Saal Digital invited me on the Photokina 2016 to attend their photo book test campaign. Saal is a online print service well known by many professional and ambitious hobby photographers in Germany. With their photo book test campaign, they offered a 40 € discount on their photo books. In return, attendees must write a test report on their blogs or social media accounts. Well, this is my test report.
Saal offers photo books in various formats, different paper and cover types. I choose a 15 x 21 cm (A5) sized book, with a unpadded matt hard cover and matt photo paper for the inner pages. One can choose between 26 to 120 pages. The more pages one chooses, the more expensive the photo book becomes. I came out at 56 pages. The regular price of a book in this configuration would be 34,95 € plus 3,95 € shipping.
Before I started with the photo book, I pre-processed my pictures inside a RAW converter. Saal provides ICC profiles to minimize the colour variation between the screen and the printed book. The profile can be retrieved from the Saal web page. Afterwards, it must be loaded inside the RAW converter. A colour calibrated screen is helpful at this stage.
I created the book with the Saal Design Software. The software enables one to design and order all kind of Saal products, e.g., photo prints, photo books, poster, pictures for living rooms, or calendars.
For photo books, the Saal Design Software provides an photo book editor. It started with a configuration menu for cover and paper type and continues to a photo book designer. Predefined page layouts can be used to get a nice book in a short time. As soon as one has finished the book, the book will be saved and added to the shopping basked. Payment can be done with PayPal, credit card and some other options (which I haven’t used so far).
In general, the Saal Design Software is comfortable and easy to use. But, there are a few areas that need improvement:
- There could be more and better layouts
- The software needs a possibility to change the order of layers (order of page elements, e.g., photos, text boxes, …)
- It is not possible to rotate a picture without rotating the surrounding picture box
Delivery was always fast with Saal. Usually, everything I have ordered so far, was delivered after 3-7 working days. This photo book has been ordered on Sunday and was delivered on Wednesday.
The photo book if of high quality. Pages are not printed but of real Fuji Crystal Album photo paper. Thus, pictures look brilliant and have a long durability (at least I hope they have). Saal promotes the paper with a durability of up to 200 years. Panorama binding enables one to print photos over two pages without a disruptive fold.
Conclusion: Saal delivered a high quality photo book within a short time. The Saal Design Software is comfortable but lags of enhanced design functions. The books could be cheaper but for the delivered quality I still rate it a fair price.