Affinity Photo file format

Started Dec 16, 2016 | Discussions
StephaneB Contributing Member • Posts: 962
Affinity Photo file format

Well, I bought it. $40 are worth for what it can with a stack alone. And the rest is pretty good to.

Now, there is an issue I identified before buying but I am wondering how people do about it.

The issue is the file format. No cataloging app knows it. Not LR, not Bridge, not ACDsee, nothing.

Affinity Photo can export in tif and keeping its layers, which is great and that's what I do. But then I cannot figure out why on Earth they created that new file format. And going through the export dialog is cumbersome.

Do you use the export also, or has anyone found a way to catalog the Affinity file format with thumbnails recognition and everything?

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Mike Burke Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: Affinity Photo file format
1

I bought it for the same reasons. Stacking, panos, hdr, etc. and any Photoshop type things I may need. I am trying out On1 Raw which I really like and is working well for me.

Yesterday I made a 7 stitch pano of 20mb files. At first I saved as an Affinity file and then had a hard time finding it. So I tried exporting right from the pano screen and it put it into the correct folder as a jpg. I'm sure it would do the same as a tiff. The I opened in On1 Raw develop and effects and made a bunch of changes at a really good speed and then reopened Browse and there it was. Reopened in Develop and Effects and all the changes were there to work on again. Really slick and fast. I have to do some more with it but it sure looks like I can replace LR and PS and the monthly charge and pick up some speed and ease of workflow and no more catalogs and importing. I work in a standard file structure anyway so it really fits what I do. Might be different for others. I'm pretty excited about the possibliities.

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porchking

Glen Barrington
Glen Barrington Forum Pro • Posts: 20,023
Re: Affinity Photo file format

Unfortunately, no one supports the afphoto format, not even Serif, outside of Affinity itself.  It's a major PITA.

I'm not using Affinity for production work, its just not stable enough for me.  But I have incorporated it into my ACDSee workflow by developing the raw in ACDSee to the point where the photo is ready to be converted to a 16 bit tif file, and THAT is what I send to Affinity, and I try to complete the photo in a single sitting, if I can.  having to deal with the non supported "*.afphoto" file format is a major disruption of  my workflow.

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Lloyd O'Daniel Regular Member • Posts: 410
Re: Affinity Photo file format
1

I believe one reason that they went with the proprietary format is that it is interchangeable among their apps. Afphoto and afdesign (vector) files can be used interchangeably in Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, and presumably later in Affinity Publisher. I'm sure that the forthcoming Affinity DAM will recognize the files. We just have to wait up to a year. It's still very early childhood for the Affinity products, but I've been impressed so far. Eventually, I believe it will be a good ecosystem and probably the best outside of Adobe.

Lloyd

IanYorke Veteran Member • Posts: 3,300
Re: Affinity Photo file format
1

Lloyd O'Daniel wrote:

I believe one reason that they went with the proprietary format is that it is interchangeable among their apps. Afphoto and afdesign (vector) files can be used interchangeably in Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, and presumably later in Affinity Publisher. I'm sure that the forthcoming Affinity DAM will recognize the files. We just have to wait up to a year. It's still very early childhood for the Affinity products, but I've been impressed so far. Eventually, I believe it will be a good ecosystem and probably the best outside of Adobe.

Lloyd

If they are going to produce a DAM as well that will be impressive.

Ian

Pixel Poetry
Pixel Poetry Veteran Member • Posts: 5,870
Re: Affinity Photo file format

StephaneB wrote:

Well, I bought it. $40 are worth for what it can with a stack alone. And the rest is pretty good to.

Now, there is an issue I identified before buying but I am wondering how people do about it.

The issue is the file format. No cataloging app knows it. Not LR, not Bridge, not ACDsee, nothing.

Affinity Photo can export in tif and keeping its layers, which is great and that's what I do. But then I cannot figure out why on Earth they created that new file format. And going through the export dialog is cumbersome.

Do you use the export also, or has anyone found a way to catalog the Affinity file format with thumbnails recognition and everything?

You can just export as PSD, maintain editability, layers will be saved and you can even open it in photoshop or lightroom.

