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Affinity Photo vs Macphun Extensions - which are better? #1
Philip's picture
by Philip
January 26, 2016 - 4:18pm

I am currently working with LR and PScc. I want to start exploring Photos as an possible alternative. I own the standalone versions of Macphun’s Tonality CK and Noiseless CK. I am looking at Snapheal to round out my Photos extensions (and LR plugins) but I see that that Affinity Photo is about the same price as the standalone version of Snapheal CK.

I would appreciate any opinions on Affinities extensions compared to Macphun’s offerings.

Thanks!

 

BenB's picture
by BenB
February 2, 2016 - 10:32am

Philip,

I just had my first experiences with Affinity Photo using their trial. So I will share them with you.

First of all I should tell you that I prefer working with RAW.  I must conclude that two of the Macphun apps, “noisless” and “intensify” don’t correct the RAW-files I use whereas Apples Photo’s does. This means that I cannot use the RAW files from Photo’s to directly use those two extensions. The photo’s show uncorrected lens-distortions, to solve this I first have to do some editing in Photo’s and then use those extensions. (Photo’s will then pass a jpeg in stead of a RAW). I reported this already > two months ago, today Macphun told me that they are still working on the problem. Must say though that I love the power and simplicity of the UI from the Macphun software.

Affinity Photo’s does a much better job on handling RAW-footage. In the extensions they simple use the Apple core-image RAW conversions (which is fine for me). The stand-alone version of Affinity provides much more functionality to even manually adjust the RAW conversion settings for the conversion, and you can choose different RAW-engines as well.

Further more Affinity Photo’s is much more of a “Photoshop” tool then the MacPhun suite. In my opinion (and of several people on the internet) it is a very powerful tool which, already today,  in many aspects can compete with Photoshop. Several people already trashed their Photoshop app. The downside of this is, at least to me as non-photoshop user, that it is more difficult to use (learning curve). So for example I find it much easier to use Snapheal (which does an excellent job), than the retouch tool of Affinity. (which has far more settings that I don’t understand yet) so I love the simplicity and power of MacPhun in  this respect.

Affinity is overall faster then Macphun (at least on my machine). Sometimes it’s hard to fine-tune in Macphun as there is a delay in respons.

Macphun, does have plug-inns for LR and Aperture, not sure about Affinity.

So I am not sure yet. Seems to me that Affinity is a more solid, more comprehensive and thus complicated tool-set.

If MacPhun would have adequately solved their RAW-conversion problem already, I wouldn’t have started using Affinity. That’s not because the Affinity App isn’t good, as far as I can see it is excellent, but it’s far too complicated for me (as is Photoshop) and filled with things I don’t use.

Affinity does have a free trial (10 days) through their website (not via the App-store). So why don’t you give it a try ?

BenB

 

Philip's picture
by Philip
February 2, 2016 - 1:20pm

Ben, let me start by thanking you for your detailed and well written response. Just to be clear - do the Affinity extensions work directly with the raw files handed off by Photos or does Affinity Photo only handle raw if the file is opened directly in Affinity?

I will do a you suggest and try Affinity Photo for myself but I appreciate any and all the help you and others can provide.

Phil.

BenB's picture
by BenB
February 3, 2016 - 1:22am

Thanks Phil,

Good question about the hand-off’s. As far as I can see my RAW-files are directly opened with the Affinity extension, however the possibilities of the “Develop” extension ar far less than the possibilities of the Develop module in Affinity stand-alone version, I submitted a question to Affinity to clarify. Also I cannot really detect wether the Extension uses a jpeg handoff from Photo’s or the original RAW. There is no data shown to tell what I am working with. When I use the info pane (of Photo’s) when in the extension-mode it says RAW, so I guess it uses the original RAW file. At the same time I notice that modifications with the adjust-function in Photo’s of the RAW file are handed over as well. The info pane still tells me it’s the RAW

I will digg-in a bit further to find out, makes me curious. 

Please let me, or someone following this thread, know if you figured this out.

Ben

Philip's picture
by Philip
February 3, 2016 - 7:56am

Thanks again Ben! On its face that appears to be good news. If Photos passes the raw and Photos adjustments information along to Affinity and it hands back its adjustments data and Raw - that sounds like about the best outcome we can expect. I will see if I can turn up any additional information.

