Disclaimer - although I have been sent a £25 voucher to have the book made, I'm in no way being paid or otherwise for this review, it is completely written with my own thoughts and impressions of the product and service, and has not been influenced by any third party.)
Have you ever been perusing through Instagram and you get one of those sponsored posts about some free or discounted deal that you're missing out on? You know, the ones where it almost seems too good to be true?
After hitting up my social media with a lot more photographic work, I wasn't surprised that one found it's way through to my feed after a couple months of posting everyday.
Today was Saal Digital's lucky day, I was feeling adventurous - the deal was simple - You send them your social media platforms where you distribute my photos, they'll send a £20/£25 voucher and all you have to do is post a small review for them. They have quite a bit available to print, wall decor, photobooks, posters, calendars - the usual - but I decided stuck to the Photobook.
So I thought I'd bite, I mean, why not? I have a ton of pictures I'd like to see printed - There's weddings that I've done, but it's not really the same thing...I was delighted with one of my gear pictures of a Red Scarlet-W but somehow I don't think Mr. & Mrs. Cooke will appreciate a double spread of my gear 12 pages in...
Sign-up was simple, it took a day (presumably to verify accounts and what not) and I was sent my voucher.
The next step was installing Saal-Digitals proprietary design software through Adobe AIR - So I installed it and loaded it up.
(From left to right : Style of photobook, the then style from the style of photobook, and then the actual process of designing itself.)
I have to say, I did not expect as many options as there were, different sizes, finishes of paper and packaging / presentation material, it's all very well thought through and easy to follow. I stuck to the defaults - a classic photobook, along with glossy paper and a hardback cover - because I wanted to see at a minimum the quality of the product that I got sent.
The design process was simple, (in the third picture) in the top tool bar you can activate an 'auto-layout' option, which organises your photos into equal parts on a page and adds a design flourish should you want one (I didn't) - or you could go all manual, and choose to crop / place the photos where you want - I ended up doing my own hybrid style of choosing to place some, but elected to letting the software do the majority of the job for me.
All I had to do, was choose a target location of the images (a folder I'd aptly named 'photobook images') and this would import into the app where I could manage them as I pleased. The process was really simple - almost too simple - but in no time at all I had practically built the product. There are options to change boarders, cropping and general editing if you'd like, which are all done with as much ease (I didn't explore this too much) but all in all, I'm very happy with how it's done. It's a process I'd happily repeat. It even tells you how good the quality of the image is when the photo is highlighted (please see image 3 above) - It would be nice to know some sort of scale (was very good top? or was it below excellent?) - but otherwise you'll get a good indication of the quality when it comes to printing.
In any case, I filled in shipping details, and spent some time uploading the images, and the process was done.
Now to play the waiting game.
A few days later, it came.
Which surprised me. A lot.
I thought this would take weeks, but after chasing a DHL driver up the stairs on a Saturday afternoon (Not ideal after a gym workout let me tell you...) , I signed for the package and opened it.
Very, very good. Every colour in the book was very accurate, there isn't anything in there that didn't match what I was seeing on my computer screen (A 4k Dell XPS 15 for those wondering). Blacks were super rich, whites were super accurate and the colours on the actual paper were perfectly as vibrant (or...not as vibrant) as I had made them in Lightroom / Photoshop.
(please click for full screen photo : These images were taken on my Oneplus 5 - Hopefully the camera is efficient enough to show the quality of the product)
The silhouette of London surprisingly seems to be everyone's favourite, I didn't think that the photo had stacked up as well data-wise as the rest, but it looks fantastic on paper.
I will just jot down some specs for the techy people (Left to right) :
Panasonic GH5 + Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8
Sony A65 + Sony 16-50 f/2.8
Canon 5D mk.iii + 24-70 L f/2.8
Sony A65 + Sony 16-50 f/2.8
So images from different cameras and systems at different resolutions - All stacked up absolutely fine with each other.
The decision to actually have some of the pictures I wanted printed made into a photobook has paid off. And even though I had a voucher to take almost the entire cost off, I would happily pay the full price for this kind of product again.
The process is incredibly easy, the product is of a high quality and delivery took no time at all. I've never considered it before, but this has completely flipped my mindset on having things like this printed. It's nice when a product can come along and do that.
The only faults with the product were my own, I should have put my name / logo on the front of the book - and I should have moved the cover / back images so I wasn't crushed in the spine (So, just...you know don't make the same mistakes i did).
Congratulations Saal - Digital : Your sponsored Instagram post has paid off (well, for one customer at least).
I look forward to having some aluminium prints doing, I have a set of monkey pictures (If you're familiar with my Instagram, they're everywhere) that I'd like doing.
I hope you've enjoyed reading the review, and I hope you give these guys a try. If I had some sort of code to give out to you I would.