Every photographer needs an excellent photo editor for post-production adjustments. Adobe has long reigned as king in the world of photo editing software, but that may be beginning to change. Recently, Luminar and Affinity have emerged as two of the best new photo editing programs around right now.
Since Adobe brought in its new subscription model, more photographers are looking for alternatives to Photoshop and other Adobe apps. The subscription price soon adds up, making other programs look more attractive. But choosing a photo editor is a big decision, both in terms of time and money.
Getting to know your way around a new software takes time, so you don’t want to make the wrong choice. That’s why we’ve created this in-depth guide to Luminar vs. Affinity Photo. Read on to find out which of these photo editing tools is the winner in our detailed review and comparison!
For another comparison check out our Capture One vs Lightroom here.
What is Luminar?
Luminar is a standalone, all-in-one RAW photo editor created by Skylum. It’s a powerful photo edit software that can handle local edits, RAW file processing, and more. Plus, it has some incredible AI-powered features which everyone is excited about! All your edits are non-destructive, so it’s possible to go back to an earlier version if you change your mind.
It’s currently in its 4th edition and has been much improved from earlier versions. You can use this image editor on Mac and Windows, and its editing process is non-destructive. It also has an effective Digital Asset Management system to catalog all your pictures and allow you to browse.
What is Affinity Photo?
Affinity Photo is an affordable photo editing program that offers a wide variety of photo editing tools. You can process and edit RAW shots within Affinity, too. The vision of Serif, the company behind Affinity, was to create a viable Lightroom alternative. A program that would be accessible to all photographers, both amateurs and pros. You can do everything from quick retouches to advanced editing within this program.
Many people compare Affinity to Photoshop, as it doesn’t have a library feature to store your photos. Nevertheless, it’s streamlined, user-friendly, and offers advanced editing tools that create fantastic results.
Luminar Vs. Affinity: The Showdown
So let’s get stuck in with our software review and comparison. How do these two image editing programs compare? We’ll take a close look at the features of Affinity Photo and Luminar 4, and see which one comes out on top!
At first, both workspaces look very similar. Both have a dark grey aesthetic, and the image you’re editing sits center on the screen. Along the top and sides, you’ll find tool menus, where you can select the different effects you want to use.
Luminar divides the features into different toolbars, but you can also customize the workspace to suit your individual workflow. The toolbars are:
- Canvas (basic editing functions)
- Essentials (color and tone correction tools)
- Creative (AI Sky Replacement and other cool features)
- Pro (advanced tools like gradients and split toning)
Affinity has also split the features up into 5 main sections, which are called ‘Personas.’ These are:
- Photo (for edits and retouching)
- Develop (photo editing RAW images)
- Tone Mapping (HDR merging)
- Export (saving and exporting your images)
Luminar has a useful filmstrip on the left-hand side, which allows you to flick through your photos and select the next image you want to edit. Affinity doesn’t have a similar function, making it harder to choose the next shot to work on.
All in all, when it comes to the interface, we prefer Luminar. It is streamlined, customizable, and more straightforward. Affinity Photo’s use of Personas is unique to its own software, so it takes longer to understand. You can’t cross over different tools between the individual personas, so it’s less intuitive. Also, we’re not sure which the Liquify tool has its own persona that you have to select separately from other functions.
Raw Image Developing
Both programs offer RAW image development. In Luminar, any edits are non-destructive, speedy, and effective. You get a lot of control over your images, and you can edit in one smooth workflow. A great bonus is that you can edit one photo, and then apply your adjustments to a batch of images. This feature will save professional photographers a lot of time and is particularly useful for wedding and event shoots.
See our Best Computer for Photo Editing here
Affinity does allow you to develop RAW images. However, the process is not so smooth and easy as in Luminar. Firstly, you need to make any adjustments to your RAW images in the Develop Persona. Only once you’re finished can you access the full range of tools in the Photo persona. This issue is a major drawback to the user interface, as you’re required to go through two separate workflows to get your results.
Both Lightroom and Luminar have a lot of third party presets. We recommend the best free Luminar presets here.
You also can’t change your mind on your file adjustments. It’s almost impossible to go back to the Develop Persona and adapt them once you’ve switched to the Photo persona. There’s also no way to batch process RAW files, as you can only do this in the Photo persona, too.
Hands down, Luminar wins when it comes to RAW image development. It’s so much simpler and easier, and batch processing is a huge bonus. The switch between the Develop Persona and Photo Persona in Affinity is just too clunky and time-consuming.
Local Editing Capabilities
If you’d asked us a year ago, we would have told you that Affinity Photo has better local editing capabilities. However, Skylum has raised the bar with its latest edition, compared to the Luminar 2018 edition. This updated version boasts more than 300 tools you can use to edit your photos, from the basic to the very advanced. It’s possible to edit in layers, so you get control over your images right down to the smallest detail.
Affinity Photo also offers respectable local editing features in the Photo Persona, with impressive sub-pixel precision. You can use unlimited adjustment layers, masks, gradients, blend modes, and more. It’s possible to let your vision take control and create the perfect image with these powerful tools. A range of brushes is included, too, allowing you to carefully refine every detail in your photo.
If you’re having trouble masking out these areas exactly Topaz makes an advanced masking software called Topaz Mask AI (see our review here). It is one of the best photo masking software options out there for masking hair and more complex situations.
It’s just a shame that you can’t integrate it with the Develop persona, too. Everything from editable masks to adjustment layers and cloning is possible in this affordable app.