As a PS and LR user since their first release editions I am interested in exploring other options. Frankly PS is overkill for the kinds of photography I do. LR handles 90% of my needs but the subscription model leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If Photos + Extensions can give me the toolset I need without compromising my raw workflow - it would be worth wading through the inevitable learning curve.

Thanks Again - Phil.

BenB's picture
by BenB
February 3, 2016 - 10:46am

Hi Phil,

Did some more “digging” with additional results (and to avoid misunderstanding of what I wrote earlier)

RAW unmodified in Apple-photo’s -> hand-over to Affinity: extension is RAW (for the develop extension at least)
RAW modified in Apple-Photo’s:-> hand-over to Affinity: extension is JPEG including the RAW-modifications. (the info-pain of Photo’s even when activated with cmd-i when in extension-mode says RAW, apparently referring to the original, this was causing my confusion)

Modification by Affinity extension either in RAW or JPEG -> extension hand-over to Photo’s is JPEG.

So in essence this is not different from MacPhun and other extensions (DxO optics)

Further more I notice that the modification possibilities of the standard Apple-photos adjustments (f.e. Lighting, Highlights, Shadows, levels etc.) have more to offer than the Affinity develop extension. (except for the split-views)

Some MacPhun extensions, allow you to work to some extend in Layers, non of the Affinity extensions do.

So in terms of extensions, the Macphun-suite has more to offer, at least for my needs. So I hope Macphun will solve my RAW-lens-distortion problem (which I can solve in the mean-time by first editing the RAW and then use the extensions)  and that they will soon release, as promised,  an extension for Focus CK. For my usage that’s enough.

As stand-alone app Affinity photo’s is very powerful (It even has the object-removel with stacked photo’s), not sure if I want to dig further into the massive possibilities or even use it. If so it’s definitely a great app and I would prefer it over Photoshop. (UI, Price, Performance). But that would mean a change in my workflow, that I don’t like.

A tool like Photoshop (or LR ?) is overkill to me as well.

Well I’ve found my way in exploring the trial of Affinity Photo’s. My conclusion is I stick to Photo’s and the Macphun Creative Kit.

I enjoyed the journey, and was glad with your post. It pushed me to dig in  -;) 

I would appreciate to know what your decision will be. If you have any further questions or remarks don’t hesitate to share them, still interested in learning.

Ben

 

Philip's picture
by Philip
February 3, 2016 - 11:11am

Hi Ben

Well it probably makes more sense that all these extensions are working similarly regarding the round trip they make in Photos. I appreciate all your leg work running this information to ground. As I mentioned, I have previously purchased two of Macphun’s stand alone apps - since they will work alone, as extensions in Photos, and as plugins with LR and PS. It probably makes sense for me to pick up one of the versions of their Snapheal. I think having layers available while working in the extension is a significant advantage. I am also a fan of their interface and their commitment to their customers. Their customer service really is world class.

Lets hope the Photos workflow sees some improvements as we move to the next major OS release.

All the best, Phil.

SKR Imaging's picture
by SKR Imaging
March 25, 2016 - 12:53pm

I have purchased some Macphun CK apps directly from MacPhun and also the DxO optics Pro for Photos from the Mac app Store.. used them in conjunction with Photos app for Mac but have stopped using extensions in Photos for a few weeks now. The reason being that Photos Extension is not allowing me to hand-off edited images in TIFF format makes further editing useless..

My ideal workflow with Photos app would be: 

1- import RAW in Photos app.

2- edit a RAW with DxO optics Pro extension (with it’S great Noise reduction and lens correction modules) and have it round trip back to Photos app as a TIFF when I click Save.

3- use that edited TIFF and open it in any of the Macphun CK extensions to further edit and have that image returned to Photos app as a TIFF.

4- then in Photos app, export that final TFF result to either JPEG or TIFF.

Right now none of this is possible and obliges me to abandon Photos app for any further editing. Just use it to catalog RAW files.

allof my Photo editing is done in DxO Optics Pro standalone right now and sometimes I continue edits using exported TIFF from DxO and opening in Macphun CK apps.

Apple really needs to concentrate on Photos app improvements before I can think of using a single edit slider inside that app… just adding a settings toggle or alert when I click Save in extension to choose if handoff images are returned as JPEG or TIFF would make me jump back in.

