For years I used Adobe Photoshop, it’s a must-have program for photographers and visual artists. Years ago Adobe removed the option to have a permanent license, forcing us all to switch to a subscription service in order to continue to use Photoshop and all the other programs they make. The subscription model seems nice on the surface, you pay $10/month and you get Photoshop and Lightroom and every update as long as you pay. The problem is that the moment you stop paying you lose access to the program and you cannot edit your own files anymore. With a permanent license, if you decided to not upgrade you would just be left with an outdated program but with the ability to edit your files. The subscription model keeps you hooked forever with the threat of cutting you out of accessing your own artwork. It’s a life sentence.
But the biggest problem with the subscription model is the lack of choice. If I don’t need Lightroom I still have to pay for it because the smallest subscription includes both Photoshop and Lightroom. If I want to add Premiere to the bundle, I have to pay the highest subscription model, $50/month, which gives me access to a bunch of programs, like Acrobat, Illustrator and many others, that I don’t need. It’s a total waste. At $50/month my cost per year is $600 just to have access to Premiere the few times that I need it. Over five years that is $3,000. It’s a lot of money for accessing software that I use sporadically (Premiere). I stopped using Lightroom in favor of Capture One, which has a much better tethered capture, layered non-destructive editing, and it’s much, much faster. So, even the basic CC subscription was used only at 50%. One more strike against the inefficiency and waste of the subscription model.
Adobe should provide a choice: permanent license with a paid upgrade for people who like that model, and a subscription for others who prefer that system. They should also provide a more flexible subscription model.
Fortunately, I found an alternative. Totall, by chance I found a program called Affinity Photo. Photo is a image editor that is, in many ways, even better than Photoshop. It has almost all the power of the Adobe product and it adds several improvements of its own. Selection of complex subjects is many times better than in Photoshop. I was able to isolate subjects with Affinity Photo that I was never able to select with Photoshop.
The layer control is fantastic. Adjustment layers can be easily applied to just one layer instead of all the layers underneath. Keyboard shortcuts are similar to PS but in several cases they work better. For example, the M keyboard cycles through the Marquee selections without requiring to press Shift. Affinity Photo provides a real non-destructive workflow and it has compatibility with the PSD format. The exporting module, or “persona” as it is called, is extremely powerful, and the Liquify persona will please anybody who struggled with the Liquify filter of Photoshop. Photo also provides a built-in Frequency Separation plugin that is fantastic for skin retouching.
Hundreds of video tutorials
Adopting Affinity Photo has been made easy by the wealth of very-well produced video tutorials that the company has made available. These tutorials are short, to the point, and very well narrated. Every product should be documented this well.
In my opinion, just the selection tool and the frequency separation plugin of Affinity Photo are enough to justify the purchase, even if you decide to continue to use Photoshop.
Affinity Photo is sold at $49.95 for a permanent license. No subscription required. I gave it a try for ten days and afterward I was so pleased that I stopped my Adobe subscription. Not only Affinity Photo works well as a Photoshop replacement, but I actually like the way it works better than Photoshop. It feels more friendly and clear. Many operations are just simpler in Affinity Photo and that is a great way of saving time and frustration. Here is a very cool video presentation of the program:
What about video editing?
To replace Premiere I downloaded the excellent DaVinci Resolve by Blackmagic Design. Resolve is the program used in Hollywood to color grade movies. The program used to be very expensive and tied to specialized hardware but now it is available for free. While DaVinci Resolve has a few rough edges, it is a very good replacement for Premiere and it works well for many other photographers who edit videos on the side. In many ways, DaVinci Resolve is actually more powerful than Premiere. Its color grading system is absolutely top notch and it supports adjusting the color balance by using the ColorChecker and the DSC Chrome DuMonde color charts. Using those color charts makes it a snap to obtain absolutely accurate color representation.
So, using Affinity Photo and DaVinci Resolve I have a very professional workflow for production of artwork without the need to be tied to a subscription. For $49.95. I strongly encourage you to try these alternatives.