I'm tempted to try Affinity Photo 1.5 as I see it has Focus Stacking as an option (and perhaps a few other gems, Tone Mapping?) LR does not have. A few questions, though, of people who are actually using the 1.5 version...
I don't know how the current Mac version compares to previous versions, because I'm on Windows, and the first official Windows version was already at version 1.5 (which apparently introduced a huge number of improvement and new features over previous versions).
My basic Raw conversions look nothing like those described in that review, but that may be due to Version 1.5 which introduced an unbound 32-bit colorspace and additional noise reduction controls (should they be needed), and the possibility to design one's own tone curve(s).
- What's the printing interface like - as good as LR?
Affinity Photo is not like Lightroom, it's more like Photoshop. Printing interface is basic.
- What's the sharpening interface like - as good as LR?
Lightroom's sharpening is not particularly good, but there is some convenience. Affinity Photo is more of a Photo Editing program, so you can use many different tools and approaches to sharpen. Besides the basic USM sharpening, there are several additional tools. AP also allows the use of Photoshop Plugins (e.g. FocusMagic, or Topaz Infocus and Detail), so you can also use those.
- Would you say AP1.5's Tone Mapping is superior to LR's Blacks-Shadows-Exposure-Highlights-Whites "tome mapping"?
Hard to say at this early stage of my getting acquainted ith AP. There are many tools available, so it's probably possible to do a similar job. The capability to work in 32-bit space certainly helps.
- Without a visual catalogue system (like LR Library with Folder view AND Catalogue view), do you find yourself spending excessive time looking for files that are much easier to find with LR?
Again, it's not Lightroom, it's a PhotoEditor. So one basically uses the operating system's File Explorer/Finder to navigate to files.
- Do you find you are using AP1.5 more as an LR plugin or as a standalone raw processor?
Neither. It's a Photoshop alternative, and pretty capable at that. Many of the controls are better designed, and there are tools that are unavailable in Photoshop.
I realize I can download and try it out, but frankly, if others have experience with the 1.5 version, "I'm listening". Besides, learning an new interface and drilling down is time-consuming. If someone has already spent the time then I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to hear about it.
While I understand, there's nothing like doing it yourself though. It's a bit like learning to drive or ride a bicycle (or sex for that matter), listening to others doesn't help that much. And practice makes (more) perfect.
Another thing to note. There is good integration between the other product offering(s). Files (usually more Vector than Raster-based images and graphic designs, amongst others Logos) made in Affinity Designer can be simply combined with the more (but not exclusively) Raster-based images in Affinity Photo.
The retouching capabilities are pretty extensive, and the multilayer stacking options look very useful.
There's a ton (actually 172 at this moment) of tutorial videos
to get people up to speed, so there's something to be learned for everybody at different skill levels.