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Affinity Photo 2 vs Photoshop: 6 Key Differences and Which Photo Editor is Better

When it comes to advanced photo editing software, Adobe Photoshop has reigned supreme for decades as the industry standard used by professionals and amateurs alike. However, Affinity Photo has emerged in recent years as a very capable lower-cost alternative to Photoshop that also offers great features and functionality.

But how exactly does Affinity Photo 2 stack up against Photoshop 2023? What are the key differences potential users should consider when deciding which platform better matches their needs and budget? This in-depth comparison guide examines the pros and cons of each software across six major factors – pricing, compatibility, layout, features, RAW editing capabilities and cloud support.

By the end, you‘ll have all the details required to determine if Affinity Photo 2 or Photoshop is the right advanced photo editor for your creative projects and workflow.

Affinity Photo 2 vs Photoshop: Side-by-Side Comparison

Affinity Photo 2 Photoshop 2023
Price $54.99 one-time payment (Windows/macOS), $21.99 (iPad) $239.88 annual subscription
Compatibility Windows, macOS, iPadOS Windows, macOS, iPadOS, iOS, Android
File Formats RAW, JPG, PNG, TIFF, PSD, PDF etc. RAW, PSD, PDF, JPG, PNG, TIFF etc.
Workflow Syncing Yes, between desktop and iPad versions Yes, across desktop and mobile apps
Plugins & Extensions Yes, including some Photoshop-compatible Yes, huge library available
Stock Media Library Yes Yes

Pricing and Payment Plans

One of the biggest differences between Affinity Photo and Photoshop lies in how each software is sold and priced.

Affinity Photo uses a simple one-time payment structure – $54.99 for a permanent license allowing you to use the Windows or macOS version. The iPadOS version is cheaper at a one-off $21.99.

This is an attractive model for casual or budget-conscious users who don‘t need constant access to the latest updates and features. Once you purchase Affinity Photo, you own that version indefinitely without further charges.

Photoshop, on the other hand, shifted to a subscription-based model since 2013. This means you pay a recurring monthly or annual fee to maintain access to the software and receive regular updates.

The Photography plan which includes both Photoshop and Lightroom costs $19.99 per month or $239.88 annually. While more expensive upfront, it allows seamless access across desktop and mobile and better supports serious hobbyist and professional creators investing heavily in Adobe‘s ecosystem.

Ultimately Affinity Photo is the cheaper option especially for users with simple needs, while Photoshop offers greater power and cloud synergy for professionals, albeit at a premium price point.

Compatibility and Device Support

In terms of compatibility and device support, Affinity Photo allows seamless cross-platform editing between Windows, Mac and iPadOS devices. This is perfect for users who work across multiple devices and appreciate a unified editing workflow.

However, Affinity Photo is currently not available on iPhone or Android mobile devices. This limits on-the-go usage if you hoped to edit photos from your smartphone.

By comparison, Photoshop is compatible with an even wider range of devices – extends support to both iOS and Android phones through the Photoshop Express app. This allows true multi-device convenience no matter what mix of gadgets you own.

The additional mobile app support gives Photoshop superiority in terms of flexible editing on more device types, better catering to users who frequently work across laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones when creating or editing images.

Interface Layout and Design

Despite being aimed at advanced photo editing, both Affinity Photo and Photoshop adhere to a similar interface layout convention expected of image manipulation software.

You have a tools palette down the left sidebar, layer controls and presets on the right sidebar, and your active document occupying the center editing space. This layout works well to balance access to tools while keeping the image preview clearly in sight.

Affinity Photo however uses the concept of "Personas" to further adapt its layout and visible tools depending on the current task. For example, the Photo Persona shows RAW editing and retouch tools, while the Liquify Persona surfaces tools related to distortion effects.

This adaptable single-window interface makes Affinity Photo a little more user-friendly to navigate compared to Photoshop‘s static toolbar system. Photoshop instead relies on having so many nested tools and menus that digging to find a particular functions can sometimes be tedious.

Overall, Affinity Photo has a slight edge for its flexible context-aware interface while achieving complex edits. Photoshop however offers unmatched depth even if finding the right tool is harder.

Image Editing Features and Tools

Considering its decades long development history, Adobe Photoshop understandably leads in terms of total features for image manipulation and editing. Its breadth and depth of tools built up over 30 years is unparalleled.

From advanced selection, masking and compositing to paint tools, filters and effects – Photoshop sets the bar with both essentials and exotics covered to cater to any creative need. Bonus features like 3D tools, AI-infused utilities, batch processing and video support further cement its capabilities.

