“I’m really pleased with my photo-book from Saal Digital. It showcases my work and acts as the perfect keepsake; documenting my journey from beginner, to student, to experimental photographer perfectly” by MissElisabeth
Saal Digital has been running a number of different offers where you can try out their printed products (up to a particular value) in return for a review of the product purchased.
So, who is Saal Digital?
Saal Digital Fotoservice GmbH is one of the leading suppliers of photo products in Europe.
“We are a professional photo lab with great enthusiasm for photography. We are striving for further development of our products in order to achieve higher standards and to meet the needs of our customers. As a modern online service provider, we are specialized in high-quality photo products, including photobooks, photo prints, posters, calendars, greeting cards, wall decors (Alu-Dibond, acrylic glass, PVC foamboard, GalleryPrint), as well as photo gifts.”
Before I go headlong into the full review, I want to say that I have found communications with Saal Digital to be professional, personable, polite and helpful, which in itself is a big selling point before you even get on to the quality of the products that they offer.
I have to confess that the deadline for my free trial was fast approaching so I had to work quickly but this in itself was a good test of the ease of use of Saal digital’s online work flow and ordering system.
The software downloaded from the web site within minutes and I was very quickly up and running ready to select the product I wanted to trial and the photos I wanted to include. The hardest part of the process for me was selecting the product I wanted to trial; I had not ordered a photo-book in a while, certainly not from a specialist company such as Saal Digital, so there were some choices I was unfamiliar with.
For ease, and a personal record of my work, I took all the selected images from those which I had entered in to my Photography club competitions or had taken with these competitions in mind and which were already saved as a jpeg of a print quality. The selects were from my best/favourite images at the time of ordering.
Within an hour of going on the website I had downloaded the software, selected the images, decided on the layout and ordered my chosen photo book. I chose a 21 x 28 A4 portrait glossy photo-book with 26 pages, unpadded cover without a barcode. This would normally retail at £39.95. The postage cost for this product was £4.95.
Please note: You should refer to the Saal Digital web page on ICC profiles and monitor calibration which can be found here.
So, what did I like about the software?
It was easy to download and once downloaded it was very easy to select the required overall product, style options and layouts required.
Swapping page layouts and the number of images per page worked well and quickly. Even when I had already selected the photos I wanted on a particular page I was still able to change the layout and keep the original photos in place (i.e. just change the layout). I noted that if you were changing from portrait to landscape layouts (or vice verse) there was a bit of re-sizing required, as you would expect, but this was easily done with the useful snap guides.
Each image dragged and dropped into the layout is assessed for image print quality and then rated – in my case I had green rated ‘good’ images and green rated ‘very good’ images, so I felt confident that what would come back in my photo-book would be of the correct quality.
The images imported ‘snap’ to the layouts and I found this particularly impressive with the full-page image layout.
You can add whatever text you want on each page in a variety of different fonts, colours and size etc. and pretty much wherever you want on the page. Due to self-inflicted time restrictions I did not use this function to its full capacity but with more time I would have definitely used this more. I would recommend that you spend some time planning your photo-book before going to the online drafting stage to make the most of your product purchase.
What did I NOT like about the software?
There is not a lot of criticism I can give if I’m honest. The only thing that struck me was that there are a number of advanced more complex features within the software which I did not really understand or indeed try to use. However, if you are producing these photo-books for your business and used to the optionality normally available (rather than being an amateur like me producing a photo-book more as a record of my development than anything else) then the advanced features probably make sense to you.
The ordering process was easy, once I had reviewed the book and approved it the same software went to take my details, although I had to create a log in at this stage it was still straight forward to do. Also I was surprised how quickly the item was dispatched and received within the postage fee. I received good communications about where my order was in the ordering cycle, no complaints.
But what about the quality of the product?
I was surprised (in a good way) by the quality of the pages, which were gloss and felt substantial. I loved the wrap around photo on the front and back cover of the book. This finish on this was lovely.
The gloss finish of the pages inside reminded me a bit of a child’s book in some respects as the pages could be easily wiped clean, which for a coffee table book would be an advantageous attribute as I imagine the book would potentially need to withstand spillages of food and drink and a bit of man-handling from guests thumbing through the pages.
I am pleased with the A4 size as it also allowed for a double page spread of an A3 landscape image, as well as smaller montage images which you can see in the images below of my photo-book.
I would definitely order from Saal Digital again and more probably as part of my Photography degree studies; I can see that their services/products would be advantageous in my arsenal when preparing for formal assessments.
To end here are a number of the images from the book. These are not full quality images shown in this blog (some can be found on my official website) instead they are just a representation of my book and it’s layout and how I chose to present my photos on this occasion:
If you are a photographer or even someone who likes to keep their memories safe for future generations I would definitely recommend you take a look at Saal Digital’s website and their products and services.
I have provided some links below to some of the images referenced above should you wish to explore my photography further:
Reflex Photographic Club Blog Post – Winning Image – 24 November 2016
Lois Loren Blog Post – 15 October 2016
Panning at Brands Hatch – 29 May 2016
Pin Up Doll Alice Oxley – July 2016
Dockside Photography – July 2016
I can also now be found on Fine Art America, where some of my images including the Red Racing car shown above can be purchased.