You might have read a couple of days ago about my recent collaboration with Saal Digital (click here to read it). I’ve been lucky enough to receive a second invitation from them to review one of their photobook. As before, I was gifted a voucher (£40 for this product) to use to design the product.
Again the process to order was simple, especially since I didn’t have to redownload the Saal Digital software. Having some experience with the software already also eased the process, however designing a photobook was far more complicated than the simple wall decor I had designed previously. Helpfully Saal have built in a number of predesigned templates to help. I used their smart ‘one image per double page’ template, however, there are many to choose from including themed templates for different occasions.
The company offer a huge range of choices for personalising your photobook: softcover/hardcover; cover material; binding; extra thick pages etc. I opted for a 15 cm x 21 cm book with a printed off-white unpadded linen cover with matte spreads. Also on offer are a range of leatherette, wood-look and metallic covers as well as the standard gloss/matte choice. My choice of the linen cover came from the option for image printing on the cover as opposed to just text on the leather cover. The range of covers will set you back different prices dependent on your choice. A glossy or matte cover is included in the cost; a linen cover added £8 to the cost and one of the other mentioned choices added £15 (note this may well change or vary dependent on the size of photobook chosen). It was also possible to opt for a padded cover for an additional £5. My only gripe was the additional £5 necessary to remove the barcode from the product, as I opted for this to be removed I cannot comment on where the barcode is on the product or how big/obvious it might be.
I opted initially for a 20-page matte spread for my images however the software made adding additional pages very easy – quickly updating the cost so it is easy to keep on track with the project. I knew that I would be handling the book often and did not want the requirement of worrying about touching the prints so opted for the matte prints. I was very impressed by the quality of the images produced. Saal promise “silky matte photo paper pages [with] a fine yet (sic) even texture”, which they delivered superbly. The Fujifilm Crystal Archive album Luster paper gave a high-quality impression with excellent colour reproduction and, as I hoped, no fingerprints. The paper had a weight of 368 g/m², which feels lovely in hand. The pages hold their own and feel of a high quality. I was also particularly pleased by Saal’s promised “lay-flat” binding technique which made viewing my double-page spread photos a joy.
As with the wall decor, Saal were excellent in terms of delivery. Their website clearly shows the estimated production and delivery times for each of their products including a helpful feature showing when you should receive the package if you order by 12 O’clock on that day. I was informed that my photobook should take 4-5 days in production (1-2 if not opting for a more premium cover) and then a further 3-4 days for delivery, however, only a couple of days after placing my order I received an email saying it had been shipped. From this point I cannot honestly comment on the delivery time as I was away from home so not able to collect the parcel, however, it was definitely within the time period suggested and I have no reason to believe it was any longer than had been quoted. It is worth noting that the only option available for delivery was the DHL Standard Delivery which cost £5.95 for delivery to mainland UK. The photobook was well packaged and suitably protected.
The final product was beautiful, I was incredibly pleased with the intensities of the colours on the cover and in the images. The printing was sharp and clear and were excellent reproductions of the images. The only small problem, which may well have been my mistake but is something to be aware of is the cutoff on the spine for writing. As you can see in the images, I didn’t get it quite perfect and the bottom of the numeral is cut off on mine.
Overall I would highly recommend Saal Digital, their service was excellent and I was really happy with the final product. I look forward to collaborating with them again.