Saal Digital Album Review

Recently, I saw an advert on my Facebook feed that for once, actually interested me – a company called Saal Digital UK were offering a heavily discounted Photobook in order for an ‘honest review’ from photographers.

Nowadays, it seems that photo albums are no longer the ‘done thing’.. they’re rapidly becoming a throwback to a bygone era, invoking memories of being embarrassed by your parents when one magically appears at Christmas time so they can show your new girlfriend that ‘adorable’ picture of you as a child, stood naked in a mop bucket wearing only a pair of marigolds.. or perhaps that’s just me?

In this digital age, everything is instant. Almost everyone has a great quality camera in their pocket, along with the ability to share any photo that they take globally with a couple of clicks. The problem with this is that the photos just become fleeting moments, a memory almost instantly forgotten and replaced with another, laden with hashtags and a cool filter over the top in the pursuit of ‘likes’ and ‘regrams’. #Isoundlikemydad #sorrynotsorry

A physical album still has it’s place though, so I decided to take advantage of the offer. I ordered two different albums from Saal Digital (only one was discounted) – A ‘Wedding Album’ that would act as a physical portfolio of my Wedding photography for prospective clients, and a ‘Baby Album’ in order to capture the first few weeks of my newborn son.

Ordering two meant that I could make a fair comparison between the various options; would I prefer the ‘Matte’ or ‘Glossy’ page option or how much like leather does the ‘leatherette’ cover look for example?

Saal provide their own software via download that is essentially a lightweight photo editor and desktop publishing interface in one, which then collates your designed album and places the order automatically. If you’re used to using something like Lightroom or Photoshop you’ll probably find it quite frustrating to use, however you can always use their ‘PDF to Book’ option if you don’t want to use their software.

The Saal software, showing default template layouts on the right and individual pages across the bottom.
The Saal software, showing default template layouts on the right and individual pages across the bottom.

Once each of the books had been designed and submitted, the usual confirmation email followed and then less than a week later, these arrived from Germany (where it appears the actual print labs are based).

Both 'leatherette' and picture covers are available
Both ‘leatherette’ and picture covers are available

As you can see from the above photo, I’d opted for the leather effect cover on the Wedding album, with a ‘wrap around’ photo cover for the other.

A full 'front and back' page cover option is available, you simply need to ensure that your photo is in the correct ratio.
A full ‘front and back’ page cover option is available, you simply need to ensure that your photo is in the correct ratio.

When designing your layout, you can decide if you’d like frames, backgrounds etc. The two photos below show both with and without.

Various graphic frames can be added to photos via the Saal Digital software.
Various graphic frames can be added to photos via the Saal Digital software, colours and designs are fully customisable.
Colour representation is accurate completely edge to edge
Colour representation is accurate completely edge to edge

I was impressed with the quality of the ‘double page’ spread photos, the pages fold open completely flat and leaves no clear stitching or glue line across the photo

'Double Page' photo spreads are available as a 'full' page (as in the top album) or simply an individual photo amongst other in the layout.
‘Double Page’ photo spreads are available as a ‘full’ page (as in the top album) or simply an individual photo amongst other in the layout.

For the wedding album I’d chosen the ‘Matte’ page finish, which I personally prefer to the ‘Glossy’ option as I think it produces richer blacks.

Texture of the 'Matte' paper option
Textured finish of the ‘Matte’ paper option
The texture is almost invisible in most lighting situations
The texture is almost invisible in most lighting situations

Overall I was impressed with the photobooks and I’d gladly use Saal Digital again. They don’t just do photobooks, you can get standard prints, canvases, calendars etc etc. Communication was great and they replied quickly to any emails that I sent, so I honestly couldn’t fault the service.

If you’re looking for a quality source of printed materials at a reasonable price, I’d certainly give them a try!