Saal Digital Test – Wall Panel

2016-10-22 Miscellaneous
Iceland Bridge

This is my second test of a Saal Digital product. After the photo book test, I am going to explain my experience with their wall panels. Saal gave me a 50 € discount on the wall panel. In return I wrote this article. Therefore, the test won’t be really neutral but I make this hereby transparent.

Saal offers various wall panels, e.g., alu-dibond prints, acrylic prints, canvas prints and some other. Each print can be ordered in different sizes. Wall panels start with a size of 10 x 15 cm and go up to 110 x 240 cm. Not every size is available for every product.

Additionally, there are three different types of wall mounts available. The cheapest variant is the standard wall mount, which is basically a formed steel sheet that is being glued on the back of the panel. Other variants are an aluminium frame or a screwed wall mount. All those wall mounts must be paid on top of the price of the panel. Depending on panel type and size, not every wall mount is available for every panel. We chose a panel size of 120 x 40 cm and the aluminium frame was the only wall mount available for this size.

My wife and I choose a so called GalleryPrint panel. The GalleryPrint panel consists of a 2 mm acrylic glass plate that is strengthened with a 3 mm alu-dibond plate. The picture is printed on the back of the acrylic plate. Therefore, Saal uses a 6 colour, UV resistant, direct print method. One can imagine this like a hamburger, where the acrylic glass and alu-dibond plates are the sandwich and the print is the patty. The acrylic glass is available in glossy and matt. Our wall panel is matt.

For such a big panel one needs a suitable picture and a very high resolution. Saal recommends a photo with 14197 x 4748 px. That is really a lot if you compare it to the resolution of common DSLR cameras. For example, the Canon EOS 550D has 5184 x 3465 px, the Canon EOS 7D Mk II has 5472 x 3648 px, or the Canon EOS 5D Mk IV has 6720 x 4480 px. For best quality, the panel would require more then twice the resolution of the EOS 5D Mk IV. And even the pixel monster EOS 5D DS R has “just” 8688 x 5792 px. However, usually you won’t look at the picture from a distance of just a few centimetres. And if you look at it from one meter or more, it doesn’t matter if it is printed from a photo with a smaller resolution. We have chosen a picture of a bridge in Iceland. It was made with the EOS 550D. The pictures resolution is factor 2.7 below the optimum.

You can also calculate the required resolution depending on the viewers distance with this online pixel-per-inch (PPI) calculator. For example, if you look at the wall panel from a distance of 100 cm, you require a minimum resolution of 55 PPI. This results in a minimum resolution of approximately 2598 px for the 120 cm wall panel. Therefore, the resolution of the EOS 550D is suitable.

For exact colours, Saal provides ICC profiles that can be loaded by your image processing software. They shall enable one to get a print that looks exactly like the image on your screen. For the GalleryPrint, it took us a while to identify the correct ICC profile. GalleryPrint was not mentioned in the download list of ICC profiles. After a while, we realized that they mentioned it in the product description. The profile for acrylic glass is the right one. That makes sense as the picture is directly printed to the back of the acrylic glass.

After preparing the photo in the image processing software, I created and ordered the wall plate via the Saal Design Software. The use of the software was straight forward. For more details on the software, have a look into my Saal Photo Book Test.

A short note on the price. A wall panel in our configuration costs usually 166.90 €. The price includes the aluminium wall mount and shipping. With the discount for this test report, I paid 116.90 €.

Wall Panel Packaging

Wall Panel – Packaging

The wall plate arrived four working days after I send the order. The packaging provided a good protection to the picture. There was also a protection foil on the acrylic glass. Hooks and wall anchors were not in the package. We drilled two 6 mm holes in the wall and mounted the plate with 3.5 mm hooks. One must take care to drill precisely. The aluminium frame doesn’t provide any possibility to level out the wall plate.

Aluminium Frame

Aluminium Wall Mount Frame

The print was a little dark but still acceptable. I am not sure, if we did something wrong when preparing the image. It looks considerably brighter with ICC profile on a calibrated screen. However, the colours of the print are very good.

Wall Panel Iceland Bridge

Wall Panel – Iceland Bridge

Colours and brightness of the photo above do not match reality. Light was not optimal when I took it.

From a normal viewing distance, the “low” resolution of the submitted image is not visible. You can see it if you press your nose directly on the panel but that is nothing we usually do.

Conclusion: Delivery was very fast and the quality of the wall plate is excellent. I like the colours and the surface. Mounting the plate to the wall was easy. However, the print could be brighter. I don’t understand what went wrong as we used the ICC profile and a calibrated screen. Either the ICC is incorrect or we did something wrong. However, I like the picture as it remembers me every day of the fantastic landscapes we saw in Iceland.

Update 2016-11-30:

I asked the Saal support why the wall panel looked in reality much darker as on the screen. The Saal support told me to apply the following settings to my monitor and subsequently recalibrate my screen:

  • Brightness of 90-120 candela/qm
  • Whitebalance: 5000 Kelvin (D50)
  • Gamma 2.2

They also provided a voucher for ordering a new wall panel.

The new wall panel came this week. The support process took a few weeks. I had other priorities and so I was not able to respond to the Saal e-mails very quickly. So it took a few weeks but is was not their fail.

Here can you see the new (top) and the old (bottom) wall panel:

Iceland Bridge - Wall Panel Comparsion

Iceland Bridge – Wall Panel Comparison

Unfortunately, the photo does not reflect the real differences correctly (lighting was just quick and dirty). However, you can see that the cliff below the bridge shows much more details on the new wall panel. The colours of the bridge itself became a little brighter.

I am very happy with the Saal service. It is not standard to get a second print for free.