Photoshop, the undisputed king of image editing software, has been with us for over 30 years since its launch in 1990 and is today the industry standard.

The story of the publishing software Quark XPress serves as a cautionary tale. In the 1990s, XPress had a staggering 95% market share, leading to a sense of complacency and arrogance within the company.

They failed to prioritize user needs and provide adequate support, leaving their customers feeling abused. Enter Adobe with InDesign.

InDesign proved to be a technically superior product, treating users respectfully, and offering a more user-friendly and feature-rich experience. InDesign gradually eroded Quark XPress's dominance, culminating in the latter's current market share of 0.45% in 2023.

A monster truck on subscription

Photoshop has evolved into an 18-wheeled monster truck that can take on anything and everything. It has become sluggish and very demanding of your computer hardware, a result of Feature bloat - new tools and functionality constantly added to sell upgrades.

Photoshop is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. The subscription is $24 per month for Photoshop only. When you stop paying, Photoshop stops working and you loose access to your files. You have to pay in perpetuity for Photoshop.

Update June 6, 2024: Adobe released new Terms Of Use. All images stored on Adobe Creative Cloud are subject to scanning by Adobe - and they can share this data with technology and marketing partners. You can not decline, only accept and continue.

It makes sense for Serif Affinity to challenge Adobe. In addition to Photo, they have Designer which takes aim at Adobe Illustrator and Publisher which replaces InDesign. And they do not have a subscription model. You pay $80, and use Affinity Photo forever on up to three devices. Or the full suite of Photo, Designer and Publisher for $200. No subscription.

As of March 2024, the Affinity-suite is part of Canva, with a promise that Affinity Photo, Designer and Publisher will always be available for purchase with a perpetual license.

Hardware-accelerated joy

Affinity Photo is hardware accelerated pure joy. Intuitive, elegant and fast. Vector and raster graphics integrated. Magic selection brush, non-destructive Live filters and effects which be modified on the fly, RAW develop, tight typography controls, liquidity, vector layers, pixel layers, effect layers.....

Working in Affinity Photo 2

A good intro is how professional creators work in Photo, Designer and Publisher on Affinity's Creative Sessions on YouTube.

Affinity Photo can handle a wide range of computationally intensive tasks with ease. Tasks such as working with complex pattern layers, applying dynamic filters, performing liquify transformations, enabling smooth 60fps zooming, stitching panoramas, and processing high-dynamic-range (HDR) imagery can all be accomplished intuitively and without destructive modifications to the original image data.

This means that Affinity Photo can provide users with a more responsive, dynamic, and non-destructive workflow compared to the limitations inherent in the original Photoshop design.

Here I'm experimenting with Frequency Separation, an advanced technique used to create this unreal beauty in fashion photographs - in Affinity Photo this becomes trivial.

Frequency Separation in Affinity Photo

Runs ridiculously fast on an i5 PC with 16gb RAM and a 10 year old QuadroFX 2000 graphics card.

This contextual awareness is a true time-saver, allowing me to stay focused and efficient. Gone are the hours of sifting through cluttered menus and toolbars, trying to find the right tool for the job.

Affinity Photo's clean and streamlined interface presents me with only the most relevant options, reducing visual clutter and making my creative process flow smoothly. Here's a showcase image by Affinity...

Showcase image by Affinity

As I transition between different tasks and creative phases, Affinity Photo's interface seamlessly adapts, ensuring that the tools I require are always at my fingertips.

Below a focus-merge shared by Serif. At extreme close-up, macro, the focus depth becomes very limited. By taking a number of images with different parts in focus, Affinity Photo merge several images into one where everything is in focus....

Focus Merge - Affinity Photo