Looking for and finding a solid Photoshop alternative
By John Garner on Sunday, September 19, 2021
Summary: Realising I was not using Photoshop as much and the very expensive subscription they now force people into, I decided it was time to find an alternative. And as you will see, I found 2 solutions.
I have used Photoshop for ages and Adobe, the company behind it, has become so big that it has imposed its subscription based solution to nearly all of its products. I use it now and again, mostly for photos and logos (the latter is better served by Illustrator). It annoyed me when the renewal no longer included the promotion that I started the subscription with; another sneaky tactic, on top of the subscription only approach.
I looked at several options and I already have a license for CaptureOne, but was looking for something closer to Photoshop. Even though CaptureOne is a pretty impressive Lightroom / Photoshop alternative and a far better tethered solution for semi-pro to pro photographers, it is far more complex and a fairly steep learning curve.
I use Snagit for very simple things like pointing an arrow to something on a screenshot or annotating a screenshot.
I was looking for something that went a lot further than Sangit, and was close enough to Photoshop for me to drop the subscription.
I tried a few; I have an older ACDsee license, but it is a bit of a mammoth solution, installing a lot of additional pieces of software that was little used. I also used GIMP (free) and I quite like it but was looking for something closer to Photoshop.
Then I came across a post referring to the product Affinity Photo. I also found they have 2 additional products: Affinity Design and Publisher. These would be the equivalents of Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. But most of all, for each product, you pay just over $50 as a onetime fee.
For example, I no longer have to subscribe to Adobe for Illustrator as I can open and work with vector based files in Affinity Design:
For the photography side of things, I have nearly all of what I used to use in Photoshop available for me in Affinity Photo and again with a onetime fee of just over $50, I do not regret no longer paying about the same amount every 5 months to Adobe for their photography suite.
When I need to do product photo shoots for the blog, then I can easily set things up using CaptureOne with the Sony A7RIV tethered to the PC. It is great to have the option to check the photo on your monitor, make sure it's sharp and looks good, before moving to the next photo setup.
I can imagine for people that really use a lot of Photoshop's functionality, there may be quite a few gaps, but from what I have seen of the most recent version of CaptureOne, they have added a lot of new interesting functionality.
So I would check Affinity Photo if you don't use that much of Photoshop functions and if you use a lot of Photoshops functions, then give CaptureOne a whirl (they have a trial version). I have also seen, each year around Black Friday (+ other key moments over the year), that CaptureOne provides coupon codes so you can get something like 20% off the perpetual license.
So, to be fair, if I was comparing what I have now to Adobe photography suite I would have to compare the cost of CaptureOne and Affinity Photo which would be a one-off cost of $54 + $170 to go with my Sony camera. But in reality, CaptureOne is an interesting replacement for both Photoshop and LIghtroom for photographers. Affinity Photo is a simpler version of Photoshop and I'm using it frequently, getting used to the new ways of things. CaptureOne however, as explained further up, is more complex and so is the learning curve, but worth it if you are prepared to understand how functionalities are grouped together, and a different way of doing things sometimes.