A few weeks ago I saw one of those advertisement pages on Facebook from a company called Saal Digital who make photo products. They were offering £100 voucher on their Photobook professional line. whilst this sounded too good to be true I clicked on the link. Filled out a brief form saying what I mainly photographed & what social media platforms I used & clicked submit. A couple of days later I got an email with a code for £100 voucher for a pro line book. All I needed to agree to in exchange was to write a review on social media having completed the book. So here we are. 

     I went to the site downloaded the programme and set about working out how to create a book. I should say at this point I have made books before using Bob's Books, an excellent company with a relatively easy to use book creation programme. Saal Digital's programme look similar if a little more basic. 
 I started by picking around 80 landscape images that might make an attractive portfolio of my landscape work. 
Saal Digital have an auto setting that will take your selection of images & 'fit' them to whatever number of pages you decide. I tried this but have to say I didn't like the outcome. 
As someone who takes time to edit & crop every image I show, the auto programme applies images to pages in a way that re crops them so they fit the page right to the edge. I found this approach altered the integrity of the image I had produced. It also shuffled images in an order that was not what I wanted. 
I started again using the manual process of adding images (and text) in a way that suited me. Whilst time consuming compared to the auto solution it produces a book that looks exactly how you want it. I did struggle at times with the process (getting images to the size on the page & the number of images in a format on each page I wanted) but I guess if you used the programme on a more frequent basis this would become much quicker.
   I found it easy to remove & swap images having placed them & then changing my mind. I liked the way you could have images across the centre line (panoramas worked well in this context) I had chosen a book which was going to have a 'lay flat' finish so I was confident the crossing of the spine would not be an issue. The programme shows when you place images or text too near an edge, all very similar to the Bob's books I had used before.
As I was setting all this manually it can take a while, I liked the fact you could save your part completed project and come back to it. You can have more than one project on the go at any one time. Once I had finished I was very careful to proof read any text as the last thing you want is the book coming back only for someone to point out gramatical or spelling errors. I chose a leather bound finish, there are others. For another £45 you could have it produced in a beautiful box. I was trying to stick to the £100 budget so didn't go for that option. As it was, the total came to £106 which included the postage. This was for a book 30 x 21cm leather bound finish, lay flat on matt paper 50 pages. Starting price for the pro line in this size is £69.99
     I uploaded the project & waited. About 10 days later the book arrived by courier. First impressions were that the look, feel and quality of the book were outstanding (as I was hoping for a book that cost £100) The printing was excellent on the hi end matt pages which seem to be about 285 -300gsm based on my printing experience. The colour rendition was good & the images that crossed the centre spine looked excellent. All in all I thought it was a beatiful book that I was very pleased with. Would I use the pro line by Saal Digital again? If I was producing a high end book for a client then yes I would. Quality comes at a price & this is a quality product. If I was making a book for myself maybe not at this price, unless it was something particularly special. They do however produce books at price ranges across the spectrum so its worth having a look.
    So I leave you with this thought, what do you do with your images? Do they sit on your hard drive, seldom looked at. Do you enter competitions at club level, salons or national online comps. Do you occasionally print it, frame it and put it on the wall (which can in itself be expensive) Why not make a book? You can pick the theme, That landscape photography holiday to Tuscany or Family portraits of the Kids/Grandkids growing up. A book is a marvelous thing to keep and show around, much more tangible than swiping images on a small screen phone. So go on have a go, you'll be surprised at what you can produce. 

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