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 …

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Re: £40 too expensive...

Thanks for the recommendation for dark table, was planning on processing the raw files from my holiday today and all I had was the app Nikon provide which isn't the best. Might stretch to buying Affinity at some point but free is better than £40.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

"Thanks for the recommendation for dark table"

Powerful and has many modules for image processing. I esp. like the profiled denoise if I have to boost the exposure by a large amount due to considerable underexposure.although I generally use a lot less than the default setting. Depending on the model/lens it might not be found in the lens correction module but that uses an external database. The shadows/highlight module is also very useful.

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Anonymous Coward

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.

I agree with you, but I can also understand people not willing to spend money on something they use once in a blue moon which is what gives partly rise to the large amount of pirated software out there. On top of that you then have stuff that is simply overcharged, such as Microsoft Office (in this context I find Affinity software pricing very acceptable, and I tend to buy direct as the App Store tax/tithe is IMHO too high).

As stated, I've tried the GIMP, but its UI is too complex to support casual use. If you spend your days using it I imagine it gradually becomes less painful in the way Wordstart and Wordprefect keyboard commands became usable over time, but for casual use it takes too much time rediscovering what is hiding where and what quirks it has. Affinity Photo is in that context classical Mac UI in that it's quite easy to Get Shit Done, even if you only use it once a month, and that time saving alone is IMHO more than worth the £40 it costs. As I said before, in general I find OSX software well worth the money, it's one of the reasons that the costs of moving to OSX were far less painful than they appeared at first sight.

The only solid pain in OSX is collaboration with Linux-based services - SMB and NFS connectivity is not as straightforward as it should be (to be frank, it's a f*cking battle at times), and God knows what they did to WebDAV connectivity as it's shockingly slow. If Apple could fix that there is IMHO no real reason to ever go near Windows again IMHO.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

There's one specific GIMP feature which makes the multi-window interface far better for editing - multiple live views of the same image, i.e. being able to work very close in on fine detail while simultaneously seeing the overall effect alongside. That's proven a huge time saver on many occasions.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

The App Store 'tax' compares favourably with traditional retail.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

I've found Expandrive to be fairly reliable for network file systems. Although I forget which ones it supports.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £40 too expensive...

The App Store 'tax' compares favourably with traditional retail.

I'm not in agreement with that. I prefer to buy the software straight from the supplier if that is possible, also because that route tends to offer trail versions. Pixelmator, Affinity, Omnigraffle - just 3 companies off the top of my head that allow you go "go direct". I'm OK with charges for an eco system, but 30% is IMHO a bit rich. The App Store concept may work for phone apps, but the model is short of methods for trial versions and paid upgrades, so if Apple really want their 30% they ought to fix that first IMHO.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

@ Chemist said: "Also available for Solaris and FreeBSD"

From the Affinity web site: Built exclusively for Mac

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Re: £40 too expensive...

"From the Affinity web site: Built exclusively for Mac"

Should have read the thread - it was about Darktable !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £40 too expensive...

From the Affinity web site: Built exclusively for Mac

It was about Darktable. Now go and get some coffee first, you clearly had a rough weekend :)

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LDS
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Re: £40 too expensive...

No, sorry, I can't buy the assertion "I need Photoshop once in a while, so I pirated it". The truth is you don't need Photoshop at all, and probably don't even know how to use it past basic (and maybe erroneous) techniques - just owning "the powerful software the pro uses" makes you feel "better".

What you need is actually exactly an application like GIMP or Serif's. But that doesn't mean there are not people who really need Photoshop or even more expensive ones - if they deliver features that really save you hassle and time, and let you do the work you need the way you need.

And delivering complex, powerful applications needs skilled, expert developers. Who, usually, like to be paid good money for their work. You can't really expect them to work full time on such applications on a voluntary basis...

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LDS
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Re: £40 too expensive...

Depend on the price of the application. For "apps" sold for a few dollars, it may. As soon as the application price increases, it's no longer that favourable. Retailing costs don't increase lineary with the application price, but the Apple tax does.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £40 too expensive... @Roq D. Kasba

Let's get this straight, GIMP is unuseable crap. Struggle if you must and fight the good fight and all that but I have better things to do than bang my head against a wall.

>don't expect it to 'be' photoshop

Then why do people keep saying it's a photoshop alternative?

Want a free alternative then try serif photoplus starter edition. I even tried to buy the full version but for some reason they wouldn't take my money.

