of what Photoshop users wanted but I have used GIMP for over a decade now. This just goes to show that the changes are user driven. Some of the plugins I used to use don't work in the latest version.

For what I do, it is a combination of ImageMagick and GIMP for 99% of what I need.

Some of the tools I see in Affinity would be nice in GIMP.

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