Affinity Photo Updated for Mac Image Editing

Serif had been producing a range of Windows graphics and publishing applications for many years but saw an opportunity when the Adobe Creative Cloud service was launched to provide a subscription-free alternative. So it decided to create a mini-suite under the Affinity brand consisting of image editing, vector illustration and page layout applications, this time just for Mac professional users. As Tony Brightman, head of Affinity development, said at the time, "We directly targeted professionals when we dreamt up the Affinity range, making performance, reliability, pro-level tools and a slick workflow our top priorities."

After a lengthy beta Affinity Designer was the first out of the gate, launching in October of last year. It subsequently received several updates, the most recent of which was last week, which have solidified its position as a serious alternative to Adobe Illustrator. The second application, Affinity Photo, was released in July. Serif apparently labored for four years to create an image processing engine that could meet its feature requirements, which include end-to-end CMYK, 16 bits per channel editing, LAB color, RAW processing, adjustment layers, customizable effects, live blend modes, sophisticated selection refinement, retouching tools, lens corrections, ICC color management and claimed "fantastic" Photoshop PSD file format and 64-bit plugin compatibility, along with an uncluttered workspace.

The first release provided peppy performance and a few slick twists, such as frequency separation editing (a popular Photoshop technique), live blend modes and so-called intelligent fills. Designer and Photo have been built on Mac technologies (as with competitor Pixelmator), which makes perfect sense but leaves Windows users pounding sand for the moment. Now the first major update of Photo has been released and has promptly been crowned by Apple as the Best Mac App of 2015.

Version 1.4 adds what Serif calls "super accurate image alignment," which shows up in more-accurate panorama stitching and live image stacks. Also significant is the inclusion of six extensions for Apple Photos, which opens up some of Affinity's technology directly from within the Apple app. Included is Develop, Liquify, Haze Removal, Miniature, Monochrome and Retouch. According to Serif Managing Director Ashley Hewson, "While Affinity Photo is a very robust professional product and will always stay that way, extensions allow us to expose some of that power in a more use-case focused way for quick and easy editing." Translation: while we want to snag the professional segment of the market, we'd love to extend that to the average Mac user.

Also of note in this upgrade is support for the extended-gamut DCI-P3 displays found in the latest iMacs; canvas rotation; PDF/X and spot color support; customizable keyboard shortcuts; additions to filters, adjustment layers and blend modes; and improvements to PSD compatibility.

Affinity Photo 1.4 for OS X can be purchased for $39.95 until December 15 (regularly $49.99) on the Apple App Store. More information and a trial version is available on the Serif site.