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

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

When it comes to software that can manipulate and edit images, Photoshop has long been the gold standard for everything and everyone.

Unsurprisingly, Photoshop’s place as the top program in the photo editing field has given rise to numerous competitors including the likes of Affinity Photo 2. Often considered one of Photoshop’s biggest competitors, these two applications are often competing on just about every platform, and that’s good news for users. 

If you’re a digital artist and wondering which program is better for you, let’s take a look at the key difference between these two photo editing giants and see which one might be best for you. 

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

infographic for Affinity Photo 2 vs Adobe Photoshop
Affinity Photo 2Photoshop
Price$69.99 desktop, $19.99 iPad$19.99 monthly (subscription)
Compatibility Windows, macOS, iPadWindows, macOS, (Photoshop Express for iPad/Android)
File FormatsRAW, JPG, PNG, TIFF, PDF, PSD, PSB, AIRAW, PDF, JPG, PNG, TIFF
Device SwappingYes, between desktop and iPadNo (but supports desktop and iPad)
Plug-insYes, including Photoshop-compatible optionsYes, available through plugin marketplace
Stock Library?YesYes
Photoshop Subscription
Adobe Photoshop 1-Month Subscription
$34.49
  • Adobe Photoshop - Photo, Image, and Design Editing Software
  • 1-month subscription
  • PC/Mac compatibility
  • Electronic download
  • Automatic renewal or cancel anytime
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/04/2024 04:06 pm GMT

Please Note: As of July 19, 2023, the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography 1-month Subscription is currently unavailable on Amazon. If you are unable to locate this product elsewhere, please check back later.

Affinity Photo 2 vs. Photoshop: What’s the Difference? 

Pricing

For as long as many people will remember, Photoshop has always been at the higher end of the price spectrum. As the category leader in photo editing, Photoshop has been able to command a high price that people have been willing to pay because of its outstanding features and functionality. Today, as competition mounts, there are plenty of excellent Photoshop alternatives like Affinity Photo 2 that cost less.  

With Affinity Photo, you will pay a one-off payment to use with either Windows or macOS for just $69.99. There is no subscription, no extra charges, and no additional fees — just a one-time payment.

If you want to use Affinity Photo on both Windows and macOS concurrently, the one-time charge increases to $169.99 for a universal license. Separately, purchasing Affinity Photo for the iPad only costs $19.99 and has proven itself to be among the App Store’s best photo editors. Like the desktop versions, the iPad release of Affinity Photo has no subscriptions or monthly fees. 

To help offset some of the concerns over its steep costs, Adobe has shifted the Photoshop business model to more of a monthly subscription. Today’s price is $19.99 monthly and includes support for both Photoshop on the desktop with Windows or macOS as well as support for iPad/iPhone. In addition, the monthly cost includes support for Lightroom, another hugely popular Adobe application. As part of the monthly subscription, Photoshop also offers 1TB of cloud storage for keeping all of your work backed up in the cloud. 

Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription
Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan (Photoshop + Lightroom) 1-month Subscription
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan includes Photoshop and Lightroom
  • 20GB
  • 1-month subscription
  • PC/Mac
  • Auto-renewal or cancel anytime
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Compatibility 

For the most part, Affinity Photo 2 is universally built to run the same on both desktop and iPad OS. This is great news for users as this makes it easy to pick up and go with either device, depending on when and where you need to edit. There are some interface changes to accommodate the smaller size of the iPad display, but it’s still as fully featured as the desktop version which is a big win for Affinity Photo customers. 

On the other hand, Photoshop has its fully-featured desktop software which is truly a feature-rich application with every bell and whistle you could ever hope for in a photo editing app. Photoshop Express, the portable version of Photoshop, offers a more limited selection of basic image editing, retouching images, adding special effects, etc. It’s perfect for on-the-go but not for more serious jobs that require the desktop version. 

While Affinity Photo 2 can directly import the various types of file formats familiar to Photoshop, the reverse is not true. If you use the AFPHOTO file format used by Affinity Photo 2, Photoshop will not be able to open and support the PSD file format. Photoshop’s default file format has long been the standard format all competitive tools need compatibility with. 

Layout

As is the case with most photo editors of sorts, the layout of Affinity Photo 2 and Photoshop look somewhat similar to the untrained eye. On the left-hand side of both applications is the tool palette, while the top is where you will find your tool properties and things like layers will live on the right-hand side. Likewise, the biggest window available in both applications will be for whatever image or project you are working on. 

Where Affinity Photo 2 shines a little more brightly is with its personas and flexibility. Integrated directly into the application, Personas help adjust which tools are shown based on which Persona is selected. The available personas include one for photo editing, liquifying, developing, tone mapping, and exporting. As soon as any one of these personas is selected, the overall layout will change to provide you with the most common and used features. 

Photoshop is a little less flexible in its layout but it’s still familiar in the same sense. For the most part, the Photoshop layout hasn’t massively changed over time and this is not a bad thing. If it isn’t broken, you don’t fix it, but Adobe hasn’t made huge strides to update the Photoshop layout as any changes have been more evolutionary than revolutionary.

Anyone familiar with Lightroom will likely also be familiar with Photoshop, but that’s only if you are familiar with the platform already. There’s also no question that, over the years, Adobe has added more to the Photoshop feature line-up and it’s made the learning curve a bit more difficult. 

Photoshop photo editing
Affinity Photo 2 offers a wide array of features with a similar layout to what you’re used to with Photoshop.

