Photobook Review – Saal Digital
Product review for high quality photo portfolio book produced by Saal Digital.
I couldn’t help but notice an advertisement from Saal Digital keep appearing on my Facebook business page feed, and in the end, I had a quick read through what it was all about.
Saal were looking for photographers to receive a photobook of their work in return for an honest review on the product.
A high-end photo book is invaluable for demonstrating to clients what can be achieved, and exactly what your photographic work looks like in high quality print, instead of lacking definition as translated online. What also grabbed my attention is the fact they were based in Germany, where I have my acrylic glass artwork produced due to the outstanding quality.
I applied, and James from Saal Digital replied very quickly accepting my review offer, and proposed to offer me the below specification in return for my review.
Dimensions: 42 x 28 (A3)
Spreads: 30 Pages, Glossy
Cover: Padded, Leather (sapphire black)
Product Bar Code: Removed
The software was easy to use in general, but I didn’t feel I had the time to warrant going into detail regarding too many of its good and bad points. Having learnt the software and put this book together in my busiest period of the calendar year, my design time was limited.
For some reason, I struggled to add my own front cover, and I installed the Photoshop plugin, to no avail as it just simply would not work, even though it appeared in the filters menu and gave me an action sidebar.
Aside from this, everything else is straight forward with design templates you can adjust and adapt or just remove and start from a blank canvas, every page can be made different, or covered by a full image. There are helpful gridlines to help you align images and font. The software also indicates the quality of your image once placed within it.
You can save your book along the way and come back to it at another point, you can also save as pdf to allow proofing by a third party, which is extremely useful.
Naturally you can install Saal’s ICC profile to get a better idea of how your images will translate in print; you can also use other software to design your book, such as Adobe In-Design
Communication, Production and Delivery
Communication with Saal has been spot on, any queries and general emails have been answered promptly with clear and concise answers.
The lead time (production time) and delivery was extremely quick, I received an email within the third working day of submitting the design, stating that the order had been shipped. Within a few days from that email, the photobook was delivered, packaged very well and in perfect condition.
As soon as I opened the packaging I was impressed, the padded leather cover is excellent quality and the printing to the front sharp and to a high standard. It certainly didn’t end there, I was also very pleased when I opened the book.
Strange as some may find it, I opted for the pages to be printed in gloss, if it were to be a book based on daytime landscapes, this would not have been the case and I would have naturally gone with a matt finish, but nightscape photography is very different, it’s very hard to get it right in print and, for a number of years now, I have favoured seeing it in a punchy gloss or pearl/flex finish, however, it is hard to get right and some printers fail drastically even though I download ICC profiles and work with calibrated monitors.
Within the Saal photobook I received, not only are the pages a nice thick, weighty paper, the paper used is very much like traditional photographic paper (not typical of photobooks). The images appear as they should, bold and crisp, and importantly, the colour rendition and detail in the printing is second to none, the nightscape images have not changed colour or lost the already limited tonal range.
I implemented several panoramas within the book and the way these appear within it is simply breathtaking. The way the product is bound is ingenious and none of the image is lost in the bind at the spine; known as lay flat binding, this leads to double page panoramas that do not sacrifice any of the image in the centre where the two pages adjoin one another. It also lends itself to full page images next to each other very well, as they adjoin perfectly at the end of the image.
Another pleasing feature is the fact the rear of the front and back cover allows for printing on as photographic paper, identical to the rest of the book, is bonded seamlessly to each rear side, thus creating the first and last page, again, within my book, this provided an excellent opportunity to display one last extremely well presented panorama to close of the book.
The font is printed very well throughout and is extremely clear, and works well whether placed within the image or within plain background surrounding an image.
The long and short of it, I was literally blown away by the photo book from Saal Digital, I have not come across many self-produced photobooks that match this quality at this kind of price; the quality is exceptional. Naturally, due to cost, this is a product aimed at single copy, or very small batch, printing for uses such as showing clients examples or display within a gallery (this is how mine will be used).
If I had to point out any flaws they would be my own, more time to sort out the front cover, and some tweaks to the design; if you are new to Saal and using unfamiliar software, it may be an idea to go for a lower budget minimal page proof before splashing out on the real deal. And real deal it certainly is; an exceptional and innovative product.
Please keep in mind that this photobook was finished in gloss and the images in this blog are reflective.
I will certainly use Saal for my next photobook and I am looking forward to purchasing some of their acrylic products to see how they match up to my current supplier.
You can view photobooks and other products from Saal Digital here.