Affinity Photo puts up a great fight however as a lower-cost yet well-equipped rival. It includes a wide selection of familiar selection, retouching, adjustment and correction tools competitive with Photoshop‘s fundamentals. The unique Persona interfaces also streamline accessing these features.

Impressively, Affinity even mimics Photoshop‘s core capabilities like non-destructive editing, unlimited layers, blend modes, levels adjustments etc. Very few critical features are missing even if extras like 3D or AI is unavailable.

Ultimately Photoshop has far more extras, but Affinity expertly delivers on the most common image editing necessities at a lower price. It hits above its weight but still falls slightly short of matching Photoshop wholesale.

RAW File Editing Performance

For photographers working extensively with RAW format images, both Affinity Photo and Photoshop deliver robust RAW processing and editing tools.

That said, Photoshop generally has the edge regarding RAW performance. Batch exporting or converting a folder of RAW shots tends to be faster thanks to better multi-threading and implementation. Editing response time when adjusting RAW parameters also feels snappier on the same hardware.

Affinity Photo is still highly capable as a RAW editor. Image quality is preserved excellently when making exposure, color and tone edits. Just expect occasional lags working with huge 60-100MB photos or exporting batches compared to Photoshop‘s well-optimized pipeline.

For most users Affinity handles RAW great, but Photoshop‘s sheer refinement offers a smoother experience for professionals shooting primarily in RAW.

Cloud Storage and Sync Support

When evaluating image editing suites, cloud storage and sync support are also vital considerations now we frequently switch between devices.

Unfortunately Affinity Photo does not currently support any cloud libraries for storing documents online. All your edited files only reside locally making back-ups and transfers more manual.

Meanwhile, Photoshop‘s subscription plans include free cloud storage to easily save and share your work. 20GB is offered by default but can be expanded to 1TB+ if you edit and store thousands of large images that quickly fill up drives.

Easy backup and syncing across desktop and mobile apps is highly advantageous for collaborations or accessing your latest files everywhere. For this reason, Photoshop again pulls ahead for users juggling distributed projects across multiple devices and locations.

Key Facts and Summary Points

Before deciding on which advanced photo editor better suits your needs, keep these key facts in mind:

  • Affinity Photo uses a cheap but very capable one-time payment model costing $55.
  • Photoshop requires a $240 annual subscription for the Photography plan.
  • Affinity supports Windows, Mac and iPadOS devices natively.
  • Photoshop adds official support for Android/iOS smartphones.
  • Both have similar layouts but Affinity Photo streamlines tools with Personas.
  • Photoshop far exceeds on niche creative features beyond image editing.
  • For RAW photography, Photoshop generally demonstrates better performance.
  • Cloud storage and automated syncing only available with Photoshop.

The Verdict: Affinity Photo 2 vs Photoshop in 2023

When judging strictly by price and core functionality, Affinity Photo 2 emerges as a very tempting budget-friendly alternative to replacing Photoshop entirely in your creative arsenal.

It nails down most standard photo editing tools at a one-time cost that‘s very wallet-friendly for casual users. Importing PSD files from Photoshop also makes transitioning easier if you‘ve relied on Adobe before.

However, Photoshop still justifies its position as the industry leader if you want niche capabilities like 3D compositing or AI-aided tools that Affinity lacks. Seamless syncing across desktop and mobile apps also gives it an edge for convenience.

Ultimately, while Affinity Photo‘s lower cost and intuitiveness makes it great value against mature but expensive software like Photoshop, power users will still appreciate Adobe‘s vastly superior feature set. Casual editors on a budget can confidently switch thanks to Affinity though.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Affinity Photo work as a complete Photoshop replacement?

For the majority of common image editing tasks, Affinity Photo can effectively replace Photoshop even at a lower price. Advanced power users may miss some niche features however.

Can I edit Photoshop PSD files in Affinity Photo?

Yes, Affinity Photo retains full support and capability for opening and editing PSD files created via Photoshop. This makes transitioning projects easier.

Is Affinity Photo available on iPhone or Android phones?

Unfortunately Affinity Photo (and its sister apps) are currently only available on Windows, Mac and iPad devices. Mobile support is limited as of now.

Does Affinity Photo offer a free trial period?

Yes, Affinity allows a generous 10-day free trial to test the app without restrictions before needing to purchase a full license.

Is Photoshop worth paying for if I just do basic edits?

For simple cropping and filter effects, free software like GIMP or PhotoScape may suffice instead of paying for Photoshop monthly. Evaluate if advanced tools are required.