 

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 25, 2016 - 1:41pm

Excellent points and thanks for responding to this thread. I’m no programmer but it seems like it wouldn’t take much to “fix” Photos and the extensions system. Adopting something other than JPEG file type for handoffs would really just about do the trick. The next major OS X upgrade is supposed to have some improvements like selective edits and a better rating system. I hope it also includes the most obvious improvement of all - nondestructive round tripping.

Krakatoa Sundra's picture
by Krakatoa Sundra
March 25, 2016 - 10:07pm

The MacPhun apps are very simple but they took me a long time to experiment and figure what i like and mark which presets as favorites. They are definitely based around presets and generally used as starting point. i'm pretty proficient at Affinity Photo so there was no learning curve for me for their extensions. i must emphasize that Affinity Photo's extensions is a very tiny subset of what Affinity Photo can do. With that said, Affinity Photo has adjustment, localized brushable editing, Haze removal, Liquidfy, Black & White tool, and tilt shit/focus. The content-aware repair brush is great if you need to remove an object.

If i had to pick one, i'd go with Affinity Photo because it gives me Photoshop CC capability.

Robert Ke
twitter: rke21

also at:
instagram: rke21
facebook: outdoorphotographynow

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 26, 2016 - 6:48am

You know I really need to check out Affinity Photo more - but to be fair - if we are talking Mac based Photos extensions software - Macaphun extensions are much more than presets. Sure - there are plenty of presets available but in Tonality and Intensify: and to a lesser degree Snapheal and Noiseless you can completely ignore the presets, click on the Adjust tab and there are plenty of individual controls that allow you to fly solo. Intensify and Tonality also include layers so effects can be applied locally, their opacity may be controlled individually, and if necessary, the layer can be deleted or drug above or below another existing layer.

My biggest complaint about Macphun’s great apps is - there is no way to move an image from one app to another without saving your work, exiting the app, and opening the image  in the next app. That’s just silly. It reminds me of the early Adobe days when PS images were incompatible with Pagemaker. sheesh. In Photos - it also forces you to keep saving the image as a JPEG thanks to Apple’s decision to use a destructive file type for round tripping photos out to extensions. It’s a shame Apple doesn’t have a real digital photographer on staff to explain why this is such a bad idea - even for the snap shooter.

So.. If all those features you mention above in Affinity are available in one extension - with out the need to return the image to Photos and open it again in another Affinity extension that would be a big plus. But, if I remember right - that’s not how Affinity Photo extension(s) work in Apple’s Photos. My recollection is that the features also exists as a series of seperate extensions - requiring multiple roundtrips out of Photos and multiple saves.

like I said though - I may be dead wrong. It’s been a while since I looked into Affinity.

BenB's picture
by BenB
March 26, 2016 - 8:04am

You cannot switch between the Affinity extensions either, without saving and then opening the other extension.

I lately stumbled across this extension “External Editor for Photos “http://externaleditorsforphotos.tumblr.com. (you can buy this through the App-store so its quite save). Now if you have the CK-versions of Macphun (Creative kit, so the former “pro”-suite). As a kind of work-around you can from within Photos, fire up Macphun software (so not the extensions). In the pro version you can handover your photo from one Macphun app directly to the other, switch between all the app’s until you are done and then save back to Photos. Same goes for Affinity.

Be aware though that Macphun-CK uses its propriety-code (being no jpeg/psd or tiff, not sure anymore about Affinity as my trial expired). So to get the photo back in Photos you need to export. The external editor has a neat feature that, when still opened during your roundtrip, you simple can drop the exported file into the open window and it will be saved back into Photos. There is a neat screencast on the website that explains how this external editor works.

Ben

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 26, 2016 - 8:38am

Wow! What a fantastic find - that sounds like something Apple sould buy and build into Photos.

Thank You!

BenB's picture
by BenB
March 26, 2016 - 8:45am

You’re welcome,
Glad to share.

It’s not a ideal solution (yet) , but I like it a lot anyway. I know Karsten Bruns is still developing further, to work around the propriety codec’s of other software. Don’t now if he succeeds.

Hopefully Apple will allow Photos to save back in tiff by the end of the year. A mayor Photos upgrade is expected together with a new release of El Capitan.

Ben

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 26, 2016 - 8:51am

Yes - Ben, let’s hope Apple is listening. Using a non-destructive file type for round tripping images to external editors seems like a no brainer. Let’s hope we see it in the next update to Photos.

