Affinity Photo vs. Photoshop: Key Differences

For the longest time, it seems that the word ‘Photoshop’ has been synonymous with image editing in general for a very large number of people around the world. The reason for this is Photoshop’s dominance in the editing world as it is the most widely used and endorsed image editing software used by professional photographers. Many other image editors have come around and tried to dethrone Photoshop but haven’t really lived up to the mark.

Now, however, there’s another entrant that challenges Adobe Photoshop directly as the best image editor. And this software, named Affinity Photo, is one of the closest and fullest competitors Photoshop has seen in a while. Let’s pit Affinity Photo vs. Photoshop and see whether it’s ready to replace the latter or not.

Purpose and Audience

Both Affinity Photo and Photoshop are raster image editors available for both MacOS and Windows. Photoshop was introduced way back in the 1980s and has been the most famous image editor since its inception. It offers exceptional control over photos thanks to its countless tools that allow people to get some pixel-level editing done in no time. It does have a steep learning curve and is designed mainly to be used by professional photographers, graphic designers, and illustrators, etc.

Affinity Photo is a much younger product, being introduced in 2015. It’s an editing program developed from the ground up, aiming to bring advanced controls and tools to people in a comparatively easier to use package. A lot of the controls Affinity Photo has are similar to those of Photoshop’s so it’s also aiming to be used by photographers and designers. However, one thing the Affinity Photo editor as going for it against Photoshop is the considerably lower price tag which makes it suitable to be used by regular folk as well.


It’s no secret that Photoshop’s interface has been difficult to get used to for some time but with the newer CC versions, Adobe really made the interface cleaner and easier to use. However, most Affinity Photo reviews will tell you that its interface is one of its stronger suits against Photoshop. It’s clean, minimalist, has great positioning of different controls and the ability to separate the different windows for a much cleaner look. This means you can drag different controls to wherever you want on the screen as small windows.

Affinity interface

Photoshop’s design by default is a little overwhelming. There’s a lot happening on the screen and users need to spend a little time with it to know where everything is but that’s usual with many advanced image editors. Overall, we prefer Affinity Photo as far as design is concerned but that’s not to say that Photoshop’s design is bad.

Photoshop Interface


We’re just going to say it: Affinity has a long list of features available, but Photoshop has more. There’s just so much you can do in Photoshop that it’s going to win every Affinity Photo vs. Photoshop battle if you’re concerned with the number of tools available. Some key features that Photoshop has but Affinity Photo doesn’t are 3D features as well as a Video Timelines, Scripting tools, Animation tools, and 3D printing tools. The level of control you have over your images within Photoshop is something other programs can’t match and that’s largely due to the sheer number of controls it provides.

With that said, Affinity Photo is a more focused software in some ways as it gives users a selected number of controls that are all very well-designed. The Move Tool in Affinity Photo, for example, is better than Photoshop’s as it allows you not only grab an object but also resize it right there and then as opposed to activating the Transform tool in Photoshop. Other notable features in the Affinity Photo editor are high-end filters, very accurate selection tools, a number of live-blend modes, and intuitive export settings.


As far as sheer performance speed goes, both programs are very similar. Affinity Photo is slightly quicker to open than Photoshop but it’s not a massive difference. As for the space both programs require on a computer, Affinity Photo has a size of 344MB while Photoshop has a size of 881MB. Affinity Photo, therefore, takes up lesser space once installed. However, Photoshop’s larger size is warranted by the fact that it brings more features and tools. Regardless, if you are not in definite need of those extra features than Affinity Photo will be much more lightweight and easy on your computer’s resources.

Photoshop System Requirements (WIN)

Intel® or AMD processor with 64-bit support;

2 GHz or faster processor

Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (64-bit), Windows 10 (Version 1709 or later)

2 GB or more of RAM (8 GB recommended)

3.1 GB or more of available hard-disk space for 64-bit installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system)

1024 x 768 display (1280×800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB or more of dedicated VRAM; 2 GB is recommended

OpenGL 2.0-capable system

Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services

Affinity Photo System Requirements (WIN)

DirectX 10-compatible Graphics Cards and above.

