Affinity Photo 2 Review: Powerful Photoshop Rival

The Affinity Photo 2 is packed up with unique features and comes with a redesigned interface. This budget software is a godsend for those looking for a powerful photo editor without a monthly subscription.

Affinity Photo 2

Affinity Photo 2 Pros & Cons


  • No subscription required
  • Tone Mapping
  • Panorama Stitching
  • PhotoShop Alternative on a Budget
  • Best Value for Money
  • Affordable
  • Professional-level editing capabilities


  • Learning Curve
  • No Cataloging Tools
  • No Browsing Tools
  • Slightly complex for beginners

Affinity Photo 2 Review

The closest direct competitor to Photoshop on the market is Affinity Photo 2. Available on a budget, fully featured, and with no subscription required, this software has all the perks to make it a strong rival for all the photo editors out there. While it can also be used for very quick and basic image alterations, it’s built for sophisticated, intricate, and advanced image modification like Photoshop and other advanced photo editors.

Affinity Photo 2 Review: Powerful Photoshop Rival

Affinity Photo is a general-purpose design tool, not just a photo editor, like Photoshop. It facilitates the creation of visuals using vector graphics and the addition of text using type layers. It’s evident that Affinity places a lot of its attention on the design community.

Affinity Photo is not particularly intended for beginners because it lacks cataloguing and browsing options and one-click “looks” for social media platforms.

Five separate workspaces are available in Affinity Photo for various tasks. These aren’t merely various setups of the same tools. Different tools are utilized at various phases of the workflow. These Personas are the Photo Persona, Liquify, Develop, Tone Mapping, and Export Personas in the order of appearance on the top toolbar.

What’s New in Affinity Photo 2

Aside from an updated interface Affinity Photo 2 has more to offer. Here are a few key updates to the software.

JPEG XL support is one of the major updates in Affinity 2. More and more platforms are supporting JPEG XL (.jxl) files. The format is meant to better handle large color gamut color spaces with high dynamic range, and it supports both lossy and lossless compression. In comparison to.jpg,.jxl offers more channels, better image quality, and a larger size.

One of the new notable features in Affinity Photo 2 is the ability to edit Raw files without destroying them in RAW Develop, which functions similarly to Adobe Camera Raw in Adobe’s rival Photoshop application. Users can modify development settings like exposure, black point, contrast, saturation, and more during the editing process with non-destructive Raw development, even after adding numerous adjustment layers or masks to the image.

Affinity Photo 2 Review: Powerful Photoshop Rival

Regarding the masks feature, with Affinity Photo you can use the add, intersect, remove, and XOR operations to non-destructively combine several mask layers. 

A new live mesh warp function enables users to warp a picture or file to fit the surface of an underlying template, which is less photo editing for photographers and more for graphic designers. For instance, you can use the non-destructive warp to make a picture appear natural on a page that has been distorted in a book or magazine. The added option to modify the illumination data baked into normal maps will be appreciated by texture artists.

Affinity Photo 2 Review: Powerful Photoshop Rival

A non-destructive mask that automatically updates based on the characteristics of the underlying image is also newly introduced. Photo 2 comes with a new hue range mask tool allowing you to make a mask based on a certain color in your image. Affinity Photo 2 can mask individual brightness ranges in addition to the hue range mask. For instance, you can precisely alter simply the highlights, only the shadows, or any luminosity range in between.

Band-pass is a form of mask employed by retouchers that are concentrated around an image’s edges, which should be useful for editors that operate on various frequency layers. A new stored layer state feature allows you to rapidly evaluate particular types of layers based on color tag, layer type, name, and lock status if you frequently make changes to different layers or utilize layers to create “versions” of the same image.

The Wrap-Up

Affinity Photo 2 is a worth-it upgrade for those looking for a powerful photo editor that can rival Photoshop without having to pay a hefty monthly subscription fee. Affinity Photo stands out because it claims to be the only fully featured photo editor that is compatible with macOS, Windows, and iPad. The award-winning software has everything you need to edit and retouch photographs, create multi-layered compositions, stunning raster paints, and much more. It does so with astonishing speed, power, and precision. Coupled with a revamped interface and affordability, Affinity Photo is a great photo editor overall.

We have also reviewed Affinity Designer 2, another software from Serif’s Affinity Suite. You can read the full review on one of the best illustrators on a budget here.

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