Thanks Again!

SKR Imaging's picture
by SKR Imaging
March 26, 2016 - 1:25pm

Great Find BenB.. I would not mind giving 1.40$ to this developper for this extension but I will wait till WWDC 2016 this June and hope Apple wakes up and adds all this directly in the Photos app solution as rumoured by many news outlets.. bringing back iPhoto like editing (seems to point  to external editor options found in iPhoto and aperture)…

Or at least hope for Tiff round tripping at the least! 

Chris's picture
by Chris
March 29, 2016 - 9:56am

External Editor for Photos does work with the full Affinity Photo. I have just written a TIP that is being published soon, I hope. But it is great that Affinity Photo is gaining such respect as it is as good as Photoshop at a much lower price. They promise to have a DAM programme that will work with it, i hope like Aperture, later this year.

epirot

SKR Imaging's picture
by SKR Imaging
April 1, 2016 - 5:58pm

if they do have a DAM solution coming up, my hopes are up!! Hopefully Apple reintegrates enough features to Photos app.. if not, Affinity will be the de-facto.

Krakatoa Sundra's picture
by Krakatoa Sundra
March 26, 2016 - 7:15am

Affinity Photo provides 6 extensions. Each MacPhun has 1 extension that provide the entire app functionality.

Ya, i mainly use the adjustments. for example, in Intensify, i mostly use Structure, Detail & Micro Sharpness because it sharpens based on granularity. The contrast function is like that too and it has the offset slider but don't really use them because Photos come a level tool that has 8 control handle so i can largely do the same natively.

Yes, MacPhun needs to implement the share extension so it will be easier to pass photos between apps.

overall, i use the Photos' native adjustments 99% of the time.

 

Robert Ke
twitter: rke21

also at:
instagram: rke21
facebook: outdoorphotographynow

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 26, 2016 - 7:20am

Thanks for that information. That is what I guessed. The fault is not Affinity’s or Macphun’s - in my mind it’s Apple’s. Had they chosen a non-destructive route for extensions then the number of extensions would not be a problem. As it it - every round trip degrades the image just a little bit more.

Krakatoa Sundra's picture
by Krakatoa Sundra
March 26, 2016 - 7:31am

and it's a 8-bit jpg instead of a 16-bit file. u lose a lot if u'r shooting with a slr and using dcip3 colorspace on iMac 5K after one pass through.

Robert Ke
twitter: rke21

also at:
instagram: rke21
facebook: outdoorphotographynow

BenB's picture
by BenB
March 26, 2016 - 11:19am

Hello Philip,

(and SKR and Krakatoa) 

Slight update on the External editor for photos,

Open in Photos a picture shot in RAW-> use External editor to open up un an app that can handle RAW (Like Tonality, Snapheal, Graphic converter, Perfect Effect, Photoshop etc.) -> make your edits-> Export as Tiff 16 bit-> drag onto External Editor window in Photos-> your photo will show up in Photos as edited photo (you can revert to original) and will still tell you it’s a RAW. Export f.e. as Tiff from Photos. You will have your edited Tiff in 16 bit at appr. same size in Mb’s as the original.

This seems to tell ,that with this procedure you, still have a high quality uncompressed edited Photo in Photos using external App’s. (I cannot find differences in the Exif info from the picture in terms of colour-depht, Adobe RGB or sRGB etc.)

Any thoughts on this procedure (Except for the fact that it isn’t that efficient -;))

Ben

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 26, 2016 - 11:59am

Ben - thank you for doing that test for all of us. Unless or until Apple provides a lossless round trip to any extensions this is great news. It may be a bit cumbersome - but it’s a small price to pay for a lossless round trip in Photos.

Thanks Again!

Phil C.

BenB's picture
by BenB
March 27, 2016 - 9:51am

Please check/confirm your own findings  if you decide to go for this extension. I am no expert, but this is what I think is what happens based on what I can see when using this way of roundtripping.

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 27, 2016 - 10:18am

Hi Ben

I can’t get to it today - but I’ll poke around with it tomorrow. I suspect you are right, you are pretty darn thorough in your procedures! BTW - I can’t believe how inexpensive this little app is - considering it’s like owning  key into so many apps from Photos!

