Serif's Adobe Photoshop rival Affinity Photo gets a major update

Serif Affinity Photo 1.4

Serif took a bold gamble with its Affinity series, producing brand new professional level Mac applications for photographers and designers, in the form of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. Previously best known as a developer of low-cost windows software, Serif is pitching its new Affinity apps at professionals – even though they're on sale at extremely competitive prices.

It's now announced its first major update to Affinity Photo, first released in July 2015. Affinity Photo 1.4 has all-new and highly accurate image alignment technology which will offer advanced panorama stitching – Adobe's Photomerge technology already offers this feature in Photoshop.

The new technology will also allow the precise alignment of image 'stacks' for tasks as simple as object removal or the blending of multiple exposure composites.

Serif Affinity Photo 1.4 screenshot

Affinity Photo's new image alignment technology can be used to stitch panoramic images.

"The accuracy of panorama stitching in the app really is as good as it gets – and with Affinity Photo's advanced memory management you can build up images of 100s of megapixels and still have incredible performance when you go to edit," says Ashley Hewson, Serif's Managing Director.

New Apple Photos extensions in El Capitan

Mac owners who've upgraded to El Capitan now have access to Apple Photos' 'extensions' architecture. This is not unlike the plug-in architecture for Photoshop, whereby third-party developers can add software tools that can be accessed directly from Photos.

There are a few Apple Photos extensions out there already, but Serif has hit the ground running by releasing no fewer than six with Affinity Photo 1.4:

  • Develop – a version of Serif's raw conversion toolset, with full RAW editing capability now available from within Photos
  • Liquify – a tool for warping and re-sculpting areas of images
  • Haze Removal – "intelligently removing fog, mist and smog" and a nod, we imagine, to the new Dehaze tool in Adobe Lightroom
  • Miniature – for depth of field and tilt shift adjustments using selective blur techniques
  • Monochrome – offering fine control over black and white conversion
  • Retouch – including a full suite of retouching tools and smart pixel selection

"Opening up the ability for developers to produce extensions for Photos was a big part of the El Capitan update, and it's been fun writing for it," says Hewson.

Other new features and improvements in Affinity Photo 1.4 include canvas rotation, PDF/X and spot colour support, filter additions, adjustment layers and blend modes, and improvements to Photoshop PSD file compatibility – this will be an important factor in persuading Photoshop users to migrate.

Pricing and updates

Serif's been keen to point out that its software is sold as a conventional licence and not as a subscription, and has committed to releasing regular free updates for "at least the first couple of years".

Serif's vector art app Affinity Designer has been updated at the same time and both updates are available now via the Mac App Store.

For new customers, they are on sale at a special price of £29.99/$39.99 until December 15th, after which they revert to the normal price of £39.99/$49.99.

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Rod Lawton is Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography magazines, including Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Professional Photography, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop.