For some years now I firmly believe that printing is the ultimate goal that every photograph deserves. Watching an image on a display it’s brilliant, but getting your hands on a high-quality print gives you an indescribable thrill, something that the digital world will probably never be able to transmit.
It is with this spirit that I approached ever closer to this fascinating industry, and like for any other branch of photography, I love to experiment, fail and try again in the search for (probably unattainable) perfection.
For some time I was interested in printing a photo book, and so for more than six months, I experimented with different solutions. I am here today to write you to tell you about another case of excellence: I’m talking about the printing service of photo books of Saal Digital.
What is the need of yet another printing service? If I’ll not bore you too much, you’ll find out soon.
Creating the book
Saal Digital is a German company specializing in printing services whose catalog includes cards, photo prints, calendars, posters, photo books and more. We will focus on photo books, and to do so the first step is to download the free software with which we will create our product.
The software is available for both Windows and Mac, and once installed you’ll find it genuinely intuitive.
After selecting the product of our interest, the software allows us to select at once all the details that will make our book unique: number of pages, cover type, paper, padding… the options are really a lot, and you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can also select the layout according to predefined templates, useful to anyone who is looking for an inspiration or to those who are easily pleased.
Of course, I can’t resist on selecting “blank template” to manage every little detail! Once you also decided that, you just have to create the book, thanks to a handy drag-and-drop interface.
Among the most interesting possibilities made available, without a doubt it is worth remembering:
- Create and save your own template (useful once defined the repetitive pattern of the book pages)
- Use of levels
- Instant feedback on printing quality based on the image resolution used
- Creating a PDF demo of the book
- ICC Profiles
On this last point, one of the greatest Italian experts in editing and printing, Simone Poletti from fotografiaprofessionale.it, always told me: “If a printer to whom you ask for the color Profile tells you that you do not need such thing, run away.” Saal-Digital provides profiles of each product, and this certainly was an essential prerequisite for the next step: the printing of the book.
I do not deny a certain apprehension in sending to print the book. Have I forgotten something? What I saw on the monitor is really what will I receive? After rechecking every detail for the hundredth time, I am going to confirm the order by loading the file on Saal Digital servers.
The process is really quick and intuitive, and the file to be loaded is not particularly invasive (150MB) considering the size and the number of selected pages (26 pages in A3 format) Apprehension grows: normally when I send to print a single shot, the file size is more than 100MB.
Payment is easy, and in addition to credit cards, PayPal is accepted. In a few minutes in my mailbox I receive a confirmation order and a link with which I can monitor the progress of the print: fantastic!
A quality of Saal Digital is undoubtedly the speed: in two days, the courier handed me the long-awaited package: it’s time for the truth.
First, the packaging: the package is really well done and the book is undoubtedly protected from any impact or fall. But the main course, fortunately, is the book.
If you asked me to summarize the judgment in a single word, without a doubt it would be this: unbelievable.
The cover is exactly like that of a book that you can find in a bookstore: clean, defined, solid.
Then the quality of the prints is pure poetry. For my book I chose to use glossy paper, and Saal Digital for this choice offers Fujifilm Crystal Archive Album, amazing for the color rendering and the white purity. The pages have a high weight, and flip through the pages is pure pleasure.
The details are perfect, and the colors are sharp, bright and absolutely faithful to what is expected.
The binding is also wonderful: unlike traditional books, Saal Digital offers layflat binding which allows for continuity between the two pages, thus having a book always flat and allowing prints on two pages impeccable.
The book received is undoubtedly a difficult quality excellence to be found in the market today.
The print quality combined with the excellent offered services and fast delivery times make Saal Digital an absolutely recommended choice not only for enthusiasts but also for the professionals looking for a service without a quality compromise.
There are certainly some improvements that can be implemented (such as the ability to work completely offline with the software offered, or expansion of papers currently available in the catalog), but I do not think that there is really nothing that can be improved regarding the print quality itself. Saal Digital has received top marks and will become without any shadow of doubt my number one choice for photo books printings.