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PX

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Toermalijn
Toermalijn Forum Pro • Posts: 15,886
Re: Affinity Photo file format

Lloyd O'Daniel wrote:

I believe one reason that they went with the proprietary format is that it is interchangeable among their apps. Afphoto and afdesign (vector) files can be used interchangeably in Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, and presumably later in Affinity Publisher. I'm sure that the forthcoming Affinity DAM will recognize the files. We just have to wait up to a year. It's still very early childhood for the Affinity products, but I've been impressed so far. Eventually, I believe it will be a good ecosystem and probably the best outside of Adobe.

Lloyd

Not only that, it's also cross platform. So, you can read it in Windows and MAC applications!

Toermalijn
Toermalijn Forum Pro • Posts: 15,886
Re: Affinity Photo file format
1

Pixel Poetry wrote:

StephaneB wrote:

Well, I bought it. $40 are worth for what it can with a stack alone. And the rest is pretty good to.

Now, there is an issue I identified before buying but I am wondering how people do about it.

The issue is the file format. No cataloging app knows it. Not LR, not Bridge, not ACDsee, nothing.

Affinity Photo can export in tif and keeping its layers, which is great and that's what I do. But then I cannot figure out why on Earth they created that new file format. And going through the export dialog is cumbersome.

Do you use the export also, or has anyone found a way to catalog the Affinity file format with thumbnails recognition and everything?

You can just export as PSD, maintain editability, layers will be saved and you can even open it in photoshop or lightroom.

The fact is that none of the above mentioned "catalogue software" is actually catalogue software. it's a dedicated file system to the editors themselfs. A real Cataloguing system would be independant of any other program.

Simion1 Regular Member • Posts: 115
Re: Affinity Photo file format
1

Because I've always used Photoshop, I never even realised that layered TIFF's weren't part of the standard TIFF specification until reading this post on the Affinity forum . Therefore, I've been contemplating the same as you.

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I was going to stay away from the .afphoto file format altogether. Not only does nothing recognise it except Serif software, but who knows what the future will hold for it. Thinking about it realistically, there's very little chance of this file format gaining either acceptance as a long-term archival format or widespread adoption, so it's pretty much DOA for anything other than a temporary format before exporting it to something else.

So that leaves either TIFF or PSD to choose from. I've always used TIFF due to it being more flexible than PSD. Pretty much all software applications and image viewers can handle TIFF's fine and read it's metadata, it works perfectly with Windows File Explorer, the standard Windows codecs display TIFF thumbnails natively, it has ISO accreditation, etc. etc.

What complicates things though is how layers are handled in TIFF's. If I understand correctly, with Photoshop TIFF's the layers are actually embedded PSD files. With Affinity TIFF's the layers are embedded Affinity files. Therefore, layers in Photoshop TIFF's can be accessed from both Photoshop and Affinity, but not the other way round. I don't know why Serif won't give the option to export as a TIFF with embedded PSD layers, but they've said they won't. They undoubtedly they have their reasons, but it somewhat complicates things because although PSD is an Adobe proprietary format, due to Adobe's long running dominance it does have a pretty widespread adoption and so this would provide the greatest flexibility.

So the conclusion I came to is:

- If you save as a PSD you can access the layers in multiple image editing software applications, but you lose the flexibility of a TIFF file. I'm also not sure how well other imaging software handles things like PSD metadata.

- If you save as an Affinity Photo TIFF, you have the flexibility of TIFF, but can only access those individual TIFF layers in Affinity Photo, it'll be flattened in anything else.

- Saving as .afphoto file = No go.

So to get the best of both worlds would mean sticking with Photoshop and saving as a Photoshop layered TIFF. But if you're like me, love Affinity Photo and want to move away from Photoshop entirely, then I think the only option really is saving as a TIFF with 'Save Affinity Layers' checked. Although you will only be able to access the individual layers in Affinity Photo, the TIFF format is still the most flexible to deal with right now and it's the file format with the greatest chance of future compatibility IMO.

Toermalijn
Toermalijn Forum Pro • Posts: 15,886
Re: Affinity Photo file format

Simion1 wrote:

Because I've always used Photoshop, I never even realised that layered TIFF's weren't part of the standard TIFF specification until reading this post on the Affinity forum . Therefore, I've been contemplating the same as you.

