Whilst we believe that our current album supplier provide the absolute highest quality albums available and we will always use them as our main client album supplier, we understand that not everyone has the budget to buy several high end wedding albums. With this in mind, we have been exploring the possibility of working with a second company to offer mid range products to be gifted by couples to their parents, grandparents etc. When Saal Digital offered to send us a sample photobook for review, we were intrigued and accepted the offer.
Saal Digital are a photo lab based in Germany who produce all their products in-house, so we were very interested to see how good their albums would be.
DESIGN & ORDERING PROCESS
The procedure for ordering from Saal Digital is very straightforward and easy to understand. You start by downloading their proprietary design software. As professionals with many years of wedding album design under our belts, the design tools included weren’t necessary for us – we followed Saal’s clear design guidelines and uploaded our own spreads that we put together in 3rd party software – but we can see how it would make the process much easier for consumer customers with no design background.
The thing that impressed us most about the design and ordering process was the incredible turnaround time. We placed our order on a Saturday afternoon, and the album arrived via courier on the following Tuesday! We have no idea how they managed this, but we were astonished to receive notification of shipping on Monday morning and have the product in our hands via courier before the regular post even arrived on Tuesday morning. Considering many print houses have lead times of several weeks, this is a really big bonus. However, their incredible efficiency ended up working against us in this particular instance; after checking out, we actually noticed that we had made a small error in one spreads, which we spotted and immediately wrote to Saal about. They replied after the weekend and told us that ‘unfortunately, due to our expedient processing rate, we are unable to make changes to an order once it has been submitted’. Obviously the error was our fault, but given that we spotted it quickly we feel it would’ve been good to have the option to change the spread before going to press. Perhaps this function could be incorporated into Saal’s software.
Overall, we’d rather wait a few more days and have the print house cast their eye over the spreads before printing, but we can see the benefits of both approaches. Suffice to say, we’d recommend double and triple checking yourself before sending out your spreads, no matter which print house you choose!
The wedding albums we normally sell are very high end, costing several hundred pounds each, so we obviously didn’t expect a mid-range album costing far less to be equal in quality to them. With that caveat, we’d say that given the price point, Saal Digital’s albums represent excellent value for money.
The fit and finish of the photobook we received is very good, with consistent page cutting and a quality matte feel to the padded cover. It’s a nice touch that you can fully customise the front cover with any image or text you like. The colours, print quality and contrast of the photos within the album are very impressive indeed, accurately matching the way they look on my properly calibrated Eizo monitor.
We ordered the album with glossy pages, which was the default option. Our personal preference is for matte paper, and we’d definitely choose the matte option if ordering from Saal again – or any other photobook supplier for that matter – as in our opinion it has a classier feel and look. That said, the glossy paper made by Fuji that Saal use is clearly of good quality, reminiscent of the glossy photographic prints we used to get developed back in the days of film. You can also upgrade to thicker paper at additional cost. Saal claim their photobooks have a life expectancy of 200 years, which is good to know as we believe that wedding albums are something you will definitely want to keep for a lifetime and possibly pass down to your children and grandchildren!
Lay flat binding with no middle crease is an excellent feature that we’d only expect to find on higher end albums, so given the price point this was quite an impressive inclusion. The pages don’t lay quite as flat as the ones on our regular albums, as you will see from the images below, but this may be due to the lighter weight of paper and upgrading to the heavier option previously mentioned might solve this.
Overall, our experience with Saal was a good one and we have to say we’re impressed with the product, given the price point. We’d strongly suggest selecting the matte paper option and upgrading to thicker paper for a higher quality feel. We will definitely consider using Saal Digital in the future for supplying more affordable companion albums!
Below are some photos of the album we received.