First things first, SAAL Digital, say what?

SAAL Digital is a photo albums, photo prints, posters etc provider. Think of a sort of Albelli, a name most locals know, but from hear say, with higher quality products.
As this is my first photo album, I unfortunately cannot make comparisons with other providers. You might recognize the brand name SAAL Digital from the promo posts on Facebook and Instagram, inviting many to review their photo album. These promos come along with quite the regularity. (At least that’s the case with me.) I always found it tempting to sign up, but I also often thought, hey, the voucher credit you get is just not enough to really test the thing I’d want to test. But now I got the chance to really take a look at how a book creation goes online with their software and more importantly, what the final result would look like.

Because SAAL Digital at times wins awards with their products, I was very curious about the result. And I must immediately acknowledge that I was pleasantly surprised when my book got delivered!

First impression

As always, with software en creating a phonebook like this my first impression was: There are considerable options in terms of dimensions, paper, print, etc. But what will they actually look like. Would it resemble the photo albums that we see in stores, and on our coffee tables? Or will an ugly high gloss photo come out on cheap photo paper but in the form of a cheap looking book? And next are the cover choices, what should I imagine these to look like in real life? To solve that problem I requested samples. So a sample set for the cover options and a sample set for the paper and print options. This way I could see what everything looks like when you actually hold it in your hands. This definitely is something I can recommend to everyone! You pay 10 euros per set but the sample set comes with a voucher of 10 euros for your next order.

I am surely not going to take you through all the choices that SAAL Digital offers or all the options that are available in the software needed to compile a photo book. I do am going to tell you that I found the software fairly easy to use! There are fixed layouts to choose from, but you can also completely design your own page. In my book I used a pre formatted layout that I adapted to my own wishes. Often the layout was sufficient in terms of what I had in mind and when not, I chose my own layout. This way, all the photos fit the way I wanted them to, and the limitations of the auto layout were never a factor. My conclusion regarding the software: easy enough to use and with a little bit of puzzling and trying, it will get the job done. Sure some things are missing but mostly this isn’t too much of a big deal. I found the options available in terms of size, size, paper, print, etc. more than sufficient, but again, there are certainly still steps to take to expand this. (Embossed printing of the name of your book on the cover for example would be a big plus. The letters on the cover as is now look a bit cheap in my opinion.)

Now that my book is completely ready, and I am about to order, I notice that you can export the book as a PDF. For a moment I’m thinking, wow this is awesome. My own book as a PDF, so I have a digital version and a version that I can possibly print again. For example at another provider to compare how the final results look. Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that this PDF is a pretty worthless addition. There is a large watermark (preview) on every page. Instantly this thus is a PDF that is completely unusable. Unfortunately.

The actual book arrives!

Back to my photo book. The book that I now hold in my hands. I opted for the so-called “art print”. In the words of SAAL, the Art print paper provides a special appearance and the fine structure in the surface makes a special impression. This print form and the accompanying paper give the book a unique look and feel. I truly think this makes the book look and feel extra unique. Because yes I think the result is really great. And, yes, there are some flaws in the book. In addition to carefully selecting the photos, I deliberately did not pay much attention to the quality of those I selected. Some are made with my iphone. The other years ago with a Nikon D5300, some with a Leica camera and most of all with my Nikon D850. In no way were these photos edited and optimized for print. The real pro would always take this in consideration. I just don’t think the average person who prints a photo album does. I wanted to see what a picture that is not perfect, would look like. And yes yes, I am very satisfied.

As I really wanted to feel that I had a photo album in my hands, I chose a large format, 28x28CM with approximately 60 pages. In addition, a wood-optic cover. This gave a great luxury look and feel to the book. The book also opens nicely, so that photos that flow over two pages come out just as nice as photos on a single page. 

Satisfied, certainly. I have to say that I am even very proud of my photo book!

The book has become a real personal book with a selection of my city scapes work and Amsterdam images. Another substantial part consists of photos of my greatest pride, my son. The photos of him are a collection of photos from his first three years of life. (He’s 3 now)
I would love to create and offer you a photo album like this, focused on my photography and mainly Amsterdam. I have received so many enthusiastic responses to the Instagram Stories on my @Dutchie account. Because of this, I immediately started looking at options to offer something like this, at a reasonable price. Looking at the price we face the biggest challenge. This photo book, no matter how wonderfully beautiful it is in my eyes, is very pricey. My book had a price tag of 100 EURO including shipping. Oops. Yes, very pricey. So a solution has to be found for that, because if you want to make some profit as a freelance photographer, there is even more to be added. The direct result from that price range is that it will be far to expensive to sell as it instantly will be the highest priced phonebook available. The high prices are fine if you want to occasionally print a personal and beautiful photo album. Not if you would love to resell your work to people loving it. My search continues, and hopefully I can some day soon offer something that is just as good in quality, but more friendly priced. After seeing this book and holding it in my hands I know for sure that I really want to “publish” my own photo book. This would be such a huge honour to me.

Final thoughts

Another very important thing is the production and delivery.offered by this company You pay just under 5 euros in shipping costs and you will then be surprised by the speed of production and delivery. A few days after having submitted my order online, my photo book was delivered to my home. I was immediately pleasantly surprised. The packaging of the book was also well done. Sturdy, well protected and therefore no damage possible delivering my product to me flawlessly. If you still wonder, what options does SAAL digital offer? And what does the software look like?Just go take a look at the SAAL website. Or google SAAL Review and you’ll find countless reviews that all have screenshots of the software. With me there are no technical facts or specifications that can be found everywhere. Here you have just read my opinion about the product. An extremely positive opinion! Because did I mention how happy I was with my photo album? I tried to take some pictures to show you how my book came to look. You can find these photos at the bottom of this post and of course you can ask me all your questions about my book and experience with SAAL Digital. This can be done via the comment function below, via e-mail, or via my instagram account @Dutchie.

Have you ever ordered anything from SAAL Digital? Or at one of the similar photo product providers? Were you satisfied and what is your favorite?

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