Serif has unveiled Version 2 of its Affinity creative suite, including new versions of Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher. We're most interested in Affinity Photo 2, but if you want to learn more about Affinity Designer 2 and Publisher 2, click here. Each new app includes a redesigned user interface, significant new features, and major performance improvements.

Among the new features for Affinity Photo 2 is the ability to develop Raw files non-destructively within RAW Develop, which is like Adobe Camera Raw within Adobe's competing Photoshop app. With non-destructive Raw development, users can go back and change develop settings like exposure, blackpoint, contrast, saturation and more at any point in the editing process, even after adding various adjustment layers or masks to the image.

Speaking of masks, you can combine multiple mask layers non-destructively with add, intersect, subtract and XOR operations. Serif writes, 'This means separate masks you have created can be maintained non-destructively while creating new masks based on those component parts.'

While less photo editing for photographers and more for graphic designers, a new live mesh warp feature lets users distort an image or file to match the surface of an underlying template. For example, you can use the non-destructive warp to make an image look natural on a warped page in a magazine or book. Texture artists will enjoy the new ability to adjust lighting information baked into normal maps.

Affinity Photo 2 includes non-destructive raw image editing

Affinity Photo 2 also includes Live Masks, a non-destructive mask that updates automatically based on the properties of the underlying image. There's a new hue range mask tool, meaning you can create a mask based on a specific color in your image. Alongside the hue range mask, Affinity Photo 2 includes the ability to mask specific luminosity ranges. For example, you can make precise adjustments to just the shadows, only highlights or any luminosity range in between.

For retouchers, band-pass is a type of mask that is focused around edges in an image, which should be helpful for editors who work on different frequency layers. If you frequently make changes to different layers or use layers to create 'versions' of the same image, a new saved layer state feature lets you quickly review specific types of layers based on color tag, layer type, name and lock status.

With luminosity masking, users can target specific brightness values within their image

Rounding out the major updates is JPEG XL support. JPEG XL (.jxl) files are becoming more widely supported. The format supports lossy and lossless compression, and it's designed to better handle wide color gamut color spaces with high dynamic range. Compared to .jpg, .jxl offers larger dimensions, more channels, improved image quality and more.

Within Affinity Photo 2, users can target a specific hue range when creating masks

Affinity Photo 2 is available on macOS, Windows and iPad. The desktop versions are Affinity Photo 2 and costs $40.99 for a limited time. It will cost $79.99 following the launch promotional period. Affinity Photo 2 for iPad is $11.99 for a limited time (regularly $19.99). There's also Affinity V2 Universal License, which is $99.99 (regularly $169.99) that includes Affinity Designer 2, Affinity Publisher 2, Affinity Photo 2 and all three iPad apps. Unlike Affinity's primary competitor, Adobe, users purchase a lifetime license, and no subscriptions are available. For more information, visit Serif.