The Winner: It’s close, but Luminar wins again.
When it comes to additional features, Affinity packs them in: HDR merging, panorama stitching, focus stacking, digital painting. You name it, this software’s got it. The one big feature that it doesn’t offer is a Digital Asset Manager. Unfortunately, there’s no library feature in this software, making it hard to compare this program to Adobe Lightroom.
And that’s what’s so great about Luminar. Not only does it offer advanced editing capabilities, but it also has a complete library system. It truly is a standalone app with everything a photographer could wish for. In the Library, you can add star ratings, flag images, add color labels, and browse through your shots. A new update is coming soon, and then you’ll be able to add and search by keywords and metadata. There’s still some work to do on improving the Library, but it’s definitely a bonus feature.
The tools that have drawn the most hype in Luminar 4 are the smart, one-click AI tools. With Sky Replacer, for example, you can create breathtaking, faultless images. It’s easy to swap out a dull sky for another, more eye-catching background, and you’ll have an incredible image. Other AI functions include:
- AI structure: Essential for portrait and landscape photographers! Use it for improved contrast and more detail in the background.
- AI Skin & Portrait Enhancer: Portrait photographers will love this smart feature. It will automatically remove blemishes and smooth out skin tone for you, saving you lots of time! You can also remove red eye, brighten eyes, and whiten teeth, all with one click.
- AI Vertical Alignment: Coming soon, it will be able to fix wonky horizons for you!
There’s also a full library of presets you can use on your shots. Just use the slider to adjust the intensity of the effect. It’s as simple as that!
Winner: Luminar, again. The clever one-click filters tip the balance.
If you’ve ever taken a JPEG by mistake and wanted to convert it to a RAW then Topaz have a great piece of software where you can edit JPEGS as if they are raw images. Check out the How to Convert RAW to JPEG with Topaz Raw to JPEG AI.
Here’s where Affinity Photo really shines. It’s more reliable and stable than Luminar, which is still prone to crashing. Skylum is open to user feedback and has been working to remove any bugs. Still, Luminar’s performance is far from being perfect. It can lag, and even cause your computer to crash.
In contrast, Affinity’s performance is pretty good. While it can slow down if you’re opening large files or using the Liquify tool, it tends to be stable.
Winner: Affinity Photo, although both programs could be a bit faster. Luminar has further to go on improving speed, stability, and performance.
Value For Money
Both programs are pretty affordable when you compare to Adobe’s subscription model. You can buy either editor for a one-time price of less than $100. Let’s take a look at the price and what’s included, exactly.
Affinity Photo costs $49.99, and for that price, you can install on up to 5 computers for non-commercial home use. If you’re using it commercially, you can install it on up to 2 computers. It’s available for Mac and Windows, but you will need to buy a separate license for each operating system if you need to use it on both. There’s also an iPad version that costs only $19.99. Either way, this editor is very affordable and provides enormous value for money. You can produce some fantastic results with the powerful tools included.
As for Luminar, the price varies, but it tends to be around $69.99. Skylum also offers sales and discounts throughout the year, so you can save even more money. It is slightly more pricey than Affinity, but you get so many incredible features that it’s worth it. Plus, it’s so much cheaper than paying a subscription every single month for Photoshop and other Adobe apps.
The Winner: It’s a draw. Both programs are affordable and offer immense value for money!
Luminar Vs. Affinity FAQ
Got burning questions about these two powerful tools? Here’s where you’ll find the answers!
Is Luminar Better Than Lightroom?
It’s hard to say whether Luminar is better than Lightroom. When it comes to AI tools, Luminar has the upper hand on Lightroom. However, Lightroom has long been a favorite software for photographers and offers a superior library system. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Luminar catch up soon, though, as Skylum keeps bringing out new upgrades!
You can see our full Luminar vs Lightroom here.
What is the best alternative to Lightroom?
Currently, Luminar 4 is the best alternative to Lightroom. It offers excellent image editing functions as well as a respectable DAM to store and catalog your photos. Check out our full article on the best Lightroom alternative photo editing options here.
Is Affinity Photo Good?
Affinity Photo is a great photo editor at a low price, offering RAW file editing and an impressive range of local editing capabilities. It’s often compared to Adobe Photoshop due to its powerful photo adjustment tools. However, it doesn’t quite compare to the extensive features and AI filters available in Luminar.
Affinity Photo and Luminar are both excellent image editing programs. Both offer advanced image editing to allow you to create spectacular photos. Either program would be an asset in any photographer’s toolbox. However, when it comes to the overall winner, Luminar just beats Affinity. We love Luminar 4 for several reasons:
- Incredible range of 300+ powerful editing functions
- Amazing AI one-click filters
- Smooth batch processing
- Easy process for RAW file editing
- Intuitive, customizable interface
- Great Library feature to store all your photos
- And last but not least, Skylum’s commitment to upgrades and improvements to the software
It offers everything that a photographer could need, whether you’re an amateur or a pro. We highly recommend trying it out for yourself. Plus, with their 30-day money-back guarantee, you’ve got nothing to lose! If you’re looking for affordable editing software that ensures you’ll get amazing results, Luminar fits the bill.
But that’s not to say that Affinity Photo isn’t a fantastic image editor, though. It’s easy to see why people compare this app to Photoshop, with its advanced local edit tools. If you’re interested in finding out more about Affinity Photo, you can give it a try for yourself with their free 7-day trial.
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