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I was going to stay away from the .afphoto file format altogether. Not only does nothing recognise it except Serif software, but who knows what the future will hold for it. Thinking about it realistically, there's very little chance of this file format gaining either acceptance as a long-term archival format or widespread adoption, so it's pretty much DOA for anything other than a temporary format before exporting it to something else.

So that leaves either TIFF or PSD to choose from. I've always used TIFF due to it being more flexible than PSD. Pretty much all software applications and image viewers can handle TIFF's fine and read it's metadata, it works perfectly with Windows File Explorer, the standard Windows codecs display TIFF thumbnails natively, etc. etc.

What complicates things though is how layers are handled in TIFF's. If I understand correctly, with Photoshop TIFF's the layers are actually embedded PSD files. With Affinity TIFF's the layers are embedded Affinity files. Therefore, layers in Photoshop TIFF's can be accessed from both Photoshop and Affinity, but not the other way round. I don't know why Serif won't give the option to export as a TIFF with embedded PSD layers, but they've said they won't. They undoubtedly they have their reasons, but it somewhat complicates things because although PSD is an Adobe proprietary format, due to Adobe's long running dominance it does have a pretty widespread adoption and so this would provide the greatest flexibility.

So the conclusion I came to is:

- If you save as a PSD you can access the layers in multiple image editing software applications, but you lose the flexibility of a TIFF file. I'm also not sure how well other imaging software handles things like PSD metadata.

- If you save as an Affinity Photo TIFF, you have the flexibility of TIFF, but can only access those individual TIFF layers in Affinity Photo, it'll be flattened in anything else.

- Saving as .afphoto file = No go.

So to get the best of both worlds would mean sticking with Photoshop and saving as a Photoshop layered TIFF. If you're like me, love Affinity Photo and want to move away from Photoshop entirely, then I think the only option really is saving as a TIFF with 'Save Affinity Layers' checked. Although you will only be able to access the individual layers in Affinity Photo, the TIFF format is still the most flexible to deal with right now and it's the file format with the greatest chance of future compatibility IMO.

The truth is, PSD is an extended TIFF file. Adobe owns the rights to TIFF.

Toermalijn
Toermalijn Forum Pro • Posts: 15,886
Re: Affinity Photo file format

IanYorke wrote:

Lloyd O'Daniel wrote:

I believe one reason that they went with the proprietary format is that it is interchangeable among their apps. Afphoto and afdesign (vector) files can be used interchangeably in Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, and presumably later in Affinity Publisher. I'm sure that the forthcoming Affinity DAM will recognize the files. We just have to wait up to a year. It's still very early childhood for the Affinity products, but I've been impressed so far. Eventually, I believe it will be a good ecosystem and probably the best outside of Adobe.

Lloyd

If they are going to produce a DAM as well that will be impressive.

Ian

Your best bet is still TIFF, wich always was also the best format next to PSD(wich basically is an extended TIFF file format!) to safe your files in.

Toermalijn
Toermalijn Forum Pro • Posts: 15,886
Re: Affinity Photo file format

Glen Barrington wrote:

Unfortunately, no one supports the afphoto format, not even Serif, outside of Affinity itself. It's a major PITA.

I'm not using Affinity for production work, its just not stable enough for me. But I have incorporated it into my ACDSee workflow by developing the raw in ACDSee to the point where the photo is ready to be converted to a 16 bit tif file, and THAT is what I send to Affinity, and I try to complete the photo in a single sitting, if I can. having to deal with the non supported "*.afphoto" file format is a major disruption of my workflow.

PSD is also a locked in format. Safest bet is TIFF, wich can do 99% of what PSD can do, save for some rare multi channel mode, but all layer features are supported, even smart layers. Most of the time also a smaller file then psd.

OP StephaneB Contributing Member • Posts: 962
Re: Affinity Photo file format

Thanks for all your contributions so far.

I didn't realize Affinity Photo keeps the layers in PSD export too.

PSD or TIF is indifferent for me, I could live with both. However, they are both considered exports and so the UI to do a simple save is very cumbersome when using those formats.

