Updated: Apr 2
I have recently had the unique opportunity to try out a newer item from a leading manufacturer of photo products. Saal Digital's line of Professional Photo Books are advertised as being handmade premium books made with high-quality materials, no manufacturer logos, and the ability to have an acrylic cover. These photobooks are marketed directly to photographers looking to put together a professional looking portfolio book or to summarize the best work of an event that you might have shot. They have a lot of available options for the design of the book but let us first look at what my experience was, and what I ended up with.
The photobook makes for a great household decoration and conversation starter with guests!
Once Saal had supplied me with a review unit, I set out to experience their user experience to the fullest. This started off with downloading their self-developed software to my desktop, which they dub simply as "Saal Design Software USA." The download was quick and easy to get going on my computer and once I had it loaded up it opened me up to a simple graphical menu of which you can either continue working on an existing project, or start a new one with one of their many offerings.
Saal Digital's home screen offerings in their software application.
As I was to work with one of their professional line photobooks, I went selected this option, then chose the Photobook Professional Line. From here I had the choice of several different book sizes from square, to portrait, to the large 16x12 book geared for landscapes. As I am a landscape photographer, naturally I chose this option to showcase some of my portfolio shots. I was then presented with some of the first design options. There were choices for the cover, the surface material, the paper type, and whether you would like it to come in a fancy gift box. I chose to go with an Acrylic photo cover with black leather as opposed to just a leather cover. I really do think this option allows you to make the photo book genuinely unique to your story. I then went with glossy photo paper and opted out of receiving a gift box, as I would not personally use this and want to have the photobook on display.
A series of photos from the feature selection process in Saal Digital's software
Once I had these initial details sorted out the next step in the process was to pick from three different options to start with the design of the photobook. You can completely design the book yourself using the software tools, use an auto-layout feature which allows you to just drop photos onto a page, or the "One Minute Photobook." I went the route of the one-minute photobook to get immersed in what SAAL had to offer with their software. Selecting this prompted me to select a template from an impressive list, but as I was not building this book for anything in-particular I selected a simple template. It then prompted me for a list of photos, which I already had handy. It is algorithm then went to work building the book and filling the pages for me automatically.
The results were quite impressive for the most part, it even identified my flower photos and put them all together on the same page with a caption that I needed to go and write in. For the most part the software did a particularly good job of pairing and arranging the photos that I gave it. In total I used 29 photos, some from my portfolio, and others from other activities I have worked on in the past. There were a couple pages that I did not like the default choices for, but it was easy to change the photos on the page, and page layout suggestions were always available on the right of the screen. Additionally, I did change the default photo for the acrylic cover and added in my signature logo on top of the photo to finish it off.
The software algorithm did an excellent job of pairing my photos automatically.
A nice feature of the software is that you can also save your work as a project and come back to it later. This is particularly useful for those that are putting together a special something for a client or want to come back and order the same book more than once.
The checkout process was integrated with their website, through their software and for me there was no issues with this. Upon completion of the order, I received the generic confirmation email with a link that allowed for checking in on the progress of my order. Additionally, they sent out one more email with shipping information as soon as they completed the production of the photobook.
I am happy to announce that their service is also fairly quick. I received my photobook at my door exactly 10 days after I placed my order, including weekends. This is rather impressive considering the product appears to have come from Germany based off the shipping tracking number information.