Making a photobook

In one of our previous publications we talked about the Lightroom Book module that allows you to put together a photobook. The book can be then saved as a file, or sent for printing to one of the services Lightroom is connected to. Photobooks are gaining more popularity nowadays and some companies started providing such services with their own photobook composing software. In this article we will review one of these services.

The company called Saal Digital provides you a downloadable photobook composing client software that you can use for the entire process – from picking the images to placing, editing and paying for your order. So, let’s take a look at what it is packing.

We have to mention that the installed client only takes 7.5Mb (yes, it’s megabytes) of your disc space. This makes it literally unnoticeable no matter how small free space you have left on your system drive. Taking into account the size of other applications that offer similar functionality it’s pretty impressive.

There are companies that offer in-browser photobook composers, but using an installable client has a benefit of not being dependent on Internet speed and network lags. You out your book together, place the order and the client will upload the whole design at once. You don’t have to wait for browser page to refresh after your every action – go have a coffee. As we are fans of batch processing we found this workflow quite cool.

Software

Once you launch the installed client it will show you he welcome screen, which is actually a photobook design wizard.

saal welcome page

Interface is very intuitive and once you choose an option it them presents you the next screen to refine the details. It’s basically clicking next-next-next-done! This is a huge time-saver for many of us. We all know how time consuming any photography related process is, so this one is a pleasant surprise.

This is what you see after you have your options set (they are listed on the top left side of the screen):

saal design page

You can see all your options and settings as well as the price before you even start putting things together. This is very handy because you don’t let the “I wonder how much is it gonna cost me?” question get on the way of your creativity. Do whatever you want within the chosen settings and the price won’t change.

The only extra charge is for delivery (as stated on the welcome screen), which we found very reasonable taking into account that it’s done by DHL and not by regular post. In fact if we were to ship the same size package internationally via regular post, we would have to pay the same amount. As simple as that.

The actual photobook builder screen will also show you the price on the bottom in case if you decide to make some changes (add pages, change cover, add a gift box etc.)

saal builder

When in the builder mode you will see your image sources show on the left panel. Folder tree appear exactly as it is on your computer drive. Just drag and drop images from the left panel to the template pages. This is it. No tech-fancy commands or sophisticated actions.

Once a photo is on the template page you can resize and move it around anyway you might wish. If you want only a third of a photo to be shown on the final book – no problem, just move the rest outside the frame and it will be cropped off automatically. You don’t have to re-size or crop your images separately.

The software will also tell if your image quality is good for printing or not. This helps to avoid paying for a low quality product purely because you were not aware that your images were low resolution and you just didn’t know about it – on your computer screen they looked perfect.

saal edit page

As said, it is possible to make changes to your design as you go. You can also go all the way back if you decide to change the entire type of the project – just click the Back to Article selection button on the bottom of the screen.

Pricing

This is an important subject as we all have different understanding of what is reasonable and what is not. So, we have checked prices on competitor sites at the time of this publication and they were charging around £30 for a 26 page book. Saal Digital charged £19 for the same as there was a promotion going on.

Prices do change on all sites – marketing departments do their job. Another great feature of Saal Digital is that you can see all the current promos right inside the software on the welcome screen.

Quality

We can assess this area by the photobook that we ordered and it really is exceptional. Main indicator of quality work is that when you take it in your hands it shouldn’t feel cheap. In this case it feels and looks just great.

In some photobooks pages that are too thin can lose their appearance with time going. In the book that we received glossy hard cover and thick pages will definitely stay in perfect condition for long, no matter how many times you open and browse through them.

Delivery and packing

This is a vital aspect when ordering any printed products online. The last thing you want is your order coming in damaged due to being packed into a simple envelope. Luckily this is not the case with Saal Digital – our ordered photobook arrived in a thick cardboard package, wrapped into a plastic film with extra pieces of shock-absorbing material inside. In fact it even took a bit of effort and a sharp knife to unpack it. This type of packaging easily gets 5 stars from us.

Delivery charges vary depending on your location and it’s not something that we all can avoid. However, delivery to an EU country by DHL was £4.95, which is quite fair price for such parcel. The parcel arrived in a few days as it normally should within EU.

Conclusion

We found the service provided by Saal Digital being high quality and (this is very important) reasonably priced and extremely easy to use. So, if you are looking where to print your photography, be it a photobook, wall prints or anything else – give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

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