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 27, 2016 - 11:27am

Ok Ben - I did sneak down to the digital darkroom for a quick test and here’s what I think I can say…

Opened Photos > selected raw file > Edit > Extensions > External Editors app

Opened in Intensify CK > edited image > exported as TIFF to desktop.

Closed Intensify CK w/o saving > drag and drop exported Tiff into External Editors window, clicked Save.

Back to Photos edit window with new image showing… Now here’s where it gets tricky… At the top of the Photos edit window it now shows “1 of 1 -  JPG” but… When I click “Done” and get info on the edited RAW photo it shows RAW file type with same pixel dimensions and RAW as a file type.

When comparing the Raw file, the Tiff created by Intensity CK, and a Tiff exported by Photos of the edited image the pixel dimensions are the same but the file sizes differ:

The original NEF file is 8.5 MB, the TIFF exported from Intensity CK is 74.8 MB, and the TIFF exported from PHOTOS is 30.1 MB. So something is different. Just exactly what - I don’t know.

I hope that helps?

Phil.

Krakatoa Sundra's picture
by Krakatoa Sundra
March 27, 2016 - 3:33pm

it looks like your small tif file is 8 bits with 3 channels and the bigger tif file is 16-bits with 4 channels.

Robert Ke
twitter: rke21

also at:
instagram: rke21
facebook: outdoorphotographynow

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 27, 2016 - 3:57pm

Got it - thanks!

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 26, 2016 - 7:38am

Exactly! I’d say the loss is more disastrous if you are shooting images with an iPhone or iPad - only because you are starting with much less information. Obviously sophisticated shooters like you know why this is bad and so can make other choices. Unfortunately the casual shooter probably doesn’t even know a problem exists. All this because of a simply bad decision by Apple. 

Krakatoa Sundra's picture
by Krakatoa Sundra
March 27, 2016 - 3:44pm

i'm not sure of Apple's exact thinking process. For iCloud Photo Library users, they need to sync images with sidecars and jpg from the extension edits to all devices. using a tif instead of jpg would badly affect iCloud Photo Library users. not to mention a huge impact on their data plan.

i don't trust Apple doing sync. it's ok when my keyboard shortcuts don't properly sync to all devices, but for me, i don't want my photo library to be messed up if the sidecars and jpgs don't sync with 100.0000000000000000% reliability. i'll never use iCloud Photo Library.

Robert Ke
twitter: rke21

also at:
instagram: rke21
facebook: outdoorphotographynow

Philip's picture
by Philip
March 27, 2016 - 4:03pm

Excellent points! If I were to go down this road for my “serious work” I would likely set up a new Library that would not be synced via iCloud but would be backed up to an external drive.

BenB's picture
by BenB
March 28, 2016 - 4:20am

@Krakatoa,

That crossed my mind too. But I can imaging that when you don’t use iCloud for syncing it would be possible (like in Aperture).  Personally I only use Photo-stream for sharing small selections of my Photo’s, no iCloud library for all my Photo’s. On the other hand Apple does support syncing RAW ‘s don’t they ? At least the storage of RAW in the Cloud. So why not RAW with the adjustments and exif data when using extensions.

Hope Apple surprises us by the end of the year.

Susan Johnston's picture
by Susan Johnston
May 16, 2017 - 7:26am

I just need to make sure that you have been able to successfully use Nik plug-ins with the following four conditions:1. On an iMac2. In the Apple Photos App3. With External Editor App as the pathway to the Nik plug-ins4. The iMac has been upgraded to ios Sierra

Susan Johnston

slamr57's picture
by slamr57
May 17, 2017 - 8:23am

Hi Susan…With all the conditions you have stated, I can say that I have been able to successfully use the NIK plug-ins.

I didn’t try all of them (just Color Efex Pro 4 and Viveza 2) but I assume they will all work fine.

Susan Johnston's picture
by Susan Johnston
May 17, 2017 - 8:37am

I am so grateful for your response and that you took the time to test it all out. Thanks so very much. When I upgrade to Sierra, do you think that I should download the latest Nick collection or just use the same plug-ins I have been using with Aperture for several years?

Susan Johnston

slamr57's picture
by slamr57
May 17, 2017 - 8:43am

If you aren’t already using the latest version of NIK I would probably recommend you download them while you can. They are free downloads anyway so why not have the latest. Of course the decision is entirely yours.

Cheers.

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