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Re: £40 too expensive... @Roq D. Kasba

>>>Let's get this straight, GIMP is unuseable crap.<<<

And yet as I can use it OK, it can't be? I know the interface isn't as simplified as some picture editors, and I would agree that it isn't the right tool for everyone, but Photoshop also has its own opaque methods (until you learn its ways).

>>>>>don't expect it to 'be' photoshop<<<

>>>Then why do people keep saying it's a photoshop alternative?<<<

I guess they mean in the sense that a boat is an seaplane alternative. Not the same, but you can get similar results and have a similar level of control. But you can't blame the software for what people say about it, the GIMP (and plugin) developers are quite clear that they're not trying to replicate Photoshop, they are making a graphics editing package - as such they do some things differently. Some of the stuff they do is simply not as good, some is far better.

That Wavelet Decompose (plugin) is incredible, AFAIK there is no similar functionality in Photoshop to decompose an image into 10 different frequencies of wavelet, but it is incredibly powerful. Different packages, different capabilities, different pricing models. I like GIMP not just for the compelling price-point, but because it does what I need, when I need it, because I learned how to use it.

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Re: £40 too expensive... @Roq D. Kasba

>Let's get this straight, GIMP is unuseable crap. Struggle if you must and fight the good fight and all

>that but I have better things to do than bang my head against a wall.

AMEN, I've long been saying that I find it so much easier to create good looking things in good looking software. GIMP's interface on MAC is so foreign and clunky, I find myself struggling to concentrate on what I'm trying to achieve.

Also, at least out of the box, GIMP does not seem to support any trackpad gestures, which these days make it feel so antiquated.

Affinity Photo is great and really good value in my view.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

"since GIMP got rid of those stupid floating windows" - those floating windows are still available for those who want them. You can switch from single-window to multiple-window mode with a couple of clicks, and they do enable one particularly useful trick: multiple views of the same image while editing. Use it for working close in on small details while simultaneously seeing the overall effect on the whole image.

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Re: £40 too expensive...

It's not necessarily about the price. GIMP is free and entirely driven by what users want. There's no marketing department adding (or withholding until the next version) features just for the sake of selling you an updated copy every few months. The 'real cost' of commercial software is that it's not built primarily for the benefit of users, but for the companies who sell it.

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Anonymous Coward

You mean...

...there is something available for Mac that doesn't exist for Windows? Tell me again how there are millions of better applications for everything on Windows. Just stuff it in a VM and $$$Profit.

[Troll Icon because]

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Linux

Krita and Co

Just in case any Penguinistas think that they can't do graphics without sounding like a S&M fan (GIMP) see: https://www.calligra.org/krita/ it's bloody good. Krita is part of a full office suite called Calligra. I haven't tried the rest for a while but Krita is the dog's nadgers.

Oh, vector? see Inkscape.

CAD: See LibreCAD, FreeCAD and another one that's been released recently that I can't remember the name of.

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Re: Krita and Co

Had another play with Krita recently. Needed to edit a CMYK image and Krita supports CMYK out-of-the-box. Pretty nifty. Tend to use Gimp but it appears to be slowly becoming abandonware. Will play with Krita more, maybe I'll switch to it.

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Re: Krita and Co

FreeCAD is a good indication of what is happening in the Linux domain. I have just learned how to use it but have used it for multiple 3D printing projects for work, including 3D printed ceramics. As FreeCAD works on Linux, Mac and Windows, it is a program that will be used by more at work due to cost cutting. Cannot justify AutoCAD prices for many of the sketches and small drawings we do.

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Poor Mac users.

I have used Serif's PhotoPlus and DrawPlus on windows machines for years and love them. There is no doubt that Serif as a company know something about image processing.

This sounds an interesting product if you are restricted to using a Mac.

Chris Cosgrove

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Re: Poor Mac users.

Restricted? As a Mac can run both Windows and Linux, I don't see a restriction.

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Good price, good review

About time Adobe had some real competition. Now if someone would just make a decent website builder. For Linux would be even better,

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I don't know why only Chris has mentioned Serif's other packages, Photoplus and Drawplus. I use PP as a PS replacement and it pretty much has everything PS does with a very PS like interface for only 80 quid. The two notable missing features are, for me, PDF import (which you can do with Inkscape, which I love, and Gimp, which I don't love as much, just because of the UI) and non-importing of PSD text as text, which only one package seems to do. That package is Photoline, which seems to be very full featured and which I'm thinking about switching to, just for this text import.

