I recently carried out a product test for one of Saal Digital’s Professional Line photo books. This article forms a review of that process, and the final product - which was part of the testing arrangement.
My first observation regarding the software which you use to create the photo book is that it’s not as user-friendly as intuitive or something like Photobox for example. Once you get your head around how to use it, and set up your own templates, it is very flexible – but I found it wasn’t quite as easy to work out how to use pre-existing templates, and also if you allow the book to be created for you, the software crops your images in a way that isn’t always what you want.
However as with all things, if you take time to read the instructions to enable you to use it to its maximum potential, you could probably do a lot more with it – but many people simply won’t have the time I think. Beyond the template issues, the image upload tool was very easy to use and the ability to manage the images once they were uploaded worked well.
Once I'd sent it off for print, the follow-up email communication to keep me posted on the status of my product was very efficient, and the timescale in which the item was turned round was incredibly fast – I was very impressed by this. There was a delay in it arriving on the day, but this was a DHL issue and not Saal Digital’s fault.
Having received the finished product, my immediate observation was that the acrylic cover option which comes with the Professional Line range, whilst a brilliant idea in principle (I have to say the image looks great, and would have been excellent to put on the wall) – from a usability point of view it does make it quite awkward to hold the book. You can’t really flick through the pages if you’re not able to put it down on something such as a table or your lap. If you want to stand up and hold the book underneath with one hand, then turn the pages, it’s not really possible, as the cover is so heavy that it makes it unbalanced and very difficult to hold.
Beyond this, quality of the production is clearly top-class, and I liked the slightly glossy paper, and the lie-flat pages. However, I found all of my images came out a little dark, with less detail in the shadow areas than was present on the original images, and the colours were not as vibrant as I had hoped. Had it not been a product test, I would probably have requested a reprint. It is fair to say though that a lot of the shots I included in the book were night shots – so if all of your shots were taken during the daytime in good light, you would probably be very happy with it.
All in all a high quality product, but a few things that could have been better from my perspective. I'd certainly give them another try as a 'normal' customer - especially if speed was an issue - but maybe on a simpler product to start with.