Features

When it comes to features, Photoshop as a standalone application is undoubtedly going to have more features. Things like AI-powered tools are part of Photoshop’s bag of tricks and they help give it a leg up over the competition. The same can be said for 3D image creation and working with video inside Photoshop are all part of its rich selection of features. Add in things like more available controls with layers and masking options and you have a platform that can do just about anything as far as photo manipulation. 

Another highlight as far as features for Photoshop are the use of its sub-options inside its toolbar. For example, if you look at the left-hand side tool palette, you’ll see an option for the marquee tool. What Photoshop offers is not just a marquee tool, but then another subset of tools inside this high-level tool to increase the number of available features and editing opportunities. 

None of this is to say that Affinity Photo 2 is feature-poor — on the contrary, as it’s quite advanced as a Photoshop competitor. Affinity Photo 2 excels at providing its users with some of the best retouching tools around and it does so by making it more intuitive than Photoshop. The same goes for its library of brush tools which are just as good as Photoshop but more enjoyable to navigate and discover. Like Photoshop, Affinity Photo 2 also includes an unlimited number of layers and effects that can go into each layer. Ultimately, you can get 90 plus percent of the Photoshop features included at a far smaller cost, which is a huge win for Affinity Photo 2 users. 

RAW Editing

When it comes to RAW editing, Affinity Photo 2 can hold its own, but it’s definitely not as fully detailed as Photoshop. While it’s probably more than good enough for the overwhelming majority of users, power users might find things like bulk processing more frustrating to use when compared to Photoshop.

Photoshop is also more responsive when it comes to actually making edits to RAW photos, so between bulk processing/exporting and responsiveness, Photoshop is likely the better option for anyone who spends most of their time working with RAW photography. 

One of the biggest considerations for any amateur or professional photo editor is how well it handles RAW image processing. Photoshop, unsurprisingly, has long been the gold standard for RAW editing, and for good reason. You also have access to a wonderful workflow with Photoshop, and RAW is one of the biggest advantages in its favor. What really works to Photoshop’s advantage is the integration of Lightroom which adds additional options for RAW editing and image processing, so it’s a major plus for Adobe and its software platforms. 

Cloud Support

In a tech-centric world where cloud support is almost expected for many major software applications, it’s notable to see that Affinity Photo 2 does not include such a feature. While it’s likely because their one-time payment structure doesn’t allow for ongoing costs to run a cloud, it’s a definite omission on developer Affinity’s behalf. It’s something to consider when you are trying to choose between these two applications. While you can swap your work between the desktop and iPad versions of the software, it’s not going to save edits made on either platform to a cloud. 

Because of Adobe’s subscription model, they have been able to add cloud support from the get-go. The $19.99 price point includes support for 1TB of cloud storage which means you can pick up your work anywhere Photoshop is installed and you can log in with an account.

It’s highly advantageous to use the cloud to back up your work in the event of a hardware failure and it makes using Photoshop feel a little more secure in that you won’t lose hours and hours of progress on a project in the event of an unforeseen issue. 

Affinity Photo 2 vs. Photoshop: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Affinity Photo 2 only requires a one-time purchase cost and provides ongoing support including future software updates for bug fixes, new features, etc. 
  • Photoshop requires a monthly subscription cost but that cost allows for cloud storage as well as access to both Photoshop and Lightroom. 
  • Both Photoshop and Affinity Photo 2 work on Windows, macOS and iPad while Photoshop also has a scaled-down app known as Photoshop Express that also works on Android and iPhone. 
  • RAW editing is more functional on Photoshop as it’s slightly easier to manage edits as well as bulk processing/exporting.
  • Affinity Photo 2 has a free trial for 30 days which requires no signups or credit card holds. 
Photoshop Subscription
Adobe Photoshop 1-Month Subscription
$34.49
  • Adobe Photoshop - Photo, Image, and Design Editing Software
  • 1-month subscription
  • PC/Mac compatibility
  • Electronic download
  • Automatic renewal or cancel anytime
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/04/2024 04:06 pm GMT
Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription
Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan (Photoshop + Lightroom) 1-month Subscription
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan includes Photoshop and Lightroom
  • 20GB
  • 1-month subscription
  • PC/Mac
  • Auto-renewal or cancel anytime
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Affinity Photo 2 vs. Photoshop: Which is Better? 

The question of whether Affinity Photo 2 or Photoshop is a better photo editor is a highly subjective question. There are no doubt going to be fans on both sides of this discussion, but in the end, Affinity Photo 2 is definitely the easier of the two applications to navigate.

Rest assured that both Affinity Photo 2 and Photoshop have a strong learning curve — they have to with all of the thousands of built-in features, available plugins, and more. 

Affinity Photo 2 is likely to be more user-friendly, and that’s especially true of the iPad version where the developers tried to simplify the interface as much as possible. At the end of the day, these are both great apps, and while Photoshop may still be the gold standard for photo editing, Affinity Photo 2 is every bit just as good.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is Affinity Photo 2 to use? How about Photoshop?

Affinity Photo 2 is primarily focused on its one-time $69.99 price point for desktops and $19.99 for iPad. Photoshop is $19.99 per month in perpetuity while using the application. 

Are there any free open-source alternatives to Photoshop?

Yes, applications like GIMP are well-known Photoshop alternatives that are free and open-source. 

Does Affinity Photo 2 or Photoshop offer any type of cloud storage?

Only Photoshop offers any type of cloud storage as part of its subscription service. 

Can you use Affinity Photo 2 on an iPhone?

Unfortunately, you cannot use any of the Affinity apps on an iPhone. 

What is the difference between Affinity Photo and Affinity Photo 2?

With the release of Affinity Photo 2, Affinity was able to redesign the user interface and introduce a number of new features and tools all while keeping the price the same. 

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