Windows-based PC with mouse or equivalent input device.

2GB RAM (4GB RAM recommended)

593MB of available space; more during installation

Windows® 10, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 7 (Service Pack 1; Aero enabled) (64 bit)

1280×768 display size or better

Photoshop System Requirements (MAC)

Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support

macOS version 10.12 (Sierra), macOS version 10.13 (High Sierra), or macOS version 10.14 (Mojave)

2 GB or more of RAM (8 GB recommended)

4 GB or more of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system)

1024 x 768 display (1280×800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB or more of dedicated VRAM; 2 GB is recommended*

OpenGL 2.0-capable system Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services

Affinity Photo System Requirements (WIN)

Mac Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Mini

Intel 64-bit Core 2 Duo or better (from 2007)

2GB RAM minimum

10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, 10.12 Sierra, 10.13 High Sierra, 10.14 Mojave

1.04GB of available space; more during installation

Cannot be installed on removable flash storage or a volume with a case-sensitive file system

Additional space is required to edit images

1280×768 display size or better
Supports regular, retina, and expanded gamut DCI-P3 displays


If Photoshop wasn’t already packed with features, it allows you to add an endless amount of plugins and add-ons to make it even more powerful. This is one of those things that make Photoshop undisputed as far as control goes and is also a reason why so many people around the world prefer it over other editors. This, combined with the keyboard shortcuts that you can use to get your work done quickly is one of the best things about Photoshop.

Affinity Photo is also pretty customizable as far as keyboard shortcuts go but it cannot compete with Photoshop quite at the same level in this category.


This is the department where Photoshop simply gets blown out of the water by Affinity Photo. When Adobe announced the CC versions of its software, it also introduced a subscription-based payment model. So, in order to use Photoshop as part of the Adobe Photography Plan, you will be paying $12 per month for as long as you wish to use Photoshop.

On the other hand, Affinity Photo has a one-time fee of $48.99. You can even use the Affinity Photo trial before deciding if you want to buy the software or not. This fee is much lower than Photoshop’s when you consider that you don’t have to pay another dime to use Affinity Photo after you’ve bought it. To clarify, the price to use Affinity Photo for a lifetime is close to the price of using Adobe Photoshop for just 4 months. So, unless you have a huge photography business and you definitely need Photoshop, Affinity Photo will cost you much less for similar functionality.

Customer Support and Updates

Adobe has a long history of providing users with solid customer support and updating its software regularly. The CC version of Photoshop, you can also be sure of getting regular updates with more features and bug fixes, etc. Photoshop, like other Adobe software, also has a very large online community always available to help new users to get a hang of the different features.

The maker of Affinity Photo, Serif is a company that is filled with talented professionals working to make Affinity Photo the best image editor and dethrone Photoshop. This kind of dedication plays well in favor of the end-user. The company offers 24/7 support, provides regular updates that make the software better with each new version, and are more reactive to issues within the software than Adobe at this point. The editor doesn’t have an online community of users as big as Photoshop’s but if the company keeps improving the software then that community will grow very quickly as well.

And with that, our Affinity Photo vs. Photoshop battle comes to an end. Both of these are extremely powerful image editing programs that will serve your needs unless you have very specific kind of requirements that only one of the two can fulfill. Affinity Photo is new, it’s young, and it doesn’t have the presence that Photoshop enjoys at the moment but it’s a surprisingly complete image editing alternative to Photoshop that comes at a much lesser price. However, it’s still unable to replace Photoshop as far as sheer control over one’s photos is concerned.

Your decision, therefore, comes down to what you actually need your photo editor to do. If you’re not in need of 3D tools and the use of countless add-ons, then give the Affinity Photo trial a shot and you might find it perfect for your needs. But if you can’t work without highly advanced tools and the .psd filetype, then Photoshop is still the undisputed champion of photo editors.