Connecting you with nature
I recently had an opportunity to try Saal Digital’s Professional Line of Photobooks, and was asked to review their photobook process and quality. If you’re like me and invest a lot in creating and producing your professional photographs, these are the photobooks for you.
Saal Digital (https://www.saal-digital.com/) has a lot of photobook options to choose from, and they also print in a number of other formats (canvas, metal, paper, cards, etc…). I was selected to receive a voucher to design and create one of Saal’s professional line photobooks. To get started on the design process, I downloaded their proprietary software at no cost. Like so many photographers, my primary image processing tools are Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, so at first, I was reluctant to tackle new software. However, there were at least a couple of very helpful YouTube videos I watched that showed the software was in fact as user friendly and smooth as it turned out to be for me. Saal’s software helps with every aspect of creating your own photobook and the learning curve is very fast. The software has advanced tools allowing precision alignment and cropping of your images. It has an extensive library of different photobook styles, materials, layouts, fonts, and backgrounds. If you’re a creative and love a lot of options, you’ll be right at home with this software. If you don’t want to or can’t spend too much time with your photobook design, there’s also a selection of pre-made layouts you can automatically apply. I was pleased and admittedly surprised at how easy Saal’s software was to use. In addition to the nearly endless design options, two other aspects of the software that I found particularly helpful was the real-time feedback on image quality (based, presumably, on algorithms programmed into the software) and seeing how the total cost of the photobook was changing as I was making adjustments to my design.
It took eight days from the time I finished my Photobook to it arriving at my home. That’s quick, particularly considering that this all happened when much of the world was staying-at-home and non-essential businesses were closed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. My finished Photobook, “Belonging to Earth”, is 16” x 12”, 30 pages, with a 3/16” thick acrylic cover and leatherette back and binding. The most important thing to me as a photographer is that my images come off a printer looking exactly as I processed them. That doesn’t always happen. However, it happened here. Saal’s printing process matched perfectly the way I had processed my images for print. The colors were vibrant and true, and the images were as sharp and clear as I processed them. The photobook paper is thick and substantial; described by Saal as a “laminated compact cardboard substrate with a grammage of 600 g/m².” I’ve posted here a few photos of the photobook standing upright and open – this is possible because the front and back cover, and all the inner pages are made with substantial weight materials. One of the big selling points of Saal photobooks is their “LayFlat” binding. You know how sometimes you have to crack backwards a book’s binding to get it to lay flat? If you don’t do that, with some books it’s sometimes a constant battle to keep the pages open. Saal’s LayFlat bindings allow the photobook to lay open and flat. See the images of my photobook’s landscape images that span across two pages --- and lay flat. Saal photobooks do not contain Saal’s branding or logos. Not all photo printers do this, but Saal understands this is important, if not mandatory, for professional photographers. Saal professional line photobooks are quality products. Quality costs more.
I was glad I gave this a try and was really pleased with the quality of my photobook. It’s great to see companies like Saal Digital creating these opportunities and encouraging reviews of their products. Is there anything I’d recommend? A couple of things. Because there are so many design options to choose from, particularly materials for front and back covers (which are hard to judge quality on-line), I’d like to see an option to get a sample pack of front and back cover materials. While I was working on my design I could only act on faith/hope that the choices I made would be sufficient for my photography and my business. Getting a free sample pack of the professional line photobook materials might engage more business. It’s my preference to have a blank page after the front cover and before the back cover. However, that’s not an option in the photobook design software.
A few photographers have reviewed Saal photobooks or produced “how to” videos, which are helpful. It’s easy to locate these by searching in your web browser for “Saal Digital photobooks”,
Thanks to Saal Digital for introducing me to their product!