Just about everything else I've tried (and I've tried a lot) are missing more features.

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The Elephant in the Room

The elephant in the room isn't mentioned in the article -- No Cloud!

The biggest Adobe takeaway in PS/CS has been buying, owning, and installing your own copy on your own computer and not paying again until you upgrade. And not everybody likes the cloud with its monthly tariff. The biggest "feature" any other competing editor can offer is a locally installed and owned version -- which Affinity Photo is offering.

But they do need a Windows version when they have the development resources to support one because no matter how big you are in the Apple world, that's still the small pond of computing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Elephant in the Room

I think from your post that you see Adobe's cloud offering as a key feature missing on the others. I suspect like most people I see this the other way and are more than happy to drop anything that insists on using it's own bloody cloud.

Let me control my own files and if I want to upload them for easy access I'll make my own arrangements rather than automatically having everything shunted online to a cloud outside of my control.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Elephant in the Room

The elephant in the room isn't mentioned in the article -- No Cloud!

That is a classic example of someone's feature being someone else's bug. There is no way I will ever go near a cloud based product, and even less cloud based storage as I have privacy laws to contend with in multiple countries, and I like my software where I can see it, in /Applications and subs.

Every time you're using an application which resides and/or stores in the cloud, you don't know what exactly happens en route, nor do you know exactly what software is running on your systems and what data that is having access to. Not going to happen in our place, however much suppliers try to get us to go that route. As a matter of fact, it was the last straw for MS Office deployment so now it's all LibreOffice here.

In conclusion, "No cloud" is not a problem for us, it is an absolute requirement.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room

They're also the users that don't mind paying for software. Targeting users who are prepared to pay is always a good idea from a developers POV.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room

> In conclusion, "No cloud" is not a problem for us, it is an absolute requirement.

Yarp!

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Re: The Elephant in the Room

I also have privacy sensitive clients and it's worth clarifying - Adobe's Creative Cloud stuff isn't actually *running* in the cloud... All the software sits in /Applications. Cloud's only needed for occasional validation of your subscription. Your projects go nowhere near it unless you explicitly save them there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Elephant in the Room

"I think from your post that you see Adobe's cloud offering as a key feature missing on the others"

Eh? The OP was lamenting the cloud just like the other posters.

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Re: The Elephant in the Room

Not only is it "no cloud", but it doesn't offer handy zero-click functionality to upload your photos to a fly-by-night online storage provider. Nor is there a handy "Share to YouTwitFace+" button. Did I accidentally click on an article written in 1998?

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Anonymous Coward

I bet at least 50% of readers here either own or use an apple product daily. And I also bet that all of those people will own a Mac in the next year because of how crap Windows is, and how crap the hardware is you Windows users are forced to run your godawful, expensive and bloated software on.

Every time I'm unlucky enough to have to use anything on Windows I'm appalled how clunky, slow and generally crap it is, and I truly don't get why everyone doesn't switch: inertia as an excuse only goes so far.

If you really can't stomach a Mac, there are so many Linux variants to look at, mostly excellent. Take a look. Literally everything you can run on a computer is better if Microsoft isn't involved.

So Mac-only software makes a lot of sense.

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Windows

Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

"So Mac-only software makes a lot of sense."

See title.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

Rather that your usual moronic snark, why not engage you brain and ask why that might be? You could also Google it. I'll admit that the AC's ramblings might upset your typical oafish Microsoft fanboy's follower's sensibilities (something, something, market share...). Here is a clue, since your dogmatism is clearly clouding yours; it might have something to do with the graphics libraries that exist in OS X and don't in Linux or Windows. This makes developing apps of Affinity Photo's calibre easier. Another benefit of concentrating solely on the Mac is that is seems to be the preferred platform for a not insignificant number of photography and graphics professionals. Now I know this will upset your little world view, but it really is time to put your big boy trousers on and accept that some people have differing opinions to you and that often there are niches that are filled by things that you don't know about or approve of. We can't all be precious and delicate flowers like you...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

I can agree with that, but it's not just the graphics library, it is the whole GUI interface where ease of use still trumps the "we need more features because we need to sell a new version" reason that MS software's usability cannot be described in politie words if you want to be honest about it.

