Did Affinity Just Confirm That They Are Working on a Lightroom Competitor? Sure, but…


In a Tweet that has created a lot of excitement and has led to some wild speculation online, Affinity just confirmed on Twitter that they are developing a “Digital Asset Manager” – potentially (in its very broadest sense) a competitor to Adobe Lightroom. But let's back up a bit.

Now, while it's great that Affinity are working on a DAM, it might be time to calm down and take this Tweet in context. Affinity has been working on such software for quite a while now – here is a post on their forums from October, 2015 confirming such plans.

Here is another where a moderator of their forums says that they don't expect the DAM to be out in 2017 (even though they also say they didn't have access to the specific timings of the project).

This isn't something new and while we're sure it will be great when it arrives, it doesn't seem like that date will necessarily be soon.

And while it's easy for folks who want a true alternative to Adobe Lightroom (their price change a while back got a lot of folks upset), it should be remembered that Lightroom is a very complicated piece of software that has evolved over years and has thousands of existing customers (ie. testers). That is not an easy thing to replicate and the reality is that even a well-established company would have trouble emulating the utility of such a program – especially in the beginning. It would be difficult to see a true competitor being able to emerge overnight.

This is one of those cases where a Tweet combined with a bit of excitement may have caused things to become a little bit carried away.

Be excited, sure. Just keep things in context.

More Reading on Affinity's Digital Asset Manager

About Author

Rob is the founder of Light Stalking. His love for photography started as a child with a Kodak Instamatic and pushed him into building this fantastic place all these years later, and you can get to know him better here.
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Camera: Nikon D810
Lenses: Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

I would look at this, I currently use LR5 but have also been using ON1 both as a LR plugin and standalone. ON1 does everything LR does, but not quite as much as PS does. That makes it an excellent alternative too LR.

Bill Hamell

As much as I’d like to see it happen, there’s one issue that’s seldom discussed which would, I suspect, be significant for many. That’s the tight integration with Photoshop.

For a great many image editors, the performance of Lightroom plus the editing requirements that are too inefficient or not possible in Lightroom mean they are also depending on Photoshop by way of that workflow-enhancing integration. IMHO, any viable “replacement” for Lightroom will need to have addressed far more than just Lightroom as we currently know it.

There is already a well-founded company out there, with a Lightroom competitor, Alien Skin. You are correct, in that, LR is a mature product dating back to 2008 I believe. Its core basic processing engine is the same as Camera Raw and is/was certainly the best at one time. This area of LR is key, the rest is highly debatable, as LR and CR are the same engines, you don’t need to use the rest of LR’s outdated, badly designed, user ignorant interface, others do this far better, example, LR makes provision to not import images, there is no “marker” to delete them. The whole of LR as a workflow tool is outdated, it has had no major upgrade from V4, those that exist are “patched” in, i.e. why is the visualise spots tool at the bottom of the screen, if I am working in the spot removal dropdown, I can tell you that, in programming terms it’s not difficult to put it there, easy to find, easy to use. Adobe has the same blindness as Microsoft, we are Adobe, we have the best product….user response should be, “you have products that are as user-friendly as a cornered rat”. Alien Skin, also a mature product. Their product has a less effective RAW processor, it uses highlights and shadows to do basic adjustments and that limits it. However if you process out of CR your final adjustments are extremly granular. After that, Exposure is a much better and supior product to LR, there is very little cross over learning curve and ALL of the process’ are in sequence, you can use as a standalone or a LR plugin. It “plugs” into Photoshop…and just about anything else, has a better spot removal too, export engine that is instantly accessible and increments plus…wait…has infinite layering. These are not all of this products advantages by a long chalk, you can get it on 30 day trial, they have no affiliates and they halved the product price 2 years ago, they don’t charge for upgrades. I suggest that if you try it, keep a weekend free, you might find yourself processing a lot of older RAW images and being surprised at the results. It is not LR, images are more subtle somehow, not soft…subtle. Of the others, MacPhun WILL develop a LR killer, currently, again, its RAW processor is its Achiles heel, it’s ability to, in Luminar save “presets” of tool usage for different levels of expertise is great, start using a lot of “tools” it goes complex and sucks memory. Affinity, I have it, I use it, this is a company to watch…if they say it, it seems they do it, Serif is a determined company, their products are not expensive but they are by no means “cheap” products, I agree, watch this space, they too may be the LR killer. Topaz and a lot of the other German products could also do it. A mention of Google Nik, in terms of contrast manipulation it has no equal, that goes for a host of other unique and highly desirable development modules and specialised programs as it went free last year and development stopped this, it makes you wonder why Google bought it? A personal opinion, neither Apple or Google like Adobe’s bloated unwieldy products, we, photographers and particularly designers do not like their price structuring which mines our pockets on a monthly basis. Did Google put the cat among the pigeons? Did they buy Nik to rattle Adobe’s cage?, encourage other developers “look we are in the image business” just to promote competion? then, just make it free. Finally, I once worked for a company that guaranteed its product for 8 hours, yes just 8, I naively asked the CEO what would happen if a competitor guaranteed their product for 10 hours, the answer was a revelation, “no worries, we can guarantee our product for 150 hours” even more naively I ask, then why do we only guarantee for 8, “because we don’t need to, why would we?”. Take care with Adobe, their UXD product in beta is a competition killer and will become an offering within the Adobe Cloud suite, it follows designer usage of other Adobe products, very small learning curve. The point is, there are a lot of LR users out there who are now being sold LR and PS as a bundle between $6 and $10+, that is peanuts against a decent camera or lens, you can photo blend in other products but PS does it best, like everything Adobe, it’s a cumbersome process, but it all comes with smart objects and you can automate the base process, if you know how. What we do not know is, like the 8-hour guarantee, does Adobe have a LR killer, killer coiled in the wings….waiting.
By the way, nice blog Lightstalking, very well done, I don’t feel like I am being sold something, it has a shared photographer lean to it, rare to say the least.

I’m sure Affinity Photo will be superior to Photoshop in 5 years, maybe less! And the price is right. Affinity Photo on (Recent ) iPad is already superior to Lightroom portable.

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