We all agree their own file format is DOA (what are they thinking, seriously?) so to put the other file formats in a cumbersome export dialog is an ergonomic fail.

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IanYorke Veteran Member • Posts: 3,300
Re: Affinity Photo file format
3

StephaneB wrote:

Thanks for all your contributions so far.

I didn't realize Affinity Photo keeps the layers in PSD export too.

PSD or TIF is indifferent for me, I could live with both. However, they are both considered exports and so the UI to do a simple save is very cumbersome when using those formats.

We all agree their own file format is DOA (what are they thinking, seriously?) so to put the other file formats in a cumbersome export dialog is an ergonomic fail.

They are thinking of the need to have a file format which will be read by the other parts of their software suite.  To enable them to pass their propriety information to allow smooth interoperability between Design, Photo etc.  Standard procedure for a software suite.  They are not trying to establish a new format.

Ian

Glen Barrington
Glen Barrington Forum Pro • Posts: 20,023
I don't agree that afphoto is DOA
1

I think it is a unique and proprietary file format designed for a very specific set of needs. Needs that go beyond that someone who is focused solely on photography a separate artistic and/or commercial enterprise. (which is most of us on DPR).

What Serif is trying to do is break out of the universally accepted Adobe model we now have of computerized graphic arts and offer an alternative. It isn't going to be easy or pretty for any of us. But if they are successful, Adobe will finally have some serious competition.

You can't expect to win a game where Adobe has made all the rules, and designed all the players basic gear. And lets be honest, the raw file with an xml side car file is Adobe's invention. Certainly, they have promoted it and set the model in people's minds to the idea that this is the 'correct' way of doing raw.

Adobe also invented DNG, PSD files, and tif files. I don't think they own jpg, but I bet they had a part in its development. Certainly, right now any format that Adobe chooses not to support will slowly wither away.

And right now, while the Affinity products don't play all that well with others, it is my understanding they play supremely well with each other.

I have been pushing for people in the photo management software industry to start supporting afphoto. It is essential that the supporting tools like photo managers and workflow tools open up their flow of work to the Affinity way of doing things. To be able to incorporate the Affinity way of doing things will be good for their growth as well as that of Serif and the Affinity line.

Being proprietary, I'm sure third party support is complicated by all sorts of licensing restrictions and a natural desire to not only profit from their hard work, but being able to steer the development path of what they are trying to do.

But if Serif is smart, they will open dialog with Apple, Microsoft, Google, Corel, Phase One, and ACDSee Systems to investigate the possibility of opening up their product to Affinity support.

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sankos Senior Member • Posts: 2,190
Re: I don't agree that afphoto is DOA

Glen Barrington wrote:

You can't expect to win a game where Adobe has made all the rules, and designed all the players basic gear. And lets be honest, the raw file with an xml side car file is Adobe's invention. Certainly, they have promoted it and set the model in people's minds to the idea that this is the 'correct' way of doing raw.

OK, xmp sidecars are not the only way of doing raw. C1, PN, DxO, RT, etc. can all add their own sidecars alongside raw files, and personally I think Affinity Photo should do that too, if they want their raw converter to be serious. Hopefully the non-destructive raw workflow that they are working on will account for that, but for now I've only seen declarations that raw will be treated like in PhotoLine -- as an adjustment layer that can be modified later on. But I suppose that you won't be able to keep this layer editable in anything but their proprietary file format.

I have been pushing for people in the photo management software industry to start supporting afphoto.

I don't think you're going to achieve much, judging by the Affinity reluctance to open up. Read this thread and tell me if you see any hope of this happening.

But if Serif is smart, they will open dialog with Apple, Microsoft, Google, Corel, Phase One, and ACDSee Systems to investigate the possibility of opening up their product to Affinity support.

I wish I shared your optimism on this. I think they want to protect their processing pipeline from being reverse-engineered and taken advantage of. It's natural to do so, but it's unfortunate for the clients.