I did not move to OSX because of some starry-eyed vision of Apple or Jobs or whatever club argument moronic idiots seem to need to use to mask their jealousy, I only bought a Mac for research. The plan was to get comfortable with the UI in a month, do the research and then keep the machine as a backup Windows machine using bootcamp. Much to my surprise I found myself actually getting work done because OSX is simply much more usable, and Windows got the boot instead. That was 5 years ago and I haven't regretted that chance once.

You just don't realise how absolutely crippling the Windows GUI and applications have become over the years until you use a Mac and find you can focus on your work instead of having to battle the user interface, updates, patches, virus updates and all the other sh*t that comes with using Windows, and that usability extends into most of the OSX software as well. Oafs proclaiming their undying love for Windows and their hate for Macs declare in reality only their own ignorance, there is no way they have ever near OSX (not that any will admit to that, of course).

Is it perfect? Nope. Is it better? Yep. Miles.

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LDS
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Re: Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

It looks there is a lot of dogmatism among Mac "followers" as well, and consequently very arrogant way to reply.

1) Actually powerful graphic libraries for 2D and 3D image manipulations exist on every platform. For advanced graphics applications, some of the code is usually from specialized libraries, or custom one. They may be different and require porting and/or an abstraction layer, especially when data needs to be displayed on the screen, and that makes development more difficult - but it's not lack of libraries. Sure, a cross platform applications is *always* more complex.

2) It is true that for *historical* reason the Mac is the preferred platform by professional art people (Mac no longer has any edge nor in hardware nor in software). But they are also those strongly tied to Adobe for the same historical reasons, because Adobe is a de facto standard, especially if you have to rely on external services for the final output (or you have to work on someone's else input), also because most of the courses, books and tutorials you can find around are aimed at Adobe products.

Many non-professional photographers/artirsts may work on Windows for several reasons, making them maybe also an attractive target for a £40 software, especially since Adobe is trying to move everybody to its CC line, and other products like Paint Shop Pro went the wrong direction.

Of course Serif knows what its resources are, and what targets have the better ROI right now. Surely, too many Windows user don't like to pay for software, even £40, and that's a big issue, if piracy kills your revenues, there's little reason to invest the money to support a platform.

Actually that's the same reason why many don't port commercial software to Linux - as long as users are not willingly to pay (and moreover the potential user base is so small), there's really no reason to invest in that direction.

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LDS
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Re: Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

Today, when you're inside an application, it's the application GUI that matters, not the OS one, especially with applications where you spend most ot the time within them, like this ones.

Is the whole OSX GUI better then Windows? Probably it is - but when I'm using for example Lightroom, there's very little differences in using it on Windows or on OSX. The GUI is the same, and only the occasional OS interaction shows the difference.

And it doesn't look today OSX doesn't need monthly updates as well... that's just the last wave: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205031 - think. there are some fonts management issues leading to arbitrary code execution just like the Windows ones...

So, if using a Mac makes you feel better, it's OK, but if it's pissing on everything else that makes you feel better, believe me, you've a problem...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

So, if using a Mac makes you feel better, it's OK, but if it's pissing on everything else that makes you feel better, believe me, you've a problem...

So no then. I gave you my motivation for switching, based on daily grind use of Linux, Windows and OSX, and I have been using Microsoft products from MS-DOS 2.00 or so, and antivirus products to keep it safe from the days of Xtree. I have also used SunOS, Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD, HPUX and AIX in anger, so I suspect I've always had a Unix bias, and I started using Linux when it still came on floppies.

To make matters worse for Apple, my last impression of MacOS was formed by being forced to use OS 9 in a telco that shall remain nameless but that no longer exists. The latter experience had sunk my impression os Apple Mac to depths even Microsoft has failed to reach (OK, Windows ME and Vista managed), so it was with the greatest reluctance that I bought a Macbook for research. I was not planning to be a convert, and I was certainly not set up in terms of expectation to enjoy it. My impression of Macs were that they were toys.

To say that I was pleasantly surprised by OSX 10.6 at the time is somewhat of an understatement. As I said before, you don't realise just how constrained working on Windows has become until you experience a Mac and just can get on with things. Even better, you can also recommend a Mac to someone else without the fear of becoming free tech support for them - you can set it up so it even does a decent backup all by itself (I'm just being me by running two separate ones).

