How to edit RAW images using Affinity Photo on a Mac

RAW photos provide a wealth of editing options unavailable in other file types, but not all image-editing apps support the format. Learn how to edit RAW images using Affinity Photo on a Mac.

photography work space on top view

Image: Blackzheep, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Seasoned photographers work with RAW images for a reason. RAW photos, unprocessed images captured by a variety of digital camera manufacturers, provide advertising, marketing, and other professionals with a much more capable file format than traditional .GIF, .JPG, or .TIFF files. The lack of a definitive RAW file standard has resulted in numerous RAW file types in the wild, from Nikon's.NEF files to Canon's.CRW counterpart, among many others. Because RAW files capture a full range of elements and complete metadata from a camera's image sensor, while also possessing a wider dynamic range than more common image formats, RAW files provide post-production capabilities unavailable in other file types.

SEE: 10 essential apps and utilities for your Mac (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Numerous benefits result. For example, professionals using a RAW file can adjust f-stop exposures after a photo has been taken and gain the ability to apply lens corrections. RAW files also permit adjusting white balances and performing color grading tasks. Image appearance, subsequently, is dramatically affected. Unlike other file types, RAW images can't typically immediately be printed or edited using basic bitmap graphics-editing programs.

That's where Affinity Photo (Figure A) shines. The professional-grade image-editing application is priced at a budget-friendly $49.99 and works similar to many other popular photo-editing tools—it provides cropping, red-eye correction, blemish repair, and numerous other common functions, while also supporting a wide variety of RAW filetypes. In fact, Affinity Photo is the number one photography app within the Apple App Store and boasts an Editors' Choice award.

Figure A

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Serif's Affinity Photo offers a variety of photo-editing and RAW-image processing functions.

Image: Serif (Europe) Ltd.

Affinity Photo includes numerous 16-bit filters, PSD (Adobe Photoshop) file compatibility, professional color space, and profile support and, potentially best of all, just a one-time purchase requirement. Unlike Adobe's Photoshop cloud application, which requires a monthly recurring subscription, customers purchasing Affinity Photo need only pay once. Mac users also benefit from Affinity Photo's integrated iCloud online backup and file synchronization capability, and the app can be purchased or provisioned through the Apple App Store.

To get started editing a RAW image within Affinity Photo, all you must do is open the RAW file. A Nikon.NEF file is shown in Figure B.

Figure B

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Affinity Photo includes histogram support for RAW images.

Once a RAW image is opened within Affinity Photo, you can view the photo's histogram, adjust exposure, blackpoint and brightness and change contrast, saturation, temperature, tint, and more. Clicking the Lens tab within the Histogram sidebar provides access to a host of additional tools, including distortion, rotation, and scale (Figure C).

Figure C

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One benefit of RAW images is the ability to apply lens corrections.

Erik Eckel

After completing edits, corrections, and adjustments, clicking File and selecting Export provides a host of options. You can export files using a number of different formats, which can be printed or even edited using other common programs. Among the supported export file formats are .PNG, .JPEG, .GIF, .TIFF, .PSD, .EPS, and .PDF.

Affinity Photo works with 10.9 Mavericks and new Apple operating systems. Serif, the program's developer, states an Intel 64-bit Core 2 Duo or better (2007 era) CPU is required, along with a minimum of 2 GB RAM and 1.34 GB of free disk space at installation.

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