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Marcin

Glen Barrington
Glen Barrington Forum Pro • Posts: 20,023
Re: I don't agree that afphoto is DOA

sankos wrote:

Glen Barrington wrote:

You can't expect to win a game where Adobe has made all the rules, and designed all the players basic gear. And lets be honest, the raw file with an xml side car file is Adobe's invention. Certainly, they have promoted it and set the model in people's minds to the idea that this is the 'correct' way of doing raw.

OK, xmp sidecars are not the only way of doing raw. C1, PN, DxO, RT, etc. can all add their own sidecars alongside raw files, and personally I think Affinity Photo should do that too, if they want their raw converter to be serious. Hopefully the non-destructive raw workflow that they are working on will account for that, but for now I've only seen declarations that raw will be treated like in PhotoLine -- as an adjustment layer that can be modified later on. But I suppose that you won't be able to keep this layer editable in anything but their proprietary file format.

I have been pushing for people in the photo management software industry to start supporting afphoto.

I don't think you're going to achieve much, judging by the Affinity reluctance to open up. Read this thread and tell me if you see any hope of this happening.

But if Serif is smart, they will open dialog with Apple, Microsoft, Google, Corel, Phase One, and ACDSee Systems to investigate the possibility of opening up their product to Affinity support.

I wish I shared your optimism on this. I think they want to protect their processing pipeline from being reverse-engineered and taken advantage of. It's natural to do so, but it's unfortunate for the clients.

Then Serif management is far dumber than we think.  Affinity products are doomed to become the same sort of 'me too' products the Serif "*plus" products were.  It is important to create a strong sense of inevitability and superiority, and a small company like Serif simply can't do it alone.

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sankos Senior Member • Posts: 2,190
Re: Affinity Photo file format

Simion1 wrote:

But if you're like me, love Affinity Photo and want to move away from Photoshop entirely, then I think the only option really is saving as a TIFF with 'Save Affinity Layers' checked. Although you will only be able to access the individual layers in Affinity Photo, the TIFF format is still the most flexible to deal with right now and it's the file format with the greatest chance of future compatibility IMO.

After a comparative analysis I think I will export from LR (or use the "Edit in" command) to Affinity Photo as 16-bit PSDs. The file size when saving them (not exporting) from Affinity Photo is considerably smaller than either non-compressed, or zip-compressed tiffs. It's actually comparable to the file size you'd get when saving to the Affinity format, so I guess there's better optimization at play. Also, the Affinity-saved, multi-layered PSD file can be opened by non-Adobe editors, such as PhotoLine (it flattens adjustment layers, but keeps the pixel layers intact). And the Affinity-saved, multi-layerd TIFFs (zipped and non-zipped) are opened as a flattened version (1 layer only). So, I think the PSD format is actually the safer bet if you don't want to be locked in by either Adobe or Serif.

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Marcin

sankos Senior Member • Posts: 2,190
Re: Affinity Photo file format
2

StephaneB wrote:

PSD or TIF is indifferent for me, I could live with both. However, they are both considered exports and so the UI to do a simple save is very cumbersome when using those formats.

If you export your file from your raw converter as PSD and then open it in Affinity Photo, then edit there and hit Save from the menu, you don't have to deal with the export dialogue. But you must first edit your settings in the General Preferences tab (check the "Enable Save over imported PSD files" -- it's unchecked by default). Also, if you check the "Save thumbnails with documents" option and use the proprietory afphoto format to save, Windows explorer should show you the thumbnail when browsing (it does this for me but I have the FastPictureViewer WIC installed, so maybe that's what's helping).

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Marcin

irv00 Senior Member • Posts: 1,429
Re: Affinity Photo file format

I think this is a period of transition where all we have is a promising piece of software. I bought (and don't regret it) because at $40, it's ok to take a chance on a very interesting RAW processor that tries to combine PS and Lightroom under a single interface.

However, there is a whole lot of issues that are not clear and that need to be addressed in the near future if AP is going to succeed. Otherwise, people will just set it aside and let it die from lack of interest.

I won't be saying bye to my Adobe L/PS subscription until something actually better comes along - I'm not going to short-change myself in order to spite Adobe. Right now, AP is far from being actually better. Yes, the potential is there, but tbh, Adobe's subscription, at $120/year is nearly impossible to match and Serif has a long climb ahead.

Good luck!

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