Serif has launched Affinity Photo software, an alternative to Adobe Photoshop for Mac users. The company touches on a couple different notable selling points: its software is considerably cheaper than Photoshop, but no less robust, and comes with the added benefit of silky-smooth operation, at least according to its maker. Additionally, because it is newly created for the latest hardware, Serif says Affinity Photo offers performance that Photoshop struggles to match.

Affinity Photo is currently in beta, and can be acquired for free by signing up on Serif's website. Once the software exits beta, it'll be offered on the Mac App Store with two years of free upgrades for $50. Windows users may also be able to use the software at some point, with Serif expressing interest in bringing it to the platform. No information on when that might happen has been provided, however.

Affinity Photo's features are extensive, and can be used in a "separated mode", which splits the single software window into separate boxes that move independently of each other - something that will be familiar to those who use GIMP. There are smart shapes, a split-view mode, embedded documents, live pixel preview, filter effects, and more.

All of the familiar tools are there: burn/dodge, lasso, sharpen, blur, selection, paint, eraser, and more. As far as colors go, Affinity Photo offers 16-bit channel support, end-to-end color-managed workflow, RGB, Greyscale, CMYK, and LAB. Other notable points include support for stylus pressure, up to 1,000,000% zoom ('Because we can', says Serif), blend modes, a History Panel akin to what you get in Photoshop, and adjustment layers. Vector work is given a strong focus as well, and as such SVG files can be imported in addition to Photoshop PSD files.

Serif has a couple dozen video tutorials available on its website to get users started. Likewise, a new section for Affinity Photo has also been added to Serif's forums for additional support.