In this article, we’re going to take a brief look at the major differences between two of the heavyweights of the photo-editing world: Affinity Photo and Adobe Lightroom.
Deciding which software to use for editing your photos can be difficult. Not because there are so many different software packages out there, no. But, because the two big players available are similar in many ways but totally different in others.
Both Affinity Photo and Adobe Lightroom have the ability to correct things like exposure, color, contrast and all the other major adjustments you would require when editing an image.
Although the Develop module (or Persona as Affinity calls its workspaces) of Affinity Photo has its controls split across left and right panels, they are effectively the same as in Lightroom.
Similarly, both packages are able to work with RAW image files, and export in to file types such as TIFF.
Curves, Lens Corrections, Noise Reduction and Split Toning are again tools which both share.
Curves panel in Lightroom (Left) and Affinity Photo
White Balance, Spot Removal, Cropping and a Red Eye Reduction tool are all present in both programs.
The major difference between the two is how images are handled.
The way images are handled by Affinity Photo and Adobe Lightroom are very different. Affinity works in a similar way to Adobe Photoshop, whereby single RAW images are imported and brought straight in to the Develop Persona. This process draws direct parallels to Photoshop, where RAW images are first opened and processed through Adobe Camera Raw.
Lightroom on the other hand, can import multiple images at once, and catalog them for processing later, which is why Lightroom is classed as an Asset Manager as much as it is a photo editor.
If you need to plug a memory card from your camera into your computer and import the photos together, then you won’t be able to do this in Affinity.
Editing RAW Images
Editing RAW images in both packages is, as described earlier, fundamentally the same. There are some minor differences in the way some tools are controlled.
For example, the White Balance Picker is contained within the White Balance controls in Lightroom. In Affinity, the Picker is on the opposite side of the screen as a stand-alone tool.
The Blemish Removal Tool in Affinity is also controlled slightly differently to its Lightroom counterpart. Instead of clicking on a blemish to be removed, you have to hold the pointer and drag to a place on the image where you want the removal tool to sample from.
The ‘Persona’ field in Affinity Photo
Once you have completed your basic adjustments, the two programs again separate themselves somewhat.
In Adobe Lightroom, images from the Library module are selected, and then using File>Export the images can be exported to a variety of file types.
Affinity Photo has a very big step in between. To complete and lock-in your edits, click the ‘Develop’ button below the Persona Field and Affinity suddenly morphs in to a Photoshop-like program. Once you’ve hit Develop, you arrive at the ‘Photo Persona’. From here, you can select File>Export to open the export dialogue box. From here, the usual selection of different file types are available for your exported file.
Affinity Photo export dialogue box
There’s no real to say which application is better. They’re both good. The decision on which editor to use really depends on you, the user.
If you need to import images in large quantities; say from your holidays or a wedding, the Adobe Lightroom is the best solution as it can manage and catalog your files. Furthermore, if you only use Photoshop occasionally, then you will have access to it as part of your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
If for example you’re a commercial, studio shooter, and import and process your images through, say, Capture One; then Affinity Photo could provide you with a great alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Not only is the Affinity user interface a little bit easier to cope with than that of Photoshop, but Affinity is also attractively priced without the need for a monthly subscription.