Monday, 22 August 2016

Sponsored review of Saal Digital photobook and software

In short: I got an offer for a massive discount on a photobook if I wrote an honest review for Liked the software and simplicity of understanding what I would get for what price, order and delivery process was good and the end product was good too. So all in all, a great experience and I will definitely be using them again when I am looking to print some of my photos to book.

In long: Who would turn down an offer of a free (or at least greatly reduced) photobook in exchange for posting an online review? – Exactly. So here are my experiences from using the Saal Photobook software all the way to creating a photobook for a first time.
Overall the software is easy to understand and mostly intuitive (though some words which seem to have been poorly translated from the German original). There are some nice layout pre-sets which can be individually customised (though more would be nice – also an option to import only part of the layout onto one of the two pages would be a great improvement). The menu structure which helps you choose what photobook you want to create is well done and it is very up front about the cost of each individual customisable item. Great attention to detail can start at the very beginning of the project and gives the feeling of a very solid effort at putting the customer first! Though I mainly do landscape photography, I went for creating a wedding album, having recently been given a very poor attempt at one, wanting to prove that better can be done – I also thought being able to see both landscape and people in a combination with pictures which were not all taken by me would give me a chance to better evaluate the quality and see any potential differences in the final product as well.
I really enjoyed using the software and found that even some more advanced requests (re-shaping, changing angles and colouring of frames, ornaments or background was intuitive), however there are also some critical points I have to raise. My source folder with the photographs which I had gathered for the pictures was not small (about 600 pictures) and the software seemed to struggle a bit to display all the pictures – especially when scrolling down through them. Even though there are sorting options, the software was not always accurate as to which photos were already in the photobook (also I would have appreciated being able to move a picture to another page without having to find it in my folder and re-import it again). Trying to do some more advanced things (image rotation within the matrix, only wanting to import one page of the pre-set mask) did not work out as desired and saving a painstakingly created pre-set mask only worked till I closed the program – though that might have also been due my inability to fully understand how the software works, it was not intuitive. Finally, a bear bug of mine is the generally fairly limited choice of fonts in photobook software. I am guessing this is for reasons to do with the printing process. There are a fair few fonts to choose from, however for my project I still struggled to find one which I felt fitted perfectly (you can activate additional computer fonts but that comes with a warning about loss of quality which I was not wanting to risk).
Having completed the photobook it was time to order and again the process was pleasantly easy to navigate – and even though I had quite a poor and slow internet connection from rural France where I was at the time, it was surprisingly fast to upload my completed photobook and receive my order confirmation. At this point I have to raise another point of criticism in that one can only have a completed photobook delivered to Germany or the UK – so if I want to send it to friends anywhere else, even within Europe, I would first have to have it sent to one of those two countries before forwarding it on. I would guess that possibly contacting Saal directly once ordered one may be able to change that, however it is something I would expect a good photobook software to do at the order screen stage automatically. As a result I am writing the first part of this review, looking out at the sunshine of Brittany, having to wait for my return to the UK to see and evaluate the finished product when I get back to Sunny Scotland …..

… Back home now I can report that the album print and delivery was good. The book arrived well protected and within the specified (and quite quick) timeframe promised when I ordered. So now for the most important part: the finished product. I went for a glossy photobook in A4 landscape (28x19) which has a special binding so that you can open the book flat (thus you can put a full picture onto a double page without losing half of the image in the shadow of the spine. Extra bonus points also need to be given for the possibility of having an “unbranded” book printed (i.e. you can remove the barcode for a little extra cost – but something that is not always an option).
The finished product is nice. The quality of the book feels good and the overall appearance is good too. I really quite like it and the people who I showed it to, were very impressed by how it looked and the quality of the images.
This however would not be me without some critical remarks as well (this was me looking very closely, trying to find something to fault…) Some of the images appear different in terms of their colour reproduction and sharpness compared to what the finished product looked like on my 4k computer monitor – even though I had taken care to try and avoid this when creating the album (remember - not all pictures were taken by the same people and thus camera settings and image quality was not consistent). I don’t know if anything was done to enhance the images after ordering as is sometimes the case. I also find the feature of being able to open the book flat (and have an image spread across both pages very nice, however one needs to bear in mind that it still leaves a visual fold in the centre of the page – slightly off centre if you are not exactly at the half way point of the book. As a result, some page elements wrongly may appear to have been misaligned.
My very precise and critical picking apart of the software and photobook took quite a while longer than the process usually would but I feel that in order to be true to me a close and critical look was necessary. Those who know me well, know that I can be extremely critical and detailed about these kind of things. This should however in no way detract from the very good and appealing product that Saal have. In fact I am in the process of ordering two additional copies of the photobook that I made. If you would like to judge a completed book for yourself, feel free to have a look at my photobook via the following link: Photobook link (a great feature to allow you to share your photobook with others but be aware that this link only works for a limited amount of time) or try out one of their offers with your own pictures. I am sure you will like it, and – just like me – plan on coming back for more in the future.

Interested to find out more? Go to their website at Alternatively go to “” (on Facebook) @saal_digital (Instagram) or #saaldigital (Twitter) and try it out for yourself.

No comments: