£47.99 (Windows or Mac) from https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/
Most photographs taken nowadays are digital (probably the vast majority) and often these pictures are taken on high powered smartphones. As a result, we now have many really good and powerful pictures hanging around. Because they are digital, these images can be easily improved, clarified and manipulated by a huge variety of software which is available. Some are free and available online and can be pretty good. Whilst the paid for software can be very slick but sometimes very expensive. This software, Affinity Photo is a paid for product but don’t let that put you off. It is not expensive and can perform the simple to the complex tasks and lies on your hard drive rather than being available online. Once purchased, there are no other subscription charges.
It comes from the company Serif who had similar products in the past but have improved and modernised them and overall this is an excellent product. I sometimes have used the built-in photo app in Windows which does the job well. However, when I upgraded recently to Windows 11, the red eye reduction tool was removed (see https://windowsreport.com/spot-fix-missing-in-photos-app/ ). This impressive piece of software, Affinity Photo Software can do this with ease and minimal technical skill. There is a tool to remove the red eye and worked well with my Windows 11 machine.
This software is hugely sophisticated, and users can start at the basics and as their skill level improves, this powerful software can provide something for everyone as they work up the skill scale. It is easy for novices to be spooked at the range of complexity which can be offered. But start simple and work up and there is plenty of help available. In case you feel overwhelmed, there is plenty of support, there is the help file of course but I found the 112 video files (I did not go through every one, just a sample of them) available launched from within the programme’s help section and also available from here very helpful https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/tutorials/photo/desktop/
I also had a hunt around Amazon and found quite a few books that would help me learn more about this sophisticated programme and at some point, I may invest in one of them. Also, there are good support forums, available from within the software. Equally, the help is also very good but simply following the help files, I managed quite easily to convert a good colour photo into black and white. However not surprisingly on YouTube there are great and free tutorial guides and I found this relatively short one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDQn7Ol1z2Q particularly helpful.
Once I succeeded in this learning mission, I started trying all the various tweaks you could do to this image which seemed huge. If the tweak did not work, it was easy to undo. I spent a lot of time delving into this programme and learning new tricks but in truth, I am sure I was simply scratching the surface.
In fact, you can easily spend hours working with this software and learning more and more. So, if you buy this kind of programme, unless you have extensive prior experience of similar programmes, be prepared to spend some time learning and making mistakes. Equally you might be keen to devote time to learn more about this superb programme. However, when you “get” one of the tricks of the programme, there is a great deal of satisfaction.
I suspect many readers will want to carry out simple actions like cropping an image, removing red eye etc but then they could slowly move to stitching panoramas, adding text then applying simple filters. Of course, that is just the beginning, and this programme (like other image manipulators) does take a lot of learning. This requires a fair bit of time but if you are passionate about photography and want to improve the images you have taken then take a look. Also compare the price with other software and you will see that this is keenly priced, and this is a one stop shop that sits on your hard drive, not online. Also, during the review period, I was offered a free upgrade to the latest version of the software, and I took up this offer. I was pleased that this software is actively supported. This upgrade fixed a problem with registration that I had with the original installation.
Overall, I think this programme which can perform simple to sophisticated image changes represents very good value for money and deserves a look at if you are in the market for a quality and reliable image manipulation programme.
Dr Harry Brown
20th March 2022