Do I diss others? Nah, no need to. The facts are enough, and I still have to work with Windows from time to time - I just know what I prefer now from a pure, factual, "I have actually used it productively for more than a month" perspective. I am quite happy to debate the merits of any platform, it just pisses me off that people who have clearly never even been close to a Mac desktop seek to diss it on the basis of bias rather than fact.

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Re: Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

" As I said before, you don't realise just how constrained working on Windows has become until you experience a Mac"

I hear that a lot, but I have a Macbook air and using MacOs X reminds me of using a straight jacket.

Then again, after being a KDE fan for years I get the same feeling from KDE 5.

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Re: Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

Shock horror: I really have no particular bias towards Mac or Windows. I run the IT for a small company and hardware-wise, we're all Apple. Most use OS X but we've half a dozen or so folks who use Windows exclusively, mostly those of an accounting bent since there's no Sage on Mac and Mac Excel is a lumbering beast.

Myself, I dual boot between OS X and Windows but to be honest, since putting W10 on this machine, I've barely used OS X. I'll go there if I need to manipulate PDFs but W10 has plugged a lot of the gaps that used to keep me in OS X and so far has been rock-solid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hello AC - Are you mainlining that Kool-Aid ?

Myself, I dual boot between OS X and Windows but to be honest, since putting W10 on this machine, I've barely used OS X. I'll go there if I need to manipulate PDFs but W10 has plugged a lot of the gaps that used to keep me in OS X and so far has been rock-solid.

I take it you're not allowed near anything confidential or private then. When our lawyers took a look at W10 they concluded (after they finished laughing) that it was impossible to deploy in our company under those conditions without breaking not only data protection laws in a number of countries, but also get into deep trouble with our more intelligent customers who are entitled to see our audit reports. That pretty much spiked any attempt to go near Windows 10.

We haven't seen El Capitain's T&Cs yet, I guess that will happen tomorrow. Apple has nailed its colours to the mast when it comes to privacy, but it's still too early to see if they do as stated as that fight has only just started. Signs are good, but it's a battle of titans so it would be premature to declare winners.

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Anonymous Coward

A quick, public note to the articles author; Photos is not an image editor, neither is it marketed as an image editor in the same vein as Photoshop. It is an editor in the same way that Lightroom is. Or, more specifically, it's a cross between the discontinued apps iPhotos and Aperture. In fact that is exactly what it is! That you don't grok this does question your qualification as a "pro"...

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Anonymous Coward

Is there another app that allows you to organise stills and videos like iPhotos? I do not find Photos an improvement, it has fewer facilities to organise pictures (unless you build "albums" which is IMHO something that was last done in the 90s). Is that what Darkroom does?

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Happy

Paint.net

I've found Paint.net to be a great freeware program too.

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RDW

It looks like there may well be a Windows version, perhaps next year - several comments from staff accounts on the Serif blog suggest this could happen once development of the Mac version is complete:

https://affinity.serif.com/blog/affinity-photo-beta-launches/

Frankly, they'd be silly to ignore the Windows market. Adobe's switch to the rental model has created a 'buy once' niche that's ripe for exploitation. At work, we used to buy 'Creative Suite Design Standard' (PS, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, etc.) which had everything we needed. To get all these packages now, we'd need a complete Creative Cloud subscription. We qualify for academic pricing, but the cost of a single year of CC is about the same as we used to pay for a perpetual CS Design Standard licence. Since this software isn't central to what we do, and we still have current machines with CS6, we haven't subscribed to CC. In future, I suspect we'll either manage with GIMP and Inkscape, or buy Corel Suite. But Affinity for Windows might well be exactly what we're looking for.

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Anonymous Coward

Hackintosh no longer a thing?

Last time I bought an OSX disk - admittedly snow leopard, the licence agreement stated may only be used on products with the apple logo. Helpfully though, they'd included 2 adhesive apple decals, result!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hackintosh no longer a thing?

Helpfully though, they'd included 2 adhesive apple decals, result!

LOL, I love it :)

I have actually been thinking about a Hackingtosh, more as an experiment in seeing just how powerful I could make one with water cooling, but I don't have the time to mess around with hardware now. Maybe in a year or so..

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I was waiting for someone to fill the vast void the Adobe left when they went with the subscription model. I have only payed for Lightroom so far (Photoshop seemed costly), but I'm not about to switch to their subscription version.

For something only used sparingly (a few times per year